A Travellerspoint blog

Philippines

"Discovering Boracay, Philippines"

"My first travel to Boracay, January 2008, Part 3"

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We were already starving at 2:00 p.m. when we reached D’ Mall. I asked the first person I met where the restaurants are. The first resto that I saw was Bacolod Manok Inasal. I ordered for grilled chicken leg and breast for me and my wife. Later the waitress told me they run out of chicken breast. So instead, we ordered grilled liempo and added a stick of barbecue, a bottle of San Mig Light and Coke in can. My God, the grilled chicken leg costs 128 pesos and the grilled liempo was 135 pesos. Our bill for our first lunch in the Island including the San Mig light and coke was 460 pesos!

After the most expensive simple lunch we had on earth, we went around D Mall. Only 10 meters away, we saw Andok’s Litson and discovered that same size of chicken leg is only 45 pesos! I really felt robbed! Value for my money, I told myself how expensive our lunch was simply because the Bacolod Manok Inasal was located near the entrance of D Mall!

My wife went around the shops where malongs, souvenir boracay shirts, hats are displayed. I reminded her of the shopping tip that my officemates told me: shop during night time, it is cheaper! As we moved around D Mall, several foreigners were also milling around in their beach wears: Asian – Japanese, Koreans, Chinese; Europeans – germans, dutch, Britons; Americans and even latin Americans.

We reached Station 2 where the majority of the beach resorts are located: Boracay Regency, Boracay Peninsula, Tirol and Tirol to name a few. Several shops offering services like henna skin tattoo printing, hair braiding, and SPA massage to name a few. There are also various stores selling beer in cans, wines, liquors and softdrinks. Various restaurants/bars offer a wide range of kinds of food from native dishes, to European and American food, to Indian food, to Japanese and Korean Food are also lined up along with the Resorts. There are specialty shops offering services like scuba diving equipment rentals, parachute skiing and sailing. There are already bank ATM kiosks (Bank of P.I.; Metrobank, and Allied Bank) where one can withdraw cash. As we walked along the pure white sand beach, local men were following us offering island hopping boat rides, sailing and all sorts of water rides. To describe the entire stretch of Station 2, I will call it as the Central Business District of Boracay! Name it, you will find it in Station 2! I remembered a friend who is a frequent Boracay guest describing Station 2 as Manila’s Ermita district! Maybe because all sorts of foreign nationalities are represented in such a small place, or maybe because of the bars that are full of drunken foreigners!

My wife decided to have her hail braided. She told me it was very cheap at 200 pesos only while she had it at 800 pesos in Bali, Indonesia. While the braiding of my wife was on-going, I walked along the shops, rest/bars that are lined up to Station 3 where I discovered several restos that offer cheaper food and shops that have lower prices of their items! After almost an hour, I returned to where my wife was.

As Always,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 20:52 Archived in Philippines Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

"Discovering Boracay, Philippines"

"My first travel to Boracay, January 2008, Part 2"

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Our friends – Ramil and Mary Ann Ng who are now based in Kalibo, Aklan met us at the Kalibo airport. We told them that we will go straight to Boracay first and be back in Kalibo on Friday, 18th January for the Ati-atihan. We took an aircon van from Kalibo airport which we shared with four Japanese couples and some local tourists. Before the van left Kalibo, our fares were already collected from us: 200.00 per person for the Kalibo to Caticlan ride which already includes the pump boat fare from Caticlan to Boracay. We learned later from a waitress in Boracay that we were overcharged by the van operator: as locals we were supposed to have been charged only 85 pesos!

The supposed to be one hour and thirty minute ride was delayed by almost 45 minutes because when the van reached the town of Makato, there was a parade for the celebration of their town fiesta! The traffic stood still while the parade passed on the national highway!

It was already 12:30 p.m. when we reached Caticlan Jetty port. Before we boarded the pump boat to Boracay we have to pay an ENVIRONMENTAL FEE of 20.00 per person and a TERMINAL FEE of 50.00 per person. We were made o fill up a Visitor’s Information Form (similar to the usual form filled up as part of immigration requirements in foreign flights). We boarded a pump boat that has a sitting capacity of 20 persons for a 10 minute ride to Boracay.

We boarded a motorcycle from Boracay Jetty Port to Residencia de Tirol which is located in the farthest portion of the island – Station 3. We were charged 150 pesos for the ride which was less than 5 kilometers!

