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. ūüôā

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

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

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On our way to Dinagat Island.

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

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

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Duyos beach sandbar. 

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

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Demi during the break of dawn. 

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

 

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

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

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The gang during our arrival. 

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

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Row of houses in San Jose. 

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

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

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A picturesque spot on the other side of Isla Aga.

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

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Ace in Isla Aga.

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

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

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

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The broken hanging bridge.

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

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

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

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

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

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Ace in Bababu beach. 

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

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

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

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

Our next stop was Duyos Beach.

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

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

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The girls.

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

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

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

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Ace and Demi love Surigao! 

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

 

 

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

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

A Photo Diary | How Surigao Swept Off Our Feet.

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see it!!!

Our first week of May was worthily spent in SURIGAO along with new awesome friends. The place was in our bucket list but we did not expect to visit it it soon. Somehow, blessings made our way to the City of Island Adventures. (And this marked our first venture outside the Visayas region.)

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An old friend invited us to visit her hometown. It so happen that Ace and I had plans to go to Negros and Bantayan Islands but the enticing places in Surigao made us change our minds.

I must say, we had made the BEST decision ever.

Surigao swept us off our feet since¬†the first day and all throughout our¬†sojourn. From the amazing fjord of Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove, the untouched islets¬†of Dinagat Islands, the awe-inspiring sight of Tinuy-an Falls, to the beguiling beauty of Enchanted River — everything went beyond our expectations.

Here’s a photo diary that will show you how the City of Island Adventures made us fall inlove.

How would you like to build your house in an island overlooking other tiny islets and the cerulean sea?

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A stunning vista of the islets from an abandoned rest house in Dinagat Islands.

Or maybe have the island all by yourself?

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Another picturesque spot on the other side of the abandoned rest house.

When you have the fine sand, the calm sea and a wonderful… body? (Excuse me!)

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

That Palawan dream… Surigao made it¬†happen. ūüėÄ

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

Entered a new world through Bucas Grande and got lost with the confusing inlets. Explored the hidden gems of Sohoton from caves to coves.

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A fjord to Bucas Grande.

Saw amazing rock formations that we’ve never seen before and heard folklores from a local tourist guide.

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Unique rock wall in Sohoton Cove.

Plunged and communed with nature. Or chose to swim with thousands of stingless jellyfish.

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Dipping in the water surrounded by stingless jellyfish.

Ticked off the widest waterfall in the country from our bucket list.

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A fascinating sight of the country’s widest waterfall — Tinuy-an Falls. (The 2nd tier.)

Chased the cascades of this multi-tiered waterfalls. And treated ourselves with a massage from the water curtain.

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The cascades of Tinuy-an’s first tier.

Dabbed a ‘squadgoal pose’ with the gang.

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Squad goals? Yeah, not without this pose. ūüėÄ

And stroke more squadgoal poses…. ūüėÄ

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Squad pose with Tinuy-an Falls’ stamp.

Admired the mystifying beauty of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River.

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A vibrant scene of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. Simply enchanting.

Repleted our eyes as we stared at the enchanting river to our hearts’ content. Also enjoyed swimming and going with the river flow.

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Staring at the water to her heart’s content.

Whilst our¬†fleeting stay in Surigao we couldn’t help but ¬†DECLARE to come back for more, soon. The city surely has more gems yet to be discovered.

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Thank you for the wonderful experience Surigao. ’til our next visit on your land.

Cheers!

With love, Ace and Demi

 

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

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

 

Green Lagoon Park | A Family-Friendly Beach Resort

 

Days are getting hotter, air is getting warmer, everybody’s ready¬†for summer!!!¬†

Everybody is already hyped up for summer. Have you booked your summer getaway, yet?

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Green Lagoon Park, Compostela, Cebu

For people living solo, for those who prefer traveling or spending their summer 2017 alone, it’s not hard to find a perfect place to go. However, for those who wanted to spend it with their family, finding a “family-friendly” resort is not that easy, especially if you have many kids with you. Two important things you need to consider are the rates and the distance of the place. And a place that spells “inexpensive fun”.

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Worry no more!!!

Here’s Green¬†Lagoon Park, conveniently located in Canamucan, Compostela, Cebu. (The resort has always been the venue for Ipanema’s Summer SunScream for four consecutive years now.) This resort is big and spacious which makes it ideal for family gatherings and reunions. You can let the¬†kids enjoy swimming in the pool while adults enjoy other ammenities that the resort offers.

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Another good thing for this resort, is that they have no corkage fee for food and they have grilling stations that guests can use. In case you don’t bring food with you, they have a restaurant and some concessionaires inside the facility.

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Green Lagoon Park’s huge swimming pool only has a depth of four feet. Not for adults who wanted to do their diving thingy but it’s perfect for the kids. The pool also has two slides which I’m sure every kid and kid-at-heart wants.

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My sister-in-law and me, kids at heart, yeah!! 

If you don’t feel like swimming in pool, you can go enjoy the beach, instead. It’s not as beautiful as the beaches in the northern and southern part of the province. The sand is not powdery white, it’s a bit rocky.

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Green Lagoon Park’s beach front.

Your kids would still enjoy playing on¬†the sand, though. Just please look after them. There are life guards in the area¬†but there’s no harm if we take caution, too.

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The beach front. 

They also have several rooms for those who wish to stay overnight. These rooms are all air-conditioned and are fully equipped with cable tv, mini fridge, and a cabinet. Each room has a king-sized bed with a private bathroom complete with toiletries. (Rate listed below.)

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Green Lagoon Park’s room accommodation.

The resort also has big nipa hut cottages. You can bring your portable music speakers with you because each cottage has its own electrical outlet. (Rate listed below.)

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Nipa hut cottages. 

Green Lagoon Park is also a perfect venue for team building. They have a wide area for team-building activities. Other activities in the resort includes volleyball, zipline, jet-ski, banana boat and many more.

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The resort’s playground.¬†

How to get there:

  • Green Lagoon Park is only 27 kilometers away from the city. You can take a jeepney bound for Compostela or Danao in SM City, Cebu or even in Mandaue. (Fare 18-25 pesos.) Ask the driver to drop you off in Green Lagoon Resort. This is just along the main road.

Rates:

  • Entrance Fees — Php10 (child) / Php20 (adult)
  • Cottages — Php500
  • Rooms — Php1000
  • No corkage for food except for beverages.

For more information, questions or bookings, you can contact the resort through:

  • Address: Canamucan, Compostela, Cebu¬† Province, Philippines
    Telephone : (+63) (32) 425-6008; 425-8761/ 406-6753

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Ace and Demi in Green Lagoon Park. 

We hope you found this post helpful. If you find any error or changes with the rates, leave us some words in the comment box below. We’d love to hear from you.

‘Til our next post!

Keep safe and enjoy your summer!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

Coal Mountain Resort | Bringing You Back To Nature

Let’s wander where the WIFI is weak or where there’s no SIGNAL at all.¬†

While everybody’s planning for a beach getaway, we, on the otherhand, found ourselves in the middle of the woods, surounded ¬†by¬†mountains, hearing the music not everybody can hear. We’re going back to nature!

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Ace and Demi Coal Mountain Resort Story

Who would have thought a place which was used as a grazing ground for carabaos could give us a total relaxation away from chaotic life in the city? In the outskirts of Argao, lies this wondrous haven called Coal Mountain Resort, a perfect place for those who wanted retreat from the bustling metropolis.

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Find Demi.

The hubby and I had our post-Valentine celebration (we just need some reason to getaway, you know) in this haven. I was very excited that I booked a room more than a week ahead. Well, I think that was just right because when I called, most rooms were already booked and there were only two deluxe rooms left. The staff whom I talked to said the resort is usually full on weekends especially the family and group rooms. So yah, I suggest to book your rooms ahead.

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Deluxe rooms.

Our one hour ¬†butt-aching motorcycle ride was totally worth it. Admittedly though, when we arrived at the resort, I was kind of “disappointed” as there was no wonderful decoration that would make anybody curious and interested to see what’s inside. The look from the outside was very simple and straightforward.

But, see “never judge a resort by its gate”. ūüėÄ

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The resort’s viewing deck.

