CEBU-BANTAYAN ISLAND-KALANGGAMAN-MALAPASCUA ISLAND 6D 5N TRIP DECEMBER 25-30, 2019

It feels awkward to be writing about this trip in the aftermath of Typhoon Ursula that wreaked havoc on these very areas. Maybe it explains why when we were there, both my daughter and I were muted in our delight to just being there in the first place. Much more is the mere fact that we were able to make the trip at all, because of the numerous flight cancellations happening.

Anyway, I planned this trip in advance. Scored Air Asia tickets to Cebu. My daughter and I made the necessary bookings for accommodations.

But Typhoon Ursula made us adjust our itinerary as she was still lashing Northern Visayas.

HOW WE GOT THERE

Our Manila-Cebu flight, thankfully, was not cancelled, and after about an hour-long flight, we touched down at Mactan International Airport. The airport is amazingly clean and mall-like. I mean, this is what airports in our country should look like.

Mactan International Airport

DAY 1 WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 25, 2019

2:30AM

We followed our original itinerary, boarded a van-for-hire and headed straight to NorthBus Terminal. Unfortunately, all trips to Hagnaya Port were cancelled, as all RORO trips to Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island have been cancelled by the Coast Guard due to rough seas. We hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to Kiwi Pension House (where we reserved a room albeit for December 29, 2019), and unfortunately, all rooms were taken that night. I called up Mike Reyes, a long-time friend and Cebu resident, and he picked us up. We stayed at his place till about 5:00am, made a couple of calls and we were able to get a room at Hotel Stella in Gen. Gil Garcia St., Mandaue City. We hailed a taxi and headed straight to the hotel, checked-in, and rested up. Hotel Stella is nice with basic amenities like hot water shower, wifi, a cafe, cold ACU, toiletries, and towels.

11:00AM

We woke up at around 11am and decided to book a Cebu City Tour with Cebu City Travel and Tours, and requested that we be picked up at around 12:30 noontime. We made our way to the famous barbecue capital of the Philippines, the Larsian sa Fuente, where we had our lunch.

Chicken bbq, lato (or as Ilocanos call it, ar-ar-osep), nilaga, grilled chorizo, and rice for only P300.00. It was delicious.

Our ride, a Toyota Innova, and our driver, Vincent, picked us up at Larsian sa Fuente. We went straight to Sirao Flower Farm, a place up in the mountainous region of Lahug.

2nd stop was a place called Tops Lookout, an observation deck with a city panorama view.

We stayed for a while at Temple of Leah. This Roman-inspired temple was built in the Year 2012 by a husband as a symbol of his love to and of Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.

Damn that guy pushing that torotot to my ear sorry couldn’t resist it eh

Next on the list is the Cebu Taoist Temple, located inside Beverly Hills Subdivision, built in 1972 by Cebu’s Chinese community. Heavily-guarded, and photo-taking is limited, the intricate designs are something to behold, really.

We then made our way to the Cebu Heritage Monument, built by sculptor Eduardo Castrillo. An imposing monument to the history of Cebu, it was designed so that you’d look up to it set against blue skies. Its made of cement, steel and bronze, its sheer size is intimidating, and once you see it up close, it is truly an amazing work of art.

Lapu-Lapu has never been depicted so accurately than this.
The explorer Ferdinand Magellan
Depiction of Christianity

Right across the street is the Yap Sandiego House, said to be the first Chinese house built outside of China, sometime in 1675. The locals call this house balay nga bato ug kahoy because its built out of corals and wood. The guide inside the house told us that the house was originally owned by a certain Don Juan Yap who later on married a local woman named Dona Maria Florido, and their eldest daughter married Don Mariano Avendano SanDiego. The house has since been passed on to ten (10) generations of Yap-Sandiegos.

The window panes are made out of mother-of-pearl

A very popular landmark in Cebu is Magellan’s Cross, located in the town plaza, next to the munisipyo. The cross itself is encased in tingalo wood to protect it from the elements, as well as from people who chip away parts of the cross because they claim that it has miraculous healing powers. Ferdinand Magellan ordered his Portuguese crewmen to plant the cross upon arriving in Cebu. Some people believe that the cross encased in the tingalo wood is but a replica planted by Spaniards after successfully christianizing the Philippines, as the original cross is said to have been destroyed.

The Basilica de Sto. Nino was full of people that day so we did not go inside anymore. This church is said to be the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country as it is said to have been built in the year 1565. It is said that the church lies on the spot where the image of the Sto. Nino was found during the expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Housed inside the church is said to be the icon of the Child Jesus, presented by Ferdinand Magellan to the then chief consort of Rajah Humabon upon their christening in the Year 1521.

The Rajah Humabon monument, situated near the Metroploitan Cathedral, was built as homage to the said Rajah, who later was baptized as Don Carlos. Information on the Rajah was culled from Magellan’s chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote that Humabon was Rajah of Cebu, an indianized Philippine political clan.

Our luck ran out as the Fort San Pedro was closed that day. Fuerte San Pedro was a military garrison in Cebu built by and under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. It is in the area now known as Plaza Independencia. It was said to be made originally of wood but later on made into concrete to repel Muslim raiders. It is said to have been the center of Spanish settlement here in the Philippines, and this dates back to 1738, making it the oldest bastion fort in the country.

We made our way back to the hotel, paid Vincent our tour fee, and rested a bit. Later on that evening. we made our way to Rico’s Lechon Restaurant. Lechon in Cebu is not dipped in sarsa but in suka, and believe me, it is delicious. Their chorizo, much like what we ate in Larsian Fuente, is also delicious.

DAY 2 THURSDAY DECEMBER 26, 2019

BANTAYAN ISLAND

We found out that there were now trips going to Bantayan Island via the said municipality’s FB page. We checked out of Hotel Stella at around 1:00am and hailed a taxi bound for NorthBus Terminal. We immediately boarded the HAGNAYA ACU bus, paid, and slept during the 3-hour trip. We arrived at Hagnaya port and waited a bit until tickets were being sold. We paid the terminal fee, boarded the RORO bound for Sta. Fe, Bantayan, and slept some more during the 1 hour trip. Upon disembarking, we paid another set of terminal fees and boarded a tricycle which took us to our accommodations, Budyong Beach Resort. We spent the whole morning settling in and just taking in the view. Despite Typhoon Ursula hitting Bantayan Island, her scenery is still breathtaking.

