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

 

Into The Woods To Reconnect | Bacalla Woods Campsite

Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. ~John Muir

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The infinity swing. (Photo by Hailey)

I can start this post with a cliche about how time goes by so swiftly but that’s probably going to ruin everyone’s interest in reading this. Hence let me just ask, how did you spend your first two weeks of the year?

For Ace and I, the first two weeks had been fairly challenging and fun. We started the year with big risks, with him quitting his job to start a business venture soon and me starting a part-time job in the morning in an offline academy (which both the offline and morning part I haven’t done for four years). So, the past few days was a whirlwind of the adjustment process.

Perhaps that’s enough excuse to spend a weekend away from everything.

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Catchy signs made from the bark of a coconut tree.

There’s this campsite that has been the talk of the town this week. Actually, Ace and I had been eyeing it since last year but never had the chance to visit it. I’m talking about Bacalla Woods Campsite. Fortunately, last weekend our plan finally came to life. Elliot’s celebrating his 8th months and we took him with us.

What made our adventure special and unique were our companions who came from four different countries. First was my offline student Hailey from Korea, joining with us were her friends, Airi from Japan and Yir from Taiwan. Later on the campsite, we were joined by Ian from Malaysia.

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The ASIAN gang! (L-R) Ian from Malaysia, Ace, Hailey from Korea, Airi from Japan, Demi, Yir from Taiwan.

Our escape started in Mandaue where we agreed to meet up. After we bought some provisions, we immediately headed to the South Bus terminal to take a bus to San Fernando, Cebu. Not too long, we found ourselves inside a mini-bus. The view from outside the bus while we passed by the South Road Properties signaled a fine day ahead contrary to the rainy day forecast the other night.

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Our view from the mini-bus while we passed by SRP. (Photo by Hailey)

The campsite is tucked in Libo, San Fernando, Cebu. As soon as we got off on the bus, we took a motorcycle to the place.

For those who are going on a private ride, looking for the campsite might be a little tricky since there aren’t any signs or directions along the way. But you can always ask the locals. Motorcycle drivers are also very familiar with the place.

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Welcome home!

Arriving at the place felt like home. As I stare at the log cabin, memories from my childhood when we used to visit my grandparent’s place in the countryside came flashing in. The campsite has no hint of lavishness nor a touch of modernity except the rice cooker. Everything is pretty basic.

I thought of it as a perfect opportunity for my foreign friends to get to know more about the Filipino culture.

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Hammocks and happiness! That’s exactly what there is!

We were welcomed by the friendly host of the campsite. We instantly felt like a family. I talked to the lady owner who kindly asks about our reservation. I like her! She did not flash a big smile on her face to make me or us comfortable. It’s just that, she didn’t need that, the place IS already comfortable. I was like casually talking to my aunt or my grandmother about something.

(Funny fact: I actually found it amusing because I am always cognizant about people welcoming guests with big smiles and colorful words to the point that they become “overly accommodating” and well “scripted” if you know what I mean. Personally, I don’t like people who keep asking if I’m okay or if I’m comfortable or anything like that. It really annoys me.)

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The rustic luxury. (Our tent is the orange one.)

So, Hailey, Airi, and Yir chose to stay in a hammock on the second floor of the cabin overlooking the mountains. While Ace, Elliot and I stayed on the tent that we brought with us. We were free to pitch the tent anywhere, and we decided to just put it near the entrance so we can easily look after our things.

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Our friend’s hammock.

Let’s go back to what made the fuss on the web recently.

Bacalla Woods Campsite is touted as the “Bali of Cebu” because of its infinity swing fronting the verdant mountains of the town. Its ropes are tied on a branch of the tree and it is suspended in the abyss.

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Swing like there’s no tomorrow. (Photo by Hailey)

Another thing that I love about the place was the fact that they are animal-friendly. Gosh, they have a lot of pets. Elliot had a great time running around and socializing with other dogs. He even chased chickens in the woods.

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The most photogenic cat in the campsite. (Photo by Hailey)

As the evening came close, the campsite already ran out of tents and hammocks for rent still more and more campers arrived. Some persistent ones agreed to find their own way to get through the night.

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Life is indeed better in the mountains and in the woods!

While Ace was busy preparing our dinner, we, on the other hand, were busy talking. It’s not every day you get to be in a circle of people with different nationalities, you know. So, yeah, we had a lot of talks — from cultures to languages. The talk just got louder and funnier when Ian who’s from Malaysia joined the group.

As soon as dinner was ready, we happily shared our food together. After eating, Yir and Airi volunteered to do the dishes.

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Everybody enjoyed the rest of the night just listening to each other’s stories. It rained that night. Most campers especially those who stayed in hammocks gathered in the cabin for shelter. Hailey, Airi, Yir, and Ian had fun talking and having a drink with a group of call center agents. The night was filled with loud laughter going along the beat of the raindrops.

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(Photo by Hailey)

Almost everybody woke up early the next day hoping to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, the sky was covered with thick clouds making it impossible to see the sun. Nonetheless, we were still excited because after breakfast we went trekking to Bugho falls.

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Elliot and Ace in Bugho Falls.

We trekked on paved road and muddy trail for two hours. I am so proud of Elliot for surviving the hike, although, we had to carry him sometimes. When we arrived on the river, Elliot was at first afraid, but when he saw the flow of the water making bubbles as it hit a rock, he tried catching it. Eventually, he was enjoying. Ace and I did not swim because we had so much fun watching Elliot playing on the water.

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Visitors falling in line to try the infinity swing. (Photo by Hailey)

We came back to the campsite in time for lunch. We changed clothes, packed our things and prepared to go home. We agreed to have our lunch at the town center so they can try Filipino dish.

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Ace and Demi plus Elliot. (Photo by Hailey)

Staying at the campsite was a wonderful experience for Ace, Elliot, and me. The disconnection made us reconnect with ourselves and with each other. Our foreign friends who joined us also made our stay worthwhile.

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How to get there?

  • Ride a bus from the South Bus Terminal and drop off at the Hidden Paradise Mountain Resort corner in Pitalo, San Fernando. (1-2hrs)
  • Hail a habal-habal or motorcycle to the campsite. (20-30mins) Fare: 45/person

Other information:

  • You may bring your own food or cook at the campsite. You can also order from their menu but make sure to call them for reservation.
  • There is NO SIGNAL in the area.
  • If you’re not bringing your own hammock or tents, you may reserve in advance to avoid inconvenience.
  • Php200 — Overnight entrance fee with breakfast
  • Php100 — Day use entrance fee
  • Php50   — Trekking to Bugho Falls
  • Php150 — Hammock rental
  • Php300 — Tent rental
  • Don’t forget your insect repellents.

UPDATE: Bacalla Woods Campsite WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT WALK-INS. Advance booking or reservation is needed until further notice.

And lastly, ENJOY a life unplugged!

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Over to you, when was the last time you have unplugged your life from modernity? We’d love to hear from you.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi plus Elliot

 

Balik Lantaw sa Tuig Dos Mil Dise Syete. (A 2017 Year-End Lookback)

Pagkapas-pas gayud sa paglabay sa panahon. Naghina-ngat na usab ang bag-ong tu-ig. Murag kagahapon lang nato gisugdan kining tuig dos mil dise syete, apan usa ka adlaw na lang ug matapos na usab kini.

Apan bisan pa man sa kapas-pas sa panahon, nagmabungahon gayud kining tuiga. Atong nasaka ang pipila ka bukid dinhi sa atong probinsya, pilila usab ka isla atong nabisita, ug ubay-ubay usab nga maanindot nga talan-awon atong nakita.

(Indeed time goes by swiftly. Another year is coming. It was like yesterday we started the year 2017, but one day from now it’s about to end.

But despite the swiftness of time, this year has been a productive one. We have climbed few mountains, we also have visited some islands, and we have seen many beautiful places, too.) 

Busa sa dili pa maabot ang bag-ong tuig, atong lantawon pagbalik ang atong mga biyahe.

(Hence, before the new year comes, let’s take a lookback at our adventures.)

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Catching the first sunrise of the year. (2017)

Atong mahinumdoman nga gisugdan nato kining tuiga sa pag atang sa unang subang sa adlaw. Uban sa atong pagtagamtam sa unang kainit niini, mao ang panghinaot sa malamboong tuig.

Sayron ta kung kining panghinaot natuman ba.

(As we remembered, we started this year by catching the first sunrise. Along with soaking from the first rays were our hopes of a fruitful year.

Let’s see if our hopes came true.)

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Ace and Demi visited Temple of Leah. (2017)

Kauban ang ubang higala, gibisita nato ang Temple of Leah. Sama sa Taj Mahal sa India, kini giilang simbolo sa tiunay nga gugma sa usa ka bana ngadto sa iyang kapikas sa kinabuhi.

(Together with some friends, we visited Temple of Leah. Just like Taj Mahal of India, this temple is a sign of a husband’s true love to his wife.)

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Ace and Demi visited Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden. (2017)

Gihapit usab nato pagbisita ang Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden. Kini mao ang pinaka unang tanaman dinhi sa Cebu nga giporma ug hagdan. Atong nakita ang nagkada-iyang klase sa tanom nga makuting gitanom sa kada ang-ang sa hagdan para nindot lantawon.

(We also visited Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden. This is the first garden in Cebu that was formed like terraces. We saw different kinds of plants that were meticulously planted in the staircase.)

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Climbed Lanigid Hill. (2017)

Sa wala pa moabot ang adlaw sa gugma, gisaka nato ang bungtod sa Lanigid. Kuyog ang mga higala nga wala pay mga kapikas, didto nila nahibaloan nga ang mahigugma dili lang diay ngadto sa laing binuhat, kun dili pwede sab ngadto sa usa ka lingaw nga buhat sama sa pagkat-kat.

(Before Valentine’s Day, we climbed Lanigid Hill. Together with our friends who don’t have boyfriends yet, there, they realized that falling inlove happens not only towards another person but also to fun activities such as climbing a mountain.)

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Demi visited Mulao River. (2017)

Human sa drama didto sa bungtod, nanga-naog kita sa sapa sa Mulao. Ang tingog sa agas sa tubig nga nibanda ngadto sa mga dagkong bato maoy nisugat kanato. Mura kita ug gidala ngadto sa laing kalibutan tungod sa talagsaong hitsura sa mga bato nga daw gipuy-an ug dili sama kanato.

(After that drama in the hill, we went down to Mulao River. The sound of the flowing water hitting the big rocks was what welcomed us. It seemed like we were transported to a different world because of the surreal form of rocks that looked like a home of mystical creatures.) 

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Ace and Demi visited Coal Mountain Resort. (2017)

Giadto ta ang Coal Mountain Resort sa Argao para saulogon ang Buwan sa Gugma. Duha ka adlaw ta nga layo sa sibilisasyon, walay telepono ni telebisyon. Apan ang atong kadiyot nga pag estar didto, nahimong maanindot nga higayon sa panag estorya ilalom sa mga bitoon ug dinuyugan lamang sa hungihong sa mga gangis ug mga mananap sa kagabhion.

(We visited Coal Mountain Resort in Argao to celebrate the Month of Love. For two days, we were away from the civilization, no telephone nor television. But our short stay there was a great time for a conversation under the stars with the sound of crickets and  other night insects.) 

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Demi visited TIEZA Botanical Garden. (2017)

Sa pagsugod sa panahon sa ting-init, giadto ta ang TIEZA Botanical Garden. Pagka-anindot unta lantawon sa linaw nga gipalibutan sa mga buwak nga may nagka lain-laing kolor. Apan subo palandungon nga ang plano nila nga himuon unta kining suroyanan sa mga turista, wala nadayon tungod sa dili matino nga rason. Karon, ang linaw nagpabilin, apan wala na ang mga tanom nga nagdugang unta sa iyang katahom.

(During the start of the summer season, we visited TIEZA Botanical Garden. The lake looked beautiful because it was surrounded by flowers with different colors. Unfortunately, their plan to make the place as tourist attraction did not happen due to unknown reason. Now, the lake is still there but the flowers that gave beauty to it were already gone.) 

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Demi cycled in Olango Island. (2017)

Bisan pa man sa nagka-init nga panahon, gilabang nato ang dagat sa Mactan ug gibisita ta ang isla sa Olango. Didto atong gilibot ang gamayng isla pinaagi lamang sa bisikleta. Taliwala sa init sa adlaw, nalingaw kita sa pag-suroy-suroy kauban ang atong suod nga barkada.

(Despite the hot weather, we crossed the sea of Mactan to visit Olango Island. We toured the small island with a bicycle. We enjoyed cycling with some close friends under the scorching heat of the sun.)

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Ace and Demi trekked the rivers of Catmon and visited Tinub-dan falls. (2017)

Tungod lage kay ting-init, nikuyog ta sa bag-ong mga kaila didto sa Catmon para makita ang Tinubdan Falls ug mohumol sa bugnaw nga tubig gikan sa busay. Nahimamat ta ang mga tawo nga sauna diri sa internet ta lang nakaila, mga tawo nga sama kanato mahilig usab ug bag-ong kasinatian.

(Because the days were getting hotter, we went to Catmon with some new friends to see Tinubdan Falls and to dip into the cold waterfall. We also met some people whom we only met online, people who are also up for adventures like us.)

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Ace and Demi visited Green Lagoon park. (2017)

Gidala nato ang among mga pag umangkon sa Green Lagoon Park. Didto, dili lang ang mga gagmayng bata ang nalingaw ug maayo sa langoyanan kun dili lakip napud ang mga dagko.

(We brought our niece and nephews to Green Lagoon Park. It was not only the kids who had so much fun in the swimming pool but also the adults.)

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Ace and Demi visited Surigao. (2017)

Sa katapusang adlaw sa Abril, nilarga ta sa Surigao. Didto atong gibisita ang tinagoang bahandi niining mapaubsanong syudad.

(On the last day of April, we went to Surigao to visit the hidden treasure of the humble city.)

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Ace and Demi visited Sohoton Cove. (2017)

Unang adlaw sa Surigao, atong giadto ang Sohoton Cove. Gisuroy ta ang gagmay nga mga isla sulod sa Bucas Grande. Nakita ta ang mga isla nga daw sama sa usa ka puto nga naglutaw sa tubig tungod sa ilang porma.

(On our first day in Surigao, we visited Sohoton Cove. We toured the small islets inside Bucas Grande. We saw islets shaped like muffins floating in the water.)

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Ace and Demi visited Tinuy-an Falls. (2017)

Pagka sunod adlaw, nibyahe kita ngadto sa laing parte sa Surigao para bisitahon ang Tinuy-an Falls. Duka pa kita pag-abot nato ngadto apan, nahimata kita sa ka anindot sa agas sa tubig sa maong busay.

(The next day, we traveled to a different part of Surigao to see Tinuy-an Falls. We were still drowsy when we got there but we were awakened by the beautiful sight of the waterfall.) 

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Ace and Demi visited Enchanted River. (2017)

Human sa atong pagtampisaw sa bugnawng tubig sa busay, niadto usab kita sa Enchanted River. Gisugat kita sa usa ka dili katuohang kolor sa tubig sa sapa nga daw sa imahinasyon lang mamugna.

(After soaking in the cold water of the falls, we also went to Enchanted River. We were welcomed by the unbelievable color of the water that we thought could only exist in our imagination.)

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Ace and Demi visited Dinagat Islands. (2017)

Sunod adlaw niana, ang mga isla sa Dinagat na usab ang atong gisuroy. Dili matukib ang atong gibating kahingangha tungod sa kaanindot sa mga isla didtong dapita.

(On the following day, we toured the islands of Dinagat. We couldn’t explain our bewilderment because of the beauty of the islets there.) 

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Ace and Demi went to Sipaway Island.

Mura ug wala ta napul-i ug isla, nilabang na usab kita ngadto sa Negros para bisitahon ang pamilya ni Ace sa Sipaway Island. Gamit ang hinuwaman nga motor, gilibot ta ang gamayng isla ug atong nakita ang simple nga pag panginabuhi sa mga tawo didto.

(As if we did not get enough of islands, we crossed to Negros to visit Ace’s family in Sipaway Island. Using a rented motorbike, we toured the small island and saw the idyllic life of the people there.)

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Ace and Demi visited Mangitngit Falls. (2017)

Sa tunga-tunga sa tuig, giadto ta ang Mangitngit Falls nga karon gihimo nang komersyal nga suroyanan ug ginganlang na’g Middle Earth Spring Resort. Subo man huna-hunaon nga dili na nato maduol ang maong busay apan atong nasabtan ang tumong sa maong patakaran.

(In the middle of this year, we went to Mangitngit Falls which is now a commercialized resort called Middle Earth Spring Resort. It was sad to know that we were no longer allowed to come closer to the falls but we understood the reason for the prohibition.)

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Trekked Mt Mago with a Kid.

Malampuson usab nato nga naadto ang Mt Mago kauban ang dos-anyos nako nga pag umangkon. Makalingaw ang atong kasinatian samtang atong gipangita ang utlanan sa tulo ka lungsod nga mao gayod ang tuyo sa maong pagkat-kat.

(We also have successfully trekked Mt. Mago with my two-year-old niece. Our adventure in finding the boundary of three municipalities was fun because it was really the goal of that climb.)

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Karong tuiga usab atong naadto ang dugay na natong gustong makita nga Budlaan Falls. Didto, daw gianud sa makusog nga bul-og sa tubig gikan sa ibabaw ang atong gibating mga kakapoy.

(It’s also this year, we saw Budlaan Falls that we’ve been wanting to see. It was as if the strong flow of the falls carried away the feeling of tiredness.)

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Ace and Demi visited Mt Kan-irag. (2017)

Gikan didto sa busay, nidiretso kita sa kinabungturan nga bahin sa syudad sa Sugbo. Ang maong bukid gipanganlan ug Sirao Peak. Didto atong nalantaw ang ang syudad nga daw hulmigas na sa kagamay.

(From there, we went straight to the highlands of the city. The mountain was called Sirao Peak. From there, we saw the city below us.)

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Ace and Demi went to Camotes Island with Elliot. (2017)

Pagkasunod adlaw niana, kuyog ang atong bag-ong amigo nga iro nga gipanganlan ug Elliot, nibakasyon kita sa Camotes Island. Gamit gihapon ang hinuwaman nga sakyanan, atong gilibot ang mga lugar-suroyanan didto.

(The next day, together with our new furry friend named Elliot, we went on a vacation in Camotes Island. We rented a ride again and we toured the whole island.)

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Demi visited the biggest cross in Compostela. (2017)

Niini usab nga tuiga atong na-diskubre ang dakong krus sa Compostela. Daw higante ang kadako ug kataas sa maong krus. Ug sumala pa, mao kini ang kinadak-ang krus sa probinsya.

(It’s also this year when we discovered the big cross in Compostela. The size and the height were gigantic. Many said it was the biggest cross in the province.)

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Ace and Demi survived the Spartan trail. (2017)

Paglabay lang sa usa ka semana, gibaklay ta ang giingon nga pinakalisud nga Spartan Trail. Bisan pa man sa kalisud sa dalan ug sa mga kabalaka kung malampuson ba natong mahumang ang maong hagit, maisugon natong giagwanta ang kakapoy. Ug tuod man, kalipay atong nabati tungod sa atong kalampusan.

(After a week, we trailed the treacherous Spartan Trail. Despite the hard trail and the doubts whether we finish the challenge, we bravely stand the weariness. Indeed, happiness was our reward because of the successful climb.) 

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Ace and Demi glamped in Formosa Camp Resort. (2017)

Ug ang atong katapusan nga hunat, mao ang pag adto sa Formosa Camp Resort. Wala nato baliha ang bagyo nga Urduja. Bisan pa man sa dili maayo nga kahimtang sa panahon, kita nalingaw gihapon sa atong hamubo nga bakasyon.

(And our last leg for this year was our visit to Formosa Camp Resort. We did not mind the typhoon Urduja. Notwithstanding the bad weather, we still enjoyed our short staycation.)

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Makaingon ta nga ang atong tuig dos mil dise syete nag mabulukon gayud. Kini tungod sa bag-ong mga kasinatian, mga bag-ong higala og kaila, mga bag-ong lugar nga atong nabisita,ug labaw sa tanan, ang mga pagsuway nga atong naagian nga maoy mamahimo natong sumbanan sa umaabot nga katuigan.

Ug sa dili pa hingpit nga matapos kining maong tuig, tuguti kami nga pasalamaton kamo, kamong magbasahan ug nagasunod gayud niining among mga salmot. Hinaot nga sa pagbasa sa among mga artikulo, nadala usab kamo namo sa mga lugar nga among giadto.

Hangtud sa sunod tuig!

Mabungahong bag-ong tuig kanatong tanan!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

(We can say that our 2017 has been a remarkable year. This is because of the new experiences, new friends, new places that we visited, and most of all, the hardships and trials that we’ve been through. They are what made us strong and will become our guide for the coming years.

So before this year come to its end, allow us to THANK YOU, our dear readers and followers. We hope that by reading our posts, we were able to take you to the places that we visited.)

‘Til next year!

A prosperous New Year to all of us!

Love, Ace and Demi