Bohol and Cebu 2017 (A Solo Trip)

It started as a group trip. But unfortunately–because one of us wasn’t able to come due to work reasons–it ended up as a couple x couple plus me.

Deciding to give the couples a chance to have some quality time together and for reasons that I couldn’t join the canyoneering activity, I went on a solo trip.

And it got me so excited. This would be my first solo trip, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen.

And here was how it went…

DAY 1

We arrived at the airport at around nine in the evening. After grabbing some dinner at Jollibee, we went ahead to get our boarding passes and checked-in.

After an hour plane ride, we arrived in Cebu at around one in the morning.

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And then we went straight ahead to Oslob. I didn’t get much sleep on the van, as I’m the type of person who hardly gets any sleep unless resting on a bed. But it didn’t even matter (at least for the first few hours), as I was used to staying up since our internship days back in college.

We arrived in Oslob at around 4:30 in the morning. The stars were bright. It was still early and the whaleshark watching activity started at 6:00am. While they were sleeping inside the van, I talked with our driver and the tour guide. They told me about the places I should go to during my solo trip and a few things about Cebu itself.

It was 6:00 am and the place was filled with people. I didn’t expect to see that much people for an activity, considering that it was early morning. There were around 100+ of us there at such an hour. Wow. I got stressed out for the whale sharks/butandings. Too many tourists for these sea creatures.

After some briefing, we paid for the activity (Php 500/snorkeling + gears) and waited for our schedule. I think we were the fifth group to go there. Rules were sunscreen was not allowed (w/c probably explained the early goers) and no flash photography and no getting near the butandings.

After thirty minutes, it was our turn to get on a boat. There were around twelve of us in a boat. Someone was feeding shrimps to the whale shark to make it come closer to our boat.

It didn’t take long until we’d seen the beautiful sea creature. It wasn’t as big as the others, probably a little smaller than a jeep. But the whale shark was so gentle you didn’t really have to panic when they were around, even if their mouths could probably swallow you whole. Maybe.

Underwater picture taking ensued. It was exhausting, since we had to let go of our life vests. You wouldn’t necessarily drown, but the waves kept on crashing on you. My greatest worry at that time was my glasses. I put it inside my shirt and I didn’t want to lose it. Why, why, why didn’t I leave it on the boat? I truly wonder. It made things so much harder for me.

Either way, I found the whale shark intimidating at first, but then it was so gentle. A friendly sea creature. There was nothing to be afraid of… unless you were probably seeing one as large as three-storey building.

After the whale shark activity, we went back to the shore and hunt down some breakfast. I didn’t have appetite that day (for the entire day, actually), so I only had coffee.

Taking a shower after, my friends and I parted ways. They were going to Sumilon and I was headed for whatever the day would bring.

To be honest, I didn’t do any island hopping activities for this tour. My heart is still in El Nido, Palawan. Like I close my eyes and I remember the beautiful beaches of El Nido. I don’t know. I feel like I’m not ready to see other beaches anytime soon. 😌

So yes, my itinerary consisted of going to unusual places and whatever the time permitted. My friends’ tour guide arranged a habal-habal ride/motorcycle for wherever I would like to go.

I wanted to see the Tumalog Falls. I’d seen pictures of the different falls there near Oslob, but Tumalog had the appeal that I was looking for.

My habal driver didn’t want to take me there at first, because it was almost summer and the falls didn’t have that much water at the time. He said that there were other falls with, perhaps, stronger water current, but I wasn’t interested with them. I didn’t want to see the current. I wanted to see the cascading water of Tumalog Falls. And it was a wise decision. Tumalog Falls was the prettiest falls I’ve seen in my entire life.

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The Promise of El Nido: Beaches. Coves. Lagoons. 💚

A paradise for sea lovers.

Acclaimed as the most beautiful island in the world, Palawan has a reputation that speaks for itself. During the five days we’d spent on this island, it was hard not to fall in love with the luscious forest and white sand beaches. And of course, the most remarkable of all–the lagoons. Small, big, blue, secret, hidden, not so secret… majestic lagoons.

And this was how it all started…

A year ago, a piso fare promo went up on the Air Asia website. My high school friends and I had traveled here and there, but mostly we just went to places like Quezon, Zambales or Ilocos. These were places that could be readily reached by the bus. But like all travel enthusiasts, we all wanted to go to El Nido, Palawan. It’s a highly recommended, ultimate getaway destination. So when the opportunity came, we went ahead and grabbed it.

Fast forward to July 23, 2016.

10:00am

Scenario: Heavy traffic on the way to the airport.

Other scenario: We’re hungry.

Other, other scenario: We’re soooooooo excited.

It was my first plane trip in the last ten years. The last one was so eventful that I never forgot it. I kind of expected the same thing to happen. I was preparing my mind for turbulence or air pocket. Hahaha, thankfully there had been no such thing. It was a comfortable ride to and fro Palawan.

Thanks, Air Asia! What a budget friendly yet comfy way to get to your destination.

So the bags were ready and off we go. According to the weather forecast, it would be raining for the next few days. But anyone who lives in the Philippines knows how to hold on to some hope. As long as there are no typhoons, there’s always a chance that the weather will be good. But yes, it was a bit raining when we got to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, where we would take a van to go to El Nido, Palawan.

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#rainyafternoon

There are several options on how to get to El Nido, Palawan. We chose the van option because… well, it was already there when we got out the airport. Haha! Well-thought. Well-thought. One thing that never gets old when it comes to creating fun memories during trips is doing things the spontaneous way. Like you know where you’ll be going, but taking chances on the how to get there is actually the fun part.

It was around three in the afternoon when we landed in Puerto Princesa airport. We made some arrangements for the van ride (which was expected to be five to seven hours). A little food hunting and off we go…

…or at least that was the plan.

We waited a bit more for a few more passengers to fill the van. So while waiting, we came up with this ‘brilliant’ idea–to draw the drawing friend who said he would come but he didn’t. 😂 ‘Drawing’ is the term we use whenever someone says he will do something but ends up not doing it, or when he says he will go but will not come all of a sudden. It’s literally like drawing on a piece of paper and that’s it. It won’t materialize. In the end, it will stay as a ‘drawing’.

Thus, the term.

So while idling around, Derrick (left part of the photo) started drawing Jem on pictures, as if he was with us. Wish you were here moment hahahahaha. And this was the first one:

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Eventually, this drawing event became known as the ‘Chronicles of Jem’. And wait for it… El Nido Arc! We were so proud of ourselves. 😄

Oh, and in the end, they had transferred us to another van, where a family was already waiting. So instead of sending off two half-filled vans, they all placed us in one.

At around six in the evening–for real this time–off we went to El Nido, Palawan! 🙊

We traveled on the long and winding (x1000) road. Keep a tablet of Bonamine (anti-motion sickness medication) ready. You’ll need it. Or sleep for the entire ride. Whichever way worked. Sitting beside the window did the trick for me. As long as I kept my thoughts entertained by the view outside, the rough ride to El Nido was somehow forgotten.

We had two stops. One was two hours later to grab some dinner. I doubted that we had enough appetite, but we did eat. Next was unremarkable because most of us were sleeping. But if you needed to use the toilet, this would be of some help.

Moths and one bat casualties later, at around eleven in the evening, we finally arrived at El Nido, Palawan. We had a reservation with Casa Cecilia, and five warm beds were waiting for us when we got there. Casa Cecilia was actually one of the nicest accommodation we’d had in all our trips. I’ll highly recommend it. It was just a few minutes away from the beach and located right in the heart of the small town of El Nido, Palawan.

There are three options when booking accommodations in El Nido, Palawan.

  1. Corong-Corong.
    1. Pros: A nice stretch of golden sand beach, and an amazing sunset view.
    2. Cons: The shore, where the island hopping trips starts, is a tricycle ride away.
    3. I’ll recommend this if you want to spend more time at the beach than go to island hopping tours.
  2. Town proper
    1. Pros: You’re in the middle of everything–souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, etc.
    2. You don’t get to see the shore right when you open the window.
    3. I’ll still recommend this one out of the three. After all, the beach is just a few minutes away.
  3. The beach area.
    1. Pros: You see the beach 24/7.
    2. Cons: The beach is crowded during the day, when all the activities start.
    3. I’ll recommend this if you want a bit of nightlife.

