Summer — The Virgin Island Way | Bantayan Part 2

Our second day in Bantayan Island started before daybreak. A noise coming from the kitchen awakened me. Ace was preparing our breakfast as well as our food for later’s island hopping. I got up to help him, but I accidentally cut my finger while cutting the onions. That left him to do the most of the cooking.

By 6am, breakfast was served in a military style which we Filipinos call “boodle fight”. Our friends, especially Niña finally got to taste Ace’s bean soup (monggos) and sweet and sour dried fish. We also had hotdogs, scrambled eggs and tocino for the kids. Our host gave us steamed scallops which by the way, abundant in the area.

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Boodle-fight breakfast.
After the sumptuous breakfast, everyone readied for the day’s activity. In few minutes, we were already in a small boat heading to our first destination – the Virgin Island.

Ace and I hadn’t been there. The name seemed to promise a stunning, untouched place. Pictures of fine sand, turquoise water, and beautiful beach played in my mind while our boat fought the intimidating waves. A big splash interrupted me from my reverie. I put my eyes forward and saw a long stretch of white sand gleaming against the summer sun from afar. Contrary to the peaceful and untouched place I had imagined earlier, there were many small boats like ours beached in the area.

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By the looks of it, Virgin Island is seemingly frequented by visitors. Although there are neighboring islands such as Malapascua and Guintarcan, boats to Virgin Island are relatively cheaper.

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The lifeguard is on duty. (Ace)
Whilst I was wrong about the serenity of the place, I exclaimed a big wow the moment my feet touched the sand as I got off the boat. Why not? The place was wonderful. Although it has lost its vestal state because of its popularity among tourists, it’s still fairly worth its name.

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The island, by the way, is privately owned. An entrance fee of Php 500 for the first two persons and Php 100 for every additional head. It has a resort and is already developed. Their staffs are available everywhere should you have questions. We suggest you buy your provisions in the mainland if you’re on a tight budget because the goods here are a bit pricey. There are cottages which you can rent or you can opt to lay your beach mat to save money.

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Truth be told, there is nothing much to do on the island but snorkeling, fish feeding, and of course swimming. There is a marine sanctuary but it doesn’t have that colorful marine biodiversity you expect to see.

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Our brief stay on the island was mostly spent eating our food and exploring the area. Well, swimming, too but not that long. Ace and I are not really beach-people so we easily get enough of it.

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A rational thought about Virgin Island:

Virgin Island had denied us the tranquility we sought for, but we had a great time though. We must admit that we came at the wrong time. It was the peak of the summer season in the Philippines. We were wrong to expect peace and quiet in a beautiful place like this. We shouldn’t have expected anything in the first place. Our expectation was such a selfish thought. 

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Demi’s personal thought about Bantayan Island:

I know some of you will react to this, but I’m saying this anyway.

I don’t concord to that conventional impression about the place. I’ve been to some islands in the Philippines and honestly, Bantayan Island is not one you’ll fall in love on your first step. (There I said it. Don’t bash me, please!) 

No, I didn’t feel the love at first sight like I did with Sipaway Island. Perhaps two days was not enough to know her and it was too early to judge. Perhaps I had huge expectations. Perhaps I was busy comparing her to other islands and missed to see the real her beauty.

One thing is sure though. Bantayan Island gave me that curiosity and desire to know her more. Bantayan sent me home thinking about when to go back. Taking into consideration the stories about how beautiful the island is, I was more perplexed on how I didn’t see it. The more reason why I have to come back.

 

So, we shall see you soon again, Bantayan! Thank you for the summer!

 

Love, Ace and Demi

 

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Our Summer Story in Bantayan Island | Part 1

If the southern part of Cebu features the most explored mountain ranges, waterfalls, and also known to be home of the extreme adventure – canyoneering, the northern Cebu prides its stunning white sand beaches, paradise-like islets, healthy marine life and beautiful diving spots.

An impulsive trip brought us to one of the paradise in the northern part of the province — Bantayan Island.

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Get to know Bantayan Island:

Tucked in the west part of the northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is an island group that consists of small islets mostly uninhabited.  Bantayan is the largest island of the group. The towns of Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan lie here, too.
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Welcome to paradise!

 How to get there:

  • From Cebu, you can take a bus or a van bound for Hagnaya Port from the North Bus Terminal. Depending on what bus you’re riding, the fare is around Php160-180.
  • Secure a ferry ticket from Hagnaya Port (Php180) and pay the terminal fee (Php10). NOTE: If you are bringing your pets with you, don’t forget to get a local transport permit for them. No permit, no transport.)
  • Once you arrive in the port of Sta Fe, you can ride a tricycle to your preferred hostel. Some hostels arrange transport and tour, you may inquire from your host.
  • You can rent a bicycle or a motorcycle to tour the island. There are also motorcycles that offer land tours.

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Our summer story in Bantayan Island:

Our trip to Bantayan Island was unplanned. One day before our departure, Bantayan island never crossed our minds. Ace and I, in fact, were thinking of spending the weekend doing the laundry. It was around 8 pm on Friday when Niña and I talked about going there together. Without any second thought, I agreed. My class finished at 10:30 pm. Niña said we were departing at 3 am which was only a few hours away. Since it was an unexpected outing, we didn’t have Elliot’s transport permit. We had no choice but to leave him in my sister’s care.

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We arrived at Hagnaya Port and had our breakfast while waiting for Niña’s sister who lives in San Remigio. They arrived a little late, it was already 9:30 when we took a ferry to the island. Upon arrival, we wasted no time and immediately took a tricycle to Sta Fe Guest House which was our home for 2 days. Our friendly host greeted us at the gate. I like how our hostel is located just a few minutes away from the marketplace and few steps away from the beach.

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Lunch at Big Jel’s Restomeat.
The same tricycle picked us up at 1 pm for a land tour. Our first stop was Big Jel’s Restomeat for lunch. Ace and I personally suggest you try eating here because aside from the big serving, their food is delicious and affordable.

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After filling up our tummies, we headed to Oboob Mangrove Garden, also known as the OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association)It aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves and the role it plays in the ecosystem. The mangroves serve as the home of different underwater species.

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Ace and Demi at Oboob Mangrove Garden.

This mangrove garden has an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php20 for kids. They also have this big sign showing where the entrance fee go. Now, that’s what you call transparency.

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When the tide is high, you can tour the area by kayaking. We, on the other hand, chose to walk into the bamboo boardwalk.

Few meters from the entrance, there is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and refreshments.

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Ace and Demi in Oboob Mangrove Garden.
The kids bought some fish food in a small store along the way. We rested in the bamboo hut while watching them feeding the fish.

We also climbed the makeshift bamboo tower to see the entire mangrove garden from above. Only 3 people are allowed to climb at once for safety purposes. Because many visitors lined up to climb the tower, you can’t stay there for more than 5 minutes.

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Ace and Demi
Soon after we explored the place, we headed to our next stop — the Paradise Beach. It was supposed a secluded beach area but due to the influx of tourist, the place became crowded.

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Niña is enjoying the sun, the sand and the waves. 

 

But that didn’t make the place less of a paradise. The long strip of powdery white sand was worth its name. The beach has the finest sand we have seen.

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Ace at the diving cliff. 
Our next stop was the Diving Cliff near a building ruin. Niña and I were eager to jump in the cliff. Yet, our spirits hid somewhere upon seeing how deep and high it was.

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The Ruin is completely ruined. 
We were supposed to drop by Ogtong Cave in Sta Fe Beach Club, but we agreed to skip it and went to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.

Everybody was tired, especially Ace, Niña and I because we didn’t have enough sleep. (It’s right to say, we didn’t have sleep at all.) We scheduled an island hopping the next day, so we decided to call it a day.

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Stay tuned for the story of our Virgin Island adventure!

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

 

 

 

We Left Our Hearts in The Islands of Dinagat. | Dinagat Islands

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

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On our way to Dinagat Island.

That’s what we exactly did when we visited one of the underrated group of islands in the country — the Dinagat Islands. Also called the Mystical Island Province of Love, the place was incredibly alluring.

We went to the island with ALL our hearts, but we left them there.

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Duyos beach sandbar. 

I don’t know any other word to describe this group of islands other than surreal and mystical. It has the ability to capture the hearts of every visitor including ours.

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Demi during the break of dawn. 

Our sojourn started before cockcrow as we took the first ferry ride to the mainland of this young province. I was feeling drowsy but I didn’t want to miss the beautiful sunrise as it started to paint the sky. Ace and I stepped out of the passenger seats and went to the deck to get a glimpse of the first light of the day.

 

The warmth of the new day and the cool breeze of the wind was telling us that it was going to be a wonderful day. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect in Dinagat Islands because the place is usually overlooked and does not make much fuss. In fact, I really didn’t have any idea about it in the first place.

As a wanderer, I have this thought that there is beauty everywhere if you know how to look at it.  But I did not expect that this island province has so much beauty that it made me leave my heart on it.

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The gang during our arrival. 

My heart skipped a beat as our ride neared the port of San Jose. My friends were already up and we prepared to get off the boat. It docked in a small pier and we were welcomed with this row of houses.

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Row of houses in San Jose. 

At first sight, the place does not seem to offer anything special. But one thing I’ve learned from traveling is to never underestimate a humble place like this.

We walked through the streets of San Jose to meet our guide and transferred to a smaller boat for the tour. Our guide prepared a sumptuous breakfast for us which we ate on board while on our way to our first stop.

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A picturesque spot on the other side of Isla Aga.

Our first stop was a private islet called Isla Aga. It has an abandoned resthouse which was owned by the famous Ecleo family – the most powerful clan in Dinagat Islands. If you guys are familiar with PBMA (Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association), then yes, I’m talking about Ruben Ecleo Sr.’s family.

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Ace in Isla Aga.

From the balcony of the house, smaller islets which seem to be floating in the cerulean sea surrounding this private island is a sight to behold.

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A stunning vista of the islets from the abandoned rest house in Isla Aga.

At the back of the resthouse was a hanging bridge suspended above the crystal clear water. However, the bridge was already broken.

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The broken hanging bridge.

We did not miss dipping into the water here, of course.

After few minutes, we decided to resume our tour. We stopped by another island which looked similar to that of Palawan Island. This serves as the home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills. They call it  Kabukungan Island.

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A rock formation that serves as home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills in another Dinagat Islands’ islet. (Kabukungan Islet.)

When we arrived, there was no other visitor yet. The group decided to have our lunch here. While our guide and boatmen were preparing our meal, some of us took a tour of the islet while others are enjoying the waters.

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After lunch, we went to another island called Bababu. They said there’s a lake 45 minutes away from the beach. But we did not go there because of the constraint of time.

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Ace in Bababu beach. 

While the rest of the group were busy swimming, I got the chance to talk to an elderly lady sitting in a small hut nearby. I found out that his late husband was the one who discovered the lake. She said he loved the place so much that during the dusk of his life, he wished to be buried in the island. (See photo below. He was buried beside the trail going to the lake.)

She even told me that when she dies, she has the same wish as his late husband. So their spirits could guard the island even when they’re already gone. I thought that’s oddly romantic.

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Although I still wanted to hear more stories from her, we had to get going and proceed to our next stop.

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The fine sandbar in one of the islets of Dinagat Islands. (Duyos Beach)

Our next stop was Duyos Beach.

And oh that sandbar!!! I was speechless! I couldn’t help lying down and rolling over like a kid on the white powdery sand.

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Of all the islands that visited that day, I noticed only Duyos had established cottages, stores, and even karaoke machines. There were also a lot of people.  We only stayed in the sandbar area, though.

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The girls.

Our tour concluded in Bitaog Beach. We heard it was the most frequented by visitors but at that time we had the island all for ourselves. We swam to our hearts’ content there because it was our last stop. Ace and I even forgot to take a photo because we had so much fun swimming.

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Ace and Demi in Dinagat island. (Duyos Beach sandbar)

Truly, Dinagat Islands left me in awe. When we returned to Cebu, the first thing I did when I got the hold of my computer was searched about Dinagat Islands. I was surprised to know that there was still more of it. What we saw was only one face of the mystical island.

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Ace and Demi love Surigao! 

