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

 

Temple of Leah | Of Love, Devotion and Architecture

And his love was too strong that it became the pillars of the temple.

Truly, love does wonders. It’s so powerful that it goes beyond a bouquet of roses, a romantic picnic or a dinner in the fanciest restaurant, a diamond ring or a strand of pearls. Remember Taj Mahal in India, Swallow’s Nest Castle above the waters of the Black Sea, and the Boldt Castle in upstate New York? What do they have in common? Yes, they are all built out of love. ❤

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Temple of Leah

Cebu also prides this magnificent landmark Temple of Leah as a testament of an architecture-romantic Mr. Teodorico S. Adarna’s undying love and devotion to his wife – Leah.

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Temple of Leah, Cebu

Perched on the highlands of the city, Temple of Leah continously draws tourist because of it’s splendiferous architecture similar to that of Rome and Greece. Knowing that this is built in the name of love is another thing that invites people’s curiousity.

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The girls — Tin, Gichelle, Demi, Louise and Daisy. (L-R) 

Some time in January, after our visit in the botanical garden of Terrazas de Flores, we dropped by this temple to see how lucky Leah must be.

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Temple of Leah.

We were collected Php50 each as an entrance fee. The temple was not done yet but it is already open to public. We went there on a weekday so there were not too many people at that time.

 

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Ace in the Temple of Leah. 

The edifice resembles Rome classical structures, inspired by Leah’s travel to Rome. It is very evident with the rectangular designs, the Doric columns, the podium and the altar.

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The shrine. 

A huge bronze statue of Leah was built in the altar. This spells Mr Adarna’s devotion to her that he treated her like a goddess.

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Leah V. Adarna

This temple was meant to be a repository of Leah’s items which she gathered from her travels. According to her daughter, Arlene, her mom was a collector. Before she died, she worried where to put all her collections. Her good husband promised to build this temple to store all her things. Now, this shrine serves as a museum of Leah’s things. However, the museum was not yet open for the public during our visit.

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Demi in the Temple of Leah. 

While classical temples have their storage rooms behind the altar, the chambers for Leah’s collection were built on the opposite wings of the edifice.

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A fountain at the facade of the podium. 

There is a fountain in front of the shrine’s podium which is inspired by her trip to Europe. Truly a work of art. Look at those meticulous carvings.

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Panoramic view of the city. 

The temple also gives a panoramic vista of Cebu City. Although, it’s hot to stay here in the mid-afternoon. We wonder if the sunrise or the sunset looks great from here.

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The girls’ groufie. 

The place is sooo perfect for photo ops to flood your Facebook and Instagram. Every corner is “instagrammable”, they said. (Is there such word, by the way?)

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Demi and the lion statue. 

From the high rising pillars to the precised carvings, the temple is just WONDERFUL, it’s brilliant. Mr Adarna must have really made his wife happy even when she’s already gone.

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The pillars of the temple with Demi photobombing. 

Indeed, love does wonder. The Temple of Leah speaks of a man’s real love and devotion to his wife. And this our friends, we hope inspires you to not give up on love because it really exists. Yay!

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Ace and Demi in the Temple of Leah. 

We hope you enjoyed our photo-diary of the Temple of Leah. Over to you, what would you do for love? Leave us some words.

‘Til our next cheesy adventure.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi