Escaping the Mandaue traffic

Mandaue traffic

Not particularly in Mandaue. But traffic has become a nightly hassle going up north.

Driving north through Mandaue City after work has been a hassle recently due to the heavy traffic caused by the drainage construction along segments of the Cebu North Road.

With the help of Waze, I get to try out new routes to possibly escape the long hours of driving through the traffic jam. ‘Possibly’ since not all routes turn out well for the purpose.

Here is the route I got led to by the app to relieve myself of the traffic. Take caution. The streets you’ll drive along are sometimes narrow, dark, and dangerous to falling in a ditch if you are not careful. Driving time from the Maguikay bridge to the corner of H. Abellana and the North Road was about 30-40 minutes.

Here is the route:

1. From M. C. Briones Street (“Hiway”), take M. L. Quezon Avenue instead of driving up the flyover.

2. Turn right to Mardonio Ceniza Street.

3. At the end of Mardonio Ceniza Street, turn left and take B. Suico Street.

4. When you get past the intersection of B. Suico Street and P. Sanchez/Pagsabungan Road, turn right on the first corner and drive about 500m.

5. Turn right after 500m. The street will be narrow and will require a lot of giving way to vehicles driving the opposite direction.

6.Turn right at the end of the street and you’ll exit to H. Abellana Street. Just a few meters to exit to the North Road.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

When in Camiguin

White Island, Camiguin.

White Island, Camiguin.

I have traveled to other places before but my trip to Camiguin last weekend was special. It was my first real close-up encounter with Mindanao. Clueless about what to expect, I researched and planned to maximize the time and expense, both limited in my case.

Haha!

Harbouring from my own experience, I have made a checklist for budget travellers who wish to maximize their visit to the island.

Black sand beach of Agoho, Camiguin

The beach is their playground. (Agoho, Camiguin)

ENJOY THE BLACK-SAND BEACH just as much as its fairer counterpart. The beaches in mainland Camiguin are generally dark because of the island’s volcanic origin. While others may frown at it, I loved it because it felt so unpretentious and so rebellious to the white-sand beach supremacy. This white-sand beach-obsession has undervalued black-sand beaches in the country which, in my opinion, have an organic, non-conformist appeal.

Sunken Cemetery

The cemetery is ALIVE! with corals.

SNORKEL AT THE SUNKEN CEMETERY. It has more than just the giant cross and historical value to offer. Concealed by the sea are 26 hectares of marine sanctuary, teeming with corals, fishes and other marine life forms of different colors, shapes and sizes.

ASTONISHING! These kids at the Old Church Ruins of Camiguin sell candles and take amazing photos like pros. We learned that they were taught by the Department of Tourism. 1-2-3, smile!

ASTONISHING! These kids at the Old Church Ruins of Camiguin sell candles and take amazing photos like pros. We learned that they were taught by the Department of Tourism. 1-2-3, smile!

SAY YES TO CHILD PHOTOGRAPHERS who are part-time candle vendors at the Old Church Ruins. They are familiar with the best angles of the ruins and the choicest spots to pose at. This is useful for those who are in a hurry. However, make sure your camera settings are correctly adjusted. Also, remember to check the photos before leaving to avoid taking home pictures of poor quality. And, of course, give the children their tip for the service.

Katibawasan Falls

Katibawasan Falls is a must see in Camiguin. Test your tolerance by taking a dip in its ice cold pool.

Sto. Niño Cold Spring

Sto. Niño Cold Spring is among the many springs you can visit in Camiguin.

Ardent Hot Spring

Capping off the Camiguin Island Tour is the Ardent Hot Spring for a natural sauna experience.

BE READY TO GET HOT AND COLD during the island package tour. The itinerary usually includes icy cold springs and waterfalls, beaches and hot springs which will literally subject you to “extreme” temperatures. We chose to skip soda water pools and to only eat lunch at Sto. Niño Cold Spring to save more time but do not do the same in Katibawasan Falls. It is both strikingly beautiful and cold, it’s torturous!

Mantigue Island

The quite secluded Mantigue Island in Mahinog town, Camiguin is a sweet escape for meditation and relaxation. A few meters off the island is a marine sanctuary which is home to schools of fishes and some giant clams.

COMMUTE around Camiguin. ‘Relas, short for motorelas or tricycles, and jeepneys will allow you to save bucks. Take an eastward ‘rela [Note: This is if you’re on the western side of Mambajao like Brgy. Agoho. Don’t be confused by the “West Bound” signage of the ‘rela. These orange “West Bound” ‘relas ply east/west of the western side of the town.] to downtown Mambajao then a jeepney ride to Benoni Port on your way to Mantigue Island. It costs P10 and P20 each ride, respectively. Both rides take 30-45 minutes. The more accessible ¬habal-habal is pricier. One offered us P150 for two people for the way which is twice more expensive.

Kiping

Try a small serving of local delicacy Kiping (Kab-kab) at 5 pesos.

SKIP THE RESTOS to save money for pasalubong. You will not miss much, anyway. Price range per dish in the restaurants we came across is Php 150-300. Carenderia dish, meanwhile, only costs Php 25-30 per serving. Out of our food budget savings, we were able to buy four and a half dozens of Pastel (yema-filled buns) for a sum of Php 635.Other Camiguin treats you should consider sampling are chicharong nukos (squid crackling) and kiping (large fried taro flour chips with muscovado syrup) for Php 20 and Php 5 per serving, respectively.While my visit to Camiguin was truly enjoyable and generally smooth, there are a few things I wish I had considered and had actually done if only I had the money and time (which I hope you would also have, haha!).

Marine sanctuaries

Camiguin local government units have declared several spots off the island as marine sanctuaries.

INVEST IN GOOD SNORKELLING GEARS. While a set may be pricey, it can be used in almost all island adventures. Take note, we have 7,107 islands to choose from in the Philippines alone! Rentals, on the other hand, cost Php 50 to 150 per set. Buying your own set is not only budget-friendly but also sanitary. Imagine all the mouths those snorkelling sets went through!

CLIMB MT. HIBOK-HIBOK if you have the time. The climb and descent take around seven hours according to our guide. Permits from the DENR also need to be secured beforehand. Camping for a night is also allowed. This means that an additional day has to be spent for the experience. This active volcano is responsible for the warm temperature of Ardent hot spring. Also, its thick forest cover is just inviting.

I hope this checklist helps. Enjoy Camiguin!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Camiguin mountainscape

Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin, as seen from White Island, looks very much like a hat. Reminds me of The Little Prince.

White Island and Hibok-hibok

Mt. Hibok-hibok completes the photo-binging in picturesque White Island (sandbar) of Camiguin, PH

Elephant inside a boa constrictor

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.
They answered me: “Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. Then, I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained.

–The Little Prince

 

Elephant in boa constrictor image was pulled from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/literally-psyched/the-big-lesson-of-a-little-prince-recapture-the-creativity-of-childhood/.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Around the Philippines as witnessed by the setting/rising sun

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.” –Jo Walton

 

The sun best accentuates the places we see. For a few minutes, the sun allows us time to meditate on what has been and what will be. Be it the daily work grind, weekend vacation, or an ordinary day, a sunrise or a sunset never fails to evoke beauty and optimism.

Here are some of the place I have been in the Philippines and the sun as my constant companion.

SUNSET

“Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under.” – C. JoyBell C.

Greenviews Resort sunset

CORONG-CORONG, EL NIDO, PALAWAN. The beach in Corong-corong gives the best view of the golden sun while lying on a hammock at Greenviews Resort.

CORONG-CORONG, EL NIDO, PALAWAN. This beautiful sunset to cap a day of hopping the different picturesque islands of El Nido.

CORONG-CORONG, EL NIDO, PALAWAN. This beautiful sunset to cap a day of hopping the different picturesque islands of El Nido.

CANIGAO ISLAND, MATALOM, LEYTE. Volunteered to take the photo of a group of volunteers from different countries who made a side trip to Canigao Island after their relief activities in Tacloban City.

CANIGAO ISLAND, MATALOM, LEYTE. Volunteered to take the photo of a group of volunteers from different countries who made a side trip to Canigao Island after their relief activities in Tacloban City.

