Friday, November 22, 2013

Motorela another kind of tricycle in Cagayan de Oro

We took a taxi from the airport of Cagayan de Oro to transport us to St. Nicolas Inn but the taxi driver didn’t know where the hotel was. So we decided to drop off the taxi and look for the location of the hotel in the Google map. A lady told us that we could take a rela in going to the hotel because it was just near where we were. We were clueless what rela was so she was the one look for rela for us. It’s a tricycle too but with a huge and long body. Rela short for motorela, sounds like a phone company, right?

Would you believe that its capacity is 12 passengers? The capacity is 10 passengers at the back and two passengers besides the driver, all in all 13. At first first we thought 6 at the back and 1 beside the driver but when the driver started to fill the vehicle with passengers’ ohh it was like we were compressed inside the vehicle. But well that’s the challenge of the trip how to blend with the locals, sort of community immersion.
I saw a lot of different public utility vehicles but motorela is somehow unique in this part of the country. It was fun trying to live like a local even though I didn’t understand well the language but still it’s great to experience new things. That’s one of the essences of the traveling to understand and appreciate different ways of living

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tugon sa Bohol

Philippine was hit by too many challenges from natural to man made calamities. One of it was the Earthquake in Bohol. There are approximately 10 national heritage churches, century old ones that were crushed to the ground totally and partially. There are some groups from the government and non-government organizations trying to raise funds to restore/reconstruct those churches. Ayala Corporation pledged to restore/reconstruct one of the churches. The cost estimation for one church would be 80 million to 200 million pesos. That’s why they staged free concerts to draw attention and donations for the rebuilding of one of the churches. It’s their effort to raise funds.  One of their concerts was in Ayala Triangle Garden, Tugon sa Bohol (answer to Bohol) featuring The Don Bosco Choir, Joey Ayala and of course the Loboc Children’s choir hosted by Cesca Litton.

The Don Bosco Choir

Cesca Litton

The Loboc Chilren's Choir

Joey Ayala with Loboc Children's Choir
Bohol is one of the tourist destinations in the Philippines. One of their sources of income is the tourism. Part of the tour in this island is these beautiful and old churches. Mostly Boholanons can relate their lives with the church, they are religious ones. They hope to see these churches be erected once more. Let’s help them!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

St. Nicolas Inn-Cagayan de Oro

When we were planning for the CDO-Bukidnon-Camiguin tour we scrutinized which one would be safer and accessible for us. We wanted to stay one night in Camiguin but we thought it would be better to stay in the city. But looking back we could have stayed in Camiguin instead but nevertheless it was a wonderful trip.
I was the one looked for a hotel where we could stay. As I was browsing from different deals and websites, my attention was caught by St. Nicolas Inn. It is in the heart of the city, accessible to public transportations. When I checked the review it was not good it was not bad either. My sister said that we could try it because we wouldn’t stay the whole day in the hotel we would be always out. I inquired thru their facebook page and the reply was the room rate was 1,700.00 pesos per night. But in agoda it was just 900++ pesos so I was like maybe if I would call the hotel the price would be different. When I called, the front desk officer said they have a 700.00 pesos good for two persons, air conditioned room, with tv and hot and cold shower. It’s really important for us to have that hot and cold shower because after the tour we would be deadly tired we would need to take a nice shower. We decided to book for two rooms for 3N and 4 days.

We were early for check in that’s why no room available yet, what we did were left all our things and went to Bukidnon for the Dahilayan adventure. The front desk and her coworkers were accommodating they let us left our things. After the adventure it was already dusk, time to relax. Time to check our rooms too.

The room is small.  The bed was clean, it has air conditioner, flat tv with cable, they have a free wifi connection, two towels and bath soap. The bathroom is small, the shower and the bowl are in the same location that’s why when taking a shower the bathroom gets wet all over. But well it was just 700.00 pesos.

We could hear the footsteps of the people walking upstairs. But since we were always tired we could still sleep.

The following day we had a white water rafting, my friend and I woke up earlier and ordered coffee and breakfast. After 15 minutes my sisters arrived and ordered their food too. Their order served ahead of us, when my coffee was served the coffee mug has a stained of lipstick. I called the waiter to check it because I didn’t even sip it yet. He politely changed it. Time passed my sisters done with their breakfast but our orders didn’t serve yet. The tour guides arrived and we asked them to wait for us to finish our breakfast, 45 minutes our breakfast didn’t serve yet. So we decided to cancel it but the front desk said it’s almost done. He was sorry because there were too many orders. I told him its not about too many its about the system in taking the orders, it should be first come first serve. Just imagine my sisters were done with their breakfast and ours were not yet served. In short we brought it instead and ate it while we were on our way to Mambuaya where we would have the rafting adventure.