We decided to take a late brunch at quaint TapaMaster @MJ Square.

This is what a full stomach can do 😀

By now, we were able to score a tricycle tour to take us to 3 popular spots in the island. We did not include St. Paul Church anymore because it is quite a ways off from where we are located.

OBO-OB MANGROVE PARK / CAMP SAWI

Be sure to stop by the wayside where the open sea can be viewed and spend some time there, because this is what you see.

We headed for Paradise Beach, and unfortunately, it was levelled by Typhoon Ursula, with seaweed all over the place. Locals say it’ll take months before it can be returned to its pristine state. Well, it is what it is.

For our last stop, we went to a place called The Ruins, and you can see why it’s a popular place for those who want to take photos for their IG stories. It also offers stunning views and panoramas.

We went back to the resort in time for a late afternoon swim, and caught the awesome sunset. Here in Bantayan Island, you can catch both spectacular sunsets and sunrise.

Later that evening we had dinner at Cou Cou Bar and Restaurant. The Chicken Fingers and Ribs were good, the carbonara was passable.

DAY 3 FRIDAY DECEMBER 27, 2019

HILANTAGAAN-SILION (VIRGIN) ISLAND HOPPING

We scored a boat ride and boatman to both Hilantagaan and Virgin Island, which were both hit hard by Typhoon Ursula. Woke up early that morning to get my coffee fix at TapaMaster. And of course, watch the sunrise from the resort. You be the judge when I say that Bantayan Island offers spectacular sunsets and sunrises.

The sand here in Bantayan is really so white.

We boarded the motorized banca and off we went.

We didn’t stay that long in the fishing village of Hilantagaan, where I just had a cup of coffee, biscuits, and hung around with and chatted with some locals.

Virgin Island, however, is simply magical.

Had breakfast here.
The water’s exhilirating!!!
Stumbled upon an octopus!
Ya’ll lookin’ ‘fo Nemo, ‘bruh?
Why do we have to go back…?

We headed back to Bantayan and had lunch at Aloha Tika. Sisig/Pork Adobo/Ramen. Not so good. Perhaps because they’re exhausted because there were a lot of people served but still…well, you know what I’m saying

Relax. Chill. Breathe. Swim. Watch the sunset. Repeat. Relax. Chill. Breathe. Swim. Watch the sunset. Repeat.

What I’d give to wake up to a view like this…

Later that evening, we had a light dinner at the Kota Beach Resort resto next door, and it was great. Spaghetti Boulagnaisse for me, Chicken Fingers for my daughter.

DAY 4 SATURDAY DECEMBER 28, 2019

BANTAYAN TO MALAPASCUA

In our haste to make it to Malapascua early, we decided to take a motorized banca ride from Bantayan to Malapascua. We were assured that the weather would cooperate and the twin-engine boat can get us there. Forty-five minutes into the trip, my daughter was panicking, as the waves were a bit choppy. We decided to dock at Kawit, take a trike to Maya Port, and a boat ride to Malapascua. Lesson learned. We will never do that again (2 hrs boat ride in open sea).

Our Kalanggaman Island tour contact, Bimbo, constantly kept in touch with us, and met us at the shore of Malapascua Island, told us to check-in later, and escorted us straight to another boat that took us to Kalanggaman Island (another 2 hr trip, but this time in a much bigger and more powerful boat but it was sort of buwis-buhay also hahahahaha).

What we saw when we arrived at the island was just simply so spectacular, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. I posted in FB that Virgin Island was the best place in Cebu but I take it back because this is truly WOW (technically Kalanggaman Island is a municipality of Palompon, Leyte but I’m not complaining, after all, I want it for myself, too, hahahahaha) !!!

I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. They did a good job of cleaning it up after Typhoon Ursula. The waters surrounding the island is still so clear, the sand so white it hurts the eyes (good thing I wore sunglasses), its ridiculous, really. I never thought such a place existed. When I tell you to better come see this, you better come and see this.

I love it here!!!
It’s so worth it going here!!!

Lunch that day (care of the tour organizer) consisted of grilled pork, grilled chicken, rice, a huge grilled fish, pansit canton, watermelon, and bottled Coca-Cola (this one seemed really out-of-place, oh well). We arrived at Kalanggaman at around 10:37am and left at exactly 2:00pm, and arrived at Malapascua just in time to check-in @Malapascua Blue Water Dive Resort, chilled at the beach, chatted up some of the locals and foreigners (told them where happy-hour was) and watched the sunset.

See the roof destroyed by Typhoon Ursula?

Later in the evening we dined at the Little Mermaid Dive resort and their Little Mermaid pizza is awesome! and so was their carbonara. We made our way back to our accommodations and lights out by 10:00pm.

DAY 5 SUNDAY DECEMBER 29, 2019

I woke up 5am to have coffee and watch the sunrise here in Malapascua.

Spectacular sunrise in Malapascua!
The outdoor cafe /resto where I had coffee this morning had its roof ripped-off and its supports damaged by Typhoon Ursula.

My daughter and I had breakfast here in Iroha Japanese Bar and Restaurant. Food was delicious and affordable.

Good morning

We bought a few souvenirs (a T-shirt and local bracelet for me, sarong for my daughter), and had an early lunch (pansit/adobo/onion rings) at Ocean Vida Dive Resort (not great but not bad either).

We left Malapascua that day 12:20pm. Arrived at Maya Port 1:05pm, and took the 1:30pm bus to Cebu City. We arrived at Cebu City at around 6:18pm because of traffic at the Liloan area. We checked-in at Hotel Stella again because they were very accommodating and the rooms and amenities were good and affordable enough. Later that evening we went over to my friend Mike’s house and we had dinner consisting of salads, lechon, rice, and siomai (they reside in Tisa, the siomai capital of Cebu). We stayed at Mike’s place till 9:30pm and made our way back to the hotel.

DAY 6 MONDAY DECEMBER 30, 2019

We checked-out of the hotel at around 7am, headed straight to Shamrock Pasalubong Center, bought a few of those yummy otap, and had breakfast at McDonald’s Fuente Circle. We booked a Grab car to take us to the airport at around 9:30am and arrived at the airport a little past 10:00am. We immediately checked-in and waited for our flight. While inside the deparure area, we again bought a T-shirt and key chain as part of our souvenir haul. We boarded our flight 12:25pm, took off 12:45pm and arrived in Manila 2:15pm.

We explored only the northern part of Cebu. If only we had more time, we could’ve gone to Southern Cebu and went swimming with whale-sharks in Oslob, experience canyoneering at Kawasan Falls, and maybe even scuba-dived to see the thresher and hammerhead sharks get cleaned by fishes in Kimud Shoal 14kms off Malapascua Island.

So many things to do in Cebu, so little time.

Maybe next time. In the meantime, Cebu occupies a special place in my heart.

We truly have a gem of an island right here in the Philippines, in Cebu.

Here are some contact numbers that can be useful to DIYers out there who get to read this:

HOTEL STELLA – 09176381333

BUDYONG BEACH RESORT – 09994949473

CEBU CITY TRAVEL & TOURS (c/o Josh) – 09055030499

MALAPASCUA BLUE WATER DIVE RESORT – 09178213127

And to the budget conscious, I didn’t forget about you, as expenses incurred for two (2) people are enumerated below (not included is round-trip airfare Manila – Cebu – Manila).

DECEMBER 25, 2019 WEDNESDAY (DAY 1)TIMECOST
Sashamae’s & Spike’s allowance (HEY i LOVE MY DOGS!) 1,000.00 
Prepare for Cebu flight4:00pm
GRAB! To NAIA Domestic /Dinner6:30pm 514.00 
Dinner @Yang Chow7:30pm 614.00 
Depart Manila for Cebu (Mactan airport)12:10am
Arrive at Mactan airport1:25am
Van to Northbus Terminal (no trip to Hagnaya Port)1:50am-2:20am 360.00 
Taxi to Kiwi Pension House (fully-booked)2:20am-2:42am 180.00 
Stayed @Mike’s place3:00am-4:50am
Check in to Hotel Stella5:25am 1,585.00 
Restup5:30am-1130am
LUNCH @Larsian sa Fuente12:00-12:30pm 300.00 
City Tour c/o Cebu Travel & Tours1:00pm-5:00pm 3,180.00 
– Sirao Flower Farm (entrance fee P100 each) 200.00 
– Tops View (entrance fee P50 each) 100.00 
– Temple of Leah (entrance fee P150 each) 300.00 
– Taoist Temple
– Cebu Heritage Monument
– Yap-Sandiego House (entrance fee P100 each) 200.00 
– Magellan’s Cross
– Cebu Municipal Hall & Plaza
– Basilica de Sto. Nino
– Rajah Humabon Monument
– Fort San Pedro
Back to Hotel Stella6:30-7:30pm
Dinner @Rico’s Lechon7:50pm-8:45pm 680.00 
Taxi back to Hotel Stella9:25pm 100.00 
Lights out10:00pm
DECEMBER 26, 2019 THURSDAY (DAY 2)
Checkout @Hotel Stella1:00am
Taxi to NorthBus Terminal / misc1:50am-2:10am 180.00 
Ceres Bus to Hagnaya port2:17am-5:17am 360.00 
Pay Terminal Fee 40.00 
Miscellaneous purchases @Hagnaya Port 180.00 
Purchase tickets / ride ferry to Bantayan Island5:30am-6:30am 380.00 
Arrive @Sta. Fe Port, Bantayan Island  / Pay terminal fee7:25am 80.00 
Tricycle to accomodations8:30am 40.00 
Check-in: BUDYONG BEACH RESORT 3,300.00 
Breakfast / Miscellaneous 8:57am-9:00am 200.00 
Late Lunch @Tapamaster in MJ Square12:00noon 570.00 
Purchase souvenir shirt /ref magnet 300.00 
Hire Tricy for Bantayan Island Tour1:00pm-4:00pm 500.00 
– Obo-ob Mangrove Ecopark (entrance fee P60 each / P15 hat) 150.00 
– Paradise Beach  (entrance fee P50) 100.00 
– The Ruins
Back to RESORT4:00pm-4:30pm
Beach Bumming / Swimming/sunset-watching5:00pm-6:15pm
Dinner Cou Cou Bar & Resto7:00pm 705.00 
Lights out9:30pm
DECEMBER 27, 2019 FRIDAY (DAY 3)
Wake-up call4:00am
BREAKFAST / miscellaneous / sunrise watching4:30am 417.00 
ISLAND HOPPING6:00am – 12:00pm 800.00 
– Hilantagaan Island              
– Silion Island (Virgin Island entrance) 500.00 
Back to RESORT
LUNCH @Aloha Tika/ misc3:00pm 803.00 
Back to RESORT4:00pm
Rest / swim / sunset-watching4:30pm-5:58pm
Dinner @Kota Beach Resort7:00pm 400.00 
DECEMBER 28, 2019 SATURDAY (DAY 4)
Wake-up call4:00am
Checkout of BUDYONG RESORT5:00am
Boat to Kawit/tricy/boat to Malapascua5:30am-7:30am 2,800.00 
Day tour to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND / LUNCH c/o tour org8:00am-4:00pm 2,100.00 
Check-in to MALAPASCUA BLUE WATER BEACH & DIVE RESORT4:36pm 2,000.00 
Restup / sunset watching4:36pm-5:56pm
DINNER @LITTLE MERMAID RESORT & BAR6:00pm 620.00 
Lights out9:00pm
DECEMBER 29, 2019 SUNDAY (DAY 5)
Wake-up call5:00am
Coffee / sunrise-watching5:15am 40.00 
Breakfast @Iroha Japanese Bar & Restaurant4:30am 380.00 
Lunch @Ocean Vida Dive Resort10:00am 850.00 
Checkout from MALAPASCUA BLUE WATER BEACH & DIVE RESORT11:45am
Purchase Souvenirs 500.00 
Boat ride back to Maya Port12:17pm-1:05pm 500.00 
Bus ride to Cebu City1:30pm-6:18pm 400.00 
Lastday checkin Hotel Stella6:30pm 1,550.00 
Taxi back & forth to Mike’s place7:40pm-9:30pm 370.00 
Lights out10:20pm
December 30, 2019 MONDAY (DAY 6)
Wake-up call6:00am
Prep for flight to Manila6:30am
Pasalubongs 7:00am 1,300.00 
Checkout/GRAB! to Mactan airport7:00am-8:00am 319.00 
Arrive @airport10:00am
Depart Cebu for Manila12:45pm
Arrive @Manila2:10pm
GRAB to San Juan  375.00 
TOTAL EXPENSES (for two (2) persons)P 33,422.00 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

MARINDUQUE, HEART OF THE PHILIPPINES, 4DAYS 3NIGHTS ITINERARY APRIL 16-20,2019

” I once embarked on a journey. I was alone, searching for stories I’ve never witnessed, collecting as many moments as I could.” – Cholo Laurel, filmaker, writer.

When one hears of Marinduque, the Moriones Festival comes to mind. We’ve often heard of it, yet, as the above quote states, we’ve never witnessed nor experienced it. But Marinduque has more to offer, and such was the motivation behind this sojourn to the island dubbed as the heart of the Philippines.

From the moment we disembarked till the time we had to return to the city, Marinduque certainly gave us its moments. It evoked thoughts of finding and keeping one’s faith, wonder at the beauty of nature, bemuse at the colors exploding around you, silently remember those who have come and gone, be amazed at getting to know the people of the place, to discover the place itself for the first time, and to simply just let Marinduque take you to where it wants you to be.

HOW TO GET THERE

Before the Holy Week even arrives, BOOK YOUR TRANSPORT AND ACCOMMODATIONS AHEAD OF TIME AND VIA ONLINE.

Communicate with your planned place to stay and be very clear as to the duration of your stay. Do not take a chance that you can get accommodations during the Holy Week. You might as well sleep on the road as there are local and foreign tourists who flock to Marinduque during the Holy Week.

We opted to go by land & sea.

BY LAND & SEA

We booked JAC Liner via Biyaheroes (they are legit) for the routes Kamias, Cubao, QC – Sta. Cruz, Marinduque departure date and time April 16, 2019 4:00 pm, and Sta. Cruz, Marinduque – Kamias, Cubao, QC, departure date and time April 20, 2019 2:00 pm. All terminal fees paid to Montenegro Lines are taken cared of and are inclusive in your payments. The trip is about 10-12 hrs., so stock up on water and snacks.

VIA CEBU PACIFIC

There is another option and that is by air via Cebu Pacific. The plane lands in Gasan, Marinduque, and land transportation (jeepneys / vans) abound just beyond the gates of the airport.

HOW TO GET AROUND and ABOUT IN MARINDUQUE

You can bring your vehicle via the Montenegro or Starhorse Roro at Dalahican port (passenger fare plus cargo fare / vehicle matrix). If you’re going to do this, bring a Utility Vehicle, as the roads tend to be rugged and steep at some points. A pick-up truck would be perfect.

You can hire tricycles for land tours to sightseeing spots, or rent scooters. The sightseeing spots are quite a ways-off from one another, so a means of getting around is necessary. For P2,000.00, we scored this comfortable enough and souped-up ride for our ’round Marinduque land tour.

Sweet ride.

There are also a lot of jeepneys to get you from one point to the other, but best to get an early start if you’re gonna take this option, as the jeepneys tend to wait until the vehicle is filled with passengers.

Tricycle fare in Sta. Cruz, going to and fro from your place of stay, to, say, the town plaza or restaurant, is P12.00-P14.00 per person.

REGRETS BUT MAYBE NEXT TIME

We weren’t able to chase waterfalls’ Kawa-Kawa, Busay, Paadjao Falls, visit caves, and trek up to Luzon Datum anymore, as we were pressed for time, but you may want to include this in your itinerary.

So without further ado, here are some pics of our stay in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque.

All photos posted are without any filter / filters whatsoever.

Enjoy.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 17, 2019 CHECK-IN and LAND TOUR

VILLA ‘D ARCO.
It’s not flashy but the ACU room was great. Clean CR. Comfy beds.
Unfortunately, because I did not reiterate clearly to the owner that we’d be staying for 4 days, we could only stay overnight at this place. The owner, Melqui, however, set us up at another place.
You know you’re in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque, when you see this enormous statue of a Morion. The people of Marinduque, during Holy Week, celebrate the Moriones Festival based on the story of Longinus.
It is said that it was Longinus, blind in one eye, who stabbed Christ’s side with a spear when He was upright and nailed to the cross. When the blood of Jesus fell on his face, his sight was miraculously restored. A converted believer, Longinus started preaching the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the Romans did not take kindly to that. Longinus was hunted down, and eventually captured.
Legend has it that Longinus was asked to retract everything he said to those who listened to him, to which he declined, and thus was put to death by beheading.
Our ride arrived and our first stop was the Balanacan View Deck in Mompog.
It is said that upon arriving in Marinduque, one has to give thanks and a prayer to
Our Lady of Peace and Safe Voyage
located at the Balanacan port.
The Boac Cathedral, built in 1792.
Beautiful interiors.
Old houses, called heritage houses, abound in Boac.
Eight of these old houses burned last 2015.
Only a few are left standing.
The townsfolk of Boac are very proud of their old houses.
It’s like being in Vigan, only less grander and much simpler.
The people of Marinduque are so nice, warm, and friendly, always asking if they could help.
Old and new.
When you’re in Boac, you must eat here @Kusina sa Plaza.
My daughter ordered Sinigang na baboy.
Their lechon kawali is superb.
The interiors evoke an old house feel.
After lunch, I chatted it up with some locals and took a selfie with them. Like I said, they’re really nice people.
Little Morions
Photography works of Cholo Laurel was on display.
We looked for and dropped by at Boac’s 10 y.o. Cafe.
Coffee fix.
Quaint interiors.

TORRIJOS FREEDOM PARK by-the-sea.

Marinduque State College Sunflower Farm @Torrijos.
In the middle of it all.
It’s not as grand as Quezon’s Sunflower fields but it is uplifting, nonetheless.
Sunset @Poctoy White Beach with Mt. Malindig in the background.
It’s white sand and crushed corals.
Plenty of shops here, drinks, food, tents. cottages, accommodations, and resorts
I had a great swim here. The waters were cool.
Frolic in the waves.

HOLY THURSDAY APRIL 18, 2019 ISLAND HOPPING

Fortune favors the brave.
In this case, it was still really dark when we were about to go to Palad Sandbar, the 1st stop in our island hopping.
We were delayed a bit because someone asked us to accommodate a family of four who also wanted to go island-hopping. We obliged, as this would bring our cost down from P2,150.00 for 2 persons to go on an island hop of 3 destinations, to P1,160.00.
Buyabod port @sunrise.
At first the sun seemed to play a game of hide and seek.
Taking a peek.
And there she was!
Nature is beautiful. She permitted me to capture this shot of her.
Unfortunately, what nature giveth, nature can take away. When we arrived at the Palad Sandbar, she’s already disappeared under about a half-foot of water. In the middle of nowhere, there’s this crush of people standing on the sand bar, putting immense pressure on her. Hope the sand bar does not buckle under the weight.
I did alight from the boat to take a couple of photos
and an underwater picture.
And I thought we were the only ones going to be here because we set out early…
From Palad Sandbar we proceeded to Mompog Island to see the Ungab Rock Formations brought about by millions of years of erosion.
Very picturesque.
Clear waters.
Imposing silhoutte.
Being in Maniwaya island gives you this vibe that you’ve been here before or wish you had.
Its beautiful here.
It’s like seeing a friend whom you haven’t seen for ages.

There’s a resort here named Wawie’s Beach that has great accommodations.

Great cool and clear waters and I swam for almost 2 hours here under the scorching sun
but underneath the waters, it was exhilirating!
I’ll just let the pictures do the talking now.
Remember when I mentioned that we had to check out of Villa D Arco the day after we arrived?
Well, this is what Sir Melqui, and Ms. Karen, Villa D Arco owners,
scored for us as ACU rooms accommodations for our next 2 days @P1500 / day.
Thanks also to the owner of the place, Ms. Beth Fidelino.
I’m not complaining. It’s a sweet deal.
We had late lunch.
Maniwaya Island restos’ were fully loaded that day,
then we slept from 2pm until 8pm in the evening.
Later that evening we visited this place called Rico’s Inn and Restaurant and had pansit / kare-kare for dinner.

GOOD FRIDAY APRIL 19, 2019

Centuries old Sta. Cruz Church.
This old house beside the church used to be a convent.
Mass before the 5pm procession.
When in Sta. Cruz, this is where you should eat.
Although choices are somewhat limited, the taste is alright. Go for their pasta/noodles/sandwiches, but not the pizza, as the crust needs improvement.
Tuna pesto and carbonara
Before the procession started,people jostled for positions where they could join the procession.
Almost all those who would join the procession were barefoot and in their Sunday best, so to speak.
Locals say most of those who participate are from Sta. Cruz, who arrive from other parts of the country together with their loved ones, part of a yearly atonement (panata).
Some join because they believe it brings them luck.
Others take part for the first time and once experienced, the locals say they keep coming back.
Scenes like this are happening simultaneously all over Marinduque.
Here in Sta. Cruz, from this vantage point of mine, it took close to an hour before
all the people were able to join the procession.
There must have been more than 5,000 people in the Prosesyon de Santo Entierro.
Resplendent in their Roman costumes
I ordered chicken, fries, and bread later that evening while my daughter had lechon kawali.

BLACK SATURDAY APRIL 20, 2019

We had lunch at Roby’s again. This time I ordered Lomi while my daughter had pansit.
Had to bulk up as the land and sea trip back home is about 10-12 hrs.
Before we headed out to sea, Marinduque gave us another of her stunning moments. No filter.
Sunset at Balanacan port.

What I will remember about Marinduque, aside from its stunning beaches and spectacular sceneries, is the warmth and friendliness of its people.

Our host for the last two days, Ms. Beth, a native of Marinduque (from Mompog), always has a ready smile for us, and is always asking if we are doing fine. Ditto with Ms. Karen de Luna of Villa D Arco. Even passerbys, if they notice that we’re somewhat at a loss as to where to go, always seem to be ready to help. Our land tour guide, Jeh, is always there for us. Even their native tongue seems pleasing to the ear.

Marinduque certainly has its moments, moments that are worth remembering.

Of course, I did not forget my co-DIYers. Below is our actual 4 days 3 nights itinerary together with expenses incurred for two (2) people.

Be good to one another.

Happy Easter to all !!!

DAY 0 APRIL 16, 2019 TUESDAY COST 
Sashamae / Spike Allowance (our dogs hehe) 500.00 
Taxi to JAC Liner Kamias 273.00 
JAC Liner to Gasan, Mdque from Manila 
/ Biyaheroes
 2,181.00 
Late Lunch / miscellaneous expenses 645.00 
Arrive at Lucena / Dalahican Port / 
Dinner @stopover
 150.00 
DAY 1 APRIL 17, 2019 WEDNESDAY
Dalahican Port to Balanacan Port, Mogpog, 
Marinduque
Arrive at Balanacan Port  
JAC Liner to Sta. Cruz
Check in @ accomodations (Villa D’ Arco)
Advance BDO Bank payment for Villa 1,500.00 
Early checkin /breakfast 600.00 
Preparation for Land tour 
(Miscellaneous expenses)
 150.00 
LAND TOUR via Tricycle c/o Villa D’ Arco 2,200.00 
1. BALANACAN VIEW DECK
2. OUR LADY OF PEACE & 
SAFE VOYAGE
50.00 Entrance
3. BOAC CATHEDRAL
4. BOAC MUSEUM
5. BOAC HERITAGE HOUSES
6. LUNCH @Kusina sa Plaza 560.00 
7. Coffee @ 10 y.o. Cafe 185.00 
8. SUNFLOWER FARM @MSC
9. TORRIJOS FREEDOM PARK
10. POCTOY WHITE BEACH
Return to Villa D’ Arco
Dinner @Rico’s Inn, Free Time 373.00 
Lights Off
DAY 2 APRIL 18, 2019  
HOLY THURSDAY
Wake up Call 
From Villa D’ Arco to Buyabod Port 
(tricy /misc)
 423.00 
Boat rental c/o Villa d’ Arco for 
Island Hopping
 1,160.00 
Depart Buyabod Port to:
11. PALAD SANDBAR
Swimming, Photo-ops
12. MOMPONG ISLAND / 
Ungab Rock Formation
Swimming, Photo-ops
13. MANIWAYA ISLAND
Wawie’s Beach Resort / , halohalo / others 100.00 
Photo ops / swimming
Boat ride: return to Buyabod Port
Tricy back to Villa D’ Arco
Checkout from Villa D Arco / 
transfer to Fidelino residence
3,000.00 (2 nights)
Dinner @R. Centro 273.00 
Lights Off
DAY 3 APRIL 19, 2019 GOOD FRIDAY
Wake up Call 
Lunch  @Roby’s / Miscellaneous 560.00 
14. Explore STA CRUZ CHURCH
15. PROSESYON DE SANTO ENTIERRO
Dinner @Rico’s Inn 540.00 
Lights out
DAY 4 APRIL 20, 2019 SATURDAY
Wake up Call 
Checkout from Fidelino residence
Prepare for return to Manila
LUNCH @Roby;s 500.00 
Depart for Plaza Sta Cruz / JAC Terminal 48.00 
Arrive at JAC Terminal
Check in @JAC Liner
Depart to Lucena/Dalahican Port 
via Biyaheroes
 2,258.00 
ETA Lucena/Dalahican Port
Dinner /Miscellaneous 500.00 
Travel time to Manila (3hrs)
ETA Manila
Dinner 500.00 
TOTAL 19,279.00 

ZAMBALES 3DAYS 2NIGHTS ITINERARY FEBRUARY 23-25, 2019

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted decades ago, what was shown to us was the devastation it brought. Many years after the said tragedy, Pinatubo has brought forth a miracle in nearby Zambales. The ash fall from the eruption has transformed what were once barren terrain and rock strewn shores into agoho tree laden mountain trails and beach havens. So much so that whispers of paradise-like coves abounded, and that slowly but surely these coves were being transformed into camping sites and trek trails and what have you.

This year we decided to check this out on our own.

Zambales is really beautiful. Who knew that a place like this existed a mere 3 hours away from Manila? We had a short but sweet stay. And while we were there on our first day, an earthquake struck :-D, it literally felt like it was “passing through” but it shook! In spite of this, after 2 days, we wanted to stay longer but….gotta do what you gotta do….

We just chilled around on our first day, and we visited the coves like Nagsasa and Talisayin Coves on our second day.

On the 3rd day, we made our way to Anawangin Cove, Capones-Camara islands and it was a really great sightseeing and beach experience.

And the sunsets at Pundaquit Beach are really postcard-worthy 🙂

Time to let the pictures do the talking:

February 23, 2019. After checking in @Wild Rose Beach Inn, we decided to check out Pundaquit Beach. Pundaquit Beach is the jump-off point if you want to explore the coves.

Pundaquit is pretty laid-back.
So much so that Capones and Camara Islands beckon on the horizon.
Remember to leave only footprints.
Just admire the view.
Food here is good.
Ohana Art Cafe is where we had meyenda after having lunch @Cafe Pundaquit @another resort, Canoe Beach Resort.
Quaint is the word for this place.
Cozy and warm.
That evening, we made our way to Double Suds restaurant frequented by tourists.
Ribs
February 24, 2019 With the help of Mam Tess of Wild Rose Inn, we scored a boat and skimmed over the waters for close to 45 minutes and landed here, Nagsasa Cove
My oh my
Explored the place some more
and decided to go up
and up
higher still
to capture this
Safely back to the ground.
After staying at Nagsasa for about 2 hours, we made our way to Talisayin Cove.
Now this is what I’m talkin’ about!
The waters here are crystal clear.
Like, didn’t I tell you ?
You must swim here.
After travelling to the coves, we went back to Pundaquit and I had to have my coffee again.
Replay.
This time, after lunch, I had to have this dessert.
On our 3rd and last day. refreshments, and breakfast before heading out to Anawangin Cove.
Anawangin Cove is the most commercialized amongst the coves in Zambales. There’s a tent city here, literally, hundreds of them.
It has its own charm, nonetheless.

We made our way to Capones Island, a desolate place but a great place to swim nonetheless, and a lot of IG-worthy scenery.

Beautiful scenery.
Boulders as big as buildings.
and windswept shores.

While Camara Island is a bit calmer, and Zambales in front of her.

Before journeying home, we passed by Casa San Miguel in San Antonio, a school for music and arts for children and teens.
Casa San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales.
There are a lot of art works.
Gallery
Resto-cafe.
More art works from children.
Poster-making.
It’s like an illusion.
Nice.
Its own rooftop view. Don’t forget to pass by here and avail of the tour.

So there you have it, our 3days 2nights stay at Zambales. As always, below is an actual itinerary and expenses incurred for two (2) people.

But before anything else, let me tell you that Pundaquit Beach sunsets are amazingggggg!!!! and no two are ever alike !!!

Like a ball of fire falling slowly from the skies, Pundaquit sunsets are a show of its own.
Day 1 sunset
The sky is on fire.
Sunsets are a reminder that even if you had a bad day, the day always ends beautifully.
Over the horizon it goes.
Bathing everything in an orange hue.
Day 2 sunset
Sunset on our 2nd day

Stay good everyone.

FEBRUARY 23, 2019 SATURDAY DAY 1 COST 
Sashamae / Spike Allowance
( we now have 2 dogs!!!)
 300.00 
Grab! to Cubao Victory Liner 176.00 
Bus fare to Olongapo 570.00 
Van to San Antonio 500.00 
Arrive @San Antonio Municipal Hall
Tricycle to Pundaquit 60.00 
Check-in to Wild Rose Beach Inn 2,400.00 
Early Lunch @CAFE PUNDAKIT 555.00 
Rest up
Coffee / Merienda @OHANA ART CAFÉ 329.00 
Sunset Watchng @Pundaquit Beach
Miscellaneous Expense 120.00 
DINNER @Double Suds 555.00 
FEBRUARY 24 2019 SUNDAY DAY2
ISLAND HOP Boat rental 2,500.00 
Depart for Nagsasa-Talisayin
Arrive at Nagsasa Cove
Breakfast @Nagsasa Cove 50.00 
Picture taking @Nagsasa bluff (pay entrance) 40.00 
Swimming @Nagsasa Cove
Depart for Talisayin Cove
Swimming @Talisayin Cove
Return to Pundaquit accomodations
Merienda @OHANA ART CAFÉ 437.00 
Sunset Watching @Pundaquit Beach
Miscellaneous Expenses 150.00 
DINNER @Cafe Pundakit 555.00 
FEBRUARY 25 2019 MONDAY DAY3
BREAKFAST  240.00 
ISLAND HOPPING Boat rental 1,500.00 
Arrive @Anawangin Cove
Entrance Fee @Anawangin Cove (P70 per head) 140.00 
Depart & Arrive @Capones Island
Picture taking @Capones Island Rock formations
Arrive @Camara Island (swimming /picture taking)
Return to Pundaquit accomodations
Lunch @Wild Rose Inn 415.00 
Checkout @accomodations
Tricycle to San Antonio to Casa San Miguel 200.00 
Sightsee @Casa San Miguel (Entrance Fees) 200.00 
Purchase Pasalubongs @San Antonio 450.00 
Bus to Olongapo 140.00 
Arrive @Olongapo
Bus to Cubao 570.00 
Stopover at Travellers Depot /Merienda (misc) 160.00 
Arrive @Manila
Dinner @Chowking Cubao 327.00 
Taxi to San Juan 150.00 
TOTAL: PHP 13,789.00

PUERTO GALERA 4DAYS 3NIGHTS ITINERARY DECEMBER 30, 2018 – JANUARY 2, 2019

There was this long December 2018 weekend and the thought just popped into my head: we’re going to Puerto Galera!!! I vaguely remember the time I was there with my youngest sister Dawn, and cousin Jet, and it would be nice to show the place to my daughter. I heard stories that the place was now too commercialized, but I was hoping Puerto Galera still has some magic in her hidden somewhere, not unlike when I first visited wayyyyy back then. I remember secluded beaches against a backdrop of a mountain where the sun only really showed up past mornings. The crystal clear waters, swaying coconut trees, and cool morning breeze. At night, White Beach explodes with life and pitchers of Mindoro Sling abound. This time, though, it would be a more muted visit, and I looked forward to soothe my weary body and mind after a really tough but rewarding year.

As always, a few pictures for first time DIYers to get an idea of where to go while in Puerto Galera, followed by an actual itinerary with expenses incurred for two (2) people. Book your accommodations in advance as there are a lot of tourists all-year-round. Explore. Get off the beaten track. Enjoy ‘ya’ll.

December 30, 2018. As we made our way to our accommodations, we befriended a tricycle driver named Billy (a good guy who ekes a living to send his siblings to school) @Balatero Port and asked him to be our land tour guide the next day. I asked him for a place with a view, and this is where he took us to, a view of White Beach.
We alighted at our destination in Bgy. Talipanan, and thanked Billy, who would pick us up the next day. Bamboo House Beach Lodge and Restaurant was where we booked in advance. It’s clean, the staff are very nice, with air conditioned rooms if you choose to have this type of accommodation, free breakfast, wi-fi, and great food.
Hammocks by-the-sea.
Your view every morning is always going to be different. It’s a mindset thing.
The horizon beckons.
May it be dusk or dawn.
Be thankful.
Morning view.
Later that evening, just beside Bamboo House, we made our way to Luca Cucina Italiana. You have to eat here.
The Carbonara was delicious and plentiful.
The Contadina was simply superb and is actually good for 4 people. You should order this. You won’t regret it.
Of course I had to wash it all down.
December 31, 2018. Before heading out for the land tour, Bamboo House served us breakfast.
I had a mild headache that morning but still the food was delicious.
First stop was Tamaraw Falls, the twin waterfalls. The falls were raging at full strength when we got there.
For the land tour on our 2nd day, we made our way to a Mangrove conservation area.
A sandbar on the mainland
Here’s the other side of that sandbar
Bamboo walkways
Virgin Beach
Bulabod Beach
Bulabod Beach after a storm.
Virgin Beach, so called because it had a Virgin Mary statue looking over the sea.
At the famous White Beach
Where we hunted for souvenirs
And had lunch at Terminal BBQ
Our Coffee fix
@Cafe Marco
Nice design
We also walked towards the nearby Mangyan Village @Talipanan.
And marvelled at their handicrafts.
That December 31, 2018 New Year’s Eve, Bamboo House served a buffet spread consisting of roasted pork, spaghetti, beef stew, chicken BBQ, buttered shrimp, and desserts. For P600 per head, it was worth it. Bye 2018!!! Hello 2019!!!
Happy New Year !!!!
January 1, 2019. Off we went to Minolo Port for our island hopping.
The port is very pretty.
Off we go!
Fed fishes and snorkeled with them @Coral Garden!
Swam on a deserted Haligi Beach.
Cool & picturesque.
Ain’t no one here but us.
This is easily my favorite beach: Bayanan Beach!!!
Selfies
@Haligi Beach
Nice
After island hopping, I needed coffee again to perk me up.
I needed that…
We then proceeded to go up to Ponderosa. We were supposed to visit this as part of Billy’s land tour on our 2nd day but we decided against it but as the weather now cooperated, we went for it, and this view was our reward.
We went back to our accommodations, slept for a while, and had dinner consisting of bulalo,
Fried chicken
and a fish dish.