MT. TAPYAS, CORON, PALAWAN. The sun turns gold as it waves goodnight.

MT. TAPYAS, CORON, PALAWAN. The sun turns gold as it waves goodnight.

Mount Tapyas, Coron, Palawan

MT. TAPYAS, CORON, PALAWAN. After a tiring climb over the 742 steps of Mount Tapyas, got a good view of Coron poblacion and this. Wew!

Bais City Negros Sunset

PAROLA, BAIS CITY, NEGROS ORIENTAL. After a day of surveying the dolphin population in Tañon Strait, our group made a short trek to the parola a top the hills of Bais City and got a peek of the sun through bamboos.

Iloilo International Airport sunset

ILOILO AIRPORT. Shot through the glass filter of Iloilo International Airport.

MOUNT MANABU, BATANGAS. After climbing one mountain peak to another, we finally capped the long trek marveling as the sun paint the  horizon to reddish hue.

MOUNT MANABU, BATANGAS. After climbing one mountain peak to another, we finally capped the long trek marveling as the sun covers the horizon with reddish hue.

SM City Cebu Radisson sunset

SM CITY CEBU. Hidden behind the tall Radisson Blu Hotel, the sky lit up to a mixture of blue and golden orange.

HACIENDA LUISITA, TARLAC (November, 2009). Had an exposure trip for a night and a day at Hacienda Luisita of the landlord family of President Aquino to commemorate 5 years of injustice after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

HACIENDA LUISITA, TARLAC (November, 2009). Had an exposure trip for a night and a day at Hacienda Luisita of the landlord family of President Aquino to commemorate 5 years of injustice after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

UP Diliman, Quezon Hall

QUEZON HALL, UP DILIMAN (March, 2010). Not quite sunset. Youth activists celebrate their victory against fee increases proposed in PUP and UP.

SUNRISE

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope. –Bernard Williams

 

GUIMARAS. Surviving hours of bus travel from Kalibo, Aklan to Iloilo after a courtesy call to introduce our flood hazard mapping project.

GUIMARAS. Surviving hours of bus travel from Kalibo, Aklan to Iloilo after a courtesy call to introduce our flood hazard mapping project.

kiltepan peak, sagada, sunrise

KILTEPAN PEAK, SAGADA, MT. PROVINCE. Through an ocean of clouds, the sunrise greets tourists lying in wait.

Gibitngil Island, Medillin, Cebu

GIBITNGIL ISLAND, MEDELLIN, CEBU. Went for an ocular survey of Gibitngil Island for the water catchment project of Team BANG for the Unilab Ideas Positive contest.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Lake Balanan, Siaton, Negros Oriental

Lake Balanan reserve still host communities. Locals cross the lake using a raft.

Lake Balanan reserve still hosts communities. Locals cross the lake using a raft.

Nestled in Siaton, Negros Oriental, Lake Balanan is a recommended retreat for those visiting Dumaguete City.

The lush greens and cool waters of Lake Balanan natural reserve give a perfect setting for activities such as trekking, swimming (at the pools only), kayaking, boating, ziplining, and meditation. With a scenery perfect for picture-taking, make sure you have a fully-charged camera and/or a spare battery.

Lake Balanan

Lake Balanan

The staff seems to presume that guests already know every thing there is in Lake Balanan so better be inquisitive. (~We didn’t know the kayak can reach the waterfalls.) No lifeguard apparently, hence, make sure that you know how to kayak, paddle boat, or swim.

For those who wish to stay for the night, the place have rooms and a tree house at the rate of P1500 to P2000. They charge P150 for camping.

Going to Lake Balanan

To go there via public transport, take a bus from Dumaguete City. The commute to Siaton town is about 2 hours by bus (Ceres Liner). Make sure to ask the bus conductor / driver to make a stop at the habal-habal (motorcycle) station or the town market of Siaton.

A good talent at haggling would be handy to get a habal-habal ride at a reasonable price. A one-way trip should be more or less P200 (P50/person for group of 4; P100/person for a group of 2). The first driver that approached us asked for P300-400 for just a one-way trip. The staggering price made us think twice so we just proceeded to ask around near the public market to get a good deal.