At night we asked the front desk if we could ask for two cups of hot water, she was nice just told us to get hot water for free.

On our third day before we go to Camiguin, we asked the front desk to let our room be cleaned because they didn’t clean it everyday. We had a day tour in Camiguin. We were thinking that our room would be so cleaned. They changed the beddings but didn’t sweep nor vacuum the floor nor collected the trash, didn’t change the towels neither clean the bathroom. The left bathroom tissue roll by the guests are still served to the next guest. Our bathroom tissue roll was already small. It's good we brought our own bathroom tissue and towels. Usually I don't use the towels of the hotels for my body those are just for my feet, i always bring my own. 

On our forth and last day, we were so tired already to go out and have our breakfast somewhere. We decided to have it in the hotel again. This time the service was fast. Thank you didn’t wait that long. My friend took two cups of hot water. After our breakfast I asked for our bill and paid for it. My friend and I were checking and we noticed we were charged for two more cups of coffee. So I told the front desk we were charged more than we consumed. He returned the money. But this time we were charged for the hot water 2.00 pesos per cup. We were laughing because it’s our first time to experience to be charged for a hot water but its okay it was just 2.00 pesos.

Over all it was a learning process again for us. It’s good we didn’t expect much from this hotel although of course the basic we expect, like cleaning the room everyday that includes the bathroom, changing the bedding and towels because that’s for hygienic purposes. The good thing with this hotel its in the heart of the city.

Hayes St., Cagayan de Oro

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan de Oro-Water rafting Capital of the Philippines

Water rafting in Cagayan de Oro is the adventure that one shouldn’t miss when in this area of Mindanao. This is the water rafting capital of the Philippines. The river is the boundary of Bukidnon and Osamis Oriental provinces.

My friend and I were hesitant to try it because when we were looking at some videos, they look like dangerous, so what I did was read the blogs about it. Finally I and my friend agreed to join the group. My sister booked us in The RED Rafts Whitewater Rafting, one of the agencies that operate for the whitewater rafting. We took the P700.00/head without lunch since we planned to have a heavy meal in the hotel before going to the Mambuaya, a point where the beginners’ course starts. Our group was picked up in St. Nicholas inn around 7:30 am and proceeded to pick up another group in front of Xavier University.

The river guides told us not to bring our own cameras because it might fall, offered a package for photos and videos for P 1,500.00 or photos only for P 1,000.00. We had a briefing on the safety before taking the rapids. We were briefed on how to do the paddling; there should be count to synchronize the movements, like forward 1, 2 soft, forward 1, 2 hard and backward 1, 2. There are 14 rapids for the beginners’ course. In the first rapid I got nervous had to hold the rope, I was the only one was holding the rope. Bam, our river guide was teasing me that I was just taking it easy, “char char lang”. But in the next rapids I was enjoying already.

The view is really stunning. It still wows me; the work of nature is really wonderful. Along the way we saw, wild butterflies, wild orchids, green snakes, monitor lizards, water strider and a whole lot more. The only regret I have was I didn’t bring the camera because we were not allowed to and let the photographer took pictures of us. For those who will take this tour, try to bring a underwater camera of your own because there are wonders of the nature that the photographer will not capture. The photographer will take pictures of the tourists while on rapids. Camera will not fall because flip over of the rubber boat is by request unless of course you want to flip over you shouldn’t bring your camera.

When you are in Cagayan de Oro city, water rafting is a must activity. Till then!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas is in the air

Wow its Christmas time, didn’t notice that we are already in the mid of November. So far I am not yet finish with my Christmas list. Lol I don’t want to deal with it first too many things to do plus its additional expenses, I have to check the budget for it. Better to give than to receive but it should be within the budget. Right?

I went to the grocery and I saw this giant Christmas tree in SM City Sucat, adorned with Santa Claus dolls, poinsettia, balls, stars, ladder, sugar cane, etc. Well lighted by tiny Christmas lights. It is under the huge staircase beside the Santa Claus' chair, in the middle of building A of the mall.

The ceiling is decorated with red stars and under the handrails of the escalators are decorated too.