Yet, when we went inside I felt euphoric as I ran towards their viewing deck. It offers a panoramic view of the lush greeneries of the mountains that surrounds the resorts, some of which are part of Dalaguete mountain range. Not to mention the invigorating mountain air, I felt like we were transported to a different world.

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Imagine waking up to this view.

I was very excited to roam around to see what other wonders the resort has to offer. So, right after we threw our bags inside the room, I immediately went to explore the place. Look at this wonderful view from our room, don’t you want to wake up everyday for this?

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Morning view from our room.

It’s wonderful how the resort mainted its homey environment. It so much felt like I was having a vacation in my grandparent’s house in the countryside. Oh, I could live like this forever.

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Stairs to the deluxe rooms.

The resort has three swimming pools, all are fed by free-flowing spring water. But you have to go through the woods to reach the third pool which was the deepest, too.

The first pool is 4ft deep. It is mango-shaped, by the way. It also has a slide for kids or for those who are kids at heart.

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Four-feet pool.

Just when you thought you lost your heart, then you realized it’s in the resort. “Buti pa sa Coal Mountain, may heart.” ūüėõ Behold, the pool with a heart, er, heart shape. The second pool is 7ft deep. There’s a jumping platform if you want to plunk.

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The pool with a heart, seven-feet deep.

The¬†third pool is the deepest. Imagine 16ft deep. I bet one couldn’t swim more than 15 minutes here because it’s just sooooooo cold. The hubby and I are into cold springs but this is the coldest one that we’d been to so far. I did not reach 5 minutes swimming here because my nerves were already freezing. There is also a diving platform on this pool that rises up to 30ft high. Perfect for “buwis-buhay” exhibition.

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The deepest pool, 16ft.

You have to walk through this canopy walkway in the middle of the woods. It’s quite scary because it was slippery and the steps looked weak. But duh, get that fear out of your system and step carefully. I didn’t expect the hanging bridge to be that far, I honestly felt dizzy before we get to the end of it.

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Canopy walk.

The resort also offered a mining demo which includes exploration of a¬†mining tunnel. It was drizzling during our visit, the soil was wet and muddy, so the hubby decided that we go on full gear with the overall, boots and helmet. But you can opt to just have the helmet and boots if you are not comfortable with the overall. We suggest you try this one. Let’s get to work!

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Ace and Demi, off to work!

Now, get ready to explore the tunnel that stretches up to 145 meters long and 70 feet below the ground. I swear I was anxious while we were still at the entrance of the tunnel. Seeing the dark and narrow hole, I felt like it’s going to swallow me anytime. But the hubby and the guide were so assuring that I was persuaded to continue.

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I’m not scared. Really not scared. ūüėõ

I can’t tell how happy I was when we were about to exit the tunnel. It was an achievement. Along with that fullfillment was a realization. A miners’ life is no easy. The danger while staying several feet below the ground is already something to be scared of, not to mention stooping for hours. But yeah, I did it!

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Ahhh, I did it!

The one thing I loved during our stay in Coal Mountain Resort was the fact that we were so far from the civilization. Our smartphones were not getting any signals in the area. If not because of the camera, we wouldn’t be using our phones during our entire stay in the resort.¬†It was another perfect moment for the hubby and me to talk about us, our life. At night, we stayed at the balcony and gazed at the stars in the sky while we contemplated about mundane affairs.

And oh, for the first time in a long time I saw fireflies coming near me. It’s rare to see them in the cities.

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Chilling.

It was a healing moment — staying outside the¬†room, breathing fresh air and only hearing the sound of the crickets and the night owls. I felt like I was brought back to nature, to the time when there were only trees, water and air.

Our lungs had their dose of cleansing and our eyes were pampered by the green healthy surrounding. We felt so healthy during our two days stay in the resort.

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Ace and Demi are summer ready!!!

We hope you enjoyed our Coal Mountain Resort story. We’d love to hear yours, too. ūüėÄ

Stay tuned for our Coal Mountain Resort travel guide in a later post. 

