Brace for another exciting travel fair brought to you by TOURS7-the Tourism Operators Unite in Region 7, a group with a humble beginning of 9 tour operators within visayas united to become strong 30 member as of this year 2019.
Last August 30 , a media launch for Byahe Ta Bai travel fair was held at Parklane International hotel attended by local medias and other tourism entities.It is co presented by Robinsons Galleria Cebu and with its PLatinum sponsor Cebu Pacific.
The travel fair will be held in Robinsons Galleria mall on September 13-15,2019.Expect great deals for flights by Philippine Air Asia and Cebu Pacific .Additionally local Hotel operators will be there as well to offer you great discounts for accomodations such as Kandaya Resort , Savoy Hotels, Golden Sands Destination ,Parklane International Hotel and Summit Circle Hotel . Lastly, there are over 15 tour operators who will offer domestic and international travel packages.Apart from that an exciting giveaways and prizes will be raffled during the event sponsored by the exhibitors.
Over a year ago we were surprised by what we have seen underwater of the Island Garden City of Samal.Last year we promised to come back for more.
So here we go. It’s my birthday month and after a series of misadventures and storms with my personal life past months, I think I deserve a break and moreover, I deserve to be underwater. So Samal dive safari again is booked with ”Lhoc” the master spotter friend of ours from Samal Island, Davao.
Dive Iterinary – Sept 10-12
1st Dive -Kimbale
2nd dive – Kanaan
3 night dive-Canibad
2nd dive- Tagpopongan pier
3rd night dive -K5 again
2nd dive-Big Liguid Island
This Dive Safari shall be extra special, we want to say hello to our dear friends underwater Nudibranches ,Hairy , Tiger,Harlequin Shrimps and hopefully bumblebee shrimps too, yes you hear it right. These tiny shrimps are as cute as ever you can imagine, see them on my previous blog last year except the elusive bumblebee.
The trip’s mission is to find the bumblee bee and to see species of Rhinopias residing in the island, while it might be rare in most places you dive, I heard & see posts from dive friends that they have plenty of Rhinopias here. Cmo’n let’s find out.
Hopping in the boat with our gears Lhoc and boat crew greeted us with the same kind and warmth smiles, it’s been a year. He rented out another big boat as the dive boat we use last year is still finishing renovations and engine change, anyhow the boat we are in is as huge filled with tanks and can accommodate up to 6-8 divers. We pick up two other guest – underwater photographer couple Annie Shin and Bambam, they stayed in Kaputian Resort.
The first dives on day 1 is a little warm-up dive in Kimbale, Kanaan and a night dive in Canibad beach. We did muck dives, visibility is 10-15m, sandy slope area, with pebbles and lots of sea urchins and starfish. Coral garden is nice and looks healthy.
kimbale nudi 2
curious mooray eel
We found lots of nudibranches and a fat Spanish Dancer crawling at the bottom, while a curious mooray eel is creeping from a green branching cup coral. On our second dive, we found 2 pygmy seahorses- the pink one, another one is pregnant.We ended the day with a night dive after a heavy rain. A fat Spanish dancer 😉 and a very cute octopus, plenty of squat shrimp and anemone shrimp as well, some decorator crabs show up too.
In the evening, we feast the yummiest and special meal because it’s my birthday :), it happens that our divemaster is not only good in spotting small critters but also a good cook. My dive buddy surprised me with a cake that makes it even more special. Thank you, guys !
The most exciting day, Lhoc will bring us to the place recently discovered and where they found different species of Rhinopias. Rhinopias belong to the family of Scorponidae or scorpionfishes, they are one of the many favorites of underwater photographers because they are rare, or just simply strangely beautiful and are colorful, they have a very unique body shape and patterns, perfect for a great shot.Behold to its beauty because they have venomous spines at their back and fins and they camouflaged well on their surroundings.They are usually found walking and hopping thru sandy floor with pebbles or sitting on top of some soft corals waiting for its prey.
In the Philippines it is common in Anilao Batangas where hundreds of macro photographers surround them. But hey ! they are in Samal island too and the site all for ourselves today.
So the hunt begins, we descent in a sloping muck area named K5 which we later found out the story of the name from East , Lhoc’s mentor in spotting critters. After 30minutes of scouring the sandy bottom with rubbles and small coral patches, Lhoc looks desperate already gliding up and down from 15-25meters to find the Rhinopias but nothing, me and my buddy are busy looking for other cute stuffs like Nudis, did I mention already I am a nudibranch addict. Visibility isn’t so good Bambam and Annie is also busy trying to scour the bottom to find the Rhinopias, until we heard a continues banging of the tank and voila Lhoc finally found one Rhinopia for us.
Then Lhoc found another one not far from the first one.
After few minutes, in a distant maroon sea grass another one found a shelter.You have to spot the eyes so you will find a fish is in there
Frondosa are my favorites because of their color and beautiful patterns, Frondosa has imperfect round patterns in their body.Their snouts looks funny, I’l never get bored watching them and waiting when they open their mouth.
That was a blast seeing 3 Rhinopias in one site, I already felt the luckiest, I’m still wishing to see the purple frondosa.I end the dive with 10bar left on my tank and still can’t get over with the Rhinopias in my mind.
The next dive after an hour interval is at Tagpopongan pier.Visibility is about 5 meters which are normal in most pier we been to, lots of cute nudis on this dive ,we found melibe feeding, variety of flabellinas, mooray eels and hinge beak shrimps.
hinge beak shrimp
orange spotted nudi
Late afternoon East Pardillo -Davao’s famous macro photogpraher/spotter/guide/dive instructor joined us.Just imagine how our luck this time. Having two of the most reliable critter spotter in Samal Island will be actually difficult for us, in a positive way, we just have to choose who to follow when they start spotting the critters.
Ready set we go for third dive-another night dive at K5, another chance if are lucky we will see the purple Frondosa this time (crossing fingers now).
Say hello to our dear Rhinopia friends during the night.
Rhinopias Frondosa at night
Red Rhinopias eschmeyeri
juvenile cuttle fish
Newly found nudi
donald duck shrimp
skeleton shrimo in a squirt
soft coral crab
Still no luck for the purple frondosa 😦 but hey do you remember the first mission? Before our night dive ends along the way back to the shallow, Lhoc was busy checking with something in a huge barrel sponge decorated with different crinoids. And whats next that suprises us ,is a lone bumblee bee hiding between the ridges of the barrel sponge under the crinoids, and it’s not very easy to see him because it is moving so fast,my dive buddy had difficulty getting a decent shot, but see below the best shot for the night 🙂
After the dive, East told us that bumblee is so common in samal , there is one dive site that there are tons of them that they even call it Bumble bee city plus a place where the butterly nudi (Cyerce) lives . Will for sure take note of that for the next Samal dive trip.
on our last day we head close to southern tip of Samal ”Balet divesite”. Another muck dive site, current is a bit strong on our initial descent Annie and Bembem descended first following East, while me and buddy with Lhoc followed them, however visibility is less than a meter after 5minutes we decided to abort the dive. We didn’t see East group after about 45mins.
They have good stories to tell, Annie hated the dive obviously because of the visibility but they see nice stuffs like sheep nudi & pompom crabs.
After an hour surface interval we proceed to Big Liguid island, this dive is a quest for the rare shrimp living in a rare tiger anemone wrapping around a wire coral garden 30-35m max depth.East made us become more and more interested in every words he says.This guy is like a walking encylopedia for marine biology. Talking to him is like stepping in a classroom or a library.
We started to descend against mild to a little bit strong current.We go down down to 30m coral garden full of wire corals wrapped with tiger anemone we immediately check one by one but found no shrimp. Instead we found lots of nudis on this dive, we found one white beautiful nudibranch.
After deco time we ascend closer to two pinnacles beautifully covered with corals in different colors.
We end up on top of the pinnacle gliding over a garden full of soft corals about 5-7 meters from the surface.
We try to head back to where the boat was again againts the current, kinda feels weird because in a matter of 2 meter distance the current changes, there is down and up current, but we were able to manage it.
Along the way Lhoc found a very tiny black nudi on a dead leaf. It was my first time seeing such king of nudi definitely all black in color, however my dive buddy signals that he is running out of air and have to surface 😦 ( luck doesn’t work always, we need to accept some kind of a balance, no photos this time. On the surface we realize we are on the other corner of the island and the boat is nowhere to be found.
To wrapped up, it was ofcourse a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!!
5 Rhinopias, tons of nudibranches and other critters plus THE BUMBLEE SHRIMP, I couldn’t complain and the green hairy shrimp is still there saying hello on our last dive.
Plus we found another new variety of Halgerda nudi.
><(((o> Time for acknowledgement before some beers 😉
Thanks to Lhoc, his kindness and eagle eye is still one of a kind.
Contact him on FB or his mobile, he can arrange for a dive safari with a boat, he can guide , he can spot and most of all he can cook after every dives.
Thanks to the Capt of the boat and to the very shy but kind crew.
It was very nice to meet the couple Bambam and Annie who are both equally likeminded individuals who are also very passionate to underwater photography and scuba diving.Samal island keeps us falling in love over and over again, and we can’t wait to come back, we super wished we have more time that time, but nevertheless theres always good reason to come back.
Similar to Boracay and or Panglao Island, minus the people and the commercial establishments, that’s Pamilacan Island. A literal paradise we’ve’ fallen in love with. Inhabited by less than 2000 people mainly fisher folks and operator of homestays. I was here last year 2016 when I join Balyena.org ”Bohol Sea Cetacean Survey”. We stayed in the island for 2 nights and 3days mainly spending the whole day in the boat looking and spotting for dolphins and whales of Bohol Sea. It was that time that I told myself to come back for a vacation and hopefully I can tag along my kids.
Recently about 3rd week of September I finally got that plan realize with my buddy and kids.
We depart Cebu to Tagbilaran via Lite shipping ferry leaving daily from Cebu at 10pm, took us 5hrs to reach Tagbilaran City in Bohol. We stayed two more hours in the boat while its docked, then we proceed to go out of the boat around 530am and took a tricycle from the port to the main town of Baclayon for about 15-20minutes ride, the boat from the cottage that we book waited to pick us up in the port.
Kuya Junior of Junior and Nemesia’s Cottages greeted us with warmth smiles, immediately assisting us with our luggage.The trip to the island took about 30-45minutes with a sighting of Rissos’ Dolphin roughly ive minutes before arriving the island, another good welcome sign.
We are booked for 2 nights and 3days in a small cottage with 2 queen size bed, they charge 1000Php/night per pax including 3 meals already, children 12years old and below they charge half which is 500Php. The room is simply made of light material and bamboo floors, the toilet is clean, although water is limited since this is tiny island surrounded by sea water, even in summer they have to fetch fresh water from the mainland of Baclayon. Please remember to conserve water once you visit here.
My two kids immediately change to swimming attire, grab their snorkel, fins and run to the beach when we arrive, while me and my buddy settled in our room and arrange our things.
It was a very quiet place with only audible chirping birds and sometimes a cry of a hungry goat you can hear. In front of our cottage is the powdery white sand stretching up to 3km long.
While walking along the beach we noticed women in their early or late 40’s sweeping the sand with a broomstick, sensing positive vibes and smiling aura of the woman I ask her if they do that every day and if the cottage owner is paying them to clean the beach, she smiles and said ”No” the local government of Baclayon is paying us Php200 daily to pick up trash and leaves or seaweeds left in the sand when hightide goes back to low-tide”. That’s a big thumbs up to Baclayon LGU.
After a brief chat with the women, I called my kids to pause from swimming since we need to grab our breakfast at the moment prepared by Ate Nemesia, she’s a very charming woman wife of Kuya Junior who runs the JR & Nemesia’s Cottages, They have at least 9 cottages for rent.
Our breakfast is a yummy pancake , sunny side up egg, Chocolate drink for my kids and coffee for us.After eating we notice a fearsome jaw hanging outside Ate nemesia’s kitchen. Without Shark biology knowledge you will immediately conclude that Sharks are really dangerous.This is caught a very long time ago in Bohol sea by Kuya Junior’s forefathers a very long time ago he was still a kid as a bycatch. In fact, before you freak out, Tiger Shark is listed as near threatened species of shark because of massive finning and fishing by humans. ”Sharks are smart animals, they are naturally shy to humans but if you stay calm they became curious and might look at you in the eye and smile” ( according to my buddy who dives with Sharks a lot of times)
We had a quick chat with the nearby resort for info about diving in the area. We pass by a huge concrete structure that is the 200-year-old Spanish fort, they try to rebuilt now after the earthquake that hits Bohol in 2013.
After lunch thick clouds covered the skies and strong winds are blowing, so perfect time to make a kite. We lost one kite and made another one. The kids obviously enjoyed it a lot.
The kids had another swim for the day. In the afternoon we decide to have a stroll in the village crossing to the other side of the island, we end up in a fishing village full of boats and fisherman having drinks, we pass by 1 school and a pathway so beautifully curtained by a flowering tree on each side looking like a canopy.
Today we decide to wake up early for the most awaited part, dolphin watching. Bohol sea is home for atleast 16 species of whales & dolphins , as well as sharks, rays and mantas.Locals in Pamilacan are known to be manta hunters for over a decade, thus ”Pamilacan” means a resting place for manta.
The sunrise for a bit but was quickly covered by thick clouds. The water is is filled with white caps.The first hour we didn’t see any dolphins, we reach further until we felt hungry so we decide to come back to the island and eat breakfast. The condition of the water probably is one reason we didn’t spot dolphins, but I am sure they are there, we just didn’t spot them.
After eating breakfast we had an hour break then we decide to go snorkeling.There is a marine sanctuary on the west side of the beach where you can pay 200Php for the local guide and a paddle boat that will bring you there.
We opted just to stay in front of the beach and see what’s beneath. My kids had lots of fun seeing clownfishes and corals. Some parts are grassy which is perfect habitat for turtles, we didn’t see them while snorkeling but my buddy spotted them from afar surfacing when we were seated outside our cottage shortly after we arrive in the island.
We end the day playing ”touching ball” with a beautiful sunset.
Another chance to spot dolphins, of course, we are all excited again , very happy and we can feel it through our nerves that hundreds of them will gonna show up. Now I don’t wanna hold you waiting, see below the dolphins of Pamilacan.
During the day we spotted 3 species of Dolphins, Fraser, Rissos & Spinners(almost a hundred of them).Another occurrence during the interaction is that 2 white hawks is seen flying by to have some bits of the tuna leftovers from the feeding Spinners.
spinner dolphin feeding
Spinner dolphin bowriding
Fraser with Rissos
Rissos Dolphin fin
Rissos Dolphin Tail
Rissos Dolphin Tail
like a mermaid tail, from afar is a Rissos tail showing up on the surface before diving into the deep
spinner showing some stunts
The interaction lasted for about 2.5 hours, the spinners entertained us non stop as it jumps, breach, and bow ride closest to our boat.
We head back to the beach for our brunch and a well deserve rest, followed by last day of snorkeling on the island.
I did less than an hour yoga poses to stretch my muscles and core having my mind and body in one. It is my deep way to say thank you to the universe for letting us experience this bliss.
lace will remain a favorite in our heart , it composes all elements of a paradise that we love. Simple living , nice beach, very kind people, the sea, the corals, the fish, the dolphins, the flowers, the garden, the yummy food. Everything sums up for a very nice place to unwind, destress, relax and reconnect with mother nature.
Sorry took me long again to finish writing on our last adventure, it only means it is so special that I wanted to spend time to put into writing on how it went through.
So lets start.
Before remoteness had begun, 4days 3nights of chasing waves and exploring the largest lagoon system in the country and witnessing an expectacularly just perfect rainbow that left us speechless, which can only be found in Siargao and by the way it even deserves a separate blog which again I think will keep someone waiting. We started our journey to Antique province.