Even we are hit by too many calamities but its uplifting to hear Christmas carols in the air while shopping. Some say it’s the work of capitalism. For me its fine just have to deal with it, according to what you perceived about life. Time for merriment but time to see the boundaries of it. Happy Holidays in advance.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cagayan de Oro City-Bukidnon-Camiguin Tour

It’s been awhile that we were looking for the Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon-Camiguin-Iligan tour but we couldn’t find the best time for it. We had lots of things to consider, budget, time and work. Then one night an email coming from Airasia prompted on the screen, so I checked it then I found out there was a 99 base fare for CDO. My sisters and a friend decided to go for it. The airfare was 1,5++ each.

When we landed in Laguindian Airport we were so enthusiastic, everybody was looking forward what CDO would offer. We looked for a transportation to bring us to our hotel, St. Nicholas Inn, Hayes St., CDO. Some van offers for 199 per head, some say taxi would be better since we were four so we could save. One guy told us that he could take us to the city for 600.00 opppss that is not allowed by Land transportation office. Riding a taxi should always be by meter. We happened to hire a taxi driver, who agreed to a meter. Sad to say his meter ran so fast that we didn’t reach the hi-way the meter reader showed 103.00. And the worst of it he didn’t know the St. Nicholas Inn that we had to drop off then look for ourselves. I used google map thru my tablet and asked some locals where we could find the hotel. We took rela (motorela), it’s a local public transportation, a tricycle but with a different body. Finally we found the hotel then we left our bags in the hotel to go to Bukidnon and experience Dahilayan Park Adventure and Delmonte Plantations.
After our Bukidnon escapade, we booked for whitewater rafting adventure. My sister booked us in the Red rafts whitewater rafting. Early in the morning we prepared to conquer the rapids.

The river guides from Red whitewater rafting referred a guy, Jojo, who operates a tour in Camiguin Island. We had to leave our hotel at 2:30 in the morning to catch the first trip in Balingoan Port going to Benoni Port, the gate to Camiguin. Camiguin Island can be explored in a day. Around 3:30pm we were done with our tour and were in the port to go back to Cagayan de Oro. We reached our hotel around 11:00pm.

We wanted to visit Iligan but mostly that we talked with, they said we should skip Iligan. Hopefully someday we could go and visit Iligan. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dampalitan Island in Padre Burgoz, Quezon

After few hours of exploring and frolicking in Borawan, Dampalitan Island was our next and last stop. This island can be seen from the Borawan Island, just 15 minutes of boat ride we reached it. It is the greenest among the three of the islands in the package tour that we took. There are agoho trees that greeted us as we were approaching. We could see sea urchins on the water bed. The sun was high, too hot already. I couldn’t wait to jump off the boat to be shielded by those mighty agoho trees. There was a hammock just right to refresh and rest for awhile. 

White beach but I noticed a lot of broken sea corals. Hope it’s not from dynamite fishing. It was low tide so we couldn’t really swim but we could see some variety of small fish, jelly fish, seaweeds and sea shells. We soaked and watched the fishes swimming right before our eyes. There are many fish pens nearby the beach. We were the only tourists at that time.

After just few minutes we left the island and had a shower in Vista Playa for 10.00 pesos per head. Home sweet home. It was indeed an adventure. Till Then. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Borawan Island in Padre Burgoz, Quezon

Our boatmen arrived 10:05am in Puting Buhangin Island to transfer us to the second Island Borawan. It is the most famous among the three islands in the package tour we took. Borawan Island has stunning limestone rocks like of that in Palawan and long stretch of shoreline. My first impression right away was wow, this island is stunning. I told the boatmen that they could have just called this island by the old name. Because yes the limestone cliffs are like of that in Palawan but the sand is far from of that in Boracay. But of course it’s for marketing purposes, easy name recall, Borawan, to attract more tourists because it has two in one view of Palawan and Boracay. According to the boatmen the old name of this island was Escalero.

In this island is where the campers usually camp because it has better facilities than two islands, Puting Bahangin and Dampalitan islands. Our tour guide told us that there is a hotel project in the island to be erected soon. More developments coming up to this island.

The entrance fee is 80.00 pesos per head. Since that is already included in the package we didn’t pay, but we had no cottage reserved for us because we were supposed to stay overnight in here. We opted to camp in Puting Buhangin instead. My sister's blanket served us our picnic mat. No plan to stay longer because we still had one island to visit. Just have our lunch and proceed to explore the island.

We were in awe seeing all the wonderful spots. Taking pictures every corner of the island. We had fun in taking wacky pictures literally had frolicking activity.

My sister and I did snorkeling again. Watching the fishes swimming with us. It was fun. Although the water is not crystal clear. On the right side the shoreline is long, white sand. Beautiful view. Even it was so hot we explored this side of the island. We were lucky when we were there just few tourists. Perfect to enjoy the island. I observed some did cliff diving, trekking and kayaking.

I noticed one thing in common in Puting Buhangin and Borawan, the bathroom (comfort room) has fee. It is disgusting why have to pay for the usage of the bathroom when it should be included in the amenities. What if the tourist would just pee or poop anywhere? That’s for hygienic purposes it should be free. Come on there is already an entrance fee. The worst thing every time one would pee one should pay 10.00 pesos although one can pay 50.00 pesos for unlimited pee. For pooping 20.00. Funny it was my first time to do island hopping with a fee in using the bathroom. Only in Quezon Province.

Tourism Board of Padre Burgos should look into it that’s for hygienic purposes. Our ocean is not a huge bathroom.

This island has too much room for improvement and with proper care of the tourists; this will be surely a hit to the adventurers, especially for the people from the provinces nearby. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Puting Buhangin also known as Kuwebang Lampas-Pagbilao, Quezon Province

Front Beach
Our first destination for our Borawa-Dampalitan-Puting Buhangin Islands Adventure was the Puting Buhangin also known as Kuwebang Lampas. Among the three islands the finest sand is in this Island, Puting Buhangin or White Beach. This island has a cave called Kuwebang Lampas because the mountain made of limestone with a huge hole, which makes it looks like a cave. Kuweba in English means cave and Lampas means through. The passage has been formed by waves. That’s why during high tide visitors should be careful because it is almost covered by the water.

Front Beach
The view coming from the cave is stunning, very panoramic. On the right side there is another short stretch of shoreline, white sand too. We tried to reach that area, as we were walking we saw crabs, fishes, shells, the marine ecosystem is so rich and half way I saw a sea snake (walo-walo) crawling near a crab. I got scared that we decided to come back to the cave.

Kuwebang Lampas
Right Side of Kuwebang Lampas
On the side of the island facing the Pagbilao point of entry, the shoreline is different, it’s rocky. If you would come from this entry the trail is rocky and muddy. You have to trek. The light house can be seen from this side. My friend and I went to this side but we went back to the camp site because it was already getting dark, but she asked our other friend to come with her and they explored this side of the island. Some tourists coming from Pagbilao, this is their point of entry. But in our case we took the tour coming Padre Burgos that's why we dropped off the front beach.

While we were resting on the sand we saw a cat climbing the coconut tree. So we took picture of it. Nice cat knows how to climb with style.

One of our companions said that he knows how to eat sea urchin because when he was in Bohol he was taught how to clean and eat it. Our group decided to get some sea urchins, the good thing in this island the tourists can go fishing and collect some sea shells without fee. We saw some had fishing rods, catching fish. Eating the sea urchins was a challenge for each of us; all of them said that the taste was like of oyster. I cheated didn't try it, maybe someday I could.

The water is crystal clear that we could see the sand clearly. We enjoyed snorkeling because too many fish and they were literally swimming with us.

We spent the night in here; the tents were included in the entrance and overnight fee of 180.00 pesos per head. We were 7 and we got 3 tents, the zipper of the one we got was broken. I called the attention of the caretaker he said he would look for another one and we should not get worry because during the night he would transfer our tents to the open cottages. But sad to say he didn’t do what he said, the lesson you should bring your own tent. I covered the tent with a shawl. It's good the island is safe although in the middle of of the night the rain fell. Stargazing and endless talking were the activities of us during the night. 

In this island it’s a real survivor way of living. The grills for barbecue and stove for cooking are on the ground. The bathrooms are just two, one for boys and one for girls, no lights and not so clean. They have makeshift shower room made of coconut leaves without roof, the flooring is the weeds. Using the bathroom one has to pay 10.00 pesos for urinating and 20.00 for pooping.  No free water for rinsing, one container of water not purified is 50.00 pesos. That’s why before you go to this island better bring your own water, what we did was we used the purified water that we brought. Purified water is 55.00 pesos in Vista Playa, asked your boatmen to buy some for you. At night there were mosquitoes because there is a swamp in the middle of the island where mangroves are. Don’t forget to bring your own lights/rechargeable lamps for there is no electricity, extra batteries for gadgets and camera, mosquito repellent and sunblock cream too. The irony was that the signal of the smart telecommunication company (3G) in this island was strong that we could do live streaming and video calling, different from Manila. 
Have Fun and Enjoy your stay in this island.