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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
It is a place where you could sit down and reconnect with yourself.
It is truly a paradise!
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.
Over to you, have you been to Sipaway? Let us hear from you in the comment section below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
If the southern part of Cebu features the most explored mountain ranges, waterfalls, and also known to be home of the extreme adventure – canyoneering, the northern Cebu prides its stunning white sand beaches, paradise-like islets, healthy marine life and beautiful diving spots.
An impulsive trip brought us to one of the paradise in the northern part of the province — Bantayan Island.
Get to know Bantayan Island:
Tucked in the west part of the northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is an island group that consists of small islets mostly uninhabited. Bantayan is the largest island of the group. The towns of Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan lie here, too.
How to get there:
From Cebu, you can take a bus or a van bound for Hagnaya Port from the North Bus Terminal. Depending on what bus you’re riding, the fare is around Php160-180.
Secure a ferry ticket from Hagnaya Port (Php180) and pay the terminal fee (Php10). NOTE: If you are bringing your pets with you, don’t forget to get a local transport permit for them. No permit, no transport.)
Once you arrive in the port of Sta Fe, you can ride a tricycle to your preferred hostel. Some hostels arrange transport and tour, you may inquire from your host.
You can rent a bicycle or a motorcycle to tour the island. There are also motorcycles that offer land tours.
Our summer story in Bantayan Island:
Our trip to Bantayan Island was unplanned. One day before our departure, Bantayan island never crossed our minds. Ace and I, in fact, were thinking of spending the weekend doing the laundry. It was around 8 pm on Friday when Niña and I talked about going there together. Without any second thought, I agreed. My class finished at 10:30 pm. Niña said we were departing at 3 am which was only a few hours away. Since it was an unexpected outing, we didn’t have Elliot’s transport permit. We had no choice but to leave him in my sister’s care.
We arrived at Hagnaya Port and had our breakfast while waiting for Niña’s sister who lives in San Remigio. They arrived a little late, it was already 9:30 when we took a ferry to the island. Upon arrival, we wasted no time and immediately took a tricycle to Sta Fe Guest House which was our home for 2 days. Our friendly host greeted us at the gate. I like how our hostel is located just a few minutes away from the marketplace and few steps away from the beach.
The same tricycle picked us up at 1 pm for a land tour. Our first stop was Big Jel’s Restomeat for lunch. Ace and I personally suggest you try eating here because aside from the big serving, their food is delicious and affordable.
After filling up our tummies, we headed to Oboob Mangrove Garden, also known as the OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association). It aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves and the role it plays in the ecosystem. The mangroves serve as the home of different underwater species.
Ace and Demi at Oboob Mangrove Garden.
This mangrove garden has an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php20 for kids. They also have this big sign showing where the entrance fee go. Now, that’s what you call transparency.
When the tide is high, you can tour the area by kayaking. We, on the other hand, chose to walk into the bamboo boardwalk.
Few meters from the entrance, there is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and refreshments.
The kids bought some fish food in a small store along the way. We rested in the bamboo hut while watching them feeding the fish.
We also climbed the makeshift bamboo tower to see the entire mangrove garden from above. Only 3 people are allowed to climb at once for safety purposes. Because many visitors lined up to climb the tower, you can’t stay there for more than 5 minutes.
Soon after we explored the place, we headed to our next stop — the Paradise Beach. It was supposed a secluded beach area but due to the influx of tourist, the place became crowded.
But that didn’t make the place less of a paradise. The long strip of powdery white sand was worth its name. The beach has the finest sand we have seen.
Our next stop was the Diving Cliff near a building ruin. Niña and I were eager to jump in the cliff. Yet, our spirits hid somewhere upon seeing how deep and high it was.
We were supposed to drop by Ogtong Cave in Sta Fe Beach Club, but we agreed to skip it and went to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.
Everybody was tired, especially Ace, Niña and I because we didn’t have enough sleep. (It’s right to say, we didn’t have sleep at all.) We scheduled an island hopping the next day, so we decided to call it a day.
Stay tuned for the story of our Virgin Island adventure!
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)