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

 

 

Taste of Spain in Argao, Cebu

We couldn’t seem to get enough of the towns in the southern part of Cebu. After that South Cebu Tour¬†we had last year, we thought we’ll have to give North Cebu its time to shine. But that time has not come yet. There’s still so much more to South Cebu that we couldn’t move on.

Last February, the hubby and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day in Coal Mountain Resort in Argao, Cebu. But I’ll talk about that in a later post. For now, let’s see what Argao has in store for us.

Half of our second day in this municipality was¬†spent walking in the town proper. It’s amazing how Argao managed to keep the Spanish flavor around.

  • Cabecera de Argao

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Argao, Cebu

Just a minute or two walk from the main road, the town hides the remnants of the Spanish era, from the church to the government buildings.

  • Saint Michael, the Archangel Parish

Our first stop was the 200-year old church of Saint Michael, the Archangel.

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Ace and Demi in Argao, Cebu

Just like most churches in Southern Cebu, this church walls are also made from coral stones. The facade contains articulate carvings depicting the patron saint displayed on its niche. There are urn-like finials flanked at each corner of the pediment. It’s great that they have preserved this old structure.

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The interior.

You should not miss checking the interior of the parish, too. The ceiling immediately caught our attention because of the colorful painting that depicts that archangel’s life. We did not have the chance to check the altar because it was under rennovation.

  • The¬†Hall of Justice.

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Argao’s¬†Hall of Justice.

Second stop, was the town’s Hall of Justice. ¬†One of the edifice in the town that shows evident Spanish taste. This served as military barracks during the old times but now functions as the Hall of Justice.

  • Torta, Argao’s delicacy. ¬†¬†

Have you tasted that delish sweet flatbread called “torta“? How was it? If you think it wasn’t delicious then you have not tasted Argao’s torta. ūüôā

I say, “Torta is Argao, and Argao is Torta!”

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Home of delish tortas.

When you visit the town, don’t you dare miss this delish delicacy. Argao is known for its homemade tortas that are traditionally baked in a clay oven and they use tuba (coconut wine) as the leavening agent. They said “with time, it gets tastier” or “magkadugay, magkalami“. Hmmm? I ate mine after two weeks, I say they’re right. ūüôā

  • Nature Park.

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Argao’s nature park.¬†

The town also has a nature park where you can relax and think about your existence. (Kidding.) They offer canoing for only Php10. You can have a picnic or try their wall climbing, too. The park has an entrance of Php5.

Personal rambling:

Our short jaunt in the town proper brought to us a Spanish flavor. Despite the pain the era had caused us, it’s nice to know how we are so forgiving, how we¬†showed importance to its legacy. It would be easy to move on from the Spanish colony by destroying everything that reminds us of that time, but we chose not to. Because these…these things is a constant reminder of how our great grandparents fought for our freedom. A constant reminder that we have to take care of this sovereignty we have now. A constant reminder that we had been a slave once and we should not go back to being one anymore. ūüôā

We hope you enjoyed our virtual diary about Argao.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

Cycling Around Olango Island | The 200-peso Story

Everybody is hyped up for summer. Got your weekends’ schedule full, yah? Most of us are planning for beach get-aways, some prefer the cold springs to beat the heat of this season. Us…we’re cycling, still.

Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits, instead!¬†

Inspired by a famous ice cream commercial, you should be familiar of the line, “Saan aabot ang 20 pesos mo?” (Where does your 20 pesos lead you?) Remember the product? Now grab it and continue reading. ūüėÄ

Few weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself to try biking around Olango Island with just 200 pesos on hand. So, where did my 200-peso lead me? Did I survive?

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Demi in Olango Island

Let’s take a quick trivia of this island:¬†

Olango is part of Olango Group of Islands with its six satelite islets —¬†Sulpa, Gilutongan (also spelled Hilutungan), Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an, and Camungi.¬† The islands are low-lying with elevation reaching no more than 10 metres (33¬†ft) above sea level.

Perfect for my activity, yah? Thanks Mr Wiki.

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Demi in Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary 

The hubby wasn’t available because he went cycling with the Cebu Friendly Bikers Club in the highlands of Cebu City. So, I hesitated to pursue my plan because I’d never been to Olango island since. And the fact that I don’t know anyone who lives there was giving me more doubt.¬†Because of my three awesome friends who gladly accompanied me on this venture, this 200-peso experiment was realized.

My friends and I met up at JCenter mall at 7am and hailed a jeepney bound for Punta Engano. (By the way, these jeepneys pass by Andy Hotel, Parkmall, Chong-Hua Mandaue…just in case you don’t know.) We asked the driver to drop us off at Movenpick Hotel where the port to Olango was located.

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Bird watching in Olango Island 

It was a 10-15 minute relatively smooth boat ride to the island. I forgot to tell you that we did not have an itinerary for this escape. We just knew we’re to explore the island with a bike. There are bicycles for rent in the area¬†for as low as Php10 per hour. It was a quarter to ten o’clock when we arrived in Sta. Rosa Port. We immediately rode a tricycle to take us to Barangay Candagsao where we can rent a bike.

After five minutes, we were greeted by the smiles of friendly locals who were kind to tell us where Kuya Erwin’s bike rental place. After choosing our preferred bicycles, we signed an agreement paper and off we go.

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Bicycling around Olango island. 

Our first stop was the Tungasan Boardwalk. Unfortunately, the paseo was closed for renovation. The locals said, the storm had devasted the boarwalk very much that it was now unsafe to step on the walkway. We had no choice but to settle with the view.

After a few minutes, we proceeded to San Vicente Marine Sanctuary to eat our lunch. We were thinking of seafoods but to our disappointment, the staffs were not very friendly to us. We even felt discriminated because they prioritized their foreign guests. Our tummies were already growling but they just told us they don’t have rice even though we saw the rice on the table. Huhuh. ūüė•

We couldn’t stay there and drool, we headed to Olango Wildlife Sanctuary to experience the bird-watching. Contrary to what happened in the Marine Sanctuary, the staffs in the Wildlife Sanctuary were very friendly and accommodating. They even lent us a binoculars to use in the bird-watching area. Sadly, they don’t have food but chips and snacks. Huhuh…more growling of our tummies.

After repleting our eyes with the migratory birds, we went back our way and dropped by Sagastrand Restaurant to eat our lunch. Finally!!

I’m proud to say that¬†I SURVIVED and my experiment was a SUCCESS. Information about my expenses after this. ūüôā

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Ace and Demi cycling in Olango Island. 

I didn’t have enough of my biking tour in the island and the following weekend, I brought my younger brother and the hubby with me. Coincidently, the CFB team were also going. Yahoo!

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Brother and Me cycling around Olango island.

My brother and I rented our bikes in the same rental place. He chose the mountain bike but I chose the folding bike because I don’t know how to use the big bike. As a result, I caused delays of the team’s ride. (Sorry.) Gladly, they live by their name “friendly bikers” and understood my shortcoming.

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Ace cycling around Olango Island.

This time, we had our sumptuous lunch in Barangay Talima. Our good host prepared saang and grilled fish for us. We devoured the feast in just few minutes because we were all hungry.

Once again, for the second time I have proven my 200-peso experiment in Olango. ūüôā¬†

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When in doubt, PEDAL it out. 

Here’s a breakdown of my expenses: (Day-tour in Olango Island)

  • Php30 — (back and forth) jeepney fare to and from Mandaue City (Php15)
  • Php30 — (back and forth) boat fare
  • Php6 — terminal fee (Php5 and Php1)
  • Php40 — (back and forth) tricycle fare to and from bike rental (Php20)
  • Php30 — three-hour bike rental (Php10/hour)
  • Php30 — lunch
  • Php30 — entrance fee to Bird Watching

Do the Math and that’s all my expenses.

Hence, I conclude that your 200-peso will let you survive in Olango Island. 

Just a few reminder:¬†¬†**You’ll probably love to stay in the island for a long time but if you are in a day-trip make sure to be at the port before 4pm because it is the boats’ last trip to the mainland. **You can buy seafoods at a very cheap price like saang, talaba and etc., in Barangay Talima. ** Rent a bike at Kuya Erwin’s bike rental in Barangay Candagsao.

’til our next adventure.

Keep safe.
Love, Ace and Demi