It was hard to go but we had to get back to the city. But I needed to take one more look at where I was, at that moment.

I will come back to you. Soon.
You will always be on my mind, Puerto Galera.

As promised, here’s the complete itinerary with expenses incurred for two (2) people.

DECEMBER 30, 2018 SUNDAY COST 
Sashamae Allowance (she’s our dog!)          700.00
Taxi to Cubao Jam Liner          150.00
Depart Cubao for Batangas          450.00
Arrive @Batangas Pier
Starlite boat fare to Mindoro
(1130 AM for Balatero)
          450.00
Arrive @ Balatero port
Lunch: Batangas Lomi / Tocilog/more          240.00
Tricy to Bamboo House Beach Lodge            95.00
Check in to accomodations        5,100.00
Rest
Dinner @Luca Cocina Italiana          880.00
DECEMBER 31, 2018 MONDAY DAY2 
Coffee            25.00
BREAKFAST (Free)
LAND TOUR c/o BILLY BOY       1,500.00
Tamaraw Falls
Bulabod Beach
Virgin Beach
Mangrove Conservation Spot
Island Sandbar
White Beach
LUNCH @Terminal BBQ & Ribs          440.00
Coffee @Cafe Marco          249.00
Rest @Bamboo House
DINNER BUFFET @Bamboo Beach House       1,200.00
JANUARY 1, 2018 TUESDAY DAY3
BREAKFAST (Free)
Tricycle to Minolo Port          150.00
ISLAND HOPPING / SMALL BOAT /
SNORKELING GEAR
       1,900.00
Bread            50.00
Coral Garden  / small boat (transfer)          200.00
Haligi Beach
Maniknik Beach
LUNCH          480.00
Bayanan Beach
Back to Minolo Port
Tricy to White Beach            50.00
Travel to Ponderosa Golf Course c/o Billy
Back to Bamboo House
Walk to Mangyan Village
DINNER           825.00
JANUARY 2, 2018 MONDAY DAY 4
BREAKFAST (Free)
Check out           800.00
Tricy to Balatero Port          150.00
Boat ferry tickets to Batangas          400.00
Depart for Batangas 
Arrive @Batangas
Bus to Manila          450.00
Arrive at Manila
LUNCH @Tokyo! Tokyo!          463.00
GRAB! to San Juan          210.00
TOTALS     Php 17,607.00

Be good to one another. Always.

CAGBALETE 2 DAYS 1 NIGHT ITINERARY JUNE 9-11, 2018

It was a calculated risk. June 12, 2018 was a holiday, a Tuesday at that. I immediately filed for a paid Leave of Absence for that Monday June 11, 2018 and it was approved. My thoughts turned quickly to an island off Mauban, Quezon. Cagbalete Island, with its famous sandbar, calm then wild waters and the oft-spoken of serenity that can be found on this island.

So here are a few of the pics taken during our trip there and here’s hoping you can appreciate the island even more.

So this is the view from our accommodations (MVT Sto. Nino). This part of Cagbalete Island is the most peaceful and tranquil (save for those karaoke music from quite the distance but you can hear them hahaha). When its low tide, the waters recede for miles on end.
When I’m lazing around the shore, this is what I see. This was taken @dawn.
Lying here alone, I’m dreaming, my mind keeps wan’drin’.
Off we go to Yang In sandbar. What’s really puzzling is the water’s real calm at this side of the island but on the way to the sandbar it was crazy rough.
And we made it

The sandbar is about more than 500 meters fr the main shore and its real cool to experience it.
The sandbar is very popular, as you can see.
A lot of us came here today.
You can walk a hundred feet more and the water will still be knee high.
But I’m not gonna risk it 😀
It’s like a salt bed because the sand is hard.
The sand mimics the waves movements.
When we were there, a pool formed inside a pool.
You literally would have to carry a boat to deeper waters.
Nice picture.
That hut right there was selling sodas and pansit bato (which was delish).
And we arrived at…what planet is this? Oh it’s Bonsai Island, visible only during low tide.
The landscape was alien-like.
It was fantastic just seeing and being on it.
Wow
Our Boatman.
An alien landscape, indeed.

So there you have it.

A word of advice to those who wanna do DIY to Cagbalete Island: provisions there are very limited. Buy food that you can cook in Mauban, and pay your resort for cooking utensils / LPG / grill, etc. They charge very minimal for it. As usual, below is an actual itinerary with expenses incurred for two (2) people.

Hope this helps ‘ya’ll 🙂

DAY 1 JUNE 9, 2018 SATURDAY EXPENSE 
Taxi to JAC Liner Cubao           150.00
DEPART for LUCENA via JAC Liner            454.00
Arrive @ Lucena Grand Central
Van to MAUBAN           150.00
ARRIVE @MAUBAN
Buy Food @Public Market           978.00
Breakfast           200.00
Tricy to Port           100.00
Environment Fee           100.00
Public boat to Cagbalete           150.00
Check – in @MVT Sto. Nino        2,200.00
Habal-Habal to resort           160.00
Lunch (Paluto)           200.00
Swimming
Dinner (Paluto)           200.00
DAY 2 JUNE 10, 2018 SUNDAY
Breakfast (Paluto)           200.00
Yang-in Sandbar        1,500.00
Bonsai Island
Lunch (Paluto)           150.00
Dinner (Paluto)           200.00
DAY 3 JUNE 11, 2018 MONDAY
Public Boat to Mauban           150.00
Breakfast @Renato’s           200.00
-Museo ng Mauban              50.00
Lunch           500.00
Van to Lucena Grand Terminal           100.00
Bus to Cubao           454.00
Taxi to San Juan           150.00
GRAND TOTAL        8,696.00

Be kind to one another. Always.