So how we found out about Caluya? Does anyone know this place in the first place? From my friends- no ,hmmm maybe 2 of them but they haven’t dive there yet, from my family absolutely no. We found Caluya island because of a dive article online about Pelagics you can see while diving Panagatan island. Both islands are remote considering the accessibility and infrastructure, however , lucky as we are , we found out that instead of getting there through Boracay dive shops which we do not prefer , we found out that an awesome couple together with friends just started a dive operation base in Caluya island- Caluya Divers. With no hesitation we started the standard operating procedure.
1. Research ( this consist gathering information about the place to every single details possible), how to get there and sorts of preparation.
2. Contact dive operator
3. Book flights
Every single difficulty to arrange for our journey to Caluya only excites us more. The dive operator had been very responsive from the start despite the difficulty of internet access in the island.Yes you read it right, the place where we will stay doesn’t have internet connection. Does it make us sad? As you know my life has been constantly online almost 90% of my day for the last 2years.Hmm sounds like a challenge for me considering small businesses I run online. But how can you say no when the ocean is calling , and what better affirmation you have for a place that pass all of our criteria ; remote place, friendly people, uncrowded dive sites and the best reason EXPLORATORY DIVES.
We landed in Caticlan airport at around 1pm from Cebu , took a van to Culasi for 3 hrs.Another option to reach Caluya is via Mindoro if you come from Luzon. As usual you have to take note that boat ferrying from these places are small -medium size cargo-passenger boats owned by small businessman schedules change without prior notice. A good tip is to communicate as frequent with your dive operator contact as they know the updates most of the time, relying on the internet for schedule updates isn’t a good idea.
I’m already planning to sleep the whole road trip but guess what , how can I sleep when the first 40 km travel is along the coast and you can clearly see the crystal clear sea water with soft waves crashing to the shore, and in many instance on the other side of the road a very sturdy looking proud hills and mountains covered with green forests while on the base is endless hectares of rice fields.Seems nostalgic, but these scenery always covers up the many months of stressed face while working in a concrete jungle. Imagine me and my dive buddy taking turns of pointing left and right to watch out the good view, it’s just breathtaking.
locals loading stuffs to the boat
lipata port Culasi
So we arrive in Culasi town 4hrs earlier than the boat schedule of departure. So what more good way to kill time than to explore Culasi. I remember one friend is from Antique, she recommended us to go to the town proper , hangout in the boulevard near the shoreline and witness the sunset, we eat our lunch at a nearby restaurant and found out another cool thing to do in Culasi- climb Mt.Madjaas. (save it for the next time)
MISSION : Explore Caluya underwater
Boat ride from Lipata port Culasi to Caluya island is about 5hrs , just enough time for us to sleep, good news the sea is calm. Kalayaan Shipping is a RORO ship serving from various ports to Caluya and other islands of Antique.Banton liner is another ferry which is rather smaller than Kalayaan Ship also crosses to and from islands within Antique.
We arrive in a small port in Caluya and a smiling couple is picking as up very early at dawn when it is still dark. The woman immediately recognize us hence Uwe is the only foreign looking guy inside the boat.
arriving Island Divers Caluya
island divers caluya
We loaded our bags in the tricycle , yes tricycle- the main public transportation in the island besides Habal Habal (a single motorbike). We took quite a pave road about a kilometer then a rough road almost the entire trip ,it was a fun ride , it reminds me about 10yrs ago in my hometown where I grew up is as rough as Caluya road, did I frown? Ofcourse not, because I love dirt roads and YES I drive dirt bikes (Kawasaki KLX 150cc) almost a joke, no its not a joke. I love dirt bikes, see my practice day here .
Day 1 : Arrival and first dives ><(((*> ><(((*>
After about an hour we arrive at Island Diver’s Caluya base.It is still very quite a little dark and I still here the crickets, barking dogs welcomes us to this peaceful place surrounded by trees. Couple Cindy and Roland greeted us a good morning and they looks so happy to see us.From that moment on I knew our dives will be lots of fun.
We had a quick hour power nap and rest at our bamboo bungalow, very clean and spacious enough for my dive buddys’ camera set up and accessories 😀 😀 😀 were never been too excited like this to be honest, alrady lookin forward for underwater surprises.
So house rules are discussed at a cozy native restaurant adjacent to the diveshop fronting the beach, with bananas and tall coconut palm trees on the side.Rules are simple just behave and be free. Meals will be served island style, we will be eating together whatever is produced for the day . Roland and Cindy told us the story how they started, most of the talks are in German as they speak the language same as my dive buddy grrrrrhhh.I promise to learn the language soonest 😉 😉 anyways I’m more excited with our first dive plan.
Local dive crew and boat staff are shy but are friendly and very kind people.Cindy and Roland found a family in Caluya, the people welcome them and their guest as a family, something we wont’ forget in our travels.
The dive sites within Caluya island are close to the dive shop can be reach by 30mins boat ride. We start our first dives within the island , in west side. Explored dive sites starts from the shallow sloping down to 20-25meters deep. Visibility is really good down to 20meters. Dive sites within Caluya were found by Island Divers, usually with their guest giving each a name. On the west side we are greeted with a very healthy coral garden teeming with many reef fishes and also a resident giant frogfish, theyr’e always funny to look at. They are very good in camouflaging and they don’t usually swim , they walk among rocks and move slowly.Their body has different patterns and colors but what makes them really really special is when they start to yawn and you can just imagine how flexible their mouth is to a large opening.
2 giant frogfish
sneaking on a Frog fish
Cindy & the frogfish
We also saw a variety of nudibranches in all sites their colors and patterns are to die for. A giant cuttle fish also showed up.A lot of crinoid shrimps that easily camouflage in different colors and pattern. In one dive site we saw 2 ghost pipe fish.
racing stripe flatworm
There is a notable population of Crown of Thorns on one site.Roland and Cindy said they’re trying to eliminate most of them but they keep on repopulating.This animals eat corals but removing them from the site should be carefully planned, my dive buddy said once you touched and remove them they immediately release a sack of eggs around thereby causing more Crown of Thorns to come.
NIGHT DIVE @ the HOUSEREEF
We finally had a chance to do a night dive a day before we leave the island. Cindy said the house reef is home to napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrot fishes at 18-20meters deep. However we weren’t able to reach there. The first 5meters of the housereef already entertained us. All this magical tiny critters comes out and hunt at night.We saw a very huge nudibranch crawling on the bottom, a very tiny white nudi and a the cutest bobtail squid.
We explored this nearby island western bound from Caluya.The dive site is at the western tip of the island. Caluya island divers discovered dive sites here. It is wall dives starting at a shallow entry of a coral garden about 10meters then drop to 30meters down deep.Visibility is superb, curent is average. The wall is stunningly decorated with large sea fans and gorgonians very healthy corals in vivid colors. We found bunch of nudis and a huge lobster on a crevice. Mooray eels and giant lobsters are also there to say hello to us.
We spent 3 dives in one day, spending one surface interval inside a mangrove forest where we passby a seaweed farm with smiling farmers. We tried to snorkel in the mangrove areas hoping to see some juvenile fishes nesting on the roots.
Sibay Island Caluya
wide mangrove passage
On our way back home we brave huge waves which makes our travel time 2x than coming to the island. But , a surprise friends suddenly came up halfway our route, Spinner dolphins say hello to us, it was a very happy dive day. Next dives is within Caluya island hence weather didn’t permit us to go to Panagatan island (there is always a next time).
Anyhow luck is still on our side, we are lucky for our exploratory dive we found our dive site, we named it ”Gardenia” it looks like a garden covered with hard corals full of reef fishes,anthias, damsel fishes, and fusiliers, it’s literally like watching over an aquarium.
Again we are lucky divers exploring a remote paradise.Mother nature has been very sweet and kind to provide us with all these underwater haven which also provides the mankind and other living organisms it’s source of food. It is not new to us that many parts of our coral reefs around the country and around the world,most of them are damaged due to our abuse,due to our bad habits, due to lack of knowledge, due to lack of empathy. There are so many reasons and cause of this distruction, however even if it’s a little bit late , let us start changing our habit and the way we look at our environment, lets take good care of it for the next generation.
Thank you so much to the entire team Island Divers Caluya for 4days awesome dives.They are the only operating diveshop in the island. Best season to dive with them is during dry season starting December-June of the following year.
Thank as well to the cool and kind neighbors of Cindy and Roland who hosted us for our 2nd night dinner and preparin our meals, the island divers boat crew and the super friendly dogs and goats around the resort.We hope to come back next season.
Things to note:
Transportation : Tricylcle or Habal Habal
Food: There is no Carenderia near the resort and town is a bit far.Scuba divers are offered to eat with the resort owner like a family.
Signal: no phone signal around the resort area except in the next town.
ATM/Banks: There is no atm or bank in the area so you better bring cash, the resort don’t have credit card terminal as well hence no signal, which I think is an advantage when you are in paradise.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!!
SUPERB DIVING, AMAZING REEFS, SPECTACULAR VISIBILITY, AWESOME PEOPLE, YUMMY FOOD, LOTS OF NUDIS, LOTS OF CRITTERS, PARADISE PARADISE AND PARADISE, we will be back !
Have you ever had that feeling when the skies and the clouds are coming down to you? Have you been sober , tipsy or drunk at times? I bet you do , once or twice or more in your life.
Two days ago researching for my writing task ”25 cool things to do in Cebu” I found a place where you can do one cool thing , thanks to Facebook again , a friend’s posted picture leads me there. A world where you find yourself upside down, literally !
Upside down world is a modernistic and creative museum located at the 2nd floor of City Time Square Mandaue ; it features 11 themed rooms that eventually satisfy your creative imagination. Staffs are very friendly waiting to assist you from the counter where you have to pay the 350Php for adults and 250Php for kids.
touching the christmas tree
You will enter a living room which has the usual sofa, TV and a Christmas tree, second room is study room which has a study table with bookshelves in the backdraft, next stop is the bed room with queen size bed and closet, followed by kids’ room, market area, kitchen, dining area, toilet, laundry area, fortune teller’s room and last is the Casino.
You can ask assistance from the museum staff to take photos of you, they’re skilled enough to teach you how to project and where to pose for that best capture. This idea started in Indonesia, the company has branches in Bali, Bandung, Jakarta and recently Cebu Philippines.
Be amazed and appreciate the power of optical illusion, interesting stufss and exciting photo shots. This is Cebu’s newest attraction suited for all ages ! Best for family, barkada and or besties.
Contact them for booking following the details below :
SOX- a short term for Region 12’s SOCCKSARGENcomprising South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
”We been promoting Culture -Nature-Adventure” within the Region said Regional Director Nelly Dillera of DOT Region 12.
Culture- South Cotabato’s Tboli tribe -Lake Sebu
Fishport tour -witnessed why GenSan is hailed as Tuna Capital of the Country.
Nature-7 Waterfalls in Lake Sebu South Cotabato
Adventure -Paragliding in Maasim Sarangani
Sarangani Highlands- up in the hill have a romantic and sumptuos meal.
Sunbathe at Gumasa Beach (Glan, Sarangani)
Tuka Beach – mini Boracay of Sarangani
River Tubing-in Maitum Sarangani
Scuba diving- newest offering that we ventured for a 3-day Dive Safari
April 29- May 1
When some plans doesn’t happen for some reason, don’t fret, it only means a new opportunity will open up. Take for example, our Startup weekend Bohol schedule (Apri28-30) got cancelled 2weeks before the event. I was frustrated a bit hence I been longing to join such kind of event to meet likeminded people and to learn more new things about technology in tourism.
But thanks to technology, a post in FB pops up from Sarangani Adventures page, it says a 3 day dive safari with unlimited diving in areas within Sarangani bay. I only have heard about Sarangani as a destination for paragliding ,and who doesn’t know about the National Champ Manny Pacman Pacquiao place. So I start looking for articles online about scuba diving in the area, found some blogs and video clips, there is not much to read but that only leaves me more curious. I told my Dive buddy about this package as an option hence it fits the date when our initial plans is cancelled. He was able to message Sarangani Adventures in their FB page and they were so responsive, means plus points for us.
All is set, flights are booked and everyday gets more and more exciting to discover this new place. Looking at the map, Sarangani bay resembles so much to one of our favorite dive destination (Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte) where you have bountiful fish life, beautiful reef and walls, macro dives, muck dives sites and a Whale Shark sighting.
To reach Sarangani, easiest way is to fly from Cebu or Manila to General Santos city with Cebu Pacific then a van transfer about 45mins to Lemlunay Resort– the only dive operator in the area.
Day 1- Woke up early with news that Sarangani was rock by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. I was holding my breath for some seconds then I start to breathe easy and google for news updates online. It was true there was an earthquake, but it seems that there is no major damage and the tsunami warning from US Geological Society’s website was already lifted. I message Michelle Solon –our point of contact for this Dive Safari to have some updates and she respond positively that Dive Safari will go on and they’re actually set to dive in the morning, all is good. I proceed to the airport, meet my dive Buddy and other co-explorer Garri Immanuel Tadlip from ‘’Iggy Dives’’ –the youngest underwater photographer in Asia, with his Dad Sir ‘’Oleg Tadlip’’. Arriving at General Santos airport we were joined by another co explore Arabelle Jimenez a writer/mermaid from Manila.
Arriving at Lemlunay Resort we were greeted by friendly staff and offered a chill coolers with mint for a hot summer day. Drop our bags in our respective rooms and proceed to the dining area where we meet another co explorer Stella from Sunstar Davao. Then we finally meet Miss Michelle Solon one of the head organizer for the event and Paul Partridge owner of Lemlunay Resort. This event is supported by Region 12 Department of Tourism represented by Regional Director Nelly Dillero and the Provincial Government of Sarangani.
We were welcome by a presentation video about Sarangani and the tourism initiative dubbed as #soxisnext, ”people already discovered and traveled to Bohol, Boracay, Palawan so where to next? said Michele Solon of Sarangani Adventures.
Sarangani shall be the upcoming tourism destination of PH and not only for paragliding, not only for tunas, not only because its Pacquaio’s homeplace,but also because they have something underwater to be proud of, so the diving has to start soon. After a sumptuous dinner we rested for some minutes then start gearing up for the first dive- a night dive.
The photos below shows we are happily welcomed by our friends underwater.
Soft coral shrimp_night dive Lemlunay housereef
Bobtail squid feeding
mooray eel hiding in a crevice
whitish crab on a pulsating xenia soft coral
couple Lion Fish at night
cuttlefish during a Night Dive @Lemlunay Resort housereef
porcelain crab in a sea anemone shrimp
Spanish dancer, soft coral shrimps, bobtail squid feeding, cuttle fish etc.
First dive – Lomuyon dive site – dive aborted – ABS CBN local media arrives and men in uniform escorted us to Tuka island, kickass dives with kickass escorts.If any of you think that its dangerous to dive in all places in Mindanao, well , think again, because this is the proof that it is NOT. Not all places in Mindanao is unsafe, it even became more and more interesting for us since day 1.
dive team posing in Lomuyon Sarangani
let the diving begin
dive team posing in Lomuyon Sarangani
gettin ready for an offshore reef dive
2nd dive –Tuka reef 1 –2 sec blue spotted eagle ray shows up, fishy reef, lots of dorid nudis, bat fishes and angel fishes .
3rd dive- Tuka reef 2 –farting pawikan, chromodoris nudibranch plenty of them , fishy reef, giant lobster with 1 meter antennae, batfishes, and angel fishes plenty of them
Visibility is not so good but a group of Bumphead Parrot Fish are clearly huge enough to be recognize almost a meter in size.Theyr’e a kind of fish that feeds on benthic algae and corals 🙂 but they also shit a powdery substance that makes up the white sands in Boracay. Awesome discovery !