So there you go. Calling it a night after one rough van ride, we were asleep before we knew it. 😄

 

July 24, 2016

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Hello, El Nido!

 After breakfast, we went ahead to our first tour. The first ones on our list were Tour C and D. It was an all-in-one package. They gave it to us for the price of one. I didn’t know if it was because we would do all the tours or what. Instead of just one tour package, they combined it. Maybe there was really such a thing.

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And you know what we did all day? We went from one beach to another. It was a beach hopping galore. Imagine the perfect beach, and then imagine another one after. It was like that the entire time.

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Helicopter Island

Aerial shot of this island–drone, where you; right, I don’t own one–would give you a helicopter-like shape of the island. It’s also known as Dilumacad Island.

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That’s me sitting on the rocky shore. For day one, I didn’t get to take a dip in the water. Take a guess and you’re probably right why. Imagine the feeling of just watching my friends enjoy the water and go from here and there, while I stayed on the boat (taking pictures and falling asleep until I remembered that I’d brought my headset with me and wished I had an audiobook on my phone and listened to music instead). Bookworms! I suddenly remembered that an audiobook would be perfect for the five hour ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. It would also be helpful if you were, like me, stuck on the boat or on the shore while they enjoyed the waves.

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Someone’s enjoying the sea so much.

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#tropagoals

After Helicopter Island, we passed by Matinloc Shrine. We didn’t get off, but instead we went ahead to the Hidden Beach. This was the start of my agony. And don’t even remind me of the Secret Beach. 😭

But I did enjoy taking pictures of them.

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From a distance, there’s the Hidden Beach. You have to swim all the way there or use a kayak.

Wish I was there moment…

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And from the view while sitting on the boat:

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Majestic. That was one word to describe these wonderful works of nature.

 

Lunchtime! I didn’t know where we were, but it was another beautiful beach. And happy me was able to go down and have a moment to sit on the white sand and take in the beauty of the place.

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Did I mention that we had a clear fine day for the first day of our trip? See? Ditch the weather forecast and hold on to hope when here in PH. 😂

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I could stay here on the shore for hours. Wake me up when you guys were done snorkeling.

We had a wonderful lunch (that was so well-presented). Unfortunately, no picture had been taken because we were so hungry at this point that Instagram was altogether forgotten.

p.s. Phone signals were good at some islands.

After this one, we headed to another beach… or they did. This was the Secret Beach. 😭 You have to swim all the way there and inside a little cave-like entrance.13738316_10208755533237638_86129336911722663_o.jpg

Next stop, Cadlao Lagoon!

This was my absolute favorite for our first tour. I was seriously mesmerized. I wished we could have stayed longer, but our boatman only drove us around the lagoon for several minutes. And of course, we hurriedly took pictures! 😁

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The jade-colored water was sparkling. And I seriously had no idea how that could be happening. It was like entering a fairyland.

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This shot was close to the real thing. The sun was resting on the waves as it glowed. Another more…

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That was why Cadlao Lagoon became one of my absolute favorites in El Nido, Palawan.

And after we exited  fairyland, we were off to another beach.

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This beach had the finest sand. It would remain unnamed until I’d be able to locate what it was called using Google. 😂

But if I was not mistaken, this might be Paradise Beach.

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If it was truly Paradise Beach, I wouldn’t be surprised. You could see how amazing and scenic the view had turned out to be in picture. A paradise, indeed.

Next, we went to Pasandingan Beach.

This was where I met the white crabs. And I was so holding a grudge because they didn’t let me take any picture of them. They were so fast. While my friends were swimming/snorkeling, I was hunting down those white crabs.

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The forest was so alive in this island.

And of course, the long stretch of white sand.

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And one more beach stop before we called it a day.

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#LifeinElNido

A candid shot. Not seen in the photo: a dog that Derrick was playing with. I was walking on the white sand, lost in wonder. The couple was talking near the boat. And Joyie was the one who took this picture, while she was enjoying her time in the ocean.

And a random drop off of passengers before going back hahahaha. Because they couldn’t get enough of the ocean, our boatman decided to let them enjoy the blue sea for the last time that day. Into the blue scenario.

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They were so terrified. 😂 They literally couldn’t see anything. It was like in movies when a shark would appear out of nowhere and take you alive. But you could see that they were enjoying it just the same.

For me, I watched the sun and the sea, a few minutes before dusk.

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Later that night, we were searching for a place to eat. Joyie randomly mentioned Art Cafe out of nowhere. I suddenly remembered Shim’s post about her eating in that cafe. So deciding that it might be a good place to eat, we went there.

It was a few minutes walk from Casa Cecilia. And that, my friends, led to us calling that place our hideout in El Nido.

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When in El Nido, this restaurant is a must try. You won’t regret it. We ordered five different meals that night and all of them tasted delicious. Service was also awesome.

Do order their bestseller–Seafood Pasta. And no one would ever forget their avocado ice cream. We ordered two scoops of avocado ice cream with one scoop of cheese flavored ice cream. It was so good.

And yeah, don’t ask what we did for the next two days. Clue: it involved  lot of avocado ice cream scoops. 😍

 

July 25 2016

The best Monday ever!

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El Nido during the day.

Don’t worry about toiletries and such. There were groceries stores here, even pharmacies if you suddenly felt a bit unwell.

So today was the day when I could finally join in the water activities. Agenda for today: Tour A. It was all about the lagoons.

But first, the Seven Commandos Beach.

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I was so excited to finally be able to join them in their underwater activities. So while Joyie was swimming and taking pictures (and she took off her life vest and snorkeling gears), I played with it, making it a flotation device here and there.

Until this happened…

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Um, that was my fault. I didn’t even notice that it fell while I was playing around with her life vest. We tried to pick it up using our foot, but to no avail. We had to call our boatman and ask for help. He got it in one dive. Okay. So much for our mundane struggle. 😅

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This was such a rare shot. Because one, I was afraid of underwater activities–fishes and all. The only thing that gets me interested when it comes to underwater stuffs are the corals. But we did see a lot of small jellyfish here. So tiny that you would readily miss them.

After the Seven Commandos, we went to Small Lagoon. This was my personal favorite for the day. I really did enjoy kayaking while sightseeing and gawking at these magnificent works of nature.

See vlog below for our 360 degrees turn. It was funny because we did it the first time and it turned out that the camera wasn’t recording, so we had to go back again and do it all over. It was fun.

And the place was so magnificent. My greatest regret was thinking that there wasn’t much to see, so I didn’t bring my camera. It turned out that the place was so beautiful for words. Never judge a lagoon by what you could see outside. Once you entered inside, you’d be out of words.

Lunchtime again! This was slowly turning to be our favorite time of the day. 13668642_10208756294936680_4239445064288250010_o.jpg

Menu for the day:

Liempo

Grilled fish

Pineaple

Watermelon

Rice

Crabs!!

After that wonderful meal, we were off to Big Lagoon!

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Need I say more? It was beautiful.

Um, shortly after, our boat encountered a small malfunction. It would have been nice to be stuck there in the Big Lagoon, but the boat untimely broke down a few distance from the exit of the lagoon.

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Well, aside from taking lots of pictures, the best person to see was the ice cream man, who was riding a boat, and yeah, selling ice creams. And the best thing to do? Enjoy a chocolate popsicle under the heat of the sun in the middle of nowhere.

A few minutes later, the boat was up and running again. We headed to the Secret Lagoon.

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It was a lagoon where you had to enter a small opening to get inside. Inside the Secret Lagoon:

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After that, snorkeling!

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Where there were fishes, you wouldn’t be able to find me. 😂 The fishes and I, we weren’t meant to be located together. I freaked out whenever they were near me. But my friends enjoyed this so much. You could tell by the amount of pictures with fishes that they’d taken.

 

Later that night, we were planning to try a local specialty here–the crocodile sisig. But funny thing was, when we got to the restaurant, they were close on Mondays.

