A Quick Escape to Kinatarcan Island.

The past two years have been filled with anxiety and despair. We wake up every day in fear. We’ve known ever since that tomorrow is always uncertain, but this pandemic brought a different kind of uncertainty. A sad reality. And we fear for everything. We all are.
But know that this will be over soon, and if not, we can always start a ‘new normal’ way to live and survive. Hang in there!

With the ‘new normal’ way of life in mind, let’s start our travel story.

Staying at home during this pandemic is always the best thing to do. We couldn’t argue with that. But after a year of being at home every day, Ace and I couldn’t help but feel excited when the government lifted the local travel ban in selected areas in the country. With new travel protocols to keep the spread of COVID, tourist destinations have opened their doors again.

The hubby and I decided to have our first trip ever since the pandemic on an island that we’ve been lusting since Carnaza Kinatarcan Island. Because why not? What better way to get a breather during this time?

Ace and Demi in Kinatarcan Island.

Kinatarcan Island, also known as Guintacan to some, is tucked in Cebu’s northern coast. This rocky island is within the municipality of Sta Fe and comprises three barangays: Langub, Hagdan, and Kinatarkan. Although a part of Sta Fe, this island is more accessible from Daanbantayan if you come from mainland Cebu. It hasn’t been long since the name Kinatarcan Island surfaced as a potential tourist destination. Probably because visitors are more likely drawn to established tourist stops like Virgin Islands and Malapascua.


Needless to say, Kinatarcan has an unspoiled beauty. And we all know I’m a sucker for a laidback island vibe. So off we go to celebrate my birthday and our 5th wedding anniversary.

Check out Chad Motorcycle Rentals on Facebook

To make the trip more fun, we decided to bring our own ride to the island. We rented a motorcycle from our friend who owns a motorcycle rental business, so we don’t have to hire a guide nor rent one to tour the island. And to be honest, it was a brilliant idea. It was economical, plus we got to skip the long bus ride from Cebu City to Daanbantayan.

We arrived in Daanbantayan at exactly 6:30am, since we were told that passenger boats to Kinatarcan usually leave at 7:00am every day. And guess what? Scam! When we got to Mahayay port, it was empty except for some peddlers hustling early to make a living. One guy approached us and asked if we were bound to Kinatarcan. He said we had to wait until 9:00am for the boat to arrive from the island. Then it would depart from the mainland at 11:00am (sometimes 1:00 pm) depending on how many passengers were on board.

Yes, it was quite a long wait but we didn’t mind. It was actually nothing compared to waiting for more than a year for this chance to travel again, yeah?

So while waiting, we decided to grab a bite first and look for a place to chill and relax. The municipality of Daanbantayan is known for its beautiful resorts. In fact, it is known to be home to luxurious resorts in Cebu like Kandaya Resort, Golden Great Sands, to name a few. But we didn’t need that kind of luxury at that time. We only needed somewhere to chill while waiting. Since Daanbantayan lies near the coastline, it isn’t hard to find an inexpensive place. In fact, with only a 5-peso entrance fee, we stumbled Hapa-Hapa Beach in barangay Agujo. It has a long stretch of powdery sand and is a great place to relax.

Mornings in Daanbantayan.

At 11:00am, we were already back at the port. The scene was very different from the morning earlier. The port was livelier with hurry passengers, busy porters helping carry and load groceries and provisions, and boatmen having snacks in the nearby store. One boatman approached us and led us to their boat. They also took care of loading our motorcycle. Despite the challenge due to the wave, our boatmen successfully loaded it on.

Since it was a Friday, passengers were scarce because many available boats were plying to the island, so we had to wait for another hour. We got the chance to talk to the crews about how the pandemic affected their income source. Although there were no travel restrictions to the island, mainland Cebu had stricter quarantine restrictions. Tourism came to a halt. On their daily trip, they could only take home 60 pesos a day. Only when their boat is hired privately, they’d get as much as 300 to 600 pesos for the day. When there is no trip, they rely on fishing to feed their families. So it was good news when they learned that restrictions were eased.

The travel from Mahayay port to the island took an hour. Our boat dropped us off at Pasil beach. A long strip of white sand greeted us as soon as we set foot. What a way to welcome us and feed our appetite for fun!

Pasil Beach

There were motorcycle drivers who were waiting for passengers when we arrived. When they realized that we brought our own ride, they offered to guide us to where we were staying. Since it is a small island, everybody seems to know everyone. They pointed us the way to Forest Beach. Although I already expected the owner’s son to meet us at the port, he wasn’t there yet. The cellphone signal was intermittent on the island, so we decided to just drive to Forest Beach ourselves. Along the way, we bumped into the owner’s son, Prince, who instantly recognized us. (Told you they know everyone on the island.) He signaled and led us the way.

Mantao’s Guesthouse

Our home for the night was Mantao’s family guesthouse which they converted into a four-room transient accommodation. The cost is only 300 pesos per head, with water and light. Their kitchen is also open if you want to cook (which I suggest you do because there are no restaurants in the area). Forest Beach is across the road, owned by the same family. It is literally a forest that lies on the edge of a cliff. The place is a perfect spot to catch the sunset. If the tide is high, you can try cliff-jumping here.

It was already two o’clock when we had finally settled, freshened up and hungry. We agreed to start driving around the island and maybe find something to eat on the way. We had already researched the tops spots to visit on the island, so we only had to ask the locals the way.


Our first stop was Laaw Cove and Lagoon. There is a registration area near the entrance, and you will be provided a tour guide to explore the area. The lagoon is home to delicious seaweed called ‘lato‘ (Caulerpa lentillifera) — a local food usually served as an appetizer by only mixing it with vinegar, salt, and some spices. Because they have to preserve the area, swimming here is prohibited. Laaw Cove is on the other side of the cliff fronting the Visayan sea. The scene somehow reminded me of the Twin Lagoon in Coron, only this one is smaller.

Laaw Cove

Above the umbrageous lagoon is a picturesque spot they called Tamboan ni Leon or the Coral Cliff. It flaunts a panoramic view of the Visayan sea and a glimpse of the stunning cliffs of the island on the side. It was a perfect spot for “buwis-buhay-for-the-gram” shots.

Coral Cliff or Tamboan ni Leon

It was quite an up and down trek that I had to slug a 500ml of water as soon as we got back to the registration area. But it was worth the sweat. Our guide told us everything there is to know about the conservation of the lagoon.

Overlooking Hagdan Beach from the stairway.

Our next stop is Hagdan Beach. Hagdan means stairway, and yes, we had to take the 110-step stair to get to the beach. We came to a few locals mending their fishing boats and some kids enjoying a swim. Life seemed very slow-paced here. It was peaceful, so laidback, made me want to sit down and wait for time to fly. But as much as I wanted to do that, we didn’t stay there for long because we still had one last stop before the sunset.

Hagdan Beach.

Our last stop before heading back to Forest Beach was Byaring Cliff. We had to take a 5-minute walk through thick foliage to get to there. The view from the cliff was stunning. It reminded me of an islet we visited in Dinagat Islands. The sun was already setting when we got there, so we decided not to go down. We left after a few snaps.

Byaring Cliff

Wanting to catch the sunset in Forest Beach, we hurried our way back. Luckily, we were just in time. Oh, magnificent! Every time I see the sun setting, my heart always feels at ease. There is something with the sunset that calms me. It always puts me in peace.

Sunset view at Forest Beach.

Ace and I stayed there for a while. We took a dip in the water and waited ’til dark, and had a deep conversation until dark. I found it funny because, since the pandemic, we have been together every single day, but we never discuss serious things anymore. This is why we think going on out-of-town trips is very important, especially for married couples. Because there are matters that we don’t discuss, or perhaps, these thoughts simply won’t come into our mind when we are in the comforts of our home. When Ace and I are out like this, we get to pause and reflect deeper on things.

After having enough swim and drama, we went back to our room and prepared for dinner. We drove around the neighborhood to find something to eat. We saw a barbeque stall few meters away from the place where we stayed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have rice. (But rice is life!) So we decided to just cook our own.

Tired after a long day, we decided to hit the hay early. We wanted to spend another day on the island, but I remembered it was my dad’s birthday, plus it was Father’s day. So the next day, after coffee, we packed our bags and headed back to Cebu.

Our trip to Kinatarcan was indeed brief and fleeting. We have yet to discover the nooks of the island. That’s fine. We are saving it for next time.

See you next time!

Keep safe!

You Stayed! I Should Have Stayed Too!

Our heart is full! Thank you everyone!

Okay, first of all, I really don’t know where to start. This is so awkward — writing here after more than a two-year hiatus.
Gosh! This is so awkward. Ermm, I know I have so much to say, but I couldn’t find the right words.

MY HEART IS SO FULL! I am just so overwhelmed by the love and support you guys have given to this little corner. I am lost for words. I didn’t expect to still get attention considering, I’ve been away for a really long time. But you guys! You never left. And it makes me so happy I know I had to click the pen and write despite my scrambled thoughts right now.
Today is the first day I opened my stats after a really long time. And I am amazed to see the lines as it goes up and down, but consistently there every day. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if only I was present and interactive, right? But two years! I went ghost for two years, and yet here you are — relentlessly supporting my corner silently. And for that, THANK YOU! Thank you for always dropping by. Thank you for visiting every now and then. I really appreciate it.

So, what happened? Over 2 years ago, I changed my career path. That’s when I started spending less and less time on my blog. At first, I thought I was only adjusting, so I figured I’d give blogging a break until I’d get used to my new schedule. Five months passed, I was already procrastinating. I wanted to say it was mere writer’s block as an excuse. But the truth is, laziness found me. I digressed! Until I stopped visiting my own corner, stopped checking my stats, heck, I even stopped replying to comments. I moved on.
Or so I thought. Whenever Facebook throws back old photos and shared posts from my blog, I always want to read it and relive the moment. “Wow, it was fun and nostalgic,” I would say. Then I’ll move on. Again. And the cycle continues.

It’s not that I don’t want to write anymore, but I just couldn’t find the same fire. Every time I decide to draft a post, I seem to find an excuse not to finish or even start it. Yes, I still have many stories to tell — you just don’t know how many stored photos I have, hoping one day I get to tell you about them.

Oh, this is gonna be a whole lot of stories. For teasers, I’m throwing few snaps from travels I have missed sharing with you. I can’t wait to tell the stories behind them. Are we ready? We’ll see when I hit Publish on this first-ever long draft.

Guess I’ll see you soon? Yes, let’s see each other in the next post. (And yes, my words are running out again. Yes, I’m just trying to stretch it a bit right now. Okay, that’s enough.)

’til next tale. 🙂

Demi Went Solo in Coron, Palawan

I’ve gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says:

turn back!

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And just like that, I survived four days in Coron, Palawan alone. What a great way to welcome my 26th year of existence!

And all because of the furnishing support of the people around me, who believed that I could make it on my own, who pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

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Day 0

The night before my trip, I was very reluctant to pursue it. My clothes were lying on the floor, all scattered around. My bag was empty, and I didn’t know what to put first. I was a mess. Only then I realized how reliant I am towards Ace that even packing my things became a challenge. I had to admit that I tend to overpack, that is why he does all the packing whenever we travel. Nonetheless, I tried my best to pack the lightest as I could, but I still failed.

Ace accompanied me to the airport for my 5 am flight. His uneasiness was very contagious as he kept asking if I had everything I needed. Well, I couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. After five years of being together, it was the first time I’d be away for days. I expected he’d be worried.

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Day 1

I arrived at Busuanga at 7:30 am. A weird feeling crept inside me as I stepped out of the plane. “This is it! There’s no turning back! I can do this!” I whispered to myself. I walked to the exit and saw tour guides holding placards with guest names on it. I stopped and looked for my name, but I didn’t find it. I thought I was doomed.

“What hotel po ma’am?”, a man approached me. He pointed the van that would take me to my hostel.

From Busuanga Airport, the town of Coron is a forty-five-minute drive. The view along the way was spectacular. We passed by a vast grassy field that I later learned was a private ranch. The lush greens along the way reminded me of the Subic Forest in Subic Bay National Park. The positive energy from that ride was enough to put my heart at ease.

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The driver dropped me along with a Chinese girl named Ling in front of our hostel.  The staffs immediately accommodated us and took us to our quarter. I stayed at Happy Camper’s Hostel because of the good reviews I’ve read online. I also have friends who had checked in there before. Our room is a shared one. I chose a bed next to Lings.

After lunch, we agreed to explore the town together. We visited Maquinit Hot Spring, the Cashew Factory, and we also hiked Mt Tapyas.

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Exhausted after a day of strolling the town, we decided to hit the hay right after dinner. Not bad for my first day after all.

Day 2

I was already up at 7 am the next day. I had a cup of coffee and then prepared my things. I booked an island hopping tour package for two days with JY Travel and Tours. Ling happened to book with them, too. Unfortunately, my scheduled tour for the day was different from hers. So, we had no choice but to part ways at the port.

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Since I was a solo guest, the tour operator put me along with another group. At first, it felt really awkward to be alone and not know anyone. I also had a problem with conversing in Filipino, which made it harder for me to fit. I was silent the whole time until we reached our first stop.

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Kayangan View deck

Our first destination was the infamous Kayangan Lake. It is the most visited spot on the island. They said you haven’t been to Coron if you haven’t visited Kayangan. Dubbed as the cleanest lake in the country, I already expected people to flock the area. As I climbed the steep staircase to the view deck, I came to a queue of people waiting for their turn to take a photo. But the beautiful view you see from there was not the lake yet but the azure waters of Coron Bay. To get to the lake, you still had to descend through steep, slippery stairs.

Though because of the swarm of people, the lake wasn’t as magnificent as I thought it would be, it was fairly clean. The water was clear, and you can still see the rock formations underneath. But I didn’t stay there for long because I felt so lonely looking at the people having fun swimming in groups. I went back ahead to our boat.

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We had a reef-hopping spree all throughout the day. We were able to visit Las Islas de Coral, Green Lagoon, Quin Reef, and CYC Beach. Our tour guide also prepared a sumptuous lunch for us. Additionally, I started to be comfortable with the group, which made me feel really better.

My day ended great! Our tour finished at around 5 pm. Ling was already at the hostel when I arrived, also done with her tour. We rested for a few hours and headed out for dinner. Since it was rainy that night, we decided to just go back to the hostel right after eating. Probably tired after a long day of an island tour, she fell asleep early. It didn’t take me a while to do the same.

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Day 3

The next morning, I woke up to a heavy feeling. I still had a hangover from the other days’ activity. My alarm kept ringing. Afraid to wake up other guests, I dragged myself out of bed. I forced myself to prepare for another set of frolic island hopping.

While brushing my teeth, I looked at the mirror and smiled. I suddenly thought of Ace. This was a usual situation every time we travel. He always had to drag my butt out of bed to get ready. Oh, I missed him! But this time, I had to do it myself.

I came back to my senses when I heard a knock on the door. I hurried up and prepared my things. At 8:30, I was already at the port waiting for my new group. Gladly, most of them were from Cebu, specifically Liloan which is very near my hometown. They were accommodating when they learned I was traveling alone. I didn’t feel out of place, at least.

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Our first stop was Luluyuan Lake, also known as the Barracuda Lake. They said there are barracudas sightings in the deeper area of the lake, hence the name. However, only professional divers are allowed to go to that area.

The lake lies behind the limestone cliffs facing the Coron Bay. To get to it, we had to climb the stairs, but unlike Kayangan Lake, there were fewer steps.

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Twin Lagoon

We also visited the Twin Lagoon on that same day. It was probably my favorite stop during my entire stay in Coron. The lagoons are separated by a thin rock wall. The first one serves as the docking area, while the other one can only be accessed through a small hollow on low tides. It was quite a challenge getting through it because we had to lie on our backs so we could watch our head and avoid hitting the sharp cave ceiling.

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Twin Lagoon

We had more stops on that day which were fairly stunning. But the Twin Lagoon paradise made a mark in my memory.

At 4pm, I was already at our hostel. I took a shower and decided to have dinner early. It was my last night in Coron, and I wanted to stroll the town at night. However, Ling already checked out so no one could come with me. The thought of walking on the streets at night alone scared me and made me cancel my plan. So, I decided to just go back to the hostel to pack my things for my flight back to Cebu the next morning.

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I survived Coron alone!

THOUGHT about Coron: 

Coron is a beautiful utopia that didn’t disappoint me. The people are accommodating and friendly. I also have to highlight how safe the place is for solo travelers. In the future, I would love to go back to this astounding paradise with Ace.

THOUGHT about traveling solo: 

I was scared but I did it! I am very proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone. I discovered a lot about myself. Going to Coron alone reminded me how strong and brave I am. It reminded me that I am capable of doing things on my own, managing my time, my money, my things, and even myself. It also made me trust my own judgment and instinct. It made me free.

But I had to admit, I missed my husband’s company the entire time. I wished I did all the island hopping spree with him, I wished he was there to speak Tagalog for me. I just wished to experience Coron with him.

I guess, solo travelling really won’t work for me. But would I want to travel solo again? Definitely! But for now, let me make up to Ace.

Over to you, what are your thoughts about solo traveling? Let me hear your thoughts.

 

’til our next story!

Love, Demi

 

Rediscovering Sipaway Island and Its Thriving Paradise

It was a fine Saturday with Elliot and me trying to wake up Ace on his deep slumber. Elliot snuggled Ace’s body until he got up with an annoyed look. He was angry, but no, he couldn’t stand Elliot’s puppy eyes begging him to play. So he obliged to give in, took that bone and played fetch inside our tiny abode. Then, there’s screeching and barking all over the house.

This has been our typical weekend since Ace started working on a night shift. We couldn’t spend days outside because the weather is too hot for our little boy (Elliot).

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Paraiso de Antonio

But last Saturday was different. After lunch, Ace was on the phone with his mom. She invited us to go to Sipaway Island with her. Ace had been itching to go to Sipaway since last week, but his schedule didn’t permit. Upon hearing his mom’s invitation, he impulsively said yes. I, on the other hand, couldn’t say no to this island. You’ve read my post about how laidback life in Sipaway is, you know I’m in love with the place. You bet I was going!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring Elliot because we didn’t get him a travel permit. As much as Ace’s relatives wanted to see him, we had to leave him in my dad’s care.

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Gabriel in Paraiso de Antonio.

As early as 5:00 am on Sunday, we were already on a van bound for Toledo to catch the 7:00 am ferry trip to San Carlos City. After securing our ticket, we immediately boarded the ferry. I was very sleepy that I instantly fell asleep long before the ship departed. I woke up to passengers getting ready to disembark, and before I knew it, we were already in San Carlos City port.

Before transferring to an outrigger boat to the island, my mother-in-law and I dropped by a pastry shop to buy a cake. I learned that it was Ace’s uncle’s birthday. After 30 minutes, we arrived at the small port of Dapdap. From there, we hailed a motorcycle to Barangay Ermita. The familiar country road once again reminded me how much I love this island. Aside from some road repairs, nothing much has changed after two years. It has the same laidback vibes. The good news is, the island has now a regular supply of water and electricity.

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Whispering Palms Island Resort in 2017.

Two years ago, we had the chance to visit Whispering Palms Resort, which was the sole resort in Sipaway at that time. I found out that now, there are new thriving resorts on the island. Parana Beach, Kiwi Beach Resort, Paraiso de Antonio, are just some of them. Ace and I wanted to at least check out one or two of these developing spots during our stay.

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Kiwi Beach Resort’s large saltwater pool.

We celebrated Ace’s uncle’s birthday at Kiwi Beach Resort. The resort highlights a water curtain that plunges into the two large saltwater pool. Yep! It’s a saltwater pool. However, the 4 feet depth is not ideal for kids. I suggest bringing floaters for your little ones. I tried using one but ended in a somersault.

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Summertime is swimming time.

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Channeling the inner kid in me.

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Old but gold!!!

The resort has bamboo cottages and picnic tables available for rent. They have dedicated space for grilling, too. It’s okay to bring your own food (and beer). We did bring a lot!

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Isda you? (Waley!)

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On the other side of the resort is a viewing deck overlooking the narrow beach. From afar, you can see the long stretch of the mainland San Carlos City. A pathway on the side brings you to the shore. However, it’s not fit for swimming nor beach-bumming because it’s basically a mangrove area.

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Ace and I decided to visit Paraiso De Antonio, too. Together with his sister and nephew, we excused ourselves from the party. From Kiwi resort, Paraiso de Antonio is not more than 5 minutes drive. It was late afternoon when we went there, so guests were already on their way out. How did we get so lucky?

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The gate to paradise.

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This spacious palm tree paradise is perfect for camping and team-building activities. There’s really nothing much to see, but the place is serene. It grants you that island vibes. I could imagine myself pitching my camping tent here, with a bonfire and reggae music playing.

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Disconnect to reconnect.

It is a place where you could sit down and reconnect with yourself.

It is truly a paradise!

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Ace thinking how could he be so handsome!

After 30 minutes, we decided to go back to Kiwi Resort. I wish we could have stayed longer in Paraiso de Antonio. But it was starting to get dark.

The next day, Ace and I took the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland and caught the 9 am ferry trip to Toledo. It was a literally short stay in Sipaway, but it was all worth our time.

Sipaway once again enchanted us with its island charm. Every farewell to this island is actually an invitation to come again. We are yet to explore the nooks of this humble island, but thinking about it, makes our feet itch. We can’t wait to rediscover this beautiful utopia for the third time.

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Ace and Demi in Paraiso de Antonio

Over to you, have you been to Sipaway? Let us hear from you in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook! See you!

’til the next paradise! 

Love, Ace and Demi

 

First Kick Of Summer in Carnaza Island

And just like that, summer is here again!

Technically, there is really no summer season in the Philippines. As a tropical country, we only have wet and dry seasons. Some foreigners think it’s summer all year-round here. For us Filipinos, we consider the months of March, April, and May as the summer periods being the hottest months.

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Too cheesy for summer, yeah?

Although we could enjoy the beach at any time of the year, we feel a different kind of excitement when March comes. Perhaps, it’s the thought that summer is about to kick off.

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Beachy days!

But for busy bees like us, it’s hard to get time off from work to enjoy the season. So we make sure to seize every chance to travel and make our own summer story. Apropos, my good friend Niña and I had a holiday that fell on Friday last week. It was kind of a long weekend for us and luckily, Ace was also able to join.

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Wave and sand are happiness on your feet!

Niña and I had been lusting for Carnaza Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu. After our Bantayan Island escapade last year, we were supposed to visit Carnaza before summer 2018 ended, but we never got the chance.

Finally, comes summer 2019! We’ll never let Carnaza get away from us.

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Chillin’ like the boat is mine!

So the plan was to go to the North Bus Terminal as early as 1:30am on Friday to catch the first trip to Daanbantayan. However, the handsome husband turned off his alarm (again), and as expected, we overslept. I was awakened around 4 in the morning and realized we’re late. I quickly jumped out of the bed to check my phone. I received a few messages from Niña, I knew she’d been waiting. I called her, and thankfully she was still awake. We wasted no time and headed to the bus terminal.

While we were on the bus, I was a bit worried about not catching the local passenger boat to the island. Based on the information we’ve read online, Carnaza has only one local boat trip per day that leaves Tapilon Port at 7:30 am. If we’re unable to catch it, we have to hire a private boat to take us to the island which would cost us a fortune since we’re not a big group.

Great fervor made us carry on our trip despite the time. We might just stay in the mainland for the night and catch the first trip the next day. Or, whatever! Hahaha!

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Isn’t she beautiful?

It was past 9 o’clock when we reached Tapilon Port. As soon as we got off the bus, motorcycle drivers already knew we’re heading to Carnaza. They told us there was no boat bound to the island in Tapilon on that day because of the big waves. They suggested we go to the town’s port instead. We somewhat already expected it because we’re freakin’ late.

We decided to have our breakfast first in the nearby eatery before going to town. After eating, we took a tricycle to the other port. Heaven was so kind to us. A passenger boat from the island had just ported when we arrived. They said it would leave the mainland at 1 pm which meant we had to wait for three hours. So while waiting for the time, we took a nap in the boat.

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Ace and Demi in Carnaza Eco Park.

The boat departed as soon as the clock struck one. We noticed the passengers crowded at the center wearing their jackets. We were still a few meters away from the port when big waves started hitting our boat. It was a rough ride all throughout. Scary thoughts came crashing in as our boat maneuvered its way through the harsh waves.

Then I heard one woman said, “Aw, gagmay ra man diayng balud ron.” (Oh, the waves are relatively small today.) I exclaimed, “What? Are these still small, nay?

Normal ra man ni nga balud day,” she replied. (These waves are normal.)

I didn’t know if I should feel at ease or be more worried. Nonetheless, we arrived on the island safe and sound. Then, we rode a motorcycle to Carnaza Eco Park.

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The woodsheds in Carnaza Eco Park.

The Eco Park is the sole resort on the island. The most captivating attraction in the place is the beautifully aligned triangular rooms facing the coast. They call it the woodsheds, which could accommodate 2 persons for only 200 pesos. When we arrived at the resort, there were no other visitors, so we had the place all for ourselves. Oh, good heavens!

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Sunkissed Demi.

Since it was already 3 in the afternoon when we arrived, we agreed to stay in the resort and have the island tour the next day.  We also requested the resort’s cooking service for our meals throughout our stay. After choosing our preferred woodsheds, Niña and I roamed around. Later when we got tired, we vegged out in the sand and talked about how we got lucky. We were very amused by the things that happened that day.

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Starry night in Carnaza Island.

After dinner, we stayed outside just shooting the breeze while listening to the sound of the waves. Stars blanketed the sky as salty wind touched our faces. Everything could never be more perfect!

The next morning, we took an early stroll on the beach to enjoy the morning air. We were very tempted to swim, but the water was too cold. So we just resolved with the waves hitting our feet. Later, we went to the dining hall for breakfast. After breakfast, we prepared for the island tour.

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Postcard worthy scene.

There are motorcycles in the resort that will take guests for an island tour. It cost 150 pesos per person for two hours.

Our first destination was the Twin Beach.  Locals fondly call it Liog-liog Cove. We had to climb the big rock to get a better view of the twin beach. On the right side, was the rugged coastline that reminds us of Jeju Island we see in K-dramas. (Don’t believe me, I haven’t been to Jeju.)

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Not your kind of mermaids.

Our next stop was the Skull Cove. There’s a cavern with skulls inside by the seaside, hence the name. It wasn’t creepy, though. On the side, there’s a narrow pathway that leads to a helipad.

Our last stop was Kailina’s Cove. It has a long stretch of white sand similar to that of Paradise Beach in Bantayan Island. The place is also famous for sunset viewing.

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Paddle boarding in Carnaza Island.

Since we only have two hours for the tour, we went back to the resort in time for lunch. Guests were starting to arrive, too. Some of them pitched their tents in front of the row woodsheds. We took a quick shower, then we had our lunch in the dining area.

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The lagoon.

We agreed to go back to Kailina’s Cove to watch the sunset later that day. So while waiting, we tried paddle boarding in the ecopark’s lagoon. It was my first time to try paddle boarding, imagine my annoying screams. I didn’t know it was painfully straining. In fact, we woke up to sore muscles the next day.

At 4 pm, we went back to Kalina’s to catch the sunset. Thick clouds began to form in the sky. We just crossed our fingers and believed the clouds might disappear. When we arrived at the place, there were already a few people who were waiting for the sun to set. We patiently waited for an hour or so. The sun’s rays slowly beamed through the clouds giving us a positive sign. It painted the sky with an orange hue. Eventually, the sun came out, showing us its full glory. Awe, beautiful! What a perfect view in ending the day!

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Sunset at Kailina’s Cove.

Tired after a day of cove hopping spree, we wanted to hit the lay right after dinner. Since there were other guests, the night wasn’t as tranquil as the other night. Some inconsiderate guests were playing loud music on their speakers. They could have lowered it down because not all people liked it. Personally, I would prefer listening to the sound of the ocean’s persistent kiss to the shore than that head-banging music. I don’t care if they changed it into Juan Karlos’ infamous ‘Buwan’ hit song, because the cloud was too thick and there wasn’t a moon on the first place.

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‘Coz it’s summer, baby!

Nevertheless, we had a sound sleep that night. We woke up early the next day to catch the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland.

A piece of me broke when our boat departed the island.

Our two nights on the island wasn’t enough that my heart wanted to stay. When we reached the mainland, I felt floating. I didn’t want to check my phone, in fact, I didn’t turn off the airplane mode until we reached Bogo Bus Terminal. I had no choice but to go back to reality. It was definitely a bittersweet goodbye.

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Carnaza, what kind of sorcery is this? 

But, ’til we meet again, Carnaza!

 

Over to you, how do you kick off your summer this year? Let us hear from you in the comment section below!

 

’til our next summer destination!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found in The City of Guns | Danao Highlands

What better way to burn all the fats I hoarded during the holidays than to embark on a 12km trek and get lost in the City of Guns?

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2019… Let’s get it on!

Here’s to more “getting lost” experiences this year!

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The gang!

Northern Cebu is slowly making its name in the list of hiking destinations in the province. One of the most popular is Mt. Mago in Carmen, then there’s Lanigid Hill in Liloan, and recently, Licos Peak in Danao. Last year, we started a quest of discovering potential hiking trails in the northern part of Cebu which we are going to carry on this year.

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A happy kid!

To kick off this year’s adventures, I went along with some hiking fellows to explore the supposedly Lawaan-Mago route. But we ended meandering back to Lawaan because we couldn’t find a vestige trail to Mago. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad start for 2019.

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I arrived in Danao Transport Terminal a ‘bit’ late. (Ahm, okay, really late.) I came to my companions patiently waiting for me. (Thank you, guys.) Without wasting any minute, because I already did, we took a motorcycle at the back of the terminal to Lawaan. The ride was ninety-percent uphill and butt-aching that our driver had to make a few halts to stretch a bit. It took us more than an hour to reach the Lawaan junction.

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Katkat goals.

After a short prayer and few introductions, we commenced with our hike. Beboy advised us that the first leg would be mostly an ascend through a cemented road. Because it had been a while since I last trek, the first few minutes was arduous. Despite my sluggish pace, I found myself panting. I kept a slow gait until my body had adjusted.

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After almost two hours of walking on the paved road, we reached the junction of Danasan and Magtagubtob. We agreed to take a rest before we carry on our hike. We found a small mango tree nearby where we had our lunch.

Lunchtime has to be my favorite part when trekking or climbing mountains because it’s when we get to know each other more. I learned that Geezelle and James are the people behind the blog GeeMiz. I’ve been reading their corner for a while now, and it was great to meet them in person. After lunch, we debated over what makes the texture of an iced-candy powdery. Tatay Raul fended for cornstarch to be the ingredient that gives the iced-candy a refined taste.
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Although, that argument wasn’t resolved, so if you have any idea, please share it with us.

After having enough rest, with replenished energy, we resumed our walk. Still following the barangay road, we passed by some houses and asked for directions to Santican. Not too long, we made a turn into a dirt trail. The trail was relatively an open terrain without foliage canopy but bushes. Favorably, the sun was not too harsh on that day else, we’d all be toasted!

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Oh, no paparazzi please!

After several descending and ascending, meandering through farmlands, we realized we reached a dead end. We tried looking for a possible track but all there was what seems to be a gorge covered by thick foliage. There was no vestige route.

It was already two hours before sundown. Worried that we’d catch nightfall in the forest, we all agreed to turn back to Magtagobtob. Before our final ascent back to Magtagobtob, we made an apropos wrong turn and reached a small household community. We saw a kid and asked which way to the nearest barangay road. He directed us to Lawaan. Albeit steep, it was nearer than Magtagobtob.
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Following his suggestion, we took a descend and crossed a river. A sharp ascent greeted us. We strenuously worked our way to the top. We met a few locals along the way. They came from the weekly tabo-tabo in their barangay. (“Tabo-tabo” is a weekly bazaar common in the mountain areas where people trade and buy goods.) They were kind enough to tell us that we’re on the right path. Finally, we reached the road in no time.

Happiness was all over our faces despite failing to reach Mago on that day. We might have gotten lost along the way, but we found something more important.

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We found out that it’s okay to stop when you aren’t sure. We learned that there is no need to hurry because we will get there, maybe not that day, but someday. At least, we have something to look forward to, we have a reason to come back.

 

’til next getting lost adventures!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

Heaven In the Border | Borderside Mountain Resort

Head to the border but do not cross the line.

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For office people like us who spend the whole week in the city, beating deadlines and dealing with the daily traffic jams, nothing is more comforting than spending a weekend in a place that guarantees relaxation and peace. Most of us seek refuge in the refreshing feel of the mountain, while others prefer the calmness of the sea.

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Beaches are the common go-to place to unwind and chill because they are readily accessible. However, beach resorts tend to be crowded and busy on weekends. This gives way to the rise of mountain resorts.

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So, we were very hyped up when we learned about Borderside Mountain Resort in Compostela, just five minutes away from our house. Tucked near the border of Compostela and Danao, this resort lies peacefully in Bugho, Bagalnga, a far-flung barangay of the former.

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It isn’t as accessible as Gatubod Spring Resort in Basak, so only a few people know about this place. We never got the chance to visit it, not until last weekend. Ace and I went on a road trip with Elliot, and we decided to check it out. (Ways on how to get there is written below.) 

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As soon as we got off from the motorcycle, I instantly fell in love with the place. It was quiet, laid-back and refreshing. I like how it doesn’t feel like a commercial resort but a rest house. The entrance of the resort is canopied by the lush foliage of the bamboo and mango trees. Upon entering the premises, you have to climb the staircase going to the swimming pool. The pool is 4-6 feet deep. On its right side is the house which you can rent for Php2000/night, and on its left is their mini-forest.

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Aside from the serenity of the place, one thing that stands out the most is the cleanliness of the resort. I wonder how I couldn’t see a single falling leaf even when the whole place is surrounded by plants and trees. I think the caretakers are very meticulous in cleaning and sweeping them. I also want to mention how friendly and accommodating they were.

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RATES and OTHER INFORMATION:

HOW TO GET THERE: 

From Compostela, Borderside Mountain Resort can be accessed through Canamucan and/or Buluang road. If you opt for Canamucan road, it is the corner going to Virginia and Gatubod Spring Resort. The road is established, but prepare for an uphill drive when you start to enter the corner street going to Barangay Bagalnga proper. If you choose Buluang road, it is the corner going to Q-Park and Paradise Hills Mountain Resort. Some parts of the street are a bit rough after you pass by Paradise Hills.

You can ride a motorcycle or habal-habal from Compostela Public Market to the resort. The fare is Php40-50 per person. Tell the driver that you are going to Borderside Mountain Resort in Bugho, Bagalnga.

Recommended driver: Alfie — 09108490689

Entrance Fees:

  • Php100/head — Adult
  • Php50/head – kids

Cottages: Php250

Tables: Php200

For overnight stay: (They have rooms under construction.)

  • House: Php2000
  • Own Tent: Php200
  • Resort tent: Php500

For more information, you may contact these numbers:

  • 564-2161
  • 423-4947
  • 09088631029
  • 09420915982

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It’s a garden…it’s a farm… it’s a mountain resort.

~Borderside Mountain Resort

 

 

’til next refreshing guide, everyone!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

Our Northern Exodus Unlocked Our Hiker’s Compass | Liloan Highlands

While the highlands of southern Cebu become a trekking playground frequented by experienced and newbie hikers, the northern highlands remain humble and still. Although the latter is not favored with high elevation, it has trails and vistas you can compare to that of the known mountains out there.

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Recently, I joined a hiking group that aspires to discover the beauty of the highlands in the north. After that successful quest of visiting Mount Licos, I received an invitation from OMG to trek the mountains of Liloan, Cebu. For someone who came from the north myself, I couldn’t say no since I wanted to give my place it’s due recognition.

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The gang!

Our adventure started with a rendezvous in front of Gaisano Grand Mall -Liloan. As soon as we were complete, we walked to the old Liloan Public Market where we took a motorcycle to Barangay Mulao. Good thing there were only seven of us because it’s hard to get a ride. Mulao is 45 minutes uphill ride from the town, the motorcycles to the said place are very limited.

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Mount Licos from Lanigid Hill.

It took a while before we reassembled at the barangay hall of Mulao. So as soon as everyone had gathered, we immediately commenced our hike to Lanigid Hill. I had been to Lanigid last year with my friends and climbing this hill again brought back those memories. But scaling it with new people was different. The trail started with a steep ascent which made us catch our breaths. It was a strenuous warm-up.

From the top of the hill, we saw Mount Licos standing loud and proud. It was great to see her from afar. She’s such a beaut. I felt a sense of pride in surviving her trail.

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After taking a breather from the top, we trailed back to the barangay hall to head to Barangay Tabla to check out Mount Kolo (also known as Mt View). In the Google map, Mulao and Tabla are adjacent to each other, but there is no trail from Lanigid to there. We had to follow the provincial road that goes around Lanipga to Tabla.

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Have I already told you that I hate hiking on concrete roads? My legs easily get tired on cemented roads compared to rocky terrains. Plus the heat produced by the cement is energy-draining.

Yet, that was what exactly happened that day. After 3 hours of walking, we passed by Lanipga National Highschool. We decided to have our lunch at a nearby store since our tummies already signaled a refill. Tatay Raul’s mirthful spirit boosted our appetite as he entertained us with his hilarious quips. With a companion like him, no journey is dull.

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As soon as we had rested enough, we resumed our hike to Barangay Tabla. We had to ask some locals along the way about Mount View, but only a few of them know it. Most of them were more familiar with Mount Kolo because it’s a neighborhood name (purok). However, nobody could give us a specific way to get to that hill.

Knowing that we were already in Purok Kolo, we trusted our guts and adventurous soul to lead us to the right track. (Tatay Raul called it the hiker’s compass.) We looked for a higher elevation and followed a trail uphill. Fortunately, we were not mistaken. A taller hill stood in front of us.

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Lo and behold, Tabla’s Mountain View!

Seeing the sign that says “This way to Mt View” felt like we won a raffle contest. We did not waste time. We hurriedly climbed the hill. I didn’t mind my sore legs, I just wanted to reach the top. And I wasn’t disappointed. The verdurous panorama of Liloan and the Mactan Island from afar welcomed us. What an astonishing reward!

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The place showcased a 360-degree view of lush foliage. The mountain ranges of Compostela and Danao could be seen from there. In fact, we saw the Holy Cross of Compostela, too.

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We stayed there for a while as we savored the pleasant scenery in front of us. The cold breeze of the wind shooed away our weary feel. We wished to stay longer but time wasn’t on our favor. After an hour, we bid goodbye to the place.

I went home that day with sore legs but with and accomplished heart.

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When life feels like rut and jading, the mountain calls to rescue.

Personal thought:

Life happens! We have different ways to get through it. Some dance with it while others try to escape. Me? I seek refuge in the mountains. If Moana keeps going back to the water, I, on the other hand, go back to the mountains. Because that’s where I feel safe and at peace. It’s where I feel at home.

Over to you! How do you keep up with life? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me some words.

 

‘Til our next exodus!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi

A Letter From Licos Peak That I Wished I’ve Read Before I Scaled Her.

We got scammed last weekend! It’s weird that we’re happy about it.

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Our expectation deceived us once again. But this time, it’s something we couldn’t resent. Last weekend, we scaled Mt Licos in Danao City. We had to admit that we underestimated her. Because we were so eager to meet her, we pushed through our plan even with scarce information. We ended up in a memorable mishap that became an important lesson.

From my firsthand experience, I want to share this letter for those who want to climb the Licos Peak. Read this when you plan to visit her.

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Dear you, 

Before you climb me, I have two requests.

“Don’t underestimate me.”
“Expect neither less nor more.”

When you are ready, I will open my arms for you. I will let you step on my soil. But I have to warn you. On your way to my peak, you will trip and fall. You will scream in pain, and you will feel betrayed.

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Should you decide to walk on me, I want you to understand the lesson of my trail. My height might be a joke because I only stand less than 500 meters above the sea. But my path is not easy. I have prepared challenges for you, some of which, you can compare to that of the mighty mountains out there!

So, now let me ask you again. Are you ready to face me?

Dear, don’t fret. I want you to visit me, so I prepared a sneak peek of the challenges along my trail.

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I will let you hold on to small and thin roots so you will learn to value small chances. I will teach you not to trust all the big roots because I want you to make careful choices. My loose soil and stones are the tiny things that will spoil your day. I hope you won’t let them affect you because they will delay your plans.

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Along the way, you will see trees of different sizes. Be careful which to trust.

These trees are like the people around you. Some of them will help and some won’t. Few of those will lay their branches and will pull you up even if they have to bend. Some will pretend to cheer you up but when you hold on to them, they will break and you will feel betrayed.

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Sharp rocks will welcome you near my peak. These sharp rocks signify your major problems. If you don’t pay attention, you’re likely to get hurt. But if you learn to focus and make careful steps, you will get through them with ease.

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My peak is your dream. You will feel accomplished and fulfilled. You will feel proud of yourself for passing my test. The verdant vista in front of you will be your reward. Savor the moment, feel the wind, and calm yourself. Soak into the luscious foliage in front of you. You deserve it.

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But when you think it is over, the wind will whisper into your ear, “It’s time to go down.”

I want you to contemplate on this. Before you continue, how long are you going to stay at my peak? Most of you will wish to stay there, but you will be left without a choice but to go down.

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Your life goes like that. When you are at the peak of your happiness, some things will drag you down. You will try hard to resist it because you don’t want your happiness to end. But, sometimes you will end up defeated.

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Please remember this, just because you have succeeded doesn’t mean your new road is wonderfully paved from there. Your test will continue. If you are lucky, it will be easier. What if you are not?

I hope the best for you. But I want to prepare you for the worse.

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On your way down, the challenges will appear tougher.

DSC05243This time, you will skid. It will hurt you a lot. You have to slide and learn to accept that you are going down. When it hurts so bad, stop and seek refuge to the trees you trusted in your way up. Hold on to them until you’re ready to move on.

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And finally, when you hit rock bottom, look up and give me your last glance. I will wave at you, this time, the pride will be mine.

You will realize that even if you’re back on the ground, you did a great job! You’ve passed my test, and you’re brave enough to go down.

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Only then you will realize that success is not in reaching my peak. Success is when you are finally home.

Now, my question is… Are you ready to climb me again? 

 

With love, 

Mount Licos

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Personal thought: 

I hope you heard her. Our climb to Mt. Licos was a wonderful misadventure that we’d love to do again. This mountain went beyond our expectations. Should you find yourself at her peak, send my regards. Take care of her because she’s a great teacher. 🙂

How to get there: 

From Danao City, hail a motorcycle in front of the City Civic Center to Barangay Licos. The fare is Php 50/person. The ride will take 30 minutes. From the barangay hall, ask the locals the way to the peak.

Special thanks to Mr. Ericson Batulan for the tips and information.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi.

Our Junket to Candijay’s Pride |Canawa Spring, Can-umantad Falls, Cadapdapan Rice Terraces

After our fleeting stay in Alicia to behold the wonderful panorama of the town’s verdant ridge, we headed to check out the adjacent municipality’s pride. We’re talking about the town of Candijay. This humble town has thriving touristry which centers in eco-tourism. With all the fuss Alicia is making, Candijay consequently became a side-trip destination.

Joining the bandwagon, Ace and I included Candijay in our itinerary. After we parted with Bernard — our Alicia guide, we proceeded to Candijay to visit three of its tourist attractions.

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Demi in Canawa Cold Spring.
Our first stop was Canawa Spring. This cryptic cold spring is pretty popular because of the said unfathomable depth.

At first glance from the entrance, it looked like any normal swimming pool. With its concrete stairs and perimeters, the place looked developed and unnatural. I instantly felt Ace’s disappointment.

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Canawa Cold Spring.
As a cold spring lover myself, I couldn’t say no to it. So I begged Ace to let me dip into the water for few minutes to ease my desire. As we walked down the stairs, we realized that the main lagoon was tucked in the upper part within the canopy of lush foliage. The aquamarine water reminded me of the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao. Even the profound depth was a similar story.

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Canawa Spring main lagoon.
The cold water soothed my tired legs. Five minutes in the water was enough to make me shiver.

We did not stay long in Canawa Spring. We carried on to our next stop — Can-Umantad Falls. It was not too far from the spring but getting there was no joke. The steep and bumpy road gave our driver an arduous work.

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Ace in Can-Umantad Falls.
This waterfall is said to be the tallest waterfall in the province. The narrow drop bellying at the lower part before it hits the basin is incredibly stunning.

There were a lot of people when we arrived but not enough to make the whole place crowded. We noticed that the tourism office is starting to develop the area fronting it. There are cottages and tables for rent few meters away from the falls.

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Can-Umantad Falls.
Once again, the handsome husband refused to swim. (He was being a killjoy, really.)

There were four middle-aged women enjoying the natural massage of the liquid curtain. I neared it so I can try it myself. I did not expect the water to be so warm. It was my first time to feel a warm waterfall. It has a sandy bed and the pool is only my waist deep.

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Demi in Can-umantad Falls.
I’m not really a fan of warm water, so as soon as I realized that it was, I immediately get out of it. I changed to my dry clothes and we went back to the registration area where our driver waited.

Later we found out that the water in the falls streamed from Cadap-dapan River above that supplies irrigation to the rice terraces. That explains the warm feel.

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Ace and Demi in Can-umantad Falls.
It was almost 1 pm when we headed to the rice terraces in Cadap-dapan. There’s an eatery in the area where we planned to eat our lunch.

As for the rice terraces, there was actually nothing much to see. Since it was past the harvest season, the farmers were still in the middle of plowing and preparing the field for planting. So we did not expect much. We were just curious about it and it’s the most similar sight to that of the famous Banaue Rice terraces.

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Cadapdapan Rice Terraces.
Although we came to bare terraces, the place was nothing short of spectacular. I mean, it was amazing!!! I could only imagine the effort our farmers put through to realize such genius farming scheme.

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Cadapdapan Rice Terraces.
After a short breather, we checked out their restaurant’s menu. Ace and I couldn’t decide what food to order, so we agreed to go to a public market nearby instead. Our driver drove us to Lungsod-Daan market, and we bid him goodbye.

After eating our lunch in a small eatery at the back of the public market, we realized that we finished our tour earlier than we expected. I wanted to explore Lungsod-Daan, but Ace was already sleepy and tired. So we decided to proceed to Anda where we were staying for the night.

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Who is MagAnda?
From Lungsod-Daan, we rode a jeepney to the municipality of Guindulman. Upon arrival at the town center, tricycle and motorcycle drivers swarmed around us asking where we were heading. I knew beforehand that there are vans to Anda. But those drivers said that there are no more vans in the afternoon and that we had to hire a tricycle going there. When Ace asked how much the fare was, they said it would cost us Php 150. I was skeptical about it because according to my friend, the fare to Anda from Guindulman is only Php 30.

I told Ace that we will wait for a bit. Five minutes later, the van arrived. It pays to be patient, they said. 🙂

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Sunrise in Anda.
When we arrived in Anda, we immediately looked for a place to stay. Our search wasn’t that hard because there were plenty of hostels around the area. Some households are also open for homestays.

We chose an accommodation near the beach. The moment I opened our room accommodation, my eyes suddenly felt heavy. All I wanted to do at that moment was to sleep. I didn’t even bother to wash up. Ace, on the other hand, went outside to talk to the caretaker of the resort who happened to be from Cebu.

My growling tummy awakened me at around 7 pm, signaling it was time for dinner. I noticed Ace already sleeping soundly beside me. I woke him up and we went out to look for food. After dinner, we stayed in the resort’s lobby to kill time.

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Sunrise in Anda.
The next morning, we woke up early to catch the sunrise. But it was cloudy and the sun was already up when the clouds cleared off. We skipped swimming because we weren’t in the mood. At exactly 10 o’clock, we prepared to go back to Cebu. 🙂

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Ace and Demi in Anda, Bohol.

We had such a wonderful time in Bohol. I was amazed as to how friendly Boholanons are. From the bus drivers to that woman selling mangoes by street, there is no doubt that Boholanons are hospitable people. They made our entire sashay memorable.

Over to you. Have you been to Bohol? What place in Bohol do you recommend us to visit next? Leave us some words. 🙂

’til next time, Bohol!

Love, Ace and Demi.