We had lechon kind of lunch with fruits and some special dishes preapred by the locals, the hospitality of the people in Sarangani is worth praise.Thumbs up.
A lechon kind of surface interval
Lunh At Tuka Beach
banana for your heart
Lechon kind of surface interval
After lunch we grace an interview by ABS-CBN Soccksargen featuring the Sarangani Dive Safari.
We did another night dive and found mooray eel, 2 new nudis , 1 new hard coral crab, porcelain crab in anemone, flatworms and many more crabs and cuttle fish.
Maasim Reef- a very nice offshore reef blooming within the ocean.
We jump for a negative descent following a dive line due to strong surface current. However deep down at around 18-20meter deep is relatively calm to mild current .We were in awe seeing a very beautiful fishy coral garden , which minutes after, we went down to the bottom floor saying hello to the 3 resident juvenile blacktip shark under a huge table coral.The reef looks healthy, the garden is decorated with huge barrel sponges, gorgeous gorgonian seafan and lots of reef fishes in many colors, good visibility up to 20m.
ascending from the depths following a dive line
Garri having fun shooting with those beautiful corals
purple sea fan
yours truly hovering over massive colonies of hard corals
juvenile blacktip shark in maasim Reef
Rocky Island – sphagetti nudi branch, many fishes, chrinoid shrimp
Lemlunay House Reef – Large sea fans of different colors, bit of drift dive, napoleon wrasse,and many nudis.
amazing ribbon eel
bountiful soft corals
soft coral in housereef
pipe fish and a featherstar
fusiliers and butterfly fishes
Sarangani Dive Safari
The Dive Safari event ended with a Press conference held at Green Leaf Hotel General Santos City attended by representatives from Government Sector , media personnel and our team (Divers). Discussions on improvements and facilities needed for the protection of the Seascape in the province of Sarangani is being tackled. We also share to everyone what we see and what we have found underwater through pictures and videos.
In our opinion, it has a huge potential for dive tourism industry, some improvements shall be done.The people, local government units and Tourism department shall start implementing environmental laws protecting the seascape, tap with people or organizations outside the province that can help share their expertise in management of Marine Protected Areas.Another thing is also to develop training programs for dive guides in the area as spotters. Established dive sites should have markers and buoy or dive lines.It is also a big advantage of Sarangani having General Santos airport which has daily flights from Cebu and Manila which are both having domestic & international connecting flights.
There are dive sites where currents can be mild to strong but that can be manage with experienced and caution.This currents also attracts pelagics and schools of big fish.There is also a potential for more macro critter finds, our night dives were awful, and the Housereef is amazingly embedded with all sort of beautiful corals and fishes.
So after being defeated by leech last year while attempting to Summit Mt.Hibok Hibok:D Now were’ back, ready to accomplish the mission.
(you need to bribe me a coffee session to tell you the story behind what happened last year )
Mt. Hibok Hibok is standing 1332+ MASL high – an active stratovolcano so therefore we like it !Somehow volcanoes is appealing to us, its an interesting kind of mountain.
Jan 14, 2017
Climb Plan- A Dayhike
430am: wake up call
530am: guide picks us up to jump off point
600am: registration and start ascent
3-4hrs estimated ascend duration via Yumbing trail
2-3hrs estimated descend via Ardent spring trail
Upon hym of my buddy’s phone alarm, we started to open our mind then our eyes. Unfortunately we have to get up earlyagain L This is one of the moments I don’t like when we travel to places, we oftentimes have to get up early for the days’ adventures. But, do I regret? Hmmm of course not, I somehow accepted what I call ‘’the geckos destiny’’– that I am made for ‘’Adventures’’ and in no chance I will ever regret such thing. So far it’s one thing that keeps me going
Let’s continue, we start to ascent at about 630am entering in an easier path sloping up across some bushes and coconut plantation. The first hour felt ok, but the next minutes after an hour my guts seems to be testing me. I started to have an acid influx and about every 500meters trek I threw up, and I’m losing energy, seriously I was thinking of going back and give up at that time, I really felt that I couldn’t make it, buddy was also telling me that its ok to go back we don’t need to force to summit Mt.Hibok2x with my current conditions. Buddy is assisting me with water and crackers to replace the sandwiches I just lost. We slow up our pace, and slowly I regain energy, I was trying to be so much conscious about my stomach and in my mind every step I was able to confirm that I will make it to the top.
We started to see tall trees with mosses, after almost 2hrs trek we reach a viewpoint of the famous White Island of Camiguin. It was a very nice feeling, and we even joke a lot- 2 of our friends should be there at that time looking us up on top of the mountains. While we were sweating and exhausted, they’re having a nice time at the white beach getting sun tanned, but at that time I completely surrender to mother nature and felt positively on top of the mountains seeing a vast island, trees look so small down and so green enveloped with oceans so blue.
After taking pictures of the white island view, we arrive at the Crater Lake after 30 minutes. It was foggy and cold, and we don’t have a clear view. It was also cloudy at that moment. We stop there to have our lunch, we notice there is a campsite, our guide told us that a month ago he was with 30 other climbers that helps clear the area to have the camp site establish, he even saw a huge snake at the time. You know already what happens next, they have a very sumptuous dinner for sure.
approaching the crater lake
happy to be halfway
having fun near the lake
After lunch we proceed to trek up one hour more and will be at the summit, I start to pray for a clear view on top, so we can see the entire Camiguin Island. Before the summit we pass by bushes with many pitcher plants, it makes me happy as I am fond of them, their shape, their color and they’re being unique as a Carnivorous plant. I took lot of photos.
sexy pitcher plant
more pitcher plants
roots covered with mosses
The last few kilometers to the summit was a bit difficult trail, there is even a portion where we have to climb a super vertical inclination where u have to grab hold a root of a tree and a rock to get your way up, and down there is a cliff. Another thing is, we have to cross in between thick bushes and have to bow down, as it is very short bushes engulfing the trail. Then we reach another resting viewpoint. This is the last stop before the summit.We had a rest I was sitting on top of the rocks and felt the roar of the wind, it was still cloudy and view isn’t so is foggy.
Mathieu the Belgian guy saw a very cute mice along the trail it was surprising for me, its my first time to see mice in the mountains, I thought I can only see them inside a house.
Finally after 3hrs we arrive at the summit, somehow the sun starts to come out a little bit, but still it’s cloudy and no clear view at all. We tried our luck and waited for some minutes and decided to have a quick snacks, as we chit chats while waiting for a clear view, we heard a screeching sounds, it was very familiar, sitting near some bushes I felt them near me, while eating my rice someone came out at my back, guess what?The mice is there, it was funny they followed us; they must have sensed the food inside our bag. I tried to put some of my rice on the ground, one mice starts to get it and bring it somewhere, my buddy put some bread then another mice came out, there are 2 of them. The next time we put bread we covered it with the eggshell from my lunch pack. So the mice came out again and they didn’t find the rice, but they break into the eggshell ‘’smart ass’’.
Then my buddy put the rice in his hands, when the mice came out, they went slowly to eat it and grab it from my buddy ‘s palm, they’re so cute and funny, our attention was with them almost the whole 15mins.
After the rice is finished, we decided to wait more minutes for clearing, but unfortunately luck is not on our side we have to start descending, it was somehow sad but that’s life, that is part of climbing mountains, and a fact that everyone should accept. Clearing is only a bonus when climbing mountains, for us being on top -reaching the summit is already something we have to grateful of. It humbles us in so many different ways; it opens our eyes more and more to realities and how beautiful mother nature is.
So time for descent, we estimated it would take us another 2-3hrs going down and it’s gonna be a test how strong our legs and our knees will be.
I use to like descending rather than climbing up, I always thought its faster and easier going down, it’s a feeling I use to have when I was a kid whether Im drivin my brother’s bmx or sliding down with my coconut branch ledge (palwa in bisaya).
But it proves me wrong when doing mountain climbing. Going down proves to be tougher because you have to stay focus on every step you take; you have to keep the balance as well with strong knees as control or else your you will drop. We have about a kilometer of stiff drop, and then an easier walk in the fields, the last part is farms, and we saw carabao, cows and goats in the field.
The last 2km I have so many rest because I felt dwindling and my muscles is so sore and my knees is starting to show signals of being weak, getting oldie I guess, plus the fact of not having enough climb preparation.
blurry wild berries
carabao along the way
We are lucky bastards again we made it, after 2hrs we reach Ardent hot spring where motorbikes are waiting for us, again we are lucky bastards the fact that I almost gave up second time around I was still insisting of climbing up because I know in my heart that I wanted to do it and that it is what I want and that my guts is only testing me at the time. So wise decision indeed.
Everyone is happy we made it!
Guide fee + permit we spent PhP600 each we are 4 people in 1 group.
Standard fee is 800/each min.1-2person
Thanks to our Guide ‘’Kuya Bebot’’
Thanks Mt Hibok Hibok !
Next Adventure :
Exploratory dives somewhere in Antique, I’m super excited for this.
After weeks of adventure/misadventure typhoon filled Scuba week in Southern Leyte we are finally journeying to more relaxing mode , switching on to our next MISSION, so you read it right there , above on the the title”CAMIGUIN” Come Again. The photo is lastyear at around same dates when we visited Camiguin, that’s the popular White Beach with Mt Hibok Hibok at the background.
Mission: Discover what’s beneath Mantigue island and fill our stomache with Phad Thai @ Guererras’ endlessly 😉
Cebu Pacific Air Cebu-Camiguin, have flights daily – 2 flights for Mon-Wed-Friday-Sundays and 1 flight in the morning for Tues-Thurs-Saturdays.We took the first flight on January 12 at 545am , flight takes about 45mins only.
So we arrive at this very scenic airport, the moment you step out of the plane you immediately see the Volcanic cone of Mt.Hibok Hibok.This place is one of our favorite, we been here once together last year so aside from being such a very nice place, coming back doesnt cost us any doubt, we promise to come again, so here we are and even more exciting because we are tagging along our best of friends so they can experience what it feels like being in CAMIGUIN and literally they would immediately realize the ”Come Again” feeling.
On our first day we keep it simple, we check in at Caves Dive Resort where we stayed last year, there is actully many accomodations that will suit different levels of your budget from 1000/room good for 2 person, to P4000+/room which has amenities like swimming pool , bath tub etc.located around Mambajao, the center of Camiguin.
At noon we decide to just relax in our room and come out to watch the sunset after few hours, while our dear friends ‘Sugar & Alex’ hurriedly hop to the White Beach Island.Part of the plan was to do 2dives the following day, we proceed to talk with dive center staff for the booking, including finding an instructor for my dear friend ‘Sugar’ because I have a surprise gift for her, she will have her first time to breathe underwater using a Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, yes you read it right, she will have her first Discovery Dive with us in Mantigue Island.
So after discreet discussion among 3 of us, we decided to reveal it to her the night before so she can be emotionally prepared and I hope she will be happy and excited.
The following day we woke up early, had breakfast and prepare our dive gears, we will travel by land 45mins from the resort to the boat station Barangay San Roque, Mahinog goin to Mantigue , the dive center boat will pick us there. We sail for about 15minutes to Mantigue island, can’t contained the excitement anymore especially the weather showed signs of sunlight.Actually I was more excited for Sugar, finally destiny will let her feel what I have been talking about every after dive trip that I have, and to be honest I want to infect her with ”Aquaholism” virus. 🙂
So Sugar and ”Kat ”another traveler we met in the diveshop will go together for the DSD while me and my buddy have our dive briefing. After hopping into the water , I can already ‘sea’ schools of fish near the Sanctuary, just imagine again the smiles all over my face.
The first dive site is a slope after the sanctuary about 15-20mtrs deep. Visibility is not so good above but slowing down it becomes clearer with a slight current. We see schools of fish hovering on top of the hard corals and huge groupers.After 15mins of the dive , felt a sudden thermocline , yes literally a sudden chill ,so I signal my buddy that Im feelin cold but as we continue to glide the temperature changes to warmth water , pretty amazing 🙂 )) During surface interval , I happily ask Sugar about their DSD, and thankfully what Ive got is 2 thumbs up and a huge smiles with just all good words and amazement.
The second dive is on another corner of the sanctuary, almost same topography and we met again with schools of fish, whats unforgettable is a giant creature we come across with as we ended our second dive. Last year we dive in some other spots of Camiguin and one special dive site where we met the rare Mimic Octupos + and Wonderpus which we tagged as ”Wonderful Octopus”
See photo below :
So diving is good, lets go to the next addiction.
One of the many reason why we love Camiguin is the food. Last year we found an awesome place to dine. A friend of mine from Cebu recommended it to me months prior to our departure. In Cebu we have this favorite Asian Restaurant inside Mango Square at the heart of the City its called ‘‘Big Bangkok Lilttel Saigon” they have atleast 3 restaurant around the city where we would dine with friends, our favorite is their ”Phad Thai”.Late 2015 we heard theyr’e closing down and my friend told me that theyre’ moving to Camiguin with a different name.
Guererro restaurant is located in Yumbing, a town on the foot of Mt.Hibok Hibok along the beach. It is in the middle of a rice paddy. It’s one of a kind romantic place for me, you have to walk through bamboo path in between rice plantation before reaching the restaurant. The staff are very friendly and accomodating, as well as the owners.
They have Asian cuisine with influence from Thai, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysian food which most of the ingredients and spices are source out freshly from their backyard.Last year we almost have Phad Thai every dinner at their place, were kinda addicted to it, what’s in my mind at that time is that I have to grab the chance to eat the best Phad Thai as much as I can since I couldn’t have the same Phad Thai in Cebu. I have to say it’s the best Phad Thai I have ever tasted outside Thailand. Their staff will gladly introduce to you their menu of the day, which in most case this are special recipes prepared by the owner itself.
Sugar had fallin in loved with their Spicy Chicken Rendang, while Alex had almost tasted most of their menu and had nothing to say but all positive response. We coudlnt agree more specially when we tried their Thai Basil cocktail.
Please forgive me for the shitty photo, but I can assure you the taste is like to die for 😀 😀 😀 ”mmmm yummm” mode switch on – ”FOODGASM” as they call I guess.
Their food is just more than amazing and more than delicious that non of us bother anymore to touch our mobile phones and capture photos.
Take a look at their webpage to appreciate more of their place.
Highly recommended place and definitely you shouldn’t miss when in Camiguin.
They recently open rooms too for travelers and you can book directly online through their website.
A choice of Beach View or the Mountain View (Mt Hibok Hibok view) with outdoor bath tub good for two, so no need to worry for ”Honeymoon” place .
So, next adventure.
To finally summit Mt.Hibok Hibok, after a failed attempt last year. Stay Tune for the next blog.
Quick Note : Camiguin bans and encourage to reduce use of plastics ,when you go to their market to buy fruits , food , bread or anything they will wrapped it in recycled paper or bags. 🙂 )) this is another reason why we love Camiguin.Aside from that the island offers hot springs, cold springs, breathaking views , waterfalls , hectares of rice paddies, hills , friendly people a very relaxing ambience. What more can you ask for. 🙂
This is gonna be a tough thing to write out of excitement.There’s another adventures ahead.If your’e ready so am I !
Lemme start with this pic !
I couldn’t be more extremely excited to write all of what had happen from our 2 week Adventure.
I am passionate in so many things or activities but this adventure brings the hell out of me from excitement since day 1 when we start to dig informations online and contacting people.So anyone closest to me knows what adventure I’m talking about-”Scuba Diving ”, again? yes? no? super JAWsome yes pls !
Scorching information over the web is not that easy as 1 2 3 ,mainly because either it’s too much or too little info , and most are too old and or nothing new. Our target for this adventure is a Liveaboard dive safari trip (6 days).Someone guess where we’re heading? Tubattaha? mmmm yes please but were not ready yet (kinda expensive) , Apo reef? yes please but then again we don’t have enough time to plan everything and not enough response as well.
To start with, my Dive Buddy found this Liveaboard operator from Bohol who offers Dive tours for Visayas Area and more interestingly he offers Liveaboard Dive Safari from Anda Bohol to Southern Leyte in the place where a possible chance to encounter Whale Shark is at stake.
After canvassing and doing more research we come to a choose Berndz Tauchsafaris based in Panglao Bohol,considering the rates and its inclusions; 6 full dive days with up to 3-4dives a day ,all inclusive of food, drinks and accomodation on board, we think it’s an interesting package.It requires a minimum of 6 divers that cost 895Euro each to have our own group Safari.
So we started reaching out to our circle of Dive addicted friends who are more or less like us as well, kinda suffering from ”Aquaholism”. After two weeks we finally reach 6pax as headcount with positive response means it would be more flexible for us, we can decide our preferred dives sites, schedules and no pressure from other groups.My Dive buddy is organizing and leading the contact with the dive operator and everything went fine at that stage.We finally had a dive schedule for Jan.3-8 from 5:00am on 3rd of January to 8pm of the 6th day.
Scuba Divers : Uwe (Germany), Alieth(Ph) , Alexandros (Greece), Jens (Germany), John (US) and Mathieu (Belgium)
Jan 1, 2017- yes, First day of the year we just wanna be in the beach , relax and chillout.Starting point is Cebu, me ,Uwe,Alexandros and Jens will head to Anda first and spend two nights there. Mathieu arrives earlier than us in Anda and guess we are jealous already. So I manage to get us a ticket(Oceanjet , Cebu-Tagbiliaran bohol) ahead of time hence travel date is a holiday, it can be tough sometimes.
1st misadventure : It’s 420pm but were not at the port yet, we arrive at exactly 5mins before the scheduled departure, the boat is still there ready to depart but unfortunately they wont let us in anymore since Customs Officer already cleared the vessel for passengers. Trying our luck and begging for them to let us in but no chance they offer us seats instead for the next special trip at 530pm, well we have no choice but to relax for an hr and wait for the next trip.
So inside the boat here we are :
We arrive at Tagbilaran port at around 8pm and travel time to Anda Beach is around 2.5hrs., we are greeted by a cute driver from the Resort where we stayed (La Petra Beach Resort Anda). Road seems so calm it was still a holiday , I think people are still so tired from the New Years eve party, well, they deserved rest too.We arrive at La Petra Beach Resort around 1030pm had our dinner and immediately took a rest.
The following morning we had an early breakfast before planning to hit the beach for the day. Then my buddy told me a bad news he receives an email just moments ago.
Apparently the dive safari operator emailed him saying that his Liveaboard boat is broken (some problem with the engine or so), and he can’t assure us that it would be fixed within the day so we can proceed the following day.
So what are our options?
He will refund our package payment fully including our bookings and incidental expense with our trip.So we will find alternative on our own.
Wait for the boat to be fix which means possibly until Jan.4 but unsure.
We relayed the bad news to the rest of the group and tell them the possible options and or consequences. It’s not an easy decision we have to make specially almost everything is already planned out including bookings paid after the safari trip and individual circumstances.
Shortly after our meeting , the operator called up again, and said he found a new boat as an alternative, it’s his friend’s boat – a bigger one that can travel long distance Anda-Southern Leyte, however this boat don’t have cabins and if we opt for this boat we shall stay in land in at least 2 Dive resort within leyte, the dive operator offered to pay all resort expenses hence there is no accommodation place with the alternative boat. It sounds to be a fair deal for us so we agreed but with the alternative boat we have to wait one day, so schedule is move Jan4-9 means we have one day to kill in Anda. We decided to look for dive operator within Anda beach and do 2 dives for a day. Found a French guy who operates a dive center in Flower Beach Resort 10 minutes away from where we stayed. It was a sunny day and just perfect to be back underwater again plus special people with awesome friends.
Day 1 -Jan.4- We woke up very early for a scheduled transfer to another resort where the boat will pick us for Leyte.Sea is calm when we depart, skies is a bit cloudy and some mist but Rainbow showed up seemingly greeting us good luck. Travel time is about 4-5hrs Bohol to Southern Leyte, we arrived at Macrohon Leyte where we checked in at around mid day.
We cant wait to start diving so we gear up ready for the first dive heading to the divesite called Medicare North, this is so-called after their neighboring position with Padre Burgos Medicare facility. This is a steep site down to 3ometers average rocky and sandy slopes which are decorated with hard and soft corals with schools of fusiliers, sweet lips and angel fishes, current is average. Noticeably large table corals and sponges are visible in this site.We eat our lunch within an hour surface interval then we proceed to Medicare South for a more relaxing dive, a rocky-sandy slope to 20meters where you can see snappers, black corals and a very cute Pygmy seahorse living in a seafan.It was a good starter dive although the weather seems to be sad, no sun .
Day 2 -Jan.5 This day we went diving around Limasawa island with thick clouds and some bits of rain, Mr Sunshine is still elusive.
Limasawa is a small island with around 6000+ people.In the past year local divers spotted Whale Shark passing by the area and now we were trying our luck to meet them here. Limasawa Island is famous place historically because it is where the ”First Catholic Mass in the Philippines” was held during Spanish times in the year 1521.
We did 3 dives in Limasawa’s beautiful walls adorned with all sorts of soft and hard corals in different colors and sizes, sponges ,black corals.Massive gorgonian fans can be seen as well as nudi branches(my favorite) and sometimes a yawning frogfish is available to greet you.On top of the wall is a lively coral garden full of anemones, tunicates, soft corals inhabited with all kinds of reef fishes.
Looking into the blue hoping to spot for Mr Sharky, unfortunately we didnt see him yet, but we still have 4 more days to go.
2nd misadventure : after the 3rd dive, were heading back to the resort, travel time is around 45mins-1hr, however shortly after we depart from Limasawa the boat captain stops the engine because there is a problem.Oh My God ! not this time please, everyone is tired for the dives and we just wanna rest in the resort.The crew tried to fix the problem(they say the cooling system on the engine is not working anymore), an hour has pass but still they couldn’t fix it then another half an hour and its gettin dark already. So we decided to ask for assistance from Sogod bay for a rescue boat.Luckily there is an immediate response form the other side and they’re willing to save us 😉 but after 15mins the engine suddenly starts , voila the crew was able to fix it, so rescue is cancelled and everyone is grateful.
Day 3 -Jan.6 Want a drift dive ? Max Climax 1 & 2, strong currents on these sites but we see beautiful stuffs like Nudis, sea moth, crinoid shrims and hairy squat lobsters.Vast array of staghorn can also be seen in this dive site as well as soft corals and barrel sponges. Then the most awaited night dive follows after 1.5hrs surface interval, we went to the well-known Padre Burgos pier.
What did we see during the night dive ? on my list are :
Flamboyant cuttlefish,Seahorses, nudis, flatwords, decorated crabs, the resident Stargazer of course, bobtail squid and many more.
Some beautiful soft corals in bright colors outgrown the pier’s pedestal looking like a wedding venue decor.We tried to look for the tiger shrimp but failed to see him.
Day 4 -Jan.7 Exciting day because we went to Napantao Marine Sanctuary , I super miss this place so much, one of my favorite dive site.Imagine your in marine biology class, this place has almost all freaking living things underwater that you will study about.Many behavior of living organisms that resides here can be observed. From different types of hard and soft corals in all sorts of colors and shapes, u name and see i here. Plus the massive population of all kinds of reef fishes in schools alive, awake and enthusiastically surrounding you. Big fishes like trevallies, barracuda, snapper, jack fish visiting the reef to feed.From mooray eels with their head protruding in between crevices to nurse sharks and black tips chilling under the huge rocks.
Beyond the happenings in the reef we focus our attention into the blue to see if Mr Whale Shark will finally show up, but nothing comes out until our tanks reach 30bar 😦 time to go up.
But still this site is so awesome that for the second dive we went to the same site and continue to Ghost town for a muck dive.
I will leave it to your judgement on the pictures below.
space ship nudi
beautiful sea fan
turtle and Mathieu
blue ribbon mooray
Scuba Diving Napantao
Scuba Diving Napantao
Day 5 -Jan.8 Since a typhoon is forecasted and Southern Leyte is declared under signal #1 together with Cebu, Bohol Siquijor and nearby visayas area.So this day we decide to do all dives inside the bay because it is safer.This day diveplan is to do 1 reef dive (Bunga Bend site) and a muck diving (also my favorite kind of diving) at Malitbog also know as Little Lembeh.My dive buddy hooked me up into muck diving about 3yrs now,if your new to this kind of diving you will initially question what the heck are you doing in this kind of divesites, but as time goes by and once you will get familiarize of what is it about and what can you see in this murky,trashy, sandy and sometimes blurry kind of divesites ,you will for sure slowly get addicted to it, specially when you see all the critters and extremely cute stuffs that is living behind the sand and or hiding behind bottles of beer and or some torned closed at the bottom.We had an awesome dive at Little Lembeh.
Day 6 -Jan.9 Today is our last day.
3rd Misadventure –Aside from a bad weather of the day which will hamper our trip back to Bohol, there is more worst news-The dive operator told us that our boat or the boat that brings us to Southern Leyte left early dawn without us knowing. We supposed to go back to Bohol on this day however because of the typhoon all boats are stranded at the port and is not allowed to sail, therefore we are stuck in Sogod Bay, we can’t think of anything else to do.
We decided dive with Peter’s Dive Resort and went to Jun’s Pinnacle where we see turtles and as expected this site is as lively as the neighboring Napantao dive site where we dive again for the third time.We spent most of our time in the ”Aquarium” and observe the fishes as they glide.Turtles,Damsel fish, parrot fish, thousands of Anthias, hundreds of angel fishes,all kinds of anemone fish,lizard fish, gobies,cardinal fish,groupers,pipe fish, lion fish, frogfish and giant trevallies hovering on top of playing reef fishes.
So we finish the day with a muck dive at Ghost Town which to our surprise marks one of the highlights of the trip is that we found 2 green hairy shrimps ,a very tiny one and a tiny one 😉 about 2mm and 5mm size.
To end our dive Safari we head to the pier again for a night dive.
During the night dive we see the Flamboyant cuttlefish again, and of course spent more of our time watching him, shortly before the end of the dive, the dive master signal for our attention and guess what he found something special- a Green Hairy Shrimps, which is very hard to spot since the water is a bit choppy underwater, the algae where it sticking is constantly moving. After my dive buddy had enough with the green hairy shrimp we proceed to try to search for the tiger shrimp again, unluckily we failed to find him, instead he find a very cute nudi.Back at the resort during dinnertime we tried to scan among pictures to see and SURPRISE guess what we see on the last shots he took, apparently near the nudi is a Purple/Red hairy shrimp.
SURPRISE SURPRISE !!! 🙂 😉 😉
That ends our dive safari.
Super JAWsome, FINtastic and a SEAlebration of life UnderWater ❤
We might not meet Mr.Whale Shark, we still consider it as a SUCCESS, despite misadventures along the way, we are still amaze how beautiful the sites in Sogod Bay for sure we will never get tired visiting/diving Sogod bay in Southern Leyte if given the chance.
Finding Flamboyant chilling at Padre Burgos pier and spending time with not only 1 but 4 Hairy shrimps and not just green but also purple/red hairy shrimps is more than a jackpot for us 😉 😉 ;*
Photo Credits to : Uwe, Jens,Alexandros and Eegy.
Thanks guys for being so awesome !
More pics down 🙂
Thanks guys for reading and now off to fantasize for our next exploratory dives somewhere in Panay next months , anybody who can guess will be one lucky bastard. 😉 😉 😉
The second week we proceed to Camiguin to summit Mt Hibok Hibok and dive Mantigue island, next on my blog .Stay tuned !!
It’s been awhile since the mermaids had gone to the abyss.
One saturday morning around 6am, cute voices woke me up very early.It was sweet and quite familiar.I open the door half awake, since I still feel so sleepy, darn it guess who is invading the city? It’s two of my favorite human being in the world.Who could that be. Well of course my happy pilss
#PrinceRobzki and #PrincessFeona.
So they will spend weekend with me in the city, and I have no plans in mind what to do. But since its been long time the mermaid is in dryland, I decided to pack our bags and prepare for a beach trip, this time heading in one of our favorite place in the South-Moalboal beach.This place holds a special place in my heart, we use to spend a lot of our weekends here when me and my best of friends think of hitting the beach.My little prince & princess loves the beach just like their mom. I’m thinkin of spending overnight so I google quickly where to rent a room cheaply that can accomodate us four including my niece Shela.I pretty much dont have any idea anymore what is the current rates of the rooms their since in the past we usually just bring tents and pitch it in the wite sand beach.
But hence were running out of time for reservation so I just crossed my fingers and hope there will be room available for us when we arrive.I cook quickly pancake to bring so kids will have something to eat while in the bus-its a 3hrs ride and ofcourse I dont want them to eat so much Chicharon and Ampaw along the way 🙂
So were ready : goggles/swimsuits/sunblock/towels/clothes/repellant/water = check.
We tool the non-aircon ceres bus in Cebu City South terminal located near E-Mall.
Adult = 90
Kids 6years old and above=45
Travel time was around 3hrs, we stop at Moalboal Poblacion town and took a tricycle which cost us P100 one way to Basdaku (White Beach), normally it is 25/head when u wait for it to be full with passengers, but since I’m travellin with my kids I prefer to have the tricycle on our own to avoid crowding.There’s an important thing to note tho, along halfway the travel someone will stop the tricycle and ask for like a toll fee of 5peso per passenger and they will gave you a documentary stamp in return, and when you arrive at the beach you have to pay 20peso entrance.
So we arrive finally, along the main white beach are some huts and bamboo cottages and some native hut with rooms, owners delighted us and persuade us to come look inside their room, so we are lucky there are still available rooms at the time. However it is feeling to crowded already there are may young group of beach goers from each side of the rooms.So I decided to walk further and see if there is a place which is a little bit quite, then we found this room just walking distance from the busy area where people pitch tents,a woman in her middle 40’s told us they have 2 vacant rooms one is fanroom and another one is with AC. I chose the fan room since its cheaper P1000 initially but then I was able to haggle the price to 900, me and my kids don’t really like AC, we easily chill. The room has only one bed but the size can fit us four since I have skinny kids too.There is toilet inside very cute and surroundings is clean. We will be spending most of our time anyways in the beach and swimming and snorkeling , so the room is basically is just for our things and charging our phones for pictorials 😉
So Feona and Robzki can’t wait they immediately change to beach wears and run to the beach.Feona miss swimming a lot, one of the reasons why she loves summer days, she can spent most of her time either in the pool or wholedays in the beach.
What could be more serence, this place has one of the best sunset view.
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
I told feona to come with me snorkeling about 50meters from the beach because I wanted to show her the beautiful coral reef near the dropoff, it was lowtide so it would be easier for her to see. In the beginning she is hesitant since she has only goggles and not snorkeling, I still have to buy her one which fits her size.Anyhow I manage to convince her that she will never regret coming with me to the edge of the coral reef plateau, besides I told her we have two mission: 1.to find Nemo 2. to find Dory, then we start swimming. Corals are still stunning in the area, healthy aquatic life , fishes ,soft corals everywhere and closer to the drop off are anthias and snappers.
It feels like home, it feels completely different to be submerged again.
I share same sentiment !
“The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective… it humbles you and makes you feel almost like you’ve been baptized. I feel born again when I get out of the ocean”
We spend two days in the beach were sunburnt, but we wont ever complain.We can’t wait to be back again. As we pack our bags heading home we felt tired, we felt blessed and we felt grateful, because no matter how cruel city life is, we still got the chance to be in a place we wanted to be over the weekend, in paradise.
Thanks Moalboal beach, please stay alive and vibrant.