After we checked-in and had secured our baggage in our room, a resort staff gave an orientation tour of the resort premises. Wow! We were staying in a resort that is located in Station 1 – classified as the exclusive row of resorts. We went to the beach where there were local tour guides. The Resort staff introduced us to one whom we closed a deal for an island hopping ride for P1,800.00 which we set for our second day.

The resort staff told us that the stretch of white beach is divided into three, the dividing category and label is based on the pump boat landing stations, thus, Station 1 is the farthest from the Jetty Port, Station 2 is in the middle and Station 3 is the nearest to the Jetty Port. Those that have visited the Island a year ago are familiar that in the past, from Caticlan pump boats may land on either of the three stations. However, today, the local authorities ordered that all boats from Caticlan will have to land only at the Boracay Jetty port.

After the short orientation, we took a motorcycle to “D Mall” which is located in Station 2. Yes, the island has a Mall! It is not your SM Mall kind of a shopping mall however. D Mall which I learned later is owned by the Elizaldes of the Manila Broadcasting Company – DZRH, is made up of clusters of one floor shops constructed using light and concrete materials.

Nagmamahal,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 20:44 Archived in Philippines Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

"Discovering Boracay, Philippines"

My First Visit to Boracay, January 2008"

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About fifteen years ago, my sister Dot had a Boracay vacation and narrated to me how beautiful the place was. That time however, I took her description of Boracay like a grain of salt primarily because at that time I regularly traveled to Palawan at least once a month as part of my work with the Department of Agriculture to monitor a Foreign-Assisted Project that we implemented, and Palawan was simply amazing. Secondly, I grew up in a town facing Mindanao sea and our house was only 10 meters from the shoreline. So, swimming was part of my childhood like breathing and walking, I regularly swam and played on the beach. The beach though has black sand. Nonetheless, I cherished those moments on the beach with my playmates.

Last month however, our youngest daughter gifted me and my wife a roundtrip ticket for two to Boracay. According to her, it was her gift for our 27th wedding anniversary last 17 January. So, we did not have a choice.

I went through our pre-travel activities with some hesitation not only for the two reasons I mentioned above, but because of a more important reason: I heard that everything is expensive in Boracay! Anyway, weeks before our departure, I asked for a leave from my office since my daughter booked us for January 15 to 17 which were working days. I contacted an officemate whose parents own a resort in Boracay to book for a room for the days that we will be in Boracay.

My officemate told me that I should extend my stay because the feast of Sto. Nino will fall on the 20th of January and the town of Kalibo which is where the Cebu Pacific Air plane will land for our Boracay trip will be celebrating Ati-Atihan in honor of Sr. Sto. Nino. Realizing that I have not attended Ati-Atihan ever since, I revised our vacation schedule: We will stay in Boracay from 15th January to the 18th, and move to Kalibo and join the “sadsad” of the Ati-Atihan till the 20th.

I made arrangements with Cebu Pacific for the flight changes and had to pay penalties for it. I was given a four-day leave by my office. Likewise, I did not accept any taping/shooting commitments for the period. I missed a chance to appear in GMA’s Zaido, I got a text message for an offer to play the role of an environmentalist. But, because of the planned vacation, I declined the offer.

The flight from Manila to Kalibo, Aklan was a short one, only 35 minutes by Cebu Pacific Air’s Airbus. There are alternate flights Manila to Caticlan being served by Asian Spirit and SEA Air but smaller aircrafts are used. To compete this alternative flights, Cebu Pacific Air has already scheduled opening flights form Manila to Caticlan using smaller aircrafts too. That’s how large the volume of passengers going to Boracay is.

Nagmamahal,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 20:39 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

"Come Back, Come Back to Palawan, Philippines"

"Come Back to Palawan, the conclusion"

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“Come back, Come back to Palawan, the Conclusion”
I started my series of articles on our recent visit to Palawan with the same title above. I guess I owe you an explanation on why I chose this title that is why I would be writing about it in this concluding article on Palawan.

During my first visit to Palawan in 1987, I met a lot of people in line with my work at the Department of Agriculture with the implementation of the Palawan Integrated Area Development whom later became my close friends. Before I left Palawan for the first time, those new friends warned me then that I will become a victim of “kambak, kambak”. I did not understand that they were saying. So, I asked them to explain what is kambak, kambak. One of them told me a story to explain it. He narrated how one soldier was assigned in Palawan. He was smitten with a local lass. The soldier courted her. This article and more are also posted in my blog:www.inbetweentakes.com.They became sweethearts. When the time came for the soldier to be recalled back to headquarters in Manila, he told his girlfriend not to worry because he would come back to her. After a few months that he was recalled to Manila, fate would have it that he would be reassigned again to Palawan. So, he was able to be back to Palawan to be with his beloved. However, when the time came for the soldier to be recalled again, the headquarters told him that it would be his last assignment in Palawan and he would never be assigned in Palawan again. The day of his trip back to Manila on board a naval vessel, the soldier jumped into the sea and swam back to the Palawan shore to be with his beloved. He had to be physically pulled out from his sweetheart and tied like a crazy person so that he could be recalled back to Manila. I could not help but laugh after listening the story!

After a few months, I had that mystical feeling that Palawan has that magic that would mystify its visitors and lead them back to her again and again!. You see, after that first trip, opportunities (mostly official travel) just came my way to be back to Palawan!

However, this time, I have now a more rational justification why people would simply keep on coming back to Palawan: unlike other places which one would be able to see all the tourist destinations in just one visit (for example, Boracay or Singapore or Baguio), you could not see everything of Palawan in just one visit. Having experienced a nice trip to one destination in Palawan, one would crave for more of Palawan, one would simply be back for more!

If you have not been to Palawan, it is bout time you make that first trip and I am sure that just like me, you would not have enough of the place the first time, you would simply come back for more!

Nagmamahal,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 19:43 Archived in Philippines Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

"Come Back, Come Back to Palawan Philippines!"

"The Other Tourist Destinations in Palawan, Philippines"

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The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is not the only top grosser tourist destination in Palawan. In fact, it is just one of the many tourist destinations with similar strong capability to draw in the tourists with their money!

Honda Bay is another top grosser. It is the body of water in front of Puerto Princesa City which can be viewed from the balcony of the ranch of late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra. But, viewing it is far from the thrill and excitement that one could feel when one will do island hopping of the breathtaking Honda Bay! For only P1,200.00 per person, and a maximum of 6 persons you can have island hopping on board a pump boat that will take you to the fantastic islands in the bay. I was not able to do Island hopping this time. Let me then share with you my experience the last time I island-hopped Honda Bay. It started with a 15-minute motorcycle ride from the City to barangay Tagburos, which is where the pump boats are anchored. We departed Tagburos at 7:00 a.m., the pump boat took our group from one Island to another (Starfish Island, Cowrie Island, Dos Palmas, Snake Island, LULI for Lulubog Lilitaw sandbar etc…) which are all fine white sand Islands where we had snorkeling and spent time viewing the fantastic virgin corals with themulti-colored fishes. We also did fish feeding, swimming and sun bathing. Once we felt bored in one island, we asked our pump boat operator to move us to the next island. We had our lunch in the island of our choice.

The Honda Bay island hopping would have some variations like you may opt to spend a day or two in one of the island resorts like Dos Palmas or you simply want to spend the entire day in one Island say Cowrie Island.

Another popular tourist destination which would surely be of interest to the scholars and the scientifically-inclined individuals is the Tabon cave in the municipality of Quezon down south of the province. For only P1,500 per person in an air-conditioned van from Puerto Princesa, one will have the chance to see the archeological diggings of the famous relics of the Tabon man, which as Wikipedia describes it,

“The Tabon Man is a term used to reference a particular set of remains of Homo Sapiens. The Tabon Cave in Quezon, Palawan, Philippines, was a burial site of Homo sapiens. Carbon-14 dating tests reveal that fossil remains date back to 22,000 to 24,000 years before 1960 to 1967 (the years the excavations were held). However, at the deeper 160 cm level, the estimates dating of flake assemblage is from 45,000 to 50,000 years ago, probably over 60,000 years. The anthropologist Robert Fox, who directed the excavations, deduces that the Tabon cave was a habitation of man for a period 40,000 years, from 50,000 to 9,000 years ago. Tabon man was believed to travel here by land bridges from other countries to Palawan. The bridges disappeared after the Ice Age ended which caused the ice to melt and therefore drowning the bridges.”

The rest of the more popular tourist destinations are up north, to name a few: the Calauit Island, Coron, El Nido and the Tubbataha Reef. I have not been to these places though. The farthest place up north that I have been to is the town of Taytay. The road network from Puerto Princesa is not yet concreted that is why it is not advisable for tourists to go to the north with Puerto Princesa as the take off point.

The north will be our next destination. There is WG and A Superferry that sails from Manila to Coron and Puerto Princesa. I anticipate that I will have a lot more to share with you after our trip to the nothern part of Palawan!

Next post: Come back, come back Palawan, the conclusion!

Nagmamahal,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 19:39 Archived in Philippines Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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