And that’s when we realized we might have left our heart there intentionally. So we have the reason to come back.

 

 

P.S You might want to read our adventure in Bucas GrandeSohoton Cove National Park and Enchanted River.

PP.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Elliot’s First Trip To Camotes Island | Traveling With A Pet

Live.

Laugh.

Woof!

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Elliot in Camotes Island.

Camotes Island holds a special place in our hearts. It has been our favorite paradise to visit when we need to escape the busy life in the city and want some dose of the sea.

For the nth time, we visited the island again. But this time, we’re taking our furry bundle of joy, Elliot, on his first ever trip. (See how to get a local transport permit in Cebu here.)

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Playing in the sand.

Day 1

It was a fine day and the ocean was calm. We were thankful that the weather was with us. We almost missed the second ferry trip to the island, good thing we made it before it set forth. Another great thing was, we were allowed not to put Elliot inside the cage as long as we will stay on the lower deck.

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The ride was relatively smooth. We felt proud of Elliot because he was very brave. At first, I worried about him getting sea-sick, contrary to that, he was still very enthusiastic when we arrived on the island.

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Ace and Demi plus Elliot.

We rented a motorcycle so we can freely tour the island at any time of our convenience. We headed immediately to Santiago Bay to find a resort where pets are allowed to stay. Luckily, Bellavista Mare does.

After putting our things, we went to Pito’s Sutukil which is located in the beach area to have our lunch. After eating, we took Elliot for a walk in the wide shore. Elliot had so much fun playing and digging holes here and there. Ace and I really enjoyed watching him having fun like a little kid’s first time outdoor.

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Nanay and Elliot playing in the sand.

We decided to just stay in Santiago Bay on that day because we had to let Elliot get some res. We wanted to wait for the sunset but Elliot had sand all over his face and we needed to clean him up. We headed back to the resort. He fell asleep right after he was cleaned up. (I guess he was very tired.)

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Don’t be scared, Elliot.

Day 2

Elliot woke up early on our second day. He looked lively and excited for the day. He didn’t know we were taking him on his first swimming experience.

After breakfast, we changed to our swimming clothes and hit the beach. It was a low tide, knowing Santiago Bay, the shore stretches far during low tide. Ace hesitated to swim with us but we had to while the sun was not too hot.

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Good boy!

Our little boy was a bit scared but he eventually fought his fear. I can’t be any prouder of this furry baby. I let him follow me to the deeper water but his instinct was telling him to find the land. 😀

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Ace and Elliot.

Elliot seemed to enjoy it although, he clung to me most of the time because he felt cold. I noticed that when Ace dives his bod under the water, Elliot swam to him as if he’s ready to rescue his dad. That’s so sweet. I guess that’s a dog’s instinct, or what?

22552487_1727405890636801_4672825853317002151_nWe only stayed there for 15 minutes because the sun was starting to hurt and Elliot needed to drink water. So, we went back to the resort to wash up.

 

At around 11:00 am, we went to Lake Danao to have our lunch.

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We wanted to try their kayaking activity but the weather was too hot, we’re afraid Elliot couldn’t handle it. We roamed around the area after eating our lunch and went back to Mangudlong Rock Resort.

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Dig deeper, Elliot!

There were not too many guests at the resort. Elliot had a great time digging holes and fitting his body in it. We stayed there for an hour or so before going back to our resort. (We thought Elliot must have burnt few calories with all those digging.)

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Day 3

As we expected, Elliot woke up a little bit late the next morning. I wanted to go out to smell the morning dew, he got up and followed me outside although still feeling drowsy. Such a clingy pup!

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Elliot’s morning view. 

It’s our last day on the island. 😀 As soon as hubby got up, we went to a nearby bakery to have our breakfast. After that, Ace and I took another quick dip in the sea. Then, we went back to the resort to wash up and pack our things. While we were busy packing, Elliot, on the other hand, was sleeping in the corner. (The pup was dead tired.)

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Ace and Demi plus Elliot. 

And that capped Elliot’s first trip in the Lost Horizon of the South. 

Elliot may not be able to talk to us and tell us how he felt but we feel his happiness. Although we had to admit, he was HAPPIER when we arrived home. (Guess “there’s no place like home” trite also applies to pets, huh?)