Epic timing.

But we went ahead with our other plan: sunset viewing at Corong-Corong. It was a tricycle ride away from the town proper. And apparently, it had one of the best sunset views in El Nido.

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The golden sand of Corong-Corong. It was raining a bit where we were sitting.

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Why do you use an umbrella when watching sunset in El Nido during the month of July?

a. It was raining.

b. It was hot.

c. All of the above.

d. b more than a

Our answer: d  😂

So after the sunset viewing, we went back to town and searched for a place to eat. We badly wanted to go back to Art Cafe and end the search, but we’d decided to try another place.

We ended up in Squido, a local restaurant that had squid specialties. We ordered their bestseller–Mixed Seafood Curry. And yup, it was worth the long wait.

But then again, we couldn’t let go of Art Cafe yet. It’s dessert time!

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During our stay in El Nido, I think we were able to taste everything from the dessert menu. The technique was that all five of us would order different desserts and then we would taste everything. But I think that out of everything, the avocado ice cream won our hearts, hands down. And the espresso with ice cream. And the cheese flavored ice cream. And… well, you get the picture.

There was a thunderstorm happening a few miles away from where we were, but you could see it from the cafe’s veranda. I tried to take pictures of it, but to no avail.

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El Nido at night was peaceful. There was also a BPI ATM machine if you needed some cash.

And a view of the port:

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July 26, 2016

Last day! Sepanx kicked in a day before we actually left the place. This escapade was coming to an end, and you knew that you’d surely miss the place even before you left.

Tour B was all about caves and snorkeling and some more lovely beaches.

First stop, lunch. We were late for the last day of the tour. So the boatman brought us to Entalula Island and let us enjoy the beauty of the place while they prepared our lunch.

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It was simply breathtaking. And there was one funny story that happened to me while here on this island.

I really adore taking pictures. So they went ahead to snorkel while I took some more pictures of the place. I took my time, enjoying the scenery and going here and there.

When I was ready to catch up with them, I got bitten by something. It looked like a fly or a really unusual bee. It didn’t feel itchy or anything, but I got a bit paranoid because the bite was a bit painful compared to your average mosquito bite. And then I saw a reddish bump and a minuscule amount of blood. Nothing to worry about…

…well, until it decided that I was its prey for the day and wouldn’t let me be. It kept on biting me for some reason. I had no choice but to go back to shore and remove my life jacket. It turned out that it was attracted to my life jacket at first. And then, when I went to the other side of the shore, it kept on following me!

When I submerged myself into the water, it somehow decided to let me be. Finally, it went away. In the end, I didn’t get to join my friends while they snorkeled, as I got held back by this insect. Okay, I Googled it. It was a horse-fly. That painful bite! 😂

After that horse-fly incident, we went to Snake Island!

It was supposed to be a sandbar. But then, the water was high (up to waist-deep) that day and it was a bit raining at some places. So we got this situation instead:

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But whatever the situation was, when you were in the right company, you’d find ways to enjoy it. Like this one:

Now that’s what you call relationship goals. 😂 They weren’t real couple, but instead were childhood friends and neighbors. Derrick decided that it was tiring to walk all the way to the other side, so he asked Joyie to drag him.

On the way back, he was enjoying it so much that he buckled his life jacket with Joseph’s life jacket. 😂

Next one was Cudugnon Cave. The first cave for this tour. On the island, we saw some locals cleaning up the shore. We had a chat with them and asked about the place. You could actually rent the rooms on the island (I forgot for how much; I think it was around 12k Php) or camp overnight for only Php 200.

When it was our chance, our tour guide set up some life jacket in order for us not to get hurt by the rocks. Getting inside the cave was the tricky part.

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Forget about the cave smell (as all caves usually had the same smell), and take in this view.

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Creepy. LOL. That was the first part of the cave. It got better where sunlight was able to get in. Okay, it was still creepy there, for some reason.

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After this, another cave was waiting for us. Cathedral Cave!

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We were only allowed to pass by the cave and have a look. When my friends asked if they could snorkel, the answer was a big no. Our guides told us that there were sea snakes on this part of the ocean.

And last one on the list: Pinagbuyutan Island.

Coconut trees were everywhere. IMG_0665.JPG

However, the beach and the view remained splendid.

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With a heart full of memories and sand in the pockets of our shorts, we went back to shore washed over with melancholy and happiness just the same. 😊

 

And now, for the most-awaited crocodile sisig hunt. On our way to the restaurant for the second time, we met this friendly tricycle driver. And for the first time, we actually met a real tour guide. During the short trip from town to the restaurant, he told us stories about El Nido.

The original name of the place was Bacuit. I didn’t know if his succeeding story was accurate, and even the tour guide sounded unsure himself. But he said that the reason why it became Bacuit was that when the Spaniards first asked the locals about the name of the place, the local replied, “Bakit?” That was a Tagalog word for why. And so the name Bacuit.

“On June 17, 1954, Republic Act No. 1140 was approved changing the name of the town from Bacuit to its present name El Nido after the edible nests of swiftlets (collocalia fuciphaga), found in the crevices of its limestone cliffs. These nests, nido in Spanish, the main ingredient for the gourmet nido soup…” (from Wikipedia)

If only it was still early, we would have probably end up hiring him to take us on tour with his tricycle and just tell us stories. He was currently setting up a tour office with a relative of his. If he was the tour guide, I was certain that every trip would be enjoyable.

His contact details:

Mark Louie

0907-496-3413

Back to the crocodile sisig…

After a few minutes of waiting while watching Dolce Amore, the sisig was finally served. The texture was really good. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference right away, but it sort of had the same texture as chicken.

And guess what? We went back to Art Cafe to grab some dessert. This time, we got a table at their extension, the one facing the shore. It was such a tranquil place.

The avocado ice cream was so popular among us that we ordered everything with one scoop of avocado ice cream on top. 😁 This was what you called as panic buying. LOL. It was superb.

We had a great chat, which touched the topics of relationship, life, and eventually, ghost stories. There was no escaping this one. We stayed at the cafe until it closed at around eleven in the evening. And then we strolled around town some more before going back to our accommodation.

And you wouldn’t believe what happened later on.

We were watching the news and preparing to sleep, when all of a sudden, the lights went out. Hahahaha! What a great timing. We finally experienced the blackout in El Nido. And given our previous topic during dinner, we all huddled together on one bed. After a few minutes, the lights went on again. This time, it was the generator that had taken over while the blackout persisted.

I shortly fell asleep after. Two remained awake. One was using the bathroom when another blackout happened. LOL. Imagine that. Thankfully, our accommodation had a generator. The lights were back after a few seconds. And yeah, no ghosts or anything.

 

July 27, 2016

Goodbye, El Nido.

After having breakfast, we prepared for the ride back to Puerto Princesa. We left El Nido at around nine in the morning, and we arrived in Puerto Princesa at around two in the afternoon.

We had an ample time to see the city, before our 7:45 flight later that evening.

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We went to Baker’s Hill, a famous place here in the city. They were known for their breads and pastries. But we also came here for their…

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…which we didn’t get to eat. It was out of stock that day. Tamilok are shipworms. I was up for the challenge, but it was sadly unavailable. Maybe next time. Puerto Princesa City also has so much to offer.

Off to buy pasalubong (souvenirs).

Things to buy when in Palawan:

-Cashew Nuts

-Dried Squid (all kinds; they were all good)

-Breads and pastries from Baker’s Hill

-Crocodile sisig. The store could be found in the market. This one’s preserved and could last for three days w/o refrigerator or six months in freezer. Soooooo good.

-Pearl earrings

-Palawan rainmaker

-And whatever you feel like buying. Buy everything. 😂

 

For dinner, upon Janine’s recommendation, we went to Rene Saigon to grab some chaolong. It was a Vietnamese dish, which was very popular in Palawan. One word: delicious. And the staff were very friendly.

 

After that, it was time to say goodbye to this paradise. ‘Till we see you again, Palawan! ♥️

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THE CHRONICLES OF JEM (EL NIDO ARC)

#wishyouwerehere

Credits to:

-Joyie for her lovely pictures and videos that I also included on this blog.

