Cliff Diving at Magic Island, Boracay

Cliff Diving at Magic Island, Boracay

Boracay isn’t all about the white sand beach. There are literally hundreds of things you can do and this island can offer to it’s visitors from all ages wherever you are. Here let me highlight one of the things adrenaline junkies crave: cliff diving.

This island paradise in the Philippines with fine white sand and crystal clear waters is guaranteed to give you the best getaway experience so nothing beats spending it with your cool and fun-loving buddies too.

Our itinerary for that morning is to do ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) ride, Flyfish and Island Hopping but you know some of the great adventures in life are spontaneously planned. Whatever happens, just enjoy the ride.

atv island boracay

flyfish boracay

The Flyfish is definitely a must-try activity. After that, we were having our island hopping which is known also because of the little islands surrounding Boracay. We got the boat for Php3,500 for 10 pax so we had Php350 per head good for 3-4 hours and maybe 4-5 islets to visit.

island hopping boracay

On our first stop, it was not on an island but an area where you can snorkel and enjoy the colorful fishes. We took some snacks and quench our thirst with buko (young coconut) juice.

island hopping magic island boracay

Thanks to this guy on a paddle board. At 3 pcs for Php100 you get your buko freshly opened and he waits for you to finish your drink if you want it opened in half for the meat inside.

buko juice magic island boracay

Buko float anyone?

How about some ice cream? I told you this island has a lot to offer wherever you are. 🙂

ice cream magic island boracay

Ice cream to go!

Only a few of us went for a swim as the hang-over from the thrilling Flyfish ride still lingers. So to keep the adrenaline pumping, I was looking for another exciting activity. We then asked the boatmen if there’s somewhere we could cliff dive and fortunately there was. We were brought to Magic Island which is just 5 minutes away from where we were.

cliff diving magic island boracay 1

I have read some blogs where to do cliff diving and Ariel’s Point is on top of the list, but comes with a price which is at Php2,000 for a package (published regular price). You can Google it for more info. Basically, in my opinion, Magic Island is the less extravagant version of Ariel’s point which is just simple, quite and the only activity you do is cliff diving. Well that is what we were looking for in the first place.

cliff diving magic island boracay 3

Checking out the view from above.

There is an entrance fee of Php150 and you get unlimited jumps all at your own risk. They have cottages so you can take your meals or I think they offer it too. The only thing I got to ask are the heights of the diving boards at low-tide since it was at that time. They basically have 4 diving boards with the easy one at 15 feet, a good practice for those who are not yet ready for the big leap.

cliff diving magic island boracay 15 feet

The 15-foot diving board

The 15-foot diving board

Then you have on the other side the 20-foot, 27-foot and 30-foot high diving boards. Cliff diving as well as other outdoor adventure activities have risks and may result to body injuries so always think safety first and make sure you are physically, mentally and spiritually ready for it.

cliff diving magic island boracay 7

A rule of thumb in diving on waters is just to keep your body as straight as possible during the fall to lessen the impact. I personally observed that most beginners or first-timers tend to hold themselves back that is why they fall flat on their legs or butt.

cliff diving magic island boracay 4

Congrats Sally, you can stand on water.

I think it is better to just push yourself forward and instinctively your body will adjust and as long as you straighten up, you will be fine. But still, it is just easier said than done when your heart is pumping like crazy. 😀

cliff diving magic island boracay 5

And the brave souls goes to Nico, Karen and myself. We were the only ones who tried the highest board and oh man it was really high when you look from the top. There is just that fear factor that will struck you just when you are about to jump.

cliff diving magic island boracay karen (2)

Looking at the tempting waters below.

You can feel your chest pumping like crazy and your nerves starting to crack. And when you are at the point of no return, seeing your feet left off the board in slow motion, you just feel the rush of adrenaline in your system.

cliff diving magic island boracay karen

Karen’s jump at 30 feet. Gutsy gurl!

As a kid, I have always dreamed of flying in the sky, jumping high and being some superhero or even a Power Ranger. Well I just made that dream come true even for a split second in my life. It’s morphin’ time! 😀

cliff diving magic island boracay mj

My i-believe-i-can-fly jump at 30 feet!

I just love that tingling feeling in my nerves that is why you will notice I have a lot of movements in my arms and legs. In contrast, you can see Christian’s jump that is so simple and basic keeping his body straight and your arms kept to avoid muscle pains.

cliff diving magic island boracay tan2

Christian’s fundamental jump at 27 feet.

But Nico steals the show with his graceful jumps like a ballerina. I also think he has the most jumps from the 30-foot one and you will not see any fear and hesitation when he is on the board. He was just all smiles and enjoying the unlimited dive.

cliff diving magic island boracay nico

Nico’s graceful dive at 30 feet,

Now if the pictures did not get you pumping, here are some clips from our jumps so you can see it in real action and in slow motion.

Nico’s jump at 30 feet:

Emjae’s jump at 30 feet:

Emjae’s somersault at 20 feet:

Threesome jumpshot by Nico, Karen and Argie:

Magic Island Cliff Diving Boracay

Woohoo! We enjoyed jumping up and down until it was past lunch time already. So we decided to wrap up the trip and get back to the main island. We did not get to visit the other islets anymore cause we decided to spend our time there but it does not matter. We just had the highest leap of our lives and conquered our fears inside. As they say:

Do one thing each day that scares you. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

We didn’t do just one thing that day though. When in Boracay, there is just so many things to do but so little time. I will definitely visit Boracay again some time and Ariel”s Point (50-foot jump) will still be on top of my list as well as Parasailing. As always, I am a tight budget backpacker but what matters is to have fun, be spontaneous and enjoy the little things on your travel.

So would you dare diving on a cliff? Share your thoughts and check out my photo walk post also here: Sights and Sands of Boracay. Spread good vibes!  🙂

7 Things You Must Try in JPark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu

7 Things You Must Try in JPark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu

JPark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu

Formerly known as Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa, JPark Island Resort and Waterpark Cebu marked the 1st day of June 2014 as their formal embrace to their new name. The rebranding move is to position JPark Island Resort to be known as a property not only limited to a resort and hotel, but also as a waterpark and amusement park like other upcoming projects of Philippine BXT Corp., the company that develops and runs JPark Island Resort Cebu.

In this regard, Cebu bloggers were invited for a whole day event and got to be the first to enjoy and experience JPark Island Resort last June 7, 2014. Certainly this was an OMG moment for me and my first time in a 5-star hotel and premier water park. Indeed, the best things in life are free. 🙂

7 Things I Like About Jpark Island Resort

So I personally came up with 7 things that I myself got to try or visit during the event.  Honestly they’re not just 7 so bear with me, I just like that number. I will give some trivia about their rebranding at the end of every item.  And one more thing, I don’t have the prices and rates so please refer to their Facebook page and website for inquiries. Here we go!

(Click on the photos for a larger and better view)

1. Food, Food, Food!

We started the day by filling our empty stomach at The Abalone buffet restaurant which offers a wide array of international cuisine. It has four live stations – Japanese, Western, Oriental, and the tempting dessert station and can seat up to 390 guests open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

After that heavy breakfast we had a press conference at Triphora function room. Then we also had the privilege to taste Olive Restaurant‘s new mouth-watering dishes.

We had our lunch at  Ching Hai restaurant which is open for lunch and dinner. This restaurant offers a sumptuous variety of classical and contemporary Chinese dishes prepared with only the freshest ingredients in an open showcase kitchen.

  • JPark is the combined name of businessman Justin Uy and his Korean partner Park Yong Jun, who are officers of the Philippine BXT Corp.

2. Themed Pools

After all the food trip, finally it’s time to burn some calories and get wet. JPark Resort has diverse number of swimming pools for all ages. The main pool called the Island Pool features tempting blue waters, mini waterfalls and a swim up pool bar. You can just lay back or play ball with your friends too.

Don’t worry kids, the Captain Hook’s Pool features a Pirate Ship, slides, and water splashing all around. This place is very child-friendly and all I see are happy kiddie smiles around. Just beside it is the Toddler’s Pool. Strictly, adults are not allowed in the slides – poor me. 🙁 #childhoodfantasy

Then let the Amazon River current take you on a leisurely ride so just grab your floaters, relax and enjoy. The river circles around the kids’ area connecting the Beach Pool and the Wave Rider.

  • Justin Uy is also the chairman of the Everjust Realty Corp. which operates the J Center Mall in Mandaue City. #JMall #JPark

3. Famous Waterslide

And yes, my favorite part is conquering the slides. One must not go home without trying JPark resort’s famous water slide and bring home some bragging rights. Well honestly this is my normal dose of adventure so I’m here out of curiosity and the adrenaline rush. Oh yeah!

The Open Body Slide is kinda so easy, smooth gliding and soft landing suitable for those taking momentum for the other two. And then personally, I would rate the Tube Slide (the green one) and the Space Bowl as equally exciting and nerve-wracking. I also enjoyed listening to people screaming and shouting out loud for their lives. Some say waaaaahhhh and a few be like &#[email protected]$#*&! #ROFL 🙂

  • The rebranding is geared towards better services with the use of latest technology (faster check-in/out, paperless transactions, etc ) while being environment-friendly.

4. The White Sand Beach

Had enough of the pools? Head over to their white sand beach and snorkel around the area. Or just relax under the shade and feel the sea breeze. There’s just that sense of calmness and peace that the sea and the sky brings.

  • They are planning to build more water parks in other parts of the country, some of them may be without hotels, within the next three years.

5. The Coral Seaside

Planning for that perfect date? Dine by the beach at Coral Seaside Restaurant that serves seafood and contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to taste them. So maybe some other time? Hope we get invited again and I do love what they did to this place. 🙂

Even indoor, Coral Restaurant gives you a breathtaking view of the ocean. This restaurant is open for dinner only and seats up to 150 guests.

  • Their thrust is to open more properties in other parts of the country with the similar packaging as Jpark Island Resort. Possible expansion sites will be in Luzon, Palawan, even Boracay and abroad.

6. Their Snacks and Refreshments

After the fun under the sun, we got to chill at the J Lounge for some snacks. The ambiance of the place is great and they offer a choice of light to heavy snacks or sweet cakes and pastries. If you’re still enjoying the waterpark,  Aqus Pool and Island bar serves light snacks, refreshing drinks and cocktails too.

  • Aside from the already abundant Korean market in Cebu, they are targeting the Middle East and other Asian countries especially the emerging markets.

7. Stay for the night

And last but not the least, spend the night may it be for the evening swim or in the resort’s accommodation. JPark resort showcases 500+ of the region’s most spacious and luxurious rooms and suites within its eight-hectare expanse. Check out their website JPark Island Resort and Waterpark  for details or check their guest room photos here: JPark Guest Rooms.

  •  They are continuously adding new facilities in the place such as a mini golf maze, a planned go-kart track and more fun to come.

What a day! It was more like 700 things you must try in this place. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to experience and enjoy a world-class facility. This one-stop resort is just so overwhelming and there’s still more than meets my eye. I’m a backpacker/cowboy type of guy and this is not an ordinary thing for me. It was extraordinary!

Time will tell when can I revisit this place with my family. I’m just glad to share this world-class experience to you. Try it for yourself. When are you visiting? 🙂

JPark Island Resort & Waterpark, Cebu

M.L Quezon Highway, Brgy. Maribago
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines
Trunkline: +63 32 494 5000

 

Of Caves and Diving Board | Hindang, Leyte

Of Caves and Diving Board | Hindang, Leyte

When was the last time you had an unplanned adventure? As some people say, spontaneous plans are the best and exciting. Well we had one of our summer getaway spent exploring caves instead of beaches with less than 24 hours to go. Caves are usually hard to reach and difficult to explore but not the Bontoc caves of Hindang, Leyte.

Hindang leyte map

Hindang is a fifth class municipality in the province of Leyte, Philippines. In the north, it borders with the town of Inopacan while it borders with the town of Hilongos in the south. You can get there by fast or slow crafts travelling from Cebu to Hilongos (4-5 hours) and then by multicabs or tricycles from Hilongos to Hindang (15-20 minutes). The caves are located in Brgy. Bontoc, and there is a signage along the road leading to the access road about 300 meters from the highway or 10-15 minutes walk.

It would be good to have your own vehicle or service as the road is accessible by cars. In our case, we rented a tricycle but too bad it had a problem climbing a steep but short rocky road halfway through the access road so we decided to take a walk. Time check it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Bontoc Caves

Upon reaching the place you can see stalls selling souvenir items, t-shirts, food and drinks. They also have enough parking spaces for vehicles.

Here are the rates for the entrance fee as of May 2014. I just hope this gets used for the proper development, maintenance and preservation of the place.

  • Adults  – Php20
  • Children – Php10
  • Senior Citizen – Php15

There are also certain don’ts to be followed for the safety of the visitors such as:

  • Don’t feed the monkeys
  • Don’t bring plastic bags (monkeys are very curious and will grab your stuff thinking it has food, put it in your bag)
  • Don’t use flash when taking pictures (it will scare the monkeys and of course the bats inside the cave)
  • Don’t be rude or make fun with the monkeys and avoid leaving garbage anywhere

You can already see some wild monkeys (10-15) in the trees around the entrance area and observing closely the visitors. From here you will be advised to keep an eye of your things. Spoiler alert: there were no more monkeys roaming outside the caves and recently they have come down, so take your pictures from here. I hope it’s not a sign of decline in their population.

Then brace yourself for a climb up the concrete stairs with more or less a hundred steps. Vamonos!

Ohh the map! Here’s the map, here’s the map! Where are we going? Can you help us find the Cathedral cave? 🙂 #DoraTheExplorer

We took the left route first towards the Cathedral cave because it sounds awesome. We passed by Dahikon cave which cannot be accessed as it is down below.

Just a few steps and we are outside the Cathedral cave with some gorgeous rock formations that are overwhelming.  Fun fact:  a cave is a naturally occurring area or space under the surface of the Earth and they are often a system of interconnected passageways created by the weathering of rock.

Caves have been used throughout human history as shelter, for burials, and as religious sites. Many archaeological treasures and ancient paintings have been found in caves around the world. This cave system in Bontoc has been said to serve as refuge to people (guerillas) and protected them from the Japanese bombings during the World War II.

Caves are usually cold, dark and wet with creatures living such as bats, cave crickets, roaches, cave spiders, insects and more! And need I say that it also stinks? Now let’s pretend to be guerillas and return to base. Hoorah!

You need to be really careful inside as the rocks are slippery and you don’t want to go out covered with bat poops and pees. It’s also creepy to hear the bats noise right above you so please turn off those camera flash. 🙂

I found the scenery very epic because of the leak of light that comes through the opening above. This one deserves a trademark pose. Oh yeah I’m the dark knight! 🙂

Just a few clicks here and there and we’re out. We then took the route on the other side and rested for a while in Pandong Bato cave.

They have created concrete tables and chairs for visitors and it looks like a picnic area with an overlooking view of the plains below. Hmmm no comment.

Moving forward and you’ll be in Pandayan cave and I thinks it is a bigger cave system. I can see a wide space inside but we were all tired and dehydrated already so we were not able to explore it much.

I was also having a hard time walking with my slippers becoming really hungry. Too bad I slipped on one of the rocks and it ripped my slippers so I just took out the lower layer, throw into the garbage can and grabbed a mentos. 🙂 #likeaboss

The fun and adventure was not over yet as our tired knees tempted us to do a shortcut. Yes! They have a Zipline on top of the cave which is about 650+ meters long and you’ll save yourself a hundred steps going down. They offer the zipline ride at Php180 for a standard sitting position and Php200 for a “superman” position.

Whoah yeaah! That ends our cave exploration and we got our dose of adrenaline rush. From meeting Boots (Dora’s sidekick monkey), to Batman’s cave and to Superman’s flight it was a worthwhile getaway. Time check it’s 4PM.

Diving Board

But wait, there’s more! After getting stinky, soaked in sweat and exhausted, we literally need to dive in the water. Just a kilometer from the highway where we are, going north to Inopacan, there is a “diving board” built by the locals. The shore is just about 30 steps from the highway. The walk to the “diving board” is built in concrete that looks like a bridge extending about 30 meters to the sea, about 2 feet wide and 4 meters high. And by the way there’s an entrance fee of Php5, hmmp okay that won’t hurt. 🙂

The structure is built on top of a rock base and at the end, it just drops deep that is why I think it is safe to jump just make sure you know how to swim. You can actually see from the diving board the Cuatros Islas consists of: Himokilan Island, Mahaba Island, Apid Island and Digyo Island, also being visited by island hoppers.

Ohh that heart-pumping feeling when you are about to take off, the stress-relieving excitement when you scream out loud and the splash!

There are floaters (1.5 liter bottles tied together) that can be found below so you can grab one after your dive. It was almost 5:00 PM and the tide is low but still I would estimate it’s about 10 feet deep so you won’t hit the bottom.

It’s not for the faint-hearted but it’s for those who take courage and take a leap of faith. 🙂 #sodeep

And of course, another trademark pose.

I don’t need to show off my backflip dives and somersault moves because you might try it. Just always bear in mind your safety first. 🙂

From the mountains to the sea, this whole adventure tells me that there are a lot of wonderful places just around the corner or next to your location just waiting to be explored. You just need to appreciate nature even the little things and the not-so-famous-yet tourist spots. You don’t need to spend much to go outside your province or region or country to experience adventure. Just look around and start one!

Adventure is not outside man; it is within.
~George Eliot

Special thanks to Kelvin Jay Olimba for his GoPro camera shots that proved to be tough and waterproof  🙂

Simply Majestic Tumalog Falls: Oslob, Cebu

Simply Majestic Tumalog Falls: Oslob, Cebu

Cooling off the summer heat, bonding with friends and marveling at nature’s wonder: a perfect way to relax and enjoy. The place to be is Tumalog Falls in Oslob, Cebu, which is also known to locals as “Toslob Falls” or “Mag-Ambak Falls”. This freshwater shower is just the right place to chill after your Whale Shark encounter or Sumilon Island visit. Check out my previous post here to know where we left off: Whale Sharks Up Close and Personal

After our seawater trip, we took a motorcycle that will take us to the waterfalls around 10-15 minutes travel time. You will be dropped off at the entrance which is sort of an outpost where you will pay Php20 for the entrance fee. From there it is still a 5-minute steep downhill walk to the waterfalls though you have the option to take a motorcycle (Php50 back-forth) but I find it scary because the side of the road is a ravine.

We decided to take a walk as it’s just about 400 meters and you can actually see the top of the falls already. They have cemented the road towards the falls which means they are really developing this spot for tourists. Time check it’s 12 noon so it was really hot.

Tumalog Falls

And voila, the majestic view of the Tumalog falls that left me staring at it for a minute.

You’ll want to freeze the moment and stay in there forever. It’s just so relaxing and full of life as the place is surrounded with lush flora and the water from the falls cascades smoothly and gracefully like natural rainfall.

The water drop is not so strong so the basin below is shallow which is not advisable for jumping and swimming. The pool below was a surprise for me as other blogs showed pictures of little to ankle-level water only. It was waist to chest-deep during our visit  just enough for you to walk close to the drops.

We rested for about 20 minutes to cool down because of the walk under the heat. Take note that there are no rooms, cottages and vendors in the area so you just need to find a place to leave and watch for your things. They have built a Comfort Room just outside the place for you to change clothes or answer the call of nature. You may need to bring your own food and snacks but please don’t forget to take your trash with you. We wasted no time and took a freezing cold shower under that umbrella-shaped rock formation.

Ohhhhthe cold sprinkles really soothes your soul and refreshes your tired body. The green stuff on the sides looks cool also and adds life. Now time for some meditation to counter the freezing water. Grrrrgrgrrhh!

Whooaah it’s just so cold we need a wacky shot. 🙂

Sometimes it is just sad to see those writings etched unto the stones vandalizing its natural beauty. Rather than just enjoying the place, people often forgot the  traveler’s golden rule.

Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.

There were groups of people scattered around when we arrived, I think a quick estimate would be around 30-40 people that comes and goes.  Most of them you may have bumped during your Whale Watching and Sumilon Island beach bumming as this place is a great place to chill after a salt water trip. Don’t forget to give chance to other groups for their turn to take the shower.

I think they created that little dam to somehow create a pool. That also make a great platform with a wonderful background so we took our signature group pose to celebrate 9 years of friendship in this cool amazing place.

The Tumalog falls is pretty high enough to create a spray of water into the surroundings that makes the place cool and wet. Because of this I needed to constantly wipe off my camera lens with a dry cloth or else I’ll get blurry shots just like this photo I took on the opposite side since I forgot my dry cloth. You can see here how high the drop of the water above the umbrella-shaped shower area and gives you another perspective of the waterfalls.

Time flies when you are having fun.

That was the case during our stay and it was time to go. I really hope that the people and authorities behind this will maintain its natural masterpiece and protect it from being abused and commercialized. All in all we had a great time even for a short while and I definitely recommend this as a must-visit waterfall in Cebu. It deserves its rightful recognition and not just a side trip after whale watching.

We all left the place in body but not in mind and soul. It was one of the closest we can get to be with Mother Nature, God’s wonderful creation.

Expenses

  • Php155 – Ceres bus fare from South Bus Terminal to Tan-awan Oslob (Air-con)
  • Php120  – Habal-habal fare back and forth (from whale watching), if you drop off right  from the highway junction it is onlyPhp60 back and forth. Don’t forget to set a time with the driver to get you back since there is no clear network signal in the area.
  • Php20  – Entrance fee for waterfalls
  • Php30  – Habal-habal (one-way) back to the outpost since we were all freshen up and want to skip the steep uphill walk
  • Php150 – Sunrays bus liner back to Cebu City (Air-con)

Have you been to Tumalog falls? Share your experience and spread good vibes! 🙂

Whale Sharks Up Close and Personal: Oslob, Cebu

Whale Sharks Up Close and Personal: Oslob, Cebu

In recent years, people have been coming to Oslob to experience something that is one for the books and that is to get up close and personal with the gentle giants, the whale sharks. Cebu is known for its beaches, nature tripping and historical sights and definitely that is what Oslob could offer plus a rare encounter with these majestic sea creatures. Now it’s time to get this a check on my bucket list. From the city, we took a Ceres bus (aircon Php155) from South Bus Terminal at 4AM and it was a 3-hour travel to Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob located south of Cebu. Tell the driver or steward to drop you off to the place for the whale shark watching which is just along the road and from there you can choose from a number of sites that offer whale watching services.

We took a quick breakfast to get some energy from a small carenderia  just outside the area and then geared up for the briefing. Time check it was 7AM and the sun is already up so most of us applied sunblocks which was a bad move.

Inside the briefing area, a personnel will give a quick orientation for about 5 minutes for the dos and don’ts and the very first thing that was mentioned is sunblocks and sunscreens are not allowed because it will contaminate the water and may poison the whale sharks. Oops! Now you know why so we were asked to wash it off in their bathroom after the briefing.

Whale Sharks Watching

The activity is only done in the morning starting 6AM until 12:30 noon so it is best to be early for a good morning sunshine. If possible, it is also ideal to come on weekdays to avoid the rush of people. Surely you don’t want to miss this experience so we rented a  waterproof camera for the group where you have the option to copy it to your flash drive or on a compact disk later. Rates

  • Watching from the boat only – 300 php (locals)
  • Swimming with whales (snorkeling gear included)- 500 php (locals)
  • For foreigners- 1,500 php
  • Waterproof camera rent: 500 php (without memory card) 550 php (with memory card)

As other blogs would mention, it is recommended that you bring your own snorkeling gear for hygienic purposes. Wearing a life vest is required as said by the boatman but you can take it off after you get to the area if you know how to swim. The activity is good for 30 minutes only so be sure to enjoy and not waste your time dealing with your fear. 🙂

The watching area is just a stone’s throw away from the shore so you can easily see the paddle boats. As we approach the area, we started to hear voices in awe and fingers pointing down below. And we started to feel the excitement and thrill.

And there it is! Wow, isn’t it amazing to see that big creature underneath? If you are afraid of sharks from watching those movies then you better keep yourself together because these giants are really gentle and very friendly. These whale sharks, locally known as tuki, are being dragged by boatman by feeding them with krill (small saltwater shrimp) and that is where you get a chance to watch them underwater.

What an unbelievable and spectacular sight to see as these creatures swim very slowly and tenderly. I would say they got used to be swimming with people and that takes out the little fear inside of me and was filled with astonishment.

There were a number of whale sharks in the area, I would estimate 5-10 of them scattered around and I think the boatmen are doing a good job in spacing them.

One minute you see them in front of you the next you’ll see another one behind you or underneath you. Hey John, right beside you! 🙂

See that? These creatures may have that dorsal fin on their back that we are scared of but they don’t have those spiky sharp teeth and fiery eyes. In fact they have cute little eyes and vacuum-like mouth to swallow their tiny food.

It is an advantage to know how to dive so you get to see them in different perspective. Just make sure you don’t disturb and touch them as these creatures are still wild animals.

Though there is a distance of 4 meters that should be maintained as stated during the briefing, sometimes unexpectedly one will appear unnoticed. Just don’t panic and let them pass by you. This one below was really close but first, let me take a #selfie! 🙂

Half an hour went by very fast but it was still really worth it. It’s moments you will cherish and get to share or even brag with your friends. It’s definitely a must try activity that can be considered only-in-Cebu.

On the other note, this activity is also challenged with controversies over the years that this activity is not good for the animals as it disturbs their natural habitat. I’ve heard there’s still some lobbying to stop these activity and we can never know when these creatures decide to leave as the environment change.

One way or the other, this should be on top of  every traveler’s list. The people behind this should continue working closely in saving and preserving this nature’s wonder that has given livelihood to a lot of locals. And lastly we also need to do our part to be a responsible and good traveler enjoying by the rules. Next stop, Sumilon Island and Tumalog Waterfalls.

Getting High in Cebu: Osmeña Peak

Getting High in Cebu: Osmeña Peak

dalaguete

At 1013 meters above sea level,  Osmeña Peak is known to be the highest point in the island of Cebu, Philippines. It is situated in Mantalongon, Dalaguete which is in the southern part of the Cebu province. Dubbed as the “Vegetable Basket of Cebu” and “Little Baguio” because of it’s cold weather, it is sure to be in the bucket list of every travel travel junkie, shutterbugs and mountain climbers. It is a fairly easy and safe trek and good enough for beginners to no experience level.

We started our trip in South Bus Terminal on board a Ceres bus at 3:55AM and asked the steward to drop us off the corner to Mantalungon (P105 fare for air-conditioned bus). Based on several blogs the travel to Dalaguete from the city takes more or less 2 hours 30 minutes but swiftly we arrived at 5:40AM. That is 1 hour 45 minutes only thanks to traffic-less highway. We dropped off from the highway junction to Mantalungon and rode motorcycles (habal-habal) that will take us right to the base of the peak (P100/person, that’s P200 back-and-forth).

It was around a 30-40 minutes ride and you will notice along the way that they have been developing the road to the peak which makes it now faster and easier for visitors.

I have read blogs that start trekking from Mantalungon market and will take an hour or two to get to the peak. But in our case we passed by the Mantalungon Public Market and drove to a rocky road for a few more minutes that will take us closer and give us shorter trek time. Downside is we were not able to take pictures of plants and trees along the way that are not commonly seen. You can also see a lot of pine trees.

It was very cold along the way and I can feel my nose dripping when we arrived. The locals said that it is just 15-20 minutes trek to the peak from there so we got a tour guide which is a high school kid. As beginners and totally no experience in trekking mountains, we were catching our breath and immediately felt our knees. So we took a rest and a group shot. 🙂

And then we started taking pictures just to slow down the pace while our tour guide just simply walks in the park. Well it gave us more time to savor each step on the way and each beautiful plants and scenery worth the picture.

Along the way, you can see fresh vegetables that are really enjoying the cool breeze. You will also be welcomed with a wide stone wall that is really awesome when covered with fog.

Group shot from time to time to catch our breath, noobies! 🙂

Thanks to our talented tour guide slash carrier slash NatGeo photographer. Yeah he’s wearing a NatGeo shirt.

It was cold but we were sweating and now we are almost there. When we saw the peak, the race to the top has begun.

Hooray, we made it to the famous Osmeña peak and it feels like cloud 9 as we were literally covered with clouds. All the effort was worth it and you could just stop and stair at the breathtaking scenery. Time check 7:15AM.

We were greeted with strong winds and the fog just kept getting thinker but that didn’t stop us from getting a groupie shot. Yey where’s the background?

While waiting for the sky to clear out, we decided to pitch our tent just below to settle down and get some rest.

When the horizon started to show it was just picture perfect. You can see a beautiful panoramic view of the island and the chocolate-hills-like scenery from the top. You gotta love Mother Nature and it was an escape from reality and from the city.

getting high at Osmeña Peak cebu

Magnificent view from the Peak.

Unfortunately, we did not stay overnight in Osmeña Peak so by lunch time we went back to the town proper to check out other sites like the Obong Spring and Tingko Beach in Alcoy. We had a great time with nature, get to stretch some muscles, snap one-of-a-kind photos and get to breathe cool fresh air from this adventure. Surely I will go back to this place, stay overnight and traverse to Kawasan Falls next time. And don’t forget to try out their delicious Torta for only P10, perfect pasalubong. 🙂

Spinning the Oblation: UP Tacloban

Spinning the Oblation: UP Tacloban

Here is my first try on moving timelapse or also called as hyperlapse. I just found about it on several videos in Youtube that got my interest so I got an idea to try it during the Hearts and Smiles for Kids event in UP Tacloban. Since I did not have a tripod with me, I did the shots of the UP oblation handheld so it’s not really that stable and smooth.

This was taken 44 days after the super typhoon Yolanda hit Tacloban Philippines. Check it out!

Chill in Cafe Namoo: Banilad, Cebu

Chill in Cafe Namoo: Banilad, Cebu

 

Looking for a cozy place for your barkada to chill while having some coffee? A new cafe in the block just opened last January 2014 and I can say that the ambiance is really great. Let me share to you some of my pictures taken at Cafe Namoo during our visit a week ago just in time for the Valentines.

They are located 2F Northgate Centre, Banilad Cebu City beside University of Cebu – Banilad Campus and across Gaisano Country Mall.

They have plenty of “rooms”, if you may call it, to choose from with different decorations and stuffs inside.

Cafe Namoo is a great place to spend time and bond with your friends and family. You get to hug not only your friends but a bunch of pillows and teddy bears as well.

For me, the environment brings you back to your childhood playtime days like the “bahay-bahayan”. It’s a great place for kids and kids at heart.

They also have a room filled with balloons perfect for kids who wants to play. The top of the door has an air blower that keeps the balloons  inside.

And lastly don’t forget to stick those sticky notes on the wall. You know what to do.

You may be asking the price range for their menu so I grabbed a picture from Cafe Namoo facebook page for your reference. They are open Mon – Sun: 10:00 am – 1:00 am and take note that they only allow at most 3 hours stay to give chance to other customers.

We enjoyed our stay in Cafe Namoo and hope to visit more places in Cebu to chill. Where have you been lately?

Off to Tacloban: Hearts and Smiles for Kids

Off to Tacloban: Hearts and Smiles for Kids

 

We all knew what happened on the 8th of November 2013. This day a super typhoon hit the Philippines so badly that people will never forget the name Yolanda again or internationally known as Haiyan. One of the worst hit areas in the Visayas was the city of Tacloban where I spent 4 years of my college life in UP.

988758_600331943357521_1259462816_nA day after the disaster, a number of University of the Philippines – Tacloban alumni (which happened to be my batchmates) based in Manila and their close friends met to share news, stories and updates about the status of their family and hometown. They founded a group named Bulig Isko and started to organize relief operations and coordinated with several people here and abroad for help. They were able to send trucks of relief goods, hygiene packages and aide to different parts of Eastern Visayas week after week.

I grabbed the opportunity to be part of the Bulig Isko team that will bring Hearts and Smiles for Kids in Tacloban to happen 3 days before Christmas. So a day before that, I traveled from Cebu to Ormoc via fastcraft dawn of December 21 and arrived past 8 in the morning then took a van to Tacloban. I usually sleep during travel but this time I couldn’t take my eyes out of the mess left by the typhoon to a point that I lost track which town we are already due to the flattened landscapes.

DSC_4226I arrived in Tacloban passed 11AM  and got to join with the team. After lunchtime we divided into three groups, one to work on the decoration, packing and preparation for the event and the other two to distribute toys, slippers and gifts for kids courtesy of Ryzza Mae Dizon and SOS kits from Eat Bulaga on separate multicabs. One went to the town of Palo and I was part of the group that went to Brgy. Anibong in Tacloban where there are ships that were washed ashore and literally parked along houses and beside the road. 

We roamed around the streets and stop by to give toys to kids and SOS kits to the adults. It was a fun experience and the same time stressful when you cannot control some people scrambling to get something. Well that’s understandable and inevitable in the situations they’ve been through. At the end of the day it feels good to bring little joys and smiles to these people especially the kids.

DSC_4509The following day was the main event held in UP Tacloban Multi-purpose Building. It formally started past 11AM with more than 300 kids with parents/guardians who came. The kids were divided in to groups and assigned a facilitator. Lunch packs were served both for the kids and their parents and there were games, energizers, and fun activities for the kids. All of them were able to receive school supplies, bags, toys and noche buena packs for their family.

I’m not really a good storyteller and I wish I could be more specific and detailed with the event and the people behind but one thing I do better is to capture these moments and their stories to tell. I am glad to have spent that weekend in Tacloban, meeting new and old friends, going out of your comfort-zones, sharing hope and joy to the kids and giving your time, talent and treasure in a place I once called my second home.

More powers to Bulig Isko facebook.com/BuligIsko ) and to the people who made this possible. The effects of the super typhoon will be felt for years, let us all continue to help by any means. God bless!