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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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Thursday, October 20, 2011
WHERE: Higantes Group of Islands/ Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Northern Iloilo
DATE OF TRAVEL: October 15-16, 2011
WHY YOU SHOULD GO:
1. This group of islands is one of Iloilo's hidden gems. Its far location (northeastern tip of Iloilo) makes it a less commercialized destination even to many Ilonggos themselves.
2. If you're looking for raw beaches, the beaches here will definitely satisfy you.
3. The boat ride going to the islands is a treat itself. On our way there, we saw lots of flying fish, flocks of shorebirds and a seasnake going up for some air!
FEES: P2,500/ boat (Island Hopping, about 4-5 islands), P200/ head/ night at Gigantes Hideaway Inn
NOTE: There are no stores in most of the islands so it's best to bring food and drinks with you on the boat. It's also advisable to leave for the islands early in the morning, which means it's better to stay in the town of Estancia or Carles the night before to avoid late departure from the port.
DESCRIPTION: Higantes Group of Islands or Islas de Gigantes is a group of at least 10 islands and numerous caves at the northeastern tip of Iloilo province. Technically part of Carles town, it may also be accessed via the town of Estancia. Its name supposedly came from a belief that long ago, the islands were inhabited by 'giants' or 'big people'. In Filipino and in Spanish, big people are called 'higantes'. Mostly composed of raw, white sand beaches, it also boats of a natural lagoon with limestone rock formations similar to those in Palawan. Here are the islands of Higantes we explored:
BALBAGON ISLAND - A long stretch of white sand with a small community living at the back. If you're looking for a beach where you can just relax and read a book, this is the one for you. It's also the nearest island from the port of Carles town.
GAKET-GAKET ISLAND - A sandbar with two coconut trees and small huts for fishermen who are out at sea. Because of its ideal location, fishermen stop here every so often before continuing their journey or going home.
TANGKE SALTWATER LAGOON - The only saltwater lagoon in this group of islands, this is Isla de Gigantes' star attraction. Here, you will find yourself in the middle of a saltwater lagoon that is surrounded by limestone rock formations. Its blue-green and shallow water (during low tide) are reasons enough for one to take a dip, sit down and look up to appreciate nature's beauty and listen to the numerous bird calls. This breathtaking lagoon is supposedly where the old Filipino film "Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Lupa" was shot.
CABUGAO GAMAY ISLAND - Composed of "two" beaches and beautiful rock formations, this is our favorite beach among all. Its inviting waters is perfect for swimming, while you can choose your sunbathing spot on its spacious soft sands. Do not miss climbing the rock formations for a great view of the beaches and the vast ocean.
ANTONIA ISLAND - A small island composed of beautiful rock formations, white sands, coconut trees, azure waters and a family of dogs ready to welcome you anytime.
BANTIGUE SANDBAR - The most beautiful sandbar in this group of islands, Bantigue Island is supposedly best visited at sunset. We didn't get to go at that time but was still amazed at the sand's snakelike formation.
SICOGON ISLAND - Sicogon Island, as others describe it, was THE Boracay of the 1990's with its white sands and highly developed establishment. It used to be a luxury resort which flew in foreigners from different parts of the world. Today, the resort is no longer existing and communities have already settled in the island, but its beauty still remains. With a close canopy forest which is home to about 97 kinds of trees, their mountain is absolutely worth exploring. In our opinion, we don't see it as a "thing of the past", but an island with so much potential. Too bad we weren't able to bird in the area, but the site looks promising.
ASLUMAN ISLAND, HIGANTES NORTE - While this island doesn't have a beach for swimming, it boasts of numerous caves worth exploring. Too bad it rained a couple of days before we arrived, which made the trails very muddy and hardly accessible. This is where you will spend the night if you choose to do the Island Hopping Overnight Package with Tourism Officer Joel Decano, and you will be staying at Gigantes Hideaway Inn, a small homestay-like place with really cute native designs. We spent the afternoon and morning exploring the island - from watching the sunset and birdwatching at the mangrove area in front of the inn to walking at the foot of the hill in search of birds to watching the people as they gather shells and take out the scallops which they will sell at the public markets. At least one member of each family in the community is involved in the business of scallops and shells - whether it be gathering shells or taking out the scallops or collecting the colored shells which they sell to exporters and shellcraft makers. Such is the business of shells in the island that even their sands have turned into shells! Only two things concern us here: 1) Since they claim that they do not farm the scallops, what happens when they don't reproduce enough anymore, or don't reproduce at all? and 2) We think the mountains of shells that are just scattered all over the island can be put to better use (maybe crafts?). Nevertheless, Asluman Island is an interesting place to see. If you're feeling lazy, you can just hang out in Gigantes Hideaway Inn's huts and/or native beds.
Some places we didn't get to visit: Lighthouse (Parola); Caves (Pawikan, Langub, etc), Uaydajon Island, Puting Baybay (Lumpatan Rock), Pulupandan Island
HOW TO GET THERE: From Manila, you can fly to either Iloilo City, Iloilo or Roxas City, Capiz.
Once you land in Iloilo City, you can take a cab from the airport to Tagbak Terminal then take a CERES bus bound for Carles. Contact Tourism Officer Joel Decano (contact number below) once you're in Carles. You can also take a shuttle from the airport to Jaro (P50.00). From there, walk going to the plaza and ask around where the jeepneys headed to Tagbak Terminal pass. Jeepney costs less than P10.00.
You can also take an Estancia bound bus from Tagbak Terminal. One passenger ferry leaves from Estancia Fishing Port to Isla de Gigantes Sur daily at around 2:00 pm and leaves the next day at around 7:00 am. You can hire fishermen to take you around for some island hopping for about P2,000.
If you choose to fly to Roxas, Capiz, you can take Estancia or Carles bound buses.
Travel time to Carles/ Estancia from Iloilo City is about 4 hours, and 2 hours from Roxas City.
CONTACTS: Joel Decano, Tourism Officer of Carles, Iloilo - +63918 4685006. You can also add ISLA GIGANTES as a friend on Facebook.
SPECIAL THANK YOU: To Sir Joel Decano, for accompanying us and arranging out stay. We would also like to thank Mayor Arnold Betita (Mayor of Carles town) for making us stay in his home for one night and for covering our island hopping expense upon learning that we have a blog and that we frequently travel around the country. Thank you both for your hospitality. We truly enjoyed our stay. :)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
2) While a lot of happy campers are discovering this by the day, it's still not a "commercialized" area so hurry before it becomes the next "Boracay!"
3) Their forest at the back is home to many birds - perfect for birders and nature lovers.
FEES: P75/ head entrance fee
As of writing, there are no commercial establishments in the island. There are a few open cottages that you