The habal-habal ride to Lake Balanan will take you through a hilly terrain (not life threatening).

Entrance is P50 per adult.

The road to Lake Balanan.

The road to Lake Balanan.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

#DumagueteEats

A quaint city which impresses guests with laid back environs and a buffet of food places, Dumaguete City is a treat for those wanting a quiet yet still sight-filled and gastronomic vacation.

Walking along Hibbard Avenue near Silliman University.

Walking along Hibbard Avenue near Silliman University.

The plan was to take a break from the usual seafood and grilled meat, so, we sampled the snack parlors of this university city. First stop was supposedly Sans Rival, however, several visitors were in queue so we decided against it and walked a few meters along the boulevard to find some food. Then, we tried Hoy Lugaw choosing it for its unique use of kitchen utensils as seats and lamps. But, the food wasn’t impressive.

ISDABES! Sorry but we're not into grill that time. Best in word play though.

ISDABES! Sorry but we’re not into grill that time. Best in word play though.

Reading through some blogs, we were led to Neva’s Pizza, Pasta, Atbp. located a little more than a kilometer from Silliman along Hibbard Avenue. The main magnet of Neva’s is its really cheap yet delicious menu. Bargain price! Most of its food are priced at less than a hundred pesos. The place is small and cramped but you wouldn’t mind it as its menu is friendly to your tongue and wallet.

NEVA. You Neva be poor here. Food bargain!

NEVA’S PIZZA. You’ll Neva be poor here. Food bargain!

The next day, after a quick tour of Lake Balanan, the next target was Mel’s Cafe (complete  name: From the Kitchen of Mel’s Cafe) near Rizal Boulevard. I have seen the cafe’s exterior a number of times when I visited Dumaguete City, however, the signage wasn’t that appealing to merit going in.

MEL'S CAFE. Time for a new signage (please).

MEL’S CAFE. Time for a new signage (please).

But, looks can be deceiving, its interiors, apparently, is quite the opposite of the facade. Artsy and lively, the cafe’s design more than compensates its outside. Their menu offers a lot of choices at reasonable prices. Tried their butter beer, pancakes, and sandwich.

IMG_2868

My favorites is the chocolate-draped pancake.

IMG_2875

 

Had a good serving of sandwich, too.IMG_2870

 

The butter beer magically disappeared from these cups.

A taste of Harry Potter world.

A taste of Harry Potter world.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A Taste of Iloilo

wawa_1

Wawa Heritage Restaurant.

By force of circumstance, Iloilo has become one of my frequented places outside Cebu. Joined student congresses there back in college, faculty meetings / trainings when I was an instructor in the state university, and project presentations / field work for my present job.

However, the several visits to Iloilo City were pretty brief so food tasting were just limited to talaba, biscocho, and butterscotchMy heritage tours were just quick visits to get photo clicks. (Photos were taken December, 2013.)

20131211_094742 (640x480)

The Ledesma Mansion, also referred to as the Leaning House / Mansion, is located near the Jaro Plaza.

20131211_090337 (640x480)

Museo Iloilo. The museum is just right beside the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.

20131211_095043 (640x480)

Jaro Cathedral.

20131211_095202 (640x480)

The Jaro Cathedral is said to house an all-male roster of saints.

20131211_100925 (640x480)

Casa Mariquit. Just a walk away from the Biscocho House.

20131211_101127 (640x480)

Biscocho House. My favorite for pasalubong.

After official duties were done, I had a chance to have a quick meetup and dinner at Wawa Heritage Restaurant. The restaurant is easy to find with its well-lit facade peeking amongst sleepy establishments near the Jaro Plaza.

wawa_2

The interiors of Wawa Heritage Restaurant is eclectic. It makes use of an artful mix of native pieces and historical accents. The food in their menu gives us a glimpse of Iloilo cuisine. Ilonggo pride is beaming in this restaurant.

FIRSTS

FIRSTS

We had a good serving of binakol, linutak, guyabano juice, and sisig. Servings are a bit pricey for a small group.

IMG_3185[1]

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather