Exploring Puerto Galera

White Beach, Puerto Galera

Boat ride to White Beach

Boat ride to White Beach

Puerto Galera, Mindoro has become a popular destination among Manila residents and to all who land in Manila airport, mainly due its short distance from Manila and its White sandy beach.
Many people consider it the poor, and cheaper, cousin of Boracay, but if are looking for a beach to relax without a big effort, or extra flight cost, this place won’t disappoint you.
Puerto Galera town (city proper) is nothing more than a little town without nothing to see. It’s the White beach or Sabang that should head if you plan a leisure trip. Since both places have a connecting boats with mainland, you can skip completely Puerto Galera town, unless you need to link both places by land.
White beach and Sabang are different in scenario and activities, so depending of you are looking for, you can choose which one it best fits you.

White Beach

White Beach

White beach

This one km white sandy beach, located on the Northwest of Mindoro, with crystal, calm waters and sandy bottom offers relaxing opportunities for beach bums. The coastline is packed from edge to edge with beach restaurants backed by low to mid-range resorts. The beach and its resorts are hidden from the main road, up to a point it’s easy to miss the beach if you are coming from Puerto Galera town.

Daily Activities

Besides the usual sun tan, you can rent a jet ski, hop on a banana boat, go on a snorkeling or island hoping tour. The tours usually start at 1500php.
It’s also possible to rent motorbike to explore the island. Expect to pay at least 350php/day.
For last, if you have your snorkeling mask, you can snorkel on the west end of White beach without the need of a tour; there you can find a few reefs, corals, and tropical fishes.

Night Activities

The white beach is mostly a Filipino family destination, therefore the night life is usually reduced to a few beach restaurants and bars which play music and have lady-boy performances. If you are looking for something different, give the “liki tiki” floating bar a try.

Budget Accommodation

Almost all of the hostelry are mid to low-range resorts. Many of them have A/C rooms as well as fan rooms. Practically none of them has a beach view. The prices on the high season tend to be overpriced. The basic room is around 1500php. If search hard you can find as low as 700php for your own room during the high season. On the low season, you can get far better deals.

Tamaraw Beach

Tamaraw Beach

Getting There

From Manila, you can get there by catching the Ceres bus (167php) at Buenodia bus station, with destination to Batangas. It’s about 2h journey depending on the Manila traffic.
Get off at Batangas Pier and catch the regular boats to White Beach (275php). It’s another 2h journey.

Transportation

There are no jeepneys to Puerto Galera. You have to go on a tricycle or motorbike. The fix price for Puerto Galera is 150php, although the locals only pay 25php, but if you bargain hard and tell the driver that you can accept other passengers, you might get a 50php trip.
From white beach, there are regular boats to mainland. Although, the last one can be around 5pm.

Annoyances

The constant beach vendors hassling you can early disturb your peace. Some beach restaurants have a sign ‘No vendors allowed’, still it’s hard to get rid of those pesky sellers.
The overpriced cost of everything. Accommodation and transportation don’t have, in many cases, fixed price, so in many cases they charge you ridiculous high prices that don’t reflect the quality of the service.

Sabang

Sabang

Sabang

This little town is the opposite of Sabang in many senses. The coastline is jammed with diving resorts, and the narrow street behind it with go-go bars. It has no beach, and the waters, although in general clear, are the harbor of the diving anchored boats. Sabang is mostly a diving hub or the place for anyone looking for some go-go fun. This place only has two crossed streets, one with the bars and another that leads to two steep exits.

Daily Activities

The main reason to stay in Sabang is to go diving. If you want to do some free snorkel, try it on Monkey beach. It is supposed to be good, from what I have been told, but expect a steep, tedious walk or an overprice motorcycle ride.

Night Activities

Sabang has some bars where old westerners tend to hang out, but in general the main attraction is the go-go bars.

Budget Accommodation

If you are diving, the resorts will slash you the price of accommodation. Otherwise, you best bet are the hackers who wait near the pier. They might give you a better offer than the reminding hostelry.
If you want the cheapest offer and are willing to do some daily exercise, try looking on east hill of Sabang. The quality is low but so it’s the price.

Getting There

The route is the same as from Manila to White beach, only a different boat.
This boat ride is only one hour but it’s more seldom than to White beach.

 
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Visiting Dumaguete

Cathedral in Dumaguete

Portraits

Portraits


Most expats will tell you that Dumaguete is the most livable city in Philippines. They found it the perfect place to settle down. Being a city it has all the conveniences, but at the same time is small enough to walk around. Although it’s an enjoyable place it doesn’t escapes from the noisy tricycles that spread across the city, yet it’s still possible to find some quite places.
More than one third of the population are students, mainly due Silliman University, making it a young city.
The city doesn’t have many landmarks, it’s the activities that you can do on its surroundings, and its nightlife that attracts the tourists.


Dumaguete full screen


Things to do inside the city

All the places to visit within the city are only a few blocks away, so you can visit them by walking, or if you prefer you can take a tricycle, that for 8-10php will take you anywhere within the city.


Rizal Boulevard

Rizal Boulevard


Rizal Boulevard

This boulevard runs along the coastline. Here is where the locals stroll, but it’s after dusk that the street stalls start to line up on the upper part. Here you can try local delicacies, including balut(fully formed duck egg).
Is on the opposite boardwalk where the bars and restaurants line up. The “Coco Amigos” restaurant is a popular place and it stands out from its reminding buildings due its vibrant yellow colors.


Bell Tower

Bell Tower


Cathedral

The Cathedral stands right in the heart of the city. It has a simple construction and interior; the most interesting aspect of this Cathedral is its front facade. Right next to it, it’s the Bell Tower, which was used long-time ago as a watchtower and today it’s the oldest structure in the city.
In front of the Cathedral stands the Quezon Park, and it has a few shades to cool you down during the burning hot days.


Chocolate Bod-bod

Chocolate Bod-bod


Public Market

This market is only a few blocks away from the west of the Cathedral. Besides vegetables, fruits and cheap clothes, you can try some local delicacies, like the chocolate bud-bud (rice mixed with chocolate), hot “puto” and the “tsokolate” (a chocolate drink).

Silliman Zoo

This small zoo is hidden in the Northern part of the city and holds a few endangered animal species. At first glance it might look cruel to see those wild animals confined in such a small cages, but if you think that most of them are nearly the extinction due illegal poaching, and once they are fit they will be release in the protected areas, then you will feel that it’s worth your 10php to support the zoo.


Outside the City

Apo Island

The Apo Island is probably the most popular destination among snorkelers and divers, due its biodiversity and sea turtle population.

Dauin

Dauin


Casaroro Falls

Casaroro Falls

Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes


Budget Accommodation

Although Dumaguete is a student city, it doesn’t has many budget hostels.
If you looking for a rocket bottom price place, there is one right in front of the intercity bus station, but it provides only the basic conditions, and it’s very noisy.
The two places listed bellow are quite popular due the conditions they provide versus the price charged.

Harolds Mansion

address205 Hibbard Avenue price250php/dm wifiyes
wwwhttp://haroldsmansion.com/ emailmailto:harold@haroldsmansion.com
notesThis hostel located in the northern area of Dumaguete, and it’s probably the most popular among backpackers.
It has a relaxing rooftop with free breakfast(including tsokolate), billiards and wi-fi.
The hostel’s staff can give you many tips and this hostel has free city bicycles.

Vintage Inn

addressLigaspi St. / Surban St
notesThis Inn is located in the heart of the city, and it’s an alternative if you want to escape the crowds.


References

Official Site
Wikitravel

 
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Celebrating the Kaamulan Festival in Malaybalay

Kaamulan Festival

Scene Portraits

Scene Portraits


The Kaamulan Festival is an ethnical Festival celebrated in Malaybalay city, the capital of Bukidnon Province, in the Mindanao Island. This festival hasn’t been able to captivate the heart of the foreigners tourists due the publicized political instability in Western Mindanao. However, if you make plans to visit Mindanao during the period of the celebration of this festival, you will find it an absolutely not to be missed event.
The festival is held from mid February until the 10th of March, which is the anniversary of the foundation of the Bukidnon Province. During this period there are several events running almost every day.
One of the biggest highlights is the Ethnic Street Dancing Competition. This competition starts as a street dance very early in the morning, and later by around 9am there is a competition held on the Capitol Grounds. This article is mostly focused on this Capitol Grounds dance competition.


Portraits

Portraits


Ethnic Dancing Competition

The Kaamulan Festival celebrates the culture, tradition and ethnicity of the seven tribes of Bukidnon: Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. The dance competition is performed by 7 teams, so each team represents one of the tribes of Bukidnon. The whole competition is very colorful with well adorned participants, full of sound and motion. Each representation depicts tribal daily life scenes, folklore tales and war scenes. The Capitol grounds provides the prefect stage for a full immersion of each representation. Each team has a large number of participants, allowing them to perform simultaneously multiple scenes. While some might be doing a traditional dance, others are fighting, and others are representing life and death scenes. The music is also a constant presence during the competition, not only the dancers are singing, but there is also an old tribal woman singing on the stage to a microphone. To make the whole symphony complete there is also an ornamented truck with several drums and other instrument players on the rooftop. The care that each participant places in the cloths, adornments, spears, shields, and banners is simply admirable. One point noting of interest is the well marked ethnical facial features of each participant: the hair type, skin color, nose shape, lip thickness are similar among each participant of the team, and quite different among different teams. The dance competition on Capitol Grounds has a free entrance, it may start before 9am, but it only lasts for a few hours. Many locals round themselves to watch the competition, so you should arrive early to get the best place. This time of the year is the beginning of Filipino summer, so if there is a blue sky, expect to a burning hot day.


Dance Performances

Dance Performances


Dance Performance


Other activities

Other activities


Other activities

Once the dance competition is over, there are several activities that you can participate: some of the dance competition participants do some dancing performances on the street, inviting every one to be part of them.
If you go downhill to the Capitol Gardens, you can ride a horse, or climb an artificial wall.
In the end of the day there is a fireworks display.


Budget Accommodation

Malaybalay has several inns and a few hotels, but the price during the festival is highly inflated.
If you are on a low budget, and you only want to see the dance competition, it might be better to stay in Cagayan de Oro (3 hours by bus), and get the 6am bus to Malaybalay from Agora Bus Terminal.

Smallword travelers Inn
phone088-8131206/07
price 380php/double (outside the festival period)

References

wikipedia

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Exploring Siquijor Island

San Juan, Siquijor

Timeless Siquijor Island

Timeless Siquijor Island


The Siquijor Island was once a place of mystical healers, shamans and witches. Today it’s a laid-back island, where you can relax on white sandy beaches, snorkel to peer the corals, dip on refreshing waterfalls, and snapshot the colonial architecture.

Siquijor city

The Siquijor city is the biggest city in Siquijor island, yet it’s still quite small, so you can easily cross it from edge to edge in a few minutes.
Most travelers use it only as an entry and exit point to the island, or to buy products that are unavailable in the smaller places.
The pier is only a few meters from city center, it’s the dock for the fast and slow boat to Dumaguete, and the fast boat to Bohol and Cebu. Once you leave the boat and arrive at the pier, many tricycle drivers will try to charge you high prices to take you to your hotel. If you are alone, it’s best to walk to the city center (5 minutes walk) and get a shared tricycle with locals, for 20-25 php, to take you to San Juan.
As soon as leave the pier you will be facing front with the city biggest (and probably the only one) landmark: The church. This church stands on a triangle square outstanding from everything else.


San Juan

San Juan


San Juan

The San Juan town(proper) is just a small roadside place, where you can find a free natural swimming pool.
The coastline just before San Juan is the most sheltered and popular place. There are only few budget resort places doting the coastline.

Beach

The beach was white sands but in most places is very narrow, with only a few meters of sand.

Swimming

If you plan to swim be advised that the waters are very shallow, and they are a minefield of sea urchins. In front of J.J. Guesthouse, it’s quite an adventure to dodge the sea urchins. Ask the locals to advise you if you plan to swim without a snorkel.


San Juan

San Juan


Snorkeling

As you start to swim across the sea, you will have the sensation that there is nothing out there except sand, seaweed and sea urchins, but if you can swim far away until you reach at least 2 meters of depth (the waters are so shallow it will take a good while if you don’t use flippers), you will find corals and some fishes. Unfortunately, most of the fishes are small in size and quantity compared to the size of the corals. In front of Lorna/End of the world is where I found most of the corals.

Budget Accommodation

JJ’s Cafè & Backpackers Village
phone+63 9186700310 wifino wcshared
emailmailto:jiesa26@yahoo.com addressSolangon, San Juan
notesThis is probably the most popular place, they keep the dorms and the sand strip very tidy. With hammocks between the palm trees you can have a feeling of paradise, however the room rates and the food price isn’t the best; and there is no wi-fi, although you can use their’s computer for 35 php per hour.

Casa Miranda Beach Resort
phone+63 905 905 0102 wifiyes
wwwFB addressLala-o, San Juan
notesIt’s a few meters from JJ. The rooms are a bit of box size, the sand strip is narrow, but the rates are more affordable. It has free wi-fi, a friendly family staff, and table in front of the beach where the guests gather at night for a chat.

Lorna/End of the world
phone+63 9273816377 addressLala-o, San Juanwifino
notesIf you want to have an experience out of this world, this is the place to go. At the time I stayed there, they were still rebuilding most of the rooms that were burned on the fire in 2012. The rooms have kitchen and they let you use their fishing boat for an Outcast experience.

For a complete list:
www.siquijor.gov.ph
Where to Stay


Siquijor Island Tour full screen


Touring

Although San Juan coastline provides relaxing beaches, the Siquijor island has far more to offer, it has plenty of sights to visit and explore. The best way to explore the island is by motorbike. The main road is in pretty good condition and the traffic is seldom, giving you the prefect conditions to tour around the island.
You can rent a bike in Siquijor pier for 250 php a day. Or in front of Casa Miranda there is a place that might let you rent a motorbike for the same price.
Otherwise, the tricycle drivers on Siquijor pier will gladly tour you around the island.
There are many sights for you to visit, the list bellow is not extensive, but it will keep you busy for the whole day.


Balete Tree

Balete Tree


Balete Tree

This 400 year old tree, whom the locals believe to be enchanted, it stands just besides the road, making it a good stopping point if you are touring around the island. The place is refreshing and besides the photo opportunities, you can enjoy a free fish spa. There is no entrance free, but a local might ask you for a donation.


Lazi Convent

Lazi Convent


Lazi

In this small place it seems what time has stopped a century ago: the buildings and rural scenes remained unchanged. In its center stands the San Isidro Labrador Church, surrounded by a garden where students seek shelter from the blazing sun, and cows seem to have lost their way. The church is closed most of the times, so if you want to get in, you have to find the keeper. In front of the church, it stands the San Isidro Labrador Convent, declared as one of the historical landmarks of Philippines, it’s one of oldest and biggest convents of the country. Although its interior walls suffer from lack of maintenance, you will find it quite bucolic, with its hardwood floor and its wooden structures. Inside it hosts a small paid museum, displaying colonial objects. The convent as well as the church were built by the Spaniards on the 19th century.


Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls


Cambugahay Falls

This 3-tier waterfalls is the perfect place to cool down, and make a pause on your island tour. None of falls are high, and you can visit all three with a short stroll. The water temperature is a bit more cooler than the sea, but it’s still warm enough to be very pleasant to swim there. There is no entrance fee, but the parking lot has a small payment. To get there, turn left from the back of the San Isidro Labrador Church in Lazi, and then keep going straight. Except for an unsigned fork on the way where you have to go on the right direction, the waterfalls are very accessible by motorbike.


Salagdoong Beach

Salagdoong Beach


Salagdoong Beach

This white sandy beach splattered with dead coral, it’s the favorite hangout for the locals on the weekends due its picnic structures. It has a water slide and a jumping board at several feet above the ground for a high jump into the sea. The beach is small and the sand strip is narrow, but its waters are crystal clear, and seen from above it displays an amazing turquoise color. The bottom of the sea is mostly made of sand, without the seaweeds and sea urchins, with a few edgy rocks and corals where you can spot a few small tropical fishes. It’s located about 6km west of Maria, and to get there you have turn right on about 2km after Maria. The turning point sign is not very clear, so watch out, because you might easily pass it without seeing it. After that point, it’s straight on until you reach the entrance, where you have to pay a small entrance free.

Sunset Point

Sunset Point


Boat Schedules

Delta Fast Ferries Schedule From Dumaguete: 10:15 (120php), 1:30pm (160php), 4:30pm (120php)
GL Shipping Lines Schedule From Dumaguete: 5:45AM, 9:00AM, 12:00PM, 2:15PM, 4:00PM
GL Shipping Lines Schedule To Dumaguete: 5:50AM, 8:00AM, 10:30AM, 12:00PM, 2:00PM
Reina Veronica Schedule From From Dumaguete to Larena: 10:00AM, 6:00PM

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Celebrating the Kulambo Festival in El Nido

Kulambo Festival in El Nido

 

 


Every 1st week of December, El Nido celebrates the Kulambo Festival.
The Kulambo word means “mosquito net”.
El Nido, just like the rest of Palawan Island, is bundled with tropical forests, its temperature and humidity provides a perfect housing for the mosquito that carries the malaria. This festival is part of the campaign to eradicate malaria.

 


The festival is mostly a parade that runs along the streets of El Nido town.
While students dress themselves with colorful parade outfits, and army themselves with drums and xylophones, the elders wrap themselves in mosquito nets.
Although, this festival is just a local event, it provides you a great opportunity to get in touch with people from all the nearby villages who gather in El Nido to celebrate the festival, and enjoy the sonority of these xylophones instruments.
The Festival starts from Municipal Hall at about 9am, and last for about 1 hour. On the end, all the participants and their families get together on the stage for a last celebration, and even the security forces have their own role.
For information about El Nido and accommodation, see the post about El Nido.

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Exploring El Nido and The Bacuit Archipelago

Misty El Nido

Bacuit Bay

Boat in El Nido

Boat in El Nido


El Nido is the coastal area of the Northwest part of the Palawan island.
It includes 45 islands and islets, also called “The Bacuit Archipelago”.
The El Nido town(city proper) stands in front of the Bacuit Bay, with a beautiful backdrop scenery made of limestone karst, that rugs the coastline and dots the sea. But not everything is perfect in this piece of paradise: overpriced accommodation, no power from 6am to 2pm, no ATM for most cards(the nearest ATM is 3 hours away), and dreadful roads. Now that you know what you are facing, you will able to take the best of this beautiful place.
El Nido was once known mostly among Filipinos, but it has becoming increasingly popular among foreigners.
Having more and more western style hostels, resorts, bars and restaurants.
El Nido town is small with a grid street layout, so it can be easily done by walking.


Las Cabanas

Las Cabanas


The beaches

El Nido town beach covers all the coastline of the Bacuit Bay, but in several parts the sand strip is narrow. The water is not crystal clear but it’s still swimmable. You can spend days there just soaking up the sun, and nights on the bars listing to live music.
Many tourists prefer to go to “Las Cabanas”. This beach is backed by a line of palm trees and away from the town, giving you more a sensation of paradise.
Las Cabanas is a quick ride by tricycle (although they tend to overcharge you), but you can also go there by walking(30 minutes), the 1st part it’s just walking on plain concrete, but the rest you can walk along the beach.
But the real beach gems are on the Bacuit Archipelago.


Alternative Restaurant Balcony

Alternative Restaurant Balcony


Budget Accommodation

The prices on hotels/resorts on beach front are the most expensive, as it’s expected. If you want a better deal, it’s better to look a few blocks inland, but still expect that some locals offer you a room for a totally ridiculous high amount of money, without any conditions that matches the price they are asking for.
I checked most budget places to stay in El Nido, most of them, have acceptable conditions, except for the price, only a small few are totally decadent.
Relucio Inn
address Serena St, Brgy. Buena Suerte
phone+639262196640
wifiyeswcsharedprice500-600php/room.
notesThis small inn is my favorite hostel on the coastline, it has a friendly staff, and the room facing the sea it’s quite a good deal. The room facing the street, might be a bit noisy. So see them before you choose.

La Banane Hostel
addressHama St. Brgy. Masagana Zone 3
phone+63 921 411 37 14
wwwhttp://www.labanane-hostel.com/
notesThis is probably the cheapest place on the coastline, it has a dorm for 350php/bed, but at the time it was closed due bed bugs infestation.

Francisco Inn
price350php/room. wifino wcprivate
notesThis strongly colorful hotel it’s located several blocks away from the coastline. The rooms have different prices, and some rooms have scarce daylight.

Live Music in Sea Slugs


The Nightlife

The town has a few bars, but the most interesting ones, ends up being the few beach bars that line up near the La Banane Hostel. Many of them play live music, are well decorated, and have a good vibe.


Snake Island
Tour B

Tour B


The Bacuit Archipelago

Most of the short stay tourists use El Nido as a gateway to explore the Bacuit Archipelago. There you will find the postcard paradise beaches, lagoons, and caves. To access the Archipelago you must book a tour. There are four tours, each one has a different flavor and price, being the cheapest 600php, although if you bargain you might get up to a 100php discount (give it try in Relucio Inn).
The Bacuit Archipelago has an entrance free of 200php, and it’s valid for 10 days. It will be payed to an officer standing on the beach just before you board the boat.
Each tour starts on the morning, usually at 9am, and ends before dusk. It includes a lunch on the island, prepared by the boat staff, and they make a very good effort to make it well decorated.
I only did Tour B, and collected information about Tour A among other tourists:

Tour A: This is the most popular tour, and the cheapest. It covers most of the important of the Archipelago highlights, including island beaches and lagoons. It’s so popular, that tends to be overcrowded. You are more likely to bump into another boat or tourist, than a tropical fish.


Tour B

Tour B


Tour B:This is a less popular tour, and doesn’t includes the lagoons, instead it includes the caves.
The first drop point is a snorkeling spot. There you will be able to see corals, although most of them are dead, and a certain amount of tropical fishes. The next stop point is the Snake Island, which name it’s borrowed from the winding shape of the sand strip that links the two islets. One of the islets has a hill that provides from the top a 360 view of the Archipelago. The waters on this island are crystal clear, and on a blue sky day you will have a full sensation of being in paradise. The lunch is served on this island, and usually includes fish, seafood, rice and tropical fruits. The next stop point is a cave, where you can get inside and take photos. Following that is the Cathedral cave, which is on my opinion the best of this tour. You will be dropped on the sea, and you will have to swim to get inside of the cave. Inside the cave, there is only a chamber with an odd hole shape inside. To get back to the boat, you have to swim back. If the weather conditions are good, you will be able to see an outstanding spectrum of blue colors lighting up the underwater part of the cave. Try to dive deep, you be able to spot some red corals on the cave underwater walls.
Archipelago at Sunset

Archipelago at Sunset


Buffalo Rider

Buffalo Rider


The Countryside

Exploring the El Nido northwest countryside, it’s quite an experience, since a good part of the roads are absolutely dreadful. So expect to be most of the time to have a bumpy ride. The good news is that in general in those parts the terrain is plain flat.
There aren’t many sites to see, mostly are secluded beaches, some with strong swells and currents. Still you will have the whole beach just for you.
On the way there is a waterfall, which it’s marked with a road sign, although not always visible. And a hot springs, which is almost impossible for you to find on your own, since there absolutely no signs. Still this hot spring is only a small boiling water pool stashed on a micro jungle.
Although all of these sites don’t make it worth the trip, you will find that is the journey through the countryside that makes it all interesting.
In El Nido, you can rent a motorbike/scooter or mountain bicycle. The usual prices near the coastline are 700php(motorbike) and 350php(bicycle). They totally overcharge with the excuse that the roads are terrible, but it’s still you who pay the damages in case of an accident. If you walk along the Rizal Street you might get far better rental prices, sometimes almost half of these coastline prices.

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Surfing in Sebay, La Union

Sebay at Sunset

Panoramic View

Surfing

Surfing

Sebay in San Juan, La Union is becoming increasingly popular among all that wants to learn to surf, relax on the beach, or just contemplate on outstanding sunsets. With a direct bus coming from Manila, it provides a perfect weekend break to all Filipinos that are adhering to this sport.


Skimming

Skimming


On Filipino summer(April to June) weekends or during Holy Week, expect to see a full line up of surfing apprentices eager to take their 1st steps on this cool adventure. Outside from those days, the beach is pretty quite, and only a scarce few will dot the beach, sometimes more foreigners than Filipinos.
You will find interesting how many Filipinas are adhering to this sport. Most just want to give it a try, but some gets really addicted and keeps coming back to learn more.


The Beach

The Beach


The Beach

Sebay beach has warm waters all year around, and it’s made of volcanic dark sand. It has the shape of a bay, hence its name, and it’s 500 meters wide. It’s bordered by few sharp edgy rocks, and beyond that is all beach as far as your eyes can see. The sun sets on the south of the beach, giving an amazing palette of colors, and great photo opportunities. On north, you will be able to spot Vigan from a long distance.
Sebay is blessed with almost all year-round of a warm and good weather except during of the typhoon season.
Avoid swimming on the northern part of the beach since it has some currents.


Korean Surfer

Korean Surfer


Surfing

On most times, Sebay is a plain flat sea, or with just a few small waves. But sometimes, a good surfing swell comes in usually early in the morning; sometimes it last all the way until noon. Still don’t expect big swells. During the typhoon season(especially in July and August), the swells can get quite strong, but it will be followed by days of wind and rain.
On the beach, there are countless Filipinos that rent a surfboard for 200php per hour, or 500php per day. Almost all the surfboards are longboards – mostly made of glass fiber, a typical brand is NSP – and some are very wide surfboards with a rubber top cover. There are also a few small bodyboards boards to rent.

Surf Instructor

Surf Instructor


Most of those who rent are also surf instructors, as well as their cousins and friends. In practice means they will carry your surfboard to the outside and push you when the wave comes, so you can just do the popup. If you find that boring, you will be surprised to see the look of happiness on the city Filipino faces when they do the popup for the first time. The rental plus surf instructor will cost you 500php per hour. If you use the board several times or just for half an hour, you can bargain for better deals. Also, during the low seasons, the rental owners don’t count the time to the minute; they are quite relaxed people.

Beach Volley

Beach Volley


The Location

Sebay has practically nothing except mid-budget to upscale resorts that line up the beach. It also has a few beach bars that close early at night outside the busy season. Beyond the resorts, there is just a highway with very few canteens and plastic food shops. Don’t expect to see the typical handicraft or souvenir shops. If you walk on both directions, you will be just walking on an almost empty highway.
To see more or buy all you need, you have to go to San Fernando, which is about 20-30 minutes by jeepney(10-11php). Unfortunately, they run only until 8pm. There might be jeepneys running until 10pm, but it’s never certain.

Budget Accommodation

On the beach resorts, expect to pay a good sum of money. On the other side of the highway, a few offers accommodation, but it also doesn’t come cheap. If you talk to the locals on the beach, you might find some good deals. Outside from that, the following hostel might be your best deal:
wwwCircle hostel
wifiyes wcshared
price400php/dorm, 300php/hammock
notesAlthough is a new hostel, it’s definitely not most the cheapest hostel in the Philippines. The owners made a very good effort to decorate it in order to give you a hippie style sensation. The dorms are made of bamboo with curtains covering them. It’s only a few meters away from the beach.

Getting There

There are direct buses coming from Manila(6-7 hours), Dau Terminal in Angeles City(4-5 hours) and Vigan(3hours). The roads are in quite good condition, making the journey fairly easy. There are buses 24 hours a day, usually one every hour; although at night, they are more scarce. They will stop right in front of your hotel, if it’s located near the highway. If you are coming from Manila or Angeles City, just catch the bus to Vigan, Laoag or San Fernando. If the bus ends in San Fernando, just catch a jeepney to Sebay.
There are also direct buses to Baguio(2 hours), although it passes by mountain roads, but it’s less frequent, and might not be 24 hours a day.

Town Plaza

Town Plaza

San Fernando

Although San Fernando in La Union, it’s the provincial capital, it’s still a small city. It has most things you need to stockpile: a market, a few department stores, and a mall with a cinema. But all in small scale, making some simple goods hard to find. Don’t expect to see a SM Mall, nor big department stores.
There are jeepneys near the market that go to Sebay, San Juan. After 8pm, you will have to look near the highway.
All the buses stop at the main square, where the city hall is, and where many locals relax at night when the heat cools down. The main square is almost the only point of interest.
Beyond that, there is on the North of the city, at a walkable distance, a Taoist Chinese temple called Macho Temple, standing on the hill. This temple is colorful, refreshing and well kept. Besides the traditional Chinese inscriptions, it also includes catholic symbols.
The tricycles in this city are all white, and have a very clear red bold numbering on the top, making them different from the tricycles in other Filipino cities.

Budget Accommodation

Unless you plan to stay for a long time in this city, there are very few low budget options.
New Mandarin Hotel
addressBaltazar Bldg, Quezon Ave.
phone+63 (07) 288-8242
wifino wcshared
price300php per room
notesIt’s located only a few meters from the main square, and room quality varies from room to room. Some might be tremendously hot even with a fan.

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Holy Week Self Sacrificial Ceremonies in Pampanga

Crucification in Cutud

Mamalaspas in Angeles City

Mamalaspas in Angeles City

Mamalaspas in Angeles City

Mamalaspas in Angeles City

Christianity it’s deeply rooted in the heart of Philippines. The Holy Week it’s celebrated with devotion all across Philippines. Most Filipinos during these 4 days of celebration go back to their hometowns to celebrate with their families.

In Pampanga, the Good Friday, it’s celebrated with self sacrifice. In this province, men will show their devotion by: flagellating themselves(mamalaspas), crawling on the ground(magsalibatbat), carrying heavy wooden crosses(mamusan krus), and getting nailed on the cross(cristos).

Mamusan krus in Angeles City

Mamusan krus in Angeles City

The Mamalaspas

These men sacrifice themselves by wiping their backs with a wipe made with a rope and sharp edge bamboos. Although you might think it’s a tremendous sacrifice, in reality they cut a very thin layer of the back skin, and with that blood they mix it with water and apply it on the wipe.
If you plan to see this ceremony, make sure you don’t take your best cloths, since blood doesn’t comes out easily from your cloths. Expect to see blood splashing everywhere.
Most men cover their heads to show that it’s a personal sacrifice. Those who don’t cover it, you wont find them in terrible pain. Ends up being more like a family celebration.
These men line up in a wiping procession, walking, many times in barefoot, along the streets of the city, and stopping on every church for a prayer.
During the Good Friday you will find them in many places in Pampanga, some advised places are: Angeles City and San Fernando.

The Magsalibatbat

These men crawl on the ground to show their devotion. They are just a few, and many times they follow along the mamalaspas, other times they are just surrounded by there families.

The Mamusan Krus

These men just carry a wooden cross along the roads. Some of them later will also be nailed to the cross. Although this might seem a quite simple sacrifice, I can tell you, that I try myself to carry one of those crosses, for a few moments, and they are tremendously heavy.

Crucifixion in San Pedro Cutud

Crucifixion in San Pedro Cutud

Crucifixion in San Pedro Cutud

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

The ceremony that attracts most viewers is the Crucifixion, where 3 men are nailed both hands and feet to the cross. Each man stay on the cross from 3-5 minutes, and then they are removed so another 3 men follows the same ritual.
In San Pedro Cutud there is a representation of the Christ Crucifixion, where a man represents Christ. He carries a cross along a dirty track until the reaches the Crucifixion cross. He is followed by men dressed as roman soldiers, and other characters that represents the religious ceremony. A few roman soldiers are astride on a horse, to add more drama to the whole play. At this point it is ask the audience to observe silence. Christ and his 2 companions are the 1st to be nailed on the cross. This part is no play, it’s very real. This is the peak of representation.
Women of Jerusalem

Women of Jerusalem

The ceremony starts after 1pm, but it’s better to arrive much earlier.
To get the best view it’s wise to buy previously the ticket at Tourism Office in the San Fernando City Hall.
The Holy Week it’s on Philippines summer time, so expect to be extremely hot.

Getting There

From Manila take a Bus from EDSA/Taft Avenue or Cubao, to Iba, or Zambales, or Olangapo City, or bus to Balanga, or bus to Bataan. Drop off at Dolores Junction/Intersection after San Fernando Toll gate. From there take a jeepney to Cutud. Remember that during this season most Filipinos are traveling, so getting a ticket can be very hard.

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Exploring Mount Mayon and surroundings

Mount Mayon

Mount Mayon view from Ligñon Hill

Mount Mayon view from Ligñon Hill

View of Mount Mayon from the Base

View of Mount Mayon from the Base


Mount Mayon

Mount Mayon is the most active volcano in Philippines, located on Albay province, on the South of Luzon.
It’s considered to be the perfect volcano due its shape symmetry.
The Mount Mayon has 48 recorded eruptions on the last 400 years, with the last eruption dating back to winter of 2009. The volcano summit is elevated up to 8081 feet above the sea level. And its summit it’s considered toxic due the constant volcano activity.

Mount Mayon has an admirable beauty due its almost perfect symmetry. It stands out on the landscape, and has you observe it from different surrounding cities, you will have a sensation of seeing it always from the same angle. One of the best observation points is from the top of Ligñon Hill near Legazpi, when you can have a bird’s-eye view, contemplating its shape and the surrounding fields.

Lava ash trail

Lava ash trail

Hiking

At the time I was there, due weather and time constrains I wasn’t able to climb all the way to the summit, but still I believe I collected enough data to provide you information about hiking on the Mount Mayon. Most people who plan to hike it to the top, do a 2-3 days hike, overnighting on tents.
If you are press on time, you will find very rewarding just to hike it until its base, since you will be hiking through a beautiful scenery.

The ash lava trails:Due its multiple eruptions, Mount Mayon has now very wide trails, as wide as a highway, made of lava ash making it very easy to hike.
If you plan to hike to the top, this wide lava ash trails might be the quickest route, but except for the observing the nature destructive power, you can find these trails quite uninteresting.
There are several ash lava trails, one of it goes through Cagsawa Ruins, which is a good starting point.

Mount Mayon Trail full screen

Other Trails
There are countless trails, most of them are quite simple to hike, with only a few obstacles.
The trekking trail which I present on this map, I did it without any guide, it was pure exploration. Most parts were quite simple, some even had sign marks, only on the end I faced some obstacles, most were simple to overcome. This trail on the map it will take you to around 1500 feet, after that you are on your own. It starts from a path behind Cagsawa Ruins, and after walking for a while you will see a marked trail, until you reach the Budiao. After Budiao there is a road section, where you can see a small village, after that it goes through trails. Some of the trails were very clear, while others I simply had to explore. On this trekking trail I observed domestic animals, birds, flowers, farming fields, mud trails and local people. And the end point, had an amazing view to Legazpi.

Warning sign

Warning sign

Guides
If you plan to hike to the summit, perhaps the best it’s to hire a guide. If you hike to the base camp, you will find locals who can take you to more inaccessible areas of the volcano.
If you want to hire a professional guide:
wwwBicol Adventure

Advice
If you plan to hike even just to the base, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and a strong sunscreen, since several parts of the trails have no shade, and during summer the sun is burning hot.


ATV on the Lava ash trail

ATV on the Lava ash trail

ATV

The lava trails are so wide that it can even by crossed by ATV. I even saw a jeepney driving through the trail.
If you want this option, you will find it just before the Cagsawa Ruins.
Contact:wwwBicol Adventure ATV

 

 

 

 


Hanging Bridge on the Ligñon Hill

Hanging Bridge on the Ligñon Hill

Sights

Cagsawa Ruins

price10 php
These are the ruins of a 18th church, that was destroyed by the 1814 eruption of the Mount Mayon. The area is very well taken cared. It provides good photo opportunities with the Mount Mayon as background.
It’s also a good starting point for your hike to the Mount Mayon.
To get there, just take a jeepney from Legazpi to Daraga(10php), and then another to Malabog(8php), and ask to drop-off on the Cagsawa Ruins.

Ligñon Hill

price25 php
The Ligñon Hill is located on the North of Legazpi City. It has great views of the Mount Mayon, the Legazpi City, and all the surrounding areas.
To reach the top from the base, you can walk up along the road, where you can try several adventure sports: hanging bridge, zipline, rappel and Japanese tunnel.
To get there, you can take the jeepney loop-1 or loop-2 from Legazpi.

Legazpi City

Legazpi is the biggest city near the Mount Mayon. Most travelers use it has a base for hiking on the volcano. The city is small enough to be done by walking. It contains a few landmarks which are mostly churches. Embarcadero is the sea port area where the locals stroll.

Budget Accommodation

Most of the low budget hostels in Legazpi, either have very low quality, or they are pricey compared to the rest of Philippines. There are a few exceptions.
Magayon Hotel:price200 php/singlewcsharedwifi1st and 2nd floor
phone052-480-7770
notesThe rooms of this hotel are not exactly 5 star, but the hotel is in quite good condition, the corridors are spacious and they are well lighted up. Even the cheapest room has a TV and fan.

Mayon Backpackers:price250php/dormwifiyes
wwwhttp://mayonbackpackers.wordpress.com
notesThis is a quite recent hotel. I didn’t went there but from the reviews looks quite good. But it’s totally outside of Legazpi, although it’s more near from the hiking starting points of Mount Mayon.

Getting There

Legazpi has an airport very near the city. There are regular buses (650php for A/C), including night buses, going from Manila, near LRT Taft Avenue, to Legazpi.

References

Mayon Volcano
Cagsawa Ruins

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Celebrating the Bacolaodiat in Bacolod

Bacolaodiat, Bacolod

Portrait

 

Portrait

 

The Chinese New Year is the big flux of people moving on the planet.
It’s one the most important celebration for a Chinese. It represents the going back to the roots.
The Chinese have fled for centuries to Philippines. So this event is widely celebrated in Philippines.
One of the biggest celebrations takes place in the Manila Chinatown, and another in Bacolod city.
In Bacolod, the celebration is called Bacolaodiat. “Lao diat” is the word in Fookien (the Filipino Chinese language) which means Celebration.

Portrait

 

Portrait

 

The Bacolaodiat celebration lasts 4 days, with multiple events running every day. The biggest highlight is the Grand Parade, where each team displays its costumes and do the street performances.
Unlike the traditional Chinese New Year, in Bacolod there isn’t the traditional red poster sticking on house walls for good luck, nor the gift sharing but other traditions are still preserved: The dragon, the red lanterns, and the fireworks (replacing the firecrackers due safety reasons).

Performance

Performance

Not all the events have the same venue, so watch out for the schedule, but most happen along the Lacson Street. Also on this street, during the celebrations, many street stalls line up for you to try local Filipino food or Chinese food, including the traditional Chinese cakes. Many of these Chinese cakes are the same you will find in Mainland China, others are Filipino variations. A common ingredient in most Chinese cakes is beans, like the “Moon” cake shared in China during the Mid-Outum Festival.
One feature that makes this celebration different from many other celebrations of the Chinese New Year throughout the the world, is the high levels of colorful make-up that the teams use during the performances.

Human Snake

Human Snake

Another highlight is the Lantern Dancing competition where each team has its own choreography that revolves around the lanterns. On the last day is awarded the best performance, and the winner gets the role of performing it again.
The traditional Chinese songs have been also replaced by one quite cheerful version of a English-Filipino-Fookien song that plays continuously during the days of the celebration.
In conclusion, although Bacolaodiat is another celebration of the Chinese New Year like so many others outside China, it still contains its own peculiarities that makes it worth to experience it.

Year of the Snake

The 2013 is according to Chinese Calendar the Year of the Snake, during the Bacolaodiat 2013 it was attempted to created the longest human snake in the world. Expect every year to see different creative ideas to be tested.


Performance using Chinese fan

Performance using Chinese fan


Budget Accommodation

PENSION BACOLOD
address11th St., Bacolod City
phone434-7065
emailremetiofe@yahoo.com
wwwwww.pensionbacolod.com
notesThis pension is located uptown, 100 meters from the Lacson Street, it offers simple but clean rooms, with wi-fi on the common area but also accessible in several rooms. It has cheap promo-rooms but tend to be full very easy. Normal rooms still have very accessible prices.

For a more complete list of budget accommodation in Bacolod, visit:
Pension Houses
Inns

References

Bacolaodiat Official Site

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