-Derrick for the pics and for editing most of the pics in “Chronicles of Jem”.

We had a great laugh. 😄

 

Rough breakdown of expenses for those who are interested:

1,200 – Plane tickets (back and forth)

3,000 – Accommodation for four nights w/ free breakfast

1,400 – Tour C and D

1,000 – Tour A

1,000 – Tour B

1,000 – Van ride to El Nido (back and forth)

2,000 – Food expenses (Art Cafe, Squido, Crocodile Sisig, etc.)

300 – Tricycle rides expenses

Total: 10,900 Php

 

We did all tours when people usually do just Tour A and/or B. And then, when it came to food, we went all out. Told you, desserts. 😂

 

And here is the vlog:

 

Until next trip,

Freesia 💛

 

Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island ’16

I was back to Zambales for the weekend! I missed the place. It’s so easy to get there, and the beaches are so serene and relaxing. For a day or two, we get to experience a sense of tranquility, being close to nature, and setting ourselves free from the the usual life that we know, with all its rush and rumbles.

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Nagsasa Cove

This time, my friends and I headed to Nagsasa Cove. Go camp! And beach bumming, of course. The following day, we went to Capones Island and other islets. We got back home all tanned and happy. 😊

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It was summer. The sun was high in the sky and the temperature might drain you a bit. But for Nagsasa Cove, the gush of wind would cool down the place from time to time. There was a certain kind of wind that I only got to hear and feel in that place. I don’t even know what it’s called. Like it was catching strength and gradually releasing it. This got more pronounced as nighttime settled in.

I also experienced this whooshing gust of wind in Anawangin last year. I’m the type of person who doesn’t sleep much during trips. The one who’s awake while others are sound asleep. One, because I’m not familiar with the place. It takes a while for me to get to know the place haha. Or, like after we’d climbed Mt. Pinatubo late last year, exceptions happened when I was knocked out to even consider familiarizing myself with the place. And two, for Anawangin, it was really cold and the wind was biting. For Nagsasa, the sand was uneven. I woke up at 2am and my body was all sore. So I moved to the cottage. I was able to catch a light sleep, before we woke up at 5am. I should have used the cottage bamboo bench in the first place.

But before all that happened, here’s how we got to Nagsasa Cove.

Cubao

Time: 12am

Scenario 1: Long weekend and the elections coming up, there were a lot of passengers heading home that Friday night. We decided to leave early (12am), instead of catching the 3am trip to Olongapo as previously planned.

There are different ways to get to San Antonio, Zambales, where Pundaquit is just a tricycle away. One, from Cubao, ride a bus going to Iba, Zambales. You could get off at San Antonio, Zambales. This was the most direct trip you could get, but the trips weren’t that frequent.

Or two, you could go to Olongapo. Iba, Zambales buses are available there anytime.

Or three, like us–since we couldn’t find a bus that would leave right away to Olongapo–we went to Dau Terminal in Pampanga.

When we arrived at Victory Liner early Saturday morning, there were a lot of passengers waiting, and the next available trip going to Olongapo would leave at 4am. We expected to be caught in traffic, so we opted to look for another bus line.

Time: 1am

Scenario 2: We walked a bit to Dagupan Bus terminal. Most of their ongoing trips were headed to Manaoag, Pangasinan. Good thing we’d asked the kundoktor if there was a trip to Dau Bus Terminal, Mabalacat, Pampanga. He said that there would be one later.

We waited for several minutes before one of the buses heading to Manaoag departed and it gave way to the bus heading to Dagupan. This one would have a stopover at Dau Terminal.

Dau Terminal

Time: 3:30am

Scenario 3: So why Dau Terminal? Because there are buses that are going to Olongapo there. And here’s another good reason to consider Dau: there are UV Express vans going to Olongapo that leave at thirty intervals. So convenient. Another catch: they use SCTEX, which makes the trip so much faster.

Olongapo

Time: 5:00 am-ish-not-so-sure haha

Scenario 4: Early morning fresh air feeling. The bus heading to Iba, Zambales was right beside the van’s terminal. So we boarded. After several minutes, we were heading to San Antonio, where we would get off.

And this was where we tasted the most delicious puto and kutsinta. For only Php2, you would get to taste them from the manongs na naglalako/puto vendor. My advice: buy a lot. Being a puto and kutsinta lover, it’s just ❤. To the point where I consider going to Olongapo at the wee hours of the morning and hunt those vendors. I know, it’s a bit extreme, but they were really delicious.

So moving on before I make a separate blog about rice cakes. 😂

San Antonio, Zambales

Time: 7am-ish

Scenario 5: Off to the market to buy our camping foods and supplies. After that, we were picked up by a tricycle, arranged by Ms. Precy, our contact person. Here’s her number if you want: 0977-321-7899.

Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales

Time: 7:30am-ish

Scenario 5: Boat ride to Nagsasa Cove!!! 😁

Nagsasa Cove was roughly an hour away from Pundaquit’s shores. It was a long trip, but so worth it. I would recommend it over Anawangin. Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy our trip to Anawangin last year. So much. But when I saw Nagsasa, I thought to myself, ‘How could it get so much better?’ I couldn’t imagine it myself.

Our boatman brought us to Pamimi Campsite. There were several campsites at Nagsasa Cove. I would recommend Pamimi Campsite because of its clean comfort rooms and very nice vibes. It was also less crowded there. Maybe it’s because it was located at the farthest side of the shoreline. But then again, the beach area was so good.

Cottage was only Php100. *throws confetti* Anyway, so we prepared our food. Or my best friend, Peny, did that. Cooking is not and I don’t think it will ever be for me. Joyie and I kept ourselves busy doing other things. I couldn’t remember what we did exactly. Whatever it was, it wasn’t as helpful as cooking our food. 😝

We three are actually elementary/high school friends. We’ve been friends for around twenty years now. Childhood friends. Sisters, mostly. F4 as they called us. One couldn’t make it, but hopefully all four of us would be able to go on a trip like this again someday.

At ten in the morning, we all ended up taking a nap. It was noontime and too hot to swim at the beach. Plus, we didn’t get much sleep if nothing at all. Thankfully, the wind was soothing at some point, despite the summer humidity and heat.

Funny thing was, we mostly spent extra cash on buying cold beverages all day. It was so hot and we didn’t bring an ice chest with us. Please do so if you’re planning to camp during summer. A cold bottle of Mountain Dew was Php25. An ice cream stick was also Php25. A 500mL of water was Php50. Life savers. Thirst quenchers.

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A few minutes after two in the afternoon, we started walking around. There was a swamp at one side of the beach. And it turned out to be the perfect place to take pictures.

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…and take jump shots.

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We were back to the shore… heading for a short trek to get a good view of the cove.

The trek was easier compared to the one in Anawangin. You didn’t even need a guide, as the path was already set and all you had to do was climb up. Entrance fee was Php10/person.

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The view from three-fourth of the trek. We didn’t get to climb up to the top because of certain circumstances revolving around fear of heights and slippers not working properly and not enough time. But from where we stood, it was enough to get a good view.

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We went down just before sunset. There was a buko stand a little way from the start of the trekking point. While enjoy sipping buko juice, the sunset slowly unfolded in front of us.

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Insert nighttime story here. When the sun had set down, we ate dinner and set up our tent. We should have done this earlier that day, but where was the fun in that?

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We had brought so many hand-carry lights with us (three, to be exact) and those lit our cottage until the morning came. Oh, and we also went for a swim before washing up and calling it a day.

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Sunday morning arrived and we prepared to leave Nagsasa Cove and head for Capones. We told our boatman that we would leave at 6am. At the said time, we’d just finished setting up our breakfast. We left at 8am hahaha.

Hi, Capones’ shore. You’re very rocky. Yeah, lot of rocks. Waves. We had to walk in the water to go to the shore because that was as far as the boat could take us. But lighthouse? We ain’t complaining. Or that was mostly me. I have a thing for lighthouse. The two wanted to swim. But the lighthouse was what the island was known for, so to the lighthouse we went. 😊

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There were actually stairs. It was easy to get to the lighthouse from the rocky shore.

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Oh, there’s the sun. It’s shining like that. You could imagine how hot it was that day.

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But the view was priceless.

A little way from here, there was the lighthouse.

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Did I say that it was abandoned? Yeah, pretty creepy. 😂

It was built during the 1890s. There were no tour guides. We were pretty much on our own, aside from the other tourists. This was the part where I would tell you that we forgot to take a picture of the entire lighthouse. I could cite certain reasons, but they were no excuse. My camera still weeps. The moment was there. How could I forget? *shakes head in disappointment*

But here’s what we got…

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We climbed up the rusty staircase. It was a bit shaky… um, okay a lot shaky.

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It was funny because this was when our fears became more distinct. Joyie was afraid, safety measures wise. She couldn’t make it to the top, utterly doubting the stability of the lighthouse. She had a point. Peny was afraid of heights. Simple as that. I, on the other hand, was a thrill seeker and there was no stopping me. But when I saw the secluded room that led to the top of the lighthouse, I freaked out. It was really creepy and eerie and I was afraid to go alone and probably see a ghost by myself. Yup, I was afraid of ghosts.

My best friend, being her kind self, she went with me to the top. I was really insistent because it was a dream come true to be here in this place. I have a thing for lighthouse like the way I have a thing for books. There’s no explaining it. And after much deliberation and convincing, here’s the view…

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My lifesaver… 😘 Hihi I wouldn’t be able to make it to the top if not for her. See for yourself the stairs to get here…

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They should maintain the majestic structure more. At least renovate the stairs. It was too beautiful to go to waste.

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Island hopping for a bit. Or more like beach hopping. From one shore to another.

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How’s the shore? Good, actually. I’m even holding on to the boat. Fully equipped w/ life jacket.

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I would probably keep on coming back to this place. Truly enjoyable.

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This is my summer story for 2016.

This is my travel diary.

Until next trip.

❤,

F.L.

 

 

 

Art In Island

What to…

BRING = Camera and your squad. The more, the more. I mean, the merrier. And don’t forget the spare memory card and battery. 😁

DO = Take pictures.

WEAR = Dress up (we should have dressed up).

 

Destination: ART IN ISLAND

It’s an interactive art museum located at 175 15th Ave., Brgy. Socorro, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila.

 

When to go…

On your birthday. Free entrance fee! Yay! 😂 Hahahaha. So as we were reading the policies, posters outside the museum, I saw that the entrance fee (Php 500.00 for adults and Php 400.00 for kids) was actually free for those whose birthdays were a day before, the same day, or the day after. And yup, since it was a day after my birthday when we went to the museum, it’s on them. Their friendly staff even greeted me happy birthday.

We really enjoyed taking pictures for hours. Going to Art In Island is like being pulled in a time warp zone. You won’t realize how long you’ve been taking pictures. Well, not until you get to the exit (after a decade hahaha) and see that it’s already nighttime.

 

So how does it work…

  1. Bring your camera. I mean, I don’t know what you’re going to do there if you don’t bring your camera. It’s an art museum, but you will appreciate it more if you see the effects on your phones or cameras.
  2. Be prepared to go barefooted. Wear nice socks and leave the ones with holes at home. Or go barefooted. And yeah, clean your nails. But either way, I bet that everyone there is busy taking pictures to even notice if your socks got holes or you haven’t got a pedicure in ages.
  3. Pay the entrance fee and you’re up for a very fun adventure in a two-storey building.

 

How to take the pictures…

  1. There are instructions. Plus, they also put several examples or poses you could do.
  2. The staff are friendly and they will offer to take pictures for you.
  3. Put on your most dramatic face because you will be eaten by dinosaurs and sea creatures over and over again. Practice your scared look. It would be a great help.
  4. Be creative. Try all sorts of things. Have fun.

 

Some of my favorite shots:

 

Check out our vlog:

 

 

Let’s Get Lost in Zambales

In the most literal sense, our escapade last weekend was indeed a nature trip. We were far from civilization. There were no cellphone signals. No electricity. It was an escape to find more about life. To discover who you are in this vast world, perhaps. To see more of what life has to offer. To watch a falling star–catch it in your hands if you could. To talk with your friends underneath the moonlight. To feel the cool wind of the night on your skin and let the cricket’s lullaby hum you to sleep. To stretch out your hands closer to the fire and warm your body as the temperature went down early morning. All these things and the memory it brings. A trip like no other. Let’s get lost in Zambales. It’s a beautiful place.

 

DESTINATION 1: MOUNT PINATUBO

Going there…
1. From Cubao/Manila, take any bus that will pass by Capas, Tarlac. There are tons of them out there. There’s always a trip every twenty minutes. Get off at Capas Junction (look for McDo and Caltex). (around 3 hours)
2. From Capas Junction, ride a tricycle to Sta. Juliana. Trike’s terminal just across the street from McDonalds. (30 minutes)
3. Coordinate with the tourism office and book a 4×4 ride. In our case, we took a package tour, including lunch, 4×4, guide, and all the fees.

Honestly, the ride from Laguna to Cubao took longer than the one from Cubao to Capas, Tarlac hahaha. Or that was how it felt. We were stuck in traffic for hours. We arrived at Cubao at around past 11 in the evening. We stayed in a budget hotel for a while to get an hour or two of sleep (which I didn’t).

Then at around 3 in the morning, we went to have a quick breakfast. And then around 4, we were on our way to Capas, Tarlac.


What we did right: nothing… haha just kidding. We were so good at running and begging the tourism office/coordinator to please let us climb that day lol.

What we did wrong: Eat breakfast at 3 in the morning in Cubao. We should have gone straight to Tarlac and ate breakfast at the McDo there.

Friendly advice: leave Cubao at around 3 in the morning. Without traffic, you will get to Capas, Tarlac at around 6 or 7. Just enough time for the 30 mins. tricycle ride to Sta. Juliana.

Anyway… it was fun and it turned out to be for the better. Because there was a slight rainfall that day–ulambon, as we call it. The covered 4×4 ride (last one that was available for that day) really came out to be handy.

Yes, our bags were all packed up and ready to go. We were up to climb Mount Pinatubo… without a reservation. LOL. Okay, so here’s the deal. When it’s peak season or a long weekend (totally forgot this one), it’s better to make a reservation. It was almost a miracle that we were able to climb that day, as almost all of the 4×4 trucks were already on their way to Mount Pinatubo when we arrived.

Here are the contact details of this very generous person who accommodated us despite everything:
Alvin’s Mount Pinatubo Guest House and Tours
Sir Alvin
09198614102

Take note: leave Manila early. Cut off time for the climb is around 7:30 am to 8:00 am. We arrived at Sta. Juliana a few minutes before 8:00. See? We were good at running. And pleading.

We got the last 4×4 ride available. It wasn’t open, like the others. Instead, the 4×4 had a roof and all. Which also turned out to be a good thing, because the weather was unpredictable. Everything works out for the better, aye? 🙂

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After some briefing and filling out the forms, we were on our way to Mount Pinatubo.

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The 4×4 ride was bumpy… of course. But so fun. It took us around one hour to get to the starting point of the trek.
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beforehike2beforehike3Still looking fresh. Don’t ask what we looked like a few minutes later.

As we kept on walking…

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walking…

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Look! We were still walking…hike2

The scenery changed, but yeah, still walking…hike3

The hike’s literally three hours of walking to and three more down (for us, anyway). But it’s more or less the same for the others. Or for those who were not interested on taking pictures all the time hahaha.

But very important thing: Don’t forget your bottled water and sports drink. At least three liters for one person. This is not a joke. Drink water and sports drink as you go. Your body will thank you for that. And of course, bring chocolates. It’s your easiest source of glucose/sugar for the hike.

And slather sunblock all over your arms and face and legs.

Don’t forget your malong. Come rain or sunshine. It’s very helpful.

The weather during our hike was favorable to the point of we couldn’t imagine it otherwise. It was raining a bit, but not a downpour. The sun was barely out there. Or if it was, the clouds would cover it after several minutes. And with that, all five hundred or so of us who climbed that day experienced a very favorable weather to climb Mount Pinatubo.

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Just a bit of Wikipedia excerpt:
Mount Pinatubo (Filipino: Bundok Pinatubo) is an active stratovolcano in the Cabusilan Mountains on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga.Before the volcanic activities of 1991, its eruptive history was unknown to most people. It was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view. It was covered with dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

The volcano’s Plinian / Ultra-Plinian eruption on 15 June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula. Complicating the eruption was the arrival of Typhoon Yunya (Diding), bringing a lethal mix of ash and rain to areas surrounding the volcano. Successful predictions at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but the surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and subsequently, by the lahars caused by rainwaters re-mobilizing earlier volcanic deposits causing extensive destruction to infrastructure and changing the river systems months to years after the eruption.

~~~~~

Our driver/tour guide pointed out to us the original parts of the volcano and the ones that were formed from the lahar. At first, we didn’t notice it. It was hard to tell, as everything appeared to be white (lahar).

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I was only two years old when it erupted. I’d only heard stories from my mom, lola and other relatives. Seeing the aftermath of a tragedy decades ago, I couldn’t help but wonder how it must have felt when it happened.

And now, here it was–a hundred 4×4 rides parked at the start of the trail.
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Back to our hiking story…

Of course, after an hour of walking, we already wanted to have a short stop over in the middle of nowhere.

More or less, this was what we all looked like.

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But our guide urged us that we were only a few minutes away from the first stop or middle stop or the stop before going to the crater. He did say that it was only a few minutes away. Almost an hour later (again), we started thinking that maybe our guide had a different timeframe. We were definitely not there yet. Haha! But either way, we pushed on until we–finally–arrived at the said stop.

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Yes, we ate McDo here (our supposedly take-out breakfast/second breakfast; yes, we’re very much hungry). We kept on joking how it would have been if we had asked McDo to deliver the food here. The deliveryman had to walk for hours before even doing the trek, or he would have ridden/rented a 4×4 and that would be more costly than the actual price of the meals that we were eating. We pretty much had fun imagining the McDo’s delivery guy what ifs, out there in the middle of Pinatubo. Blame our tiredness or lack of sleep or really, us being us.

And so after eating the legendary McDo breakfast out here in Pinatubo, we went along and headed to the crater. EEEEEEEP! *breathe in and out* *excitement and, well, exhaustion lol*

20 minutes to crater. They said.

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Um, okay… let’s see… I was not raising my hopes up or anything.

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After five hours–oops! Just kidding. Just an hour, probably, we finally arrived at the crater. There was traffic on our way. Of course, out here in the mountain, why not blame it, too? Hahaha! But yes, slightly traffic because of the other climbers going down and we had to stop for a while and give way and vice versa.


And here’s the crater!

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or that was more like us… anyway.

After having a great time laughing around at the viewing deck, we went down to the crater itself.

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An aftermath of a tragedy.
But here I stood, amazed on how breathtaking you could be.

Some more things we did there…


Goofing around! This will always be part of any trips with them.
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And the water on the crater’s lake. No filter.

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I actually have a vlog down below. See it for more behind the scenes moments and fooling around–here, there, and everywhere.

Costing of Pinatubo escapade:
⦁ Manila to Capas, Tarlac Bus Fare – Php 200.00 *one way
⦁ Trike from Capas, Tarlac to Sta. Juliana – Php 300.00 (good for 3-4) *one way
⦁ Tour (including all the fees and 4×4 ride and lunch and water) – Php 1,650.00/person
Rough breakdown of the tour package:
Local Guide Fee – Php 100.00/person
Conservation Fee – Php 300.00/person
Shower after trek – Php 50.00/person
Note: There were other fees, but I lost my cheat sheet. Hahaha! All in all, it was almost the same price + lunch and no hassle. I recommend that you book a tour with them. Worth it.

What to wear:
-light clothes
-keep your backpack light as well
-comfortable shoes that easily gets dried. There are lot of streams that you will have to pass. In fact, streams probably composed one third of the trek. Or sturdy slippers (Islander or Sandugo).

Our second lunch before going back to our 4×4 ride:

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This was the lunch that was included in the tour package. Yum!

And we were on our way back…

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After one tiring adventure, if like us, you couldn’t move an inch of your body anymore, I recommend booking a room beforehand. Our original plan was to head straight to Zambales and look for a room there. But as tired as we were, we could barely think straight. We all wanted one thing–sleep.

So we had no choice but to look for a room in Capas, Tarlac. After our futile search (fully-booked hotels/inns to another), we ended up at Ves Food Resort and Villas.

Okay, it was costly for a backpacking trip, but we had no choice. We badly wanted to sleep and call it a night. Their family room was already booked, so we had no choice but to get two separate rooms. Thankfully, the receptionist was kind enough to understand the tiredness in our entire beings, us on a budget trip, and gave us a bit of discount.

Aftermath of Pinatubo hike:
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I’m so tempted to post the picture of the one lurking around in our room while we were dead sleep. So here goes. Look who was awake… and who were not hahaha.


Room cost for the night with free breakfast – Php 600.00

But that was really a good sleep. Did you know that we were all fighting (to a certain degree; mundane quarrels between friends) the night before while we were eating at Chowking? We really didn’t know if we were going to Zambales, go home, and with the room being so costly hahaha. Until we’d all gave up and called it a night.

The morning after, we were all smiles again. As if nothing happened hahaha. Sometimes, all you need is a good night sleep and all is well.


Tip: search for a room around Capas, Tarlac if you have other plans like us; or you could also head straight home (best of luck, by the way). The tiredness I felt after the hike was incomparable. I couldn’t imagine if we didn’t have plans to go to Anawangin the day after and rather went straight home that day. I doubt if we could even make it back home all in one day. Or maybe that was just us hahahaha.

 

DESTINATION 2: ANAWANGIN

So yes, day 2 of our Zambales escapade. We went back to Dau, Angeles in order to ride a bus going to Olongapo. (not more than Php 200.00; sorry, I couldn’t remember the exact amounts anymore)

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Then in Olongapo, we rode a bus going to Iba, Zambales. (Php 58.00)

We got off at San Antonio Public Market, where we ate lunch and bought food and supplies for our camping trip. A little after lunch, we rode a tricycle to Pandaquit. (Php 30.00/person)

Sir Alvin (from our Pinatubo escapade) gave us the contact details of Ms. Precy before we left. We thank you so much for this little info, Sir Alvin. Ms. Precy was probably one of the nicest tour coordinators you’d ever meet. She gave us the tour for Php 1,500 (Php 300.00/person) and the tents for only Php 250.00 each (good for three person; we had to take two). As for the other things (caldero, butane burner, etc.), she rented them to us for free. 🙂

Ms. Precy’s contact details
09293832877

Tip: Rent a tent before going to the island. It’s much cheaper that way.

Other costing:
⦁ Overnight camping fee (Anawangin): Php 100.00
⦁ Bonfire sticks/kahoy/woods: Php 150.00/bundle
*We used this to cook our food and also as a way to stay warm and have a source of light. Really enjoyed the bonfire moments.

On our way to Anawangin Cove!

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And a very picturesque shot of Anawangin Cove. Nice one, Sida.

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Setting up the tent:

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Someone seemed to be enjoying it…

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But before the bonfire moments, we took another hike (’cause we couldn’t get enough hahaha *sarcasm* of it) to get a good view of the island, Anawangin Cove.
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anawangin4The blue, blue sky.

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As the sky was wrapped up in different hues, I stared at you.

The beach at sunset. Lovely.

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Back to campsite.

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Are we out of the woods yet?

12318332_10206948774671331_1146300560_oAnd then it’s almost nighttime. Time for the sun to go down and the darkness to fill the camping site. And it was so much fun. You don’t get to experience this kind of set-up often.

I loved the serenity of the night and the camp fires for each group. The sound of the guitar. The smoke taking care of the mosquitoes. Every single thing. It was so tranquil.

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And here was how we prepared our food.

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Truth: everything was so unplanned that we didn’t even think of bringing proper food like tilapia or bangus or barbeque, etc. But this was the best spicy sardines and hotdog and luncheon meat and rice we’d ever tasted. Sand toppings and all hahaha. But it was fun and our stomachs were full after a sumptuous meal. 😀

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Fun time!
So while they were suggesting that they should take a dip in the ocean that night, I wasn’t up for it and was suggesting to my other friend that we should do stargazing instead. I was able to convince her hahaha.

So we went to the beach to do just that–stargazing and they would take a dip in the ocean. But the waves were strong that the evening.

In the end, we all laid down on the beach, looking at stars. The night was so clear and the stars were so bright.

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The highlight of the night was when all saw shooting stars. Who would have thought? I was the last one to see a shooting star, because I was busy taking pictures (epic fail; need to learn how to take pictures of stars) when they all saw one. Funny thing was, an hour after, I saw a shooting star while all of them were fast asleep out there on the beach.

At ten in the evening–I woke them up–and we all went back to our campsite. After freshening up, we all got ready to call it a night and sleep in our tents.

Good to know: there were shower areas.

Before sleeping… there had been an ambush interview (they really didn’t let me off the hook) about things. After which, we all went to sleep. Or tried to. It was a cold morning.

And daybreak…

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Don’t tell anyone… but I was trying to find the sunrise from the same spot where the sunset had been last night. Even our bangkero laughed at my out of place way of thinking. Of course… the sun had risen on the other side of the hemisphere. Me and my thought process hahaha. Sorry. 😀

And then it’s time to leave.

Bye, bye Anawangin.

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DESTINATION 3: CAPONES

This was the unplanned part of the trip, but it was included in the package. We didn’t get to explore Capones because one of us had to make it to work that same day. So we only lingered on the beautiful island for about an hour before wrapping up our trip. The shortcut to the lighthouse in Capones was about fifteen to twenty minutes of hike. But since there were a lot of rocks on the shore that time, if we wanted to climb to the lighthouse, we had to trek for an hour to and an hour back. We didn’t have much time left. So Capones lighthouse, we’ll be back for sure.

But even at the shore, we really had a great time.

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Zambales has so much to offer. It was a good trip. Like all the others, it was unforgettable. The sheer laughters that resounded in the stillness of the night. The company of great friends. The warmth that fills your soul as you get closer to nature. This is our Mount Pinatubo and Anawangin trip–our Zambales escapade. Until next time! 🙂

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Mount Pinatubo ’15 vlog:

Anawangin and Capones ’15 vlog:

 

 

love lots,

Freesia

Beach. Sea. Puerto Galera ’15.

Here’s the backstory:

Our college tropa was supposed to come home this January. A week later after we booked our Puerto Galera Trip, plans had changed and she wasn’t able to come back. But generous she was, she told us to go ahead and enjoy our stay there.

So we did.

January 23, 2015

7.30am

We were off to Batangas Pier. I was the last one to arrive at the bus station, because I got home late from work the night before and was dead tired that I unintentionally shut off my alarm. But the bus driver was patient enough to wait for me, who was around ten minutes late, or else, we would have waited for the next trip and would be an hour delayed. Not a great idea, seeing that the weather wasn’t at its most preferable state.

As we were getting near Batangas Pier, the clouds became more apparent and so were the winds. Not a good sign for our boat ride. And it was a chilly morning (up until night and the following day).

At Batangas Pier, we bought roundtrip tickets and paid the terminal fee. 10am was when we boarded on the boat (mini one… don’t know how to call it). We waited for the other passengers, eating and laughing so much the other passengers kept glancing our way (smiling, which was a relief haha). After half an hour, the anchor was pulled up and we were on our way to Puerto Galera.

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As (not) expected, the boat ride was like a rollercoaster. Literally. Halfway to Mindoro, where Puerto Galera was located, everyone was silent. Which meant all of us were probably concentrating hard not to throw up. No one did, thankfully. Hahaha. Or that would be embarrassing.

Since the waves were rough and the boat couldn’t make it to our destination, White Beach, we were dropped off at the terminal. Or I think it was the terminal. It started to rain when we got off the boat, and we were more than eager to go by land from there. That was how seasick we were feeling.

A minivan picked us up from the terminal and brought us to White Beach. The ride was longer than expected, and there was a guy in front of us who kept on talking about his almost throwing up and it made my stomach uneasy again. He seemed to get the idea that everyone else was feeling uncomfortable with his portrayal and very convincing way of storytelling, and he talked about some other things instead. Something about commercials and the actors and how much it cost the company, including one famous actor and commercial endorser.

When the car had stopped, what we saw were houses. Concrete two-storey houses. We were like, ‘Okay, we don’t see any beach around here.’ The locals smiled at us. After a minute of walking, we finally saw the beach, and it was beautiful.

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It was smaller compared to other beaches I’d been to before. But this one was lively, in a sense that a lot of people were around. I got used to serenity when it came to spending time at the beach, but the flip-side wasn’t that bad.

Stores and restaurants lined-up the beach shore. People were walking to and fro everywhere. And it was only Friday.

First thing we did was enjoy the beach. Of course! Haha. We went to our very accommodating mini-hotel, Blue Water Lodge, put down our bags, picked some clothes, and quickly headed outside.

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The sun was hiding behind the clouds, but the drizzle was also refreshing. We were approached by locals and asked if we wanted to do some activities and tours. We’d decided to do the snorkeling the next day, and settled to a body massage for that day. Two of us went kayaking. I once did that when we were in Quezon and I bet the arm pain would feel the same, so I said no. So did the other two, having the same reason as I did.

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For the first day, it was mostly photoshoot. I really had fun filming them and taking pictures.

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Taking a crablet video:

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(see vlog for cutie crablet)

It was an hour before sunset when we had our body massage. And we saw a rainbow after. It was beautiful.

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Then we took some sunset shots. Haha. I really had no idea what we were supposed to be here.

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Shocked feet.              Shy feet.

After some delicious dinner, we finally called it a day and fell asleep right after our heads hit the pillow. That was how tired we were. We were snoring before we knew it.

January 24, 2015

7:00 am – wake up! wake up!

So this is where the fun starts.

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I personally didn’t expect much with the snorkeling tour/ many more activities. When we went to Quezon, I didn’t see a thing when we went snorkeling. Given the fact that I had a pretty bad eyesight and wouldn’t risk wearing contact lens underwater. But this time, snorkeling was the real thing, so it had caught me off guard. And thank you to the water droplets inside my goggles, I saw half of the beauty the experience had to offer. It wasn’t even that vivid for me, but I was already blown away.

Bad news is, we weren’t able to take pictures of the snorkeling experience. So let me describe it to you by words, like the way I usually do in my stories.

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We went on board a semi-boat. Medium one, compared to the one we boarded in order to get to Puerto Galera. And from the semi-boat, we were transferred to an even smaller boat. Now this was where it had all started.

After several minutes of travel in the water, the small boat had stopped and we were handed our snorkeling device. And then Kuya said to get down into the water. Equipped with life vests, that was easy to do. Then Kuya said to hold on to the raft and he would slowly drag us in the water, across the promised enjoyable experience with the fish and the sea and giant clams and the corals.

We went along and did what he told us to do. He taught us how to use the snorkeling device and what not to do – breathe through your nose, because that would make water go inside your goggles. It was hard at first, but we figured out how to use it. Then after several minutes, we saw what they called as giant clams. Plenty of them. So beautiful. I was in awe, so much in awe that I was squealing.

There were fishes. Lots of fishes. Different color fishes. And it was so amazing.

There was this big fish, like the size of your arm and it was bluish green and it was so beautiful! Nemo giddy feeling all over. We were like, ‘There’s Nemo! Look! Nemo!’ Okay, so we called every fish as Nemo, but we got to admit that that guy was popular. Anywho, so yes! it was so amazing. What was running in my head during that time was this: The closer you get to nature, the more humbled you will be by its Creator. God truly made the world so beautiful.

And after a while and so many fishes and school of them!, the mini boat had stopped and Kuya told us to feed the fish. We were like, ‘What if they eat us alive?’ Okay, that was an exaggerated thought, but we did ask Kuya questions like that somewhere between that line. And then he said that the fishes didn’t have teeth and they needed false teeth if they wanted to eat us. That made sense haha. I mean, they weren’t piranhas. They were aquarium fishes haha.

Still, when Kuya handed us the pandesal (bread) we brought, nobody wanted to feed the fish. Seriously, what if they would eat us instead? Hahaha. Or at least that was what I was thinking. After several minutes of Kuya persuading us to feed the fishes, one of us did. Not me, of course. I was still thinking that they were so plenty they could have made us their meal lol. And when someone did feed the fish with the bread, they swarmed around us. It was a momentary panic attack for me. They were everywhere and they were so many and they were so unknown hahaha.

But they didn’t eat us or anything. Confession: I still couldn’t feed them in the end, so I just threw the bread underwater. Catch the bread, fish! I actually made them fetch.

After the fish feeding experience, which was an epic fail for half of the group, we went to the coral reef. This was when I lost it. Seriously lost it. The corals were so arms-length that Kuya told us to keep calm and stay afloat and don’t squirm around. Even with a bad eyesight, the corals were so near. And no words could describe the feeling of getting that near to them T.T So beautiful. I was so afraid that we would harm them or touch them accidentally, but we didn’t. We just had to stay still and the corals would be fine. There were so many of them, different kinds and shapes and colors and all of them were beautiful. This bursting happiness in your heart, it happened as I was looking at the corals.

And we ended up on an island with an underwater cave. We really didn’t know what we were going to see, so we took our time at the shore. The group who came before us said that we should try eating the raw sea urchins.

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No one wanted to do just that. But as their boat was leaving, the group who came before us convinced us that we should try it. Definitely, must try. And then it became some sort of I-dare-you challenge among us haha. And you could see that we actually enjoyed the experience.

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The taste of the raw sea urchin (with vinegar) was actually pretty good for me. That was why they said we should try it. I agree with what they said. It was a good dare. You guys should also try it sometime.

No one brought a camera, but Kuya volunteered to get it from the medium boat. That was really nice of him. And when he came back, we finally knew why he insisted that we should have a camera with us. Because we wouldn’t want to miss taking pictures here.

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There was a rock there and we stood in circle and we were trying so hard not to fall and at least get a shot. Kuya was a pro haha. His shots were great.

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The underwater cave was a perfect spot for soul searching. It felt like you were one with the ocean and it was so peaceful down there. We wished we could have stayed longer.

We weren’t in any form of hurry, so we took our time at the beach shore and enjoyed the view some more.

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Just imagine leaving it to memory and having no pictures. No justice at all.

So thank you Kuya for getting the camera for us and for being so patient with us.

After that memorable underwater cave experience, we went back to the medium boat and on to island hopping. The first island had a restaurant, but we only ordered fresh buko (coconut) juice. After finishing the very tasty treat, we headed off to another island. This one looked deserted. But it turned out to be an ideal place to take pictures.

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And then we’d decided to stay and have a chat about what we’d just experienced.

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And the waves kept on bothering us.

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Like bothering us throwing us back to shore.

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Which made us laugh.

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And laugh.

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And laugh.

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After the tour, we went to the market. The ride to and fro answered the question of why it was costly to go there. Yup, there were no streetlights and it was already late at night. After buying things, we ate some food. Then after that, we went back to White Beach.

On our way back, our tricycle driver told us stories. Of course. I mean, what was the use of the night and no streetlights? Time for some spooky stories. I wouldn’t tell you what he told us. Instead, I would tell you that he turned off the lights of the tricycle and we all thought that it was the end. Final Destination the end. Hahaha we thought it was unintentional and the tricycle broke and another car would hit us or someone would appear and kidnap us and man, it would be the end of everything. But the tricycle driver only wanted to see our reaction. This was when he started telling the stories. It was a nice spooky chat. And well, at least we didn’t go all Final Destination during our trip.

This was Day 2 dinner. The feast:

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Okay, here’s another funny story that night. We misheard that there would be fireworks display hahaha. So we kept on waiting for it.

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It didn’t happen. Because there was none. A vendor confirmed that there was no fireworks, just fire dance. We were like, ‘Oh.’ Very expresionless.

And then called it a night and there was a horror movie when we turned on the TV. Scared as most of us were, we slept it off. After that spooky chat with our tricycle driver, we weren’t in the mood for horror stories. Or for me, for any other day.

I slept with so many layers of clothes. Brrrrr.
January 25, 2015
7:00 am – wake up! tears because we’re going home
Then came the sun. Striking and hot and sunny.
Our third day was mostly spent looking for pasalubong.

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When the weather’s nice and sunny, the beach looked a lot like a beach.

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We played a little volleyball while waiting for the boarding time.

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Then water Iron Man came:

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And the time had come to say goodbye.

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We would surely miss this place.

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Here’s a vlog I made:

Until my next blog entry (which I hope will become frequent),

F.L.

Hi, Cagbalete

Date: June 06-08, 2014

What: Fun

 

By now you know how much I love going on trips. Our latest trip was last month.

Destination: the beautiful, Cagbalete.

Where: Northern Quezon

 

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And I have lots of pictures.

 

Boarded: Buendia, 11pm

Landed: Lucena Grand Central Terminal, around 4am

Meaning: No sleep. Nothing.

 

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Then we boarded on the minibus to Mauban, Quezon. Another hour or so. But since it was not even daybreak, we got there pretty faster than we did when we came home.

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That’s the minibus and it was almost full. Good thing we asked instead of waiting for the said time of departure. Which in turn…

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made us arrive at the Mauban Port at around 5 in the morning. The first boat trip was 10:00am, and we were five hours early. Sleepless and all. But you have to agree that the sunrise pretty much made up for everything else.

 

So while they were discussing…

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I was taking pictures. The sunrise was perfection. *Cue Daylight*

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And it’s time to get some breakfast, and we have no idea where. Then came pancit habhab:

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While waiting for the first boat to arrive, I kept on taking picture, like planned.

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The town came alive.

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And finally, after the long wait (search for food and all that), here comes the boat. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the boat itself with all the commotion of boarding and getting inside. So while waiting for the boat to get filled, we took some pics inside.

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An hour long boat trip happened. We fell asleep; we woke up. And then we had to transfer to a smaller boat. I really thought we would flip over, but then, not. They knew better.

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AND yes, while scared as is, I still managed to look at the camera and smile. That’s my scared like crazy smile. Haha. Look at everyone else, they were all wondering if the small boat would flip or not.

 

And after several minutes of trekking, we finally arrived at the beach!!!

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And here’s our lovely accommodation:

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And after grabbing (and devouring) some delicious lunch, we’re up to a tour.

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Who’s excited?

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We are!!!

 

First destination, the mangroves. Little ones. Cute little ones.

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So much fun, as you could see…

 

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(Seductive?)

 

 

So we figured out to have some more fun instead…

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After the visit to the mangroves, we’re off to the other destination.

 

And we didn’t expect (or maybe just I) that it would take another hour or so.

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And look who fell asleep haha.

 

You know where we were headed to?

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An old lighthouse. So far, far away.

 

And from deep blue, the water started to mellow towards green.

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And here’s what they did:

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It was not low tide, hardly. As you can see, the waves were raging.

But when Kuya (our tourguide) said that it was pretty up there, they got out.

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I took pictures… of the beautiful migratory birds

and them.

Keep on going, going, going…

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But you know the funny thing I did later? I also went after them, with the two others who lingered behind and doubted if it was really safe or not.

It’s not, but where’s the fun?

There.

Up.

The.

Coral reef.

Sadly.

I thought.

They.

Were. Rocks.

Just Rocks.

BUT no, they were corals.

Really sharp ones.

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But when we reached the lighthouse, thankfully with someone carrying a camera, we had to take pictures! We had to. Haha.

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And they made it look so easy. We were bleeding, with multiple cuts on legs and feet.

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