Over to you, have you traveled with a pet? We’d love to hear from you, tell us about it!

’til Elliot’s next adventure with us!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi and Elliot.

 

 

 

 

Beyond Mysteries: Sohoton Cove National Park|Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove tour.

Our next stop was the Sohoton Cove National Park Tourism Office where we had to register our names and transfer to a smaller boat in order to explore Sohoton Cove.

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From afar, we already saw many boats surrounding the registration building. It took us almost ten minutes to find a space to dock ours. We saw many people waiting for their turn to register.

When it was our turn, we were told that they’re not accepting further visitors for the day. Wait, what? It so happen that there were too many people on that day and that they couldn’t accommodate everyone. 😥

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I went back to the registration table and plead. With my persuasive attitude, I was told that they might reopen the registration after two or three hours when there is already an available boat. But we had to be on stand-by because it’s a first-come-first-serve basis and they’re not accepting advance booking payment.

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We thought, we would be wasting our time waiting for them to reopen. 😦 Again, I gathered guts and with my convincing power, we were able to secure the first slot once it would be reopened.

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While waiting, we went back to our boat and our boatmen steered it to another part of the island. There, we took a dip in the water. At first I was hesitant to join the gang because the water was deep blue which means it was very deep. I had my life vest but I was worried about what could be lurking underneath. (Eh, sharks, crocodiles. :p nyahaha)

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After about 30 minutes, we were called and told that we could already register. (That’s faster than we thought.) We hurriedly got off from the water and went back to the registration area. After paying for the necessary fees for the tour, we were given life vests and we waited for our tour guide.

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We were divided into two groups because one boat could only have seven passengers the most. Our tour guide introduced himself and our boatman. They seemed to be very experienced and have known the place like the back of their hands.

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Then he told us that we were already about to enter the Sohoton National Park. He pointed to a cove and said that we were to pass through it. From a far, I doubted our boat to go through it because it was very small.

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The entrance.

During high tides, the cave is impassable not unless you dive underwater. This is where Sohoton Cove got its namesake — from the Visayan word so-oton which means to pass through a small opening.

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The entrance.

And tada! We’re now in Sohoton Cove National Park!

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See how small it was.
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Tiil sa Kabayo or Horse’s Feet.

Not far from the entrance, is this oddly shaped rock which they consider a very important landmark. They fondly call it “Tiil sa Kabayo”  or a horse’s feet.

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The fjord, and these muffin-like islets inside the cove looked very similar to each other. Those who are unfamiliar of the place would certainly get lost, even our guides admitted that they could be lost, too if not because of that Tiil sa Kabayo landmark near the entryway.

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As we went deeper the Sohoton Cove National Park, our guide continued feeding us information about the place. He also showed us this very unique limestone cliff. I said it’s unique because all islets inside the cove are forested but this cliff’s face. We just forgot its name. Sorry.

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Our first stop for the tour was Hagukan Cave. It got its name from the term “haguk” which means snore. They said, if you’re lucky, you could hear snores from the cave which is created by the waves that goes in and out of it. Guess, we’re not the lucky ones because we did not hear it. Pffft!

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Taken from the inside of the cave.

For one to enter the cave, we had to dive for 3-5 seconds through the entrance of the cave. If we had a little luck  that time, that was because the tide did not reach the ceiling of the entrance yet, thus we only had to float upon entering. Inside was a huge cavern hiding healthy stalactites.

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After swimming inside Hagukan Cave, we boarded back our boat and head to our next stop, the Magkukuob Cave. Only few of us went inside because we were told that the only exit was to jump from a 15-feet platform. I did not do that but Ace did.

We skipped the Jellyfish island because we ran out of time and the tide was rising. We had to be out the cove before it submerged in the water and trap us inside the National Park. It was getting dark when we arrived at the Tourism Center. We hurriedly transferred to our bigger boat so we could go home.

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It was getting dark on our way back to the port of Hayanggabon. We were rewarded with the glimpse of a wonderful sunset while cruising through Sohoton Bay.

We really had a great time exploring Bucas Grande’s pride. With positive attitude, we were able to make those misadventures an adventure itself. Because we believe that the twists and turns that we had experienced was what made our experience worthwhile and worth telling. 😀

Thank you, Bucas Grande for such a wonderful experience!

Over to you, have you had misadventures that are worth telling? We’d love to hear it from you. Leave us some words.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Bucas Grande Island & Sohoton Bay | Part 1

Let me start this post with an aerial photo of Bucas Grande Islands which would surely ignite every itchy feet’s curiosity.

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Photo credit to the owner. (Source)

We know it’s a cliche, everyone says to lower our expectations. But, could you blame us for expecting too much? Photos posted on Facebook , Instagram, and other social media sites spell HIGH EXPECTATION.

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We already had posted a photo diary about of Surigao experience here. An invite from a good friend brought us to the beautiful City of Island Adventures and gave us the chance to experience a non-stop island hopping. 😀

So, how was our Bucas Grande Islands and Sohoton Bay experience?

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Port of Hayanggabon.

It was already 7:00am when we arrived in Surigao. A van picked us up to bring us to the Port of Hayanggabon where our Bucas Grande Island adventure awaited. We dropped by our host’s house to leave some of our belongings and immediately resumed our journey for the day.

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Our boat.

At the port, a medium-sized motorized boat waited for us. We quickly get on the boat and had our breakfast on board. We were very busy filling our hungry tummies, without knowing, we were already in the middle of Sohoton Bay.

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Sohoton Bay

Our major tour for the day was Sohoton Cove National Park. Since it was still a high tide, our boatmen toured us to other islands around Sohoton Bay. Our first stop is the Crystal and Bolitas Cave.

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The Gang.

Unfortunately, I did not have a decent photo inside the cave. But just a heads up, Crystal Cave is a huge cavern with stalagmites and stalactites shining like crystals while Bolitas Cave got its name from the strange rock formations inside that resembles to that of a pellet. (Here’s a perfect post that best describes what I’m trying to say.)

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A boat-shaped rock.

After we explored the two caves and done our photo-ops, we hopped back to our boat to explore another island. As our boatmen expertly maneuvered our boat avoiding the shallow water, we noticed this boat-like rock which is perfectly shaped by time. Look how amazing nature is!

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After a few minutes, we were in front of another island. It was fronting a cliff and it looked like a developed resort. We agreed not to drop there and just find another place where we can grill our fish for lunch so we won’t run out of time.

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Demi basking under the sun.

Our boatmen brought us to this nearly isolated islet. We saw a small hut when we were about to dock our boat. We learned that the hut was for the caretaker of the island but no one was around except the two kind big dogs. But not too long, a small banca arrived and we reckoned he was the said caretaker because the dogs greeted him sweetly.

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He was very kind and told us that he lives alone in this part of the island but there are frequent visitors who drop by, too.

For a while, we had the whole island for ourselves. While some of us prepared our food, others were having a great time exploring the island, taking Instagram worthy photos. I couldn’t help sharing this photo below that best describes how ‘struggle was real’ just to show that beautiful photos on Facebook and IG. 😀

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Behind the scenes.
SOhoton Behind The scene
Behind the scenes.

😀 Anyway, after our lunch and that crazy photo-ops, another group of visitors were headed to our spot. We decided to pack up and gave them the chance to enjoy the place like we did.

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Next stop, Sohoton Cove National Park. But I will save that on the later post. 😀 So, kindly stay tuned for that.

Part II of our adventure here: Sohoton Cove: Beyond Mysteries

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Ace and Demi enjoying the white beach in an island of Bucas Grande.

We hope you enjoyed our Bucas Grande Island and Sohoton Bay photo diary.

 

‘Til our next story.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Island Living | The Sipaway Island Way.

“Your life is an island separated from all other islands and continents. Regardless of how many boats you send to other shores or how many ships arrive your shores, you yourself are an island separated by its own pains, secluded in its happiness.” ~ Kahlil Gibram

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When people hear the word island, the image of a wide stretched beach, the turquoise water, and the fine white sand surely comes to our mind first. We forget that this is not what an island is all about.

The island is the people, their way of living and their laid-back life.

