Philippines 2017: Swimming with the Turtles

Heard many things about Apo Island from friends and though I cannot swim, I was still intrigue and want to see the underwater beauty and see beautiful corals and swim with the turtles.

The island is best known as one of most beautiful diving spot in the country.  It is located just a few hours by boat from the main island of Dumaguete. There are several options to from Dumaguete to the island but after computing the cost of day trip to the island several times, we decided to opt and join a tour by Acqua  Dive.

There were 2 other customer who joined us so we had the boat all to ourselves. All snorkeling equipment are included. They also move around several times so we can get some good snorkeling area since the best location was currently close. The corals were damaged during the big typhoon that happened a year before, so they close off that part of the corals to give it time to heal.

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Can you see the Turtle’s head?

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Beautiful Island.

It was a beautiful day, relaxing and lazying in the boat.

If you are around the area, try to visit the island and enjoy what nature has to offer.

 

Philippines 2017 : Swimming with the Whaleshark in Oslob

The name Oslob became famous because of the whale shark.

The town is about 2-3 hours by bus to the South of Cebu City.  It got scandalize when a picture of a girl rode one of the whales while being tied down got posted on facebook.

Interviewing one of the fisherman who is working as one of the boatmen ferrying tourist to the whale-sharks , I found out that the local government step over and took control over the situation.

Now the fishermen worked together to make the place cleaner and protect the whale-sharks while tourist both local and foreign enjoyed the  this gentle giants. They also chased away boats bringing tourist who are not registered with the local government.

There are now rules that the fishermen follows and the place although still chaotic, it is organize chaos now.

Fishermen now have extra income to support their families as well, so they do not over fish for extra income. Fishes are now slowly coming back as well.

Untitled Enjoying the sunrise while waiting for the whale-sharks. Basic information about the whale-sharks Untitled

Basic rules to follow
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I do not own a go-pro or water resistant camera, but everybody have 30 minutes chance to swim together with the whale-shark and it was an amazing creatures. I was very happy that I got a chance to see them up close and personal.

The whale-sharks are not there for our entertainment so please respect the creatures and follow the rules. Let’s admire and enjoy the moment swimming with these gentle giants.

Enjoy Oslob.

Hotel Review : In The Shade

This was not our first choice but the owner of the resort we booked decided that we are not worthy to stay at his/her place so he/she gave our reservation to a visiting relative the day before our arrival. I got a call from our contact the morning on our to Siquijor already. It was a good thing that we arrived earlier than our original plan of arrival which was midnight, and have some time to look for other places to stay.

In the Shade became our home away from home.

It was a bit pricey and went a little over our budget, but since we have our own kitchen we were able to cook our own food instead of going out to eat all the time and we have the whole place to ourselves so it was worth it.

“In the Shade” is two-story studio style apartment just along the beach front of San Juan. It’s furnished with a very stylish kitchen and free drinking water as well.  It’s non-air conditioned but three big ceilings fan are strategically place inside the room. It’s surrounded by windows so you get fresh sea breeze all through out the day.

The caretaker basically left us alone but is always there when we need something.

Each apartment has it’s own spacious balcony facing the beach, a really nice place to relax when it’s too hot to go into the water.

You also have your own big front yard , spacious enough to have an outdoor bbq with family or friends under the shade of coconut trees.

In the Shade is definitely a great place to stay when you visit Siquijor. Just make sure you shop for food supplies before getting there.

 

Siquijor , Island of the Witches or Hidden Paradise?

Growing up, I always here about stories of witchcraft about this Island. Unbeknownst to me and this island is also very beautiful.

After I saw pictures of my former co-worker who is  local of the island and some bloggers, I made a decision to visit it when I have my vacation and last April I finally had that chance.

At first, I was discouraged to find out that transportation to Siquijor from Cebu takes more than 12 hours by boat and will arrive in the island around midnight.

I found out later from a friend that you can either fly to Dumaguete City and take the boat from there or take a bus from Cebu City to Dumaguete (direct) via Oslob and take a slow or fast boat from there.

If you are planing to take a bus from Cebu, you need to go to South Bus Terminal. Take a Ceres Liner that goes directly to Dumaguete City.

We left Cebu City around 7 am in the morning and finally got to Siquijor around 1:30ish pm.  As of this writing, bus fare was about 205 pesos + 75 pesos for the ferry. You can ask the bus conductor to drop you off the port so that you don’t need to take a trike from bus terminal to port again.

From Dumaguete, the fast boat is about 200(economy seat) pesos and will take only 40 minutes and the slow boat is I think about 120 pesos and will take about 1.5 hours – 2 hours.

We had a little problem with our accommodation but that is another story.

After we got settled down, it’s time to see the beauty of Siquijor.

Majority of the Resorts and Guesthouses are located in San Juan area.

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Early morning at beach front of San Juan.

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The Sunset and the boat.

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My not-so-little cousin and the sunset around San Juan

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A panoramic view in front of our apartment.

There are two ways to see the Island, follow the coastal road and go around or take the mountain road and explore the inner Siquijor.

Our group decided to do the coastal tour instead. We rented a multi-cab for day, which is 2000 pesos for the whole day, including driver who was supposed to be also our tour guide but a dear friend from college who is currently working there and who I have not seen for the past 15 years, became our tour guide.

Our first stop was the place called Enchanted tree, which a very big Banyan tree. At the foot of the tree there is a pool of water with fishes that can eat away calluses. Each person has to pay 5 pesos to enter.

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Beautiful Big Banyan (BBB)Tree

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BBB Tree and it’s guest.

Next stop is the beautiful Cambugahay Waterfalls. There is no fee but you need to pay the parking fee for all vehicle.

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We can already see the very blue waters.

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Very very blue. Everybody or the boys took their sweet time swimming here, while me and my friend were just chatting and catching up. There are no cottages or places for rent to leave your things.

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The upper part of the waterfalls, and the last area accessible to the public. The more higher part is closed to the public.

An hour or so later, after we convinced everybody to move, most were getting hungry, we arrived to Salagdoong Beach.

I think we paid about 25 pesos each, to get in and you can rent a cottage if there are available ones. There is also a restaurant but I find them really pricey and the waitress snotty. So if you have your own food, just rent a cottage or two.

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T went to the highest jumping area, and then just jump. It was me who screamed and not the jumper.

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We stayed for most part of the day here. You can also rent a Kayak for 150 pesos/hour. T and my friend had there snorkel so they were out of the water most of the time. By the time we left, everybody have sunburn.

My friend took us to the marine preservation site, free too, but the tide was so low and we found several sea urchin so we decided to call it day and go home. We did found many interesting sea creatures just along the shore.

There are lots of fresh fish and is cheap but unfortunately, the San Juan Market barely had any fresh veggies or fruits. We tried going to the other town of Larena but it was still very expensive.

Majority of the local have their own little farm and use it for there own and the rest of the things they need is bought from Dumaguete City, hence the expensive price.

I was expecting the Island to be abundant with fruits and veggies and more cheaper, but it’s actually more expensive than Cebu.
There are still some areas that are still unexplored and maybe good for snorkeling or diving. So if you plan to visit Siquijor and is staying in one of those apartment-style inn where you can cook, just make sure you get ingredients first in Dumaguete.

It was fun, and I’m glad I went. 1 island down , 7000++ more to go. 🙂

A Million Thank You

Day 6 after Typhoon Haiyan locally known as Yolanda visited the Philippines where it left thousand of families homeless and thousand dead. I was planning to rant about how the government was so slow to react but instead of focusing on the negative side first , I would like to say a very BIG THANK YOU for the all the help that the international community has extended to my country. 20131114-092217.jpg

I did not make this, somebody posted this on FB but I think all citizens in the Philippines share my sentiments and gratitude to all the country that helped us when we needed it most.

My family are all safe and sound. A relative’s house got blown away but everybody is still safe. The house can be rebuild. Friend’s family who live on the islands directly on the Typhoon’s path were finally able to contact their respective family after days of waiting. Nobody among my friend’s family were injured or hurt.

Unfortunately thousands are still trying to contact or search for family members.

There are several bad/negative news already in some areas where relief goods were not distributed properly or not distributed at all because of political reasons. BUT even still I was moved by number of people who gave their time and resources to help the victims in every way they can.

The humanitarian effort is amazing.

The rehabilitation/recovery process is  long and hard but I know that we as a Filipino will pull this through , we always have.

For those who wish to help in kind , please visit the Red Cross Philippines.