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A photo of a father and son from taking a dip in the beach.

Today, let us take you to Sipaway Island — a small island in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. This is also geographically known as Refugio Island.

Sipaway can be reached by a bangka (an outriggered boat) from San Carlos City for about 10 minutes. The bangka will dock in any of the five ports in the island depending on the majority of the passengers’ destination. (Yes, you’ve read it right. The island has five ports in different area but the most used are the Dap-dap and Ermita ports.)

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Bangkas ready for a fluvial parade docked in Ermita Port.

Since the hubby’s relatives who are living in Negros wanted to meet me, we decided to pay them a short visit. When his family learned that we will be coming, they thought of having a mini-reunion in Sipaway.

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Sipaway Island

Hubby toured me around the place on our second day.

Sipaway Island has a land area that only stretches 7 kilometers in length and 1.5 kilometers wide. It only consists of two barangays (district), San Juan and Ermita. These two barangays are connected with well-paved concrete roads.

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A well-paved road connecting the two districts.

The mode of transportation in the area are tricycles and motorcycles. But there are private resorts in the area that offer bicycles for rent. Hubby and I rented a motorbike to tour the whole place because our body were not in good condition to cycle. I personally thought it was a good choice knowing that it was a Sunday and we will be going back to Cebu in the afternoon because we have to work on the next day. It really saved us time and energy. 😀

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Ace and Demi in Sipaway Island 2017

Our first stop was the oldest Balete Tree in the island. The last time Ace visited Sipaway was 10 years ago, so he was also surprised that the tree is now fenced inside San Juan Elementary School. The school was closed so we were not able to get inside.

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A 200-century old Balete Tree in Barangay San Juan.

As we continued our tour to the tip of the island, I chanced upon this couple who came from fishing something for lunch. How sweet is that?

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A husband and wife coming from a day of fishing.

Sipaway island has a population of about 4000 people. The primary source of living is fishing and extracting oil from coconut’s dried meat (locally called copra).

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Lush coconut vegetation in the area.

Recently, the place already have a 24-hour supply of electricity. They also have a supply of clean drinking water from the mainland San Carlos City, although not all households have their own faucets yet. So some have to wait in line to fetch water from a public faucet in designated areas. At least, now they don’t have to go to the mainland to fetch for water.

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Tatay waiting for his turn to fetch water from a public faucet.

We also learned that there is a resort in the island which is frequented by visitors. It is the Whispering Palms Island Resort. We dropped by here to supposedly just eat our lunch but we had to pay an entrance fee apart from our food. We were not going stay in the resort for long due to time constraints so we aborted our plan to have lunch inside.

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Whispering Palms Island Resort.

As we continued our tour, I saw the idyllic life of Sipawaynons. Actually, there was this part of me which envied their simple living. In every eyes of the people there, I saw contentment, I saw happiness.

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Priceless laughter from an old woman skinning firewoods to sell. Photo from Sipaway Divers.

I witnessed how peaceful this little community is. I saw how they do things that I’m pretty sure they’d been doing everyday but I did not see boredom.

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A little girl swimming with her pet. 

They don’t have the luxury to buy expensive things but they have time, precious time. Everybody knows almost everyone in this 7-kilometer community. I love that! I love how they know the people in the other side of the island contrary to not knowing your ‘roommate’ in city.

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That afternoon talk in the neighborhood. 

They have narrow streets but there is no traffic. The kids have no expensive gadgets but they’re happily playing hide and seek and other traditional games.

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Kids riding a pedal cab with their pet. 

Basically, the people in this island don’t have the modernities that we people in the big cities have. But, look how they are happy and contented with their laid back life.

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A traditional hut in the island.

Look how rich the kids with childhood fun, look how rich the people with peace and tranquility, look how rich they are with love and smiles.

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Tricycle — primary mode of transport. 

Our short sojourn in the island taught us to appreciate the life we have. It taught us contentment. It taught us to value our work, the people around us, the precious time we have for each other. 

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Treat yourself with the traditional coconut red wine locally called tuba

We may be a small island, but we are not a small people. ~Edward Heath

 

We hope you enjoyed our Sipaway Island venture.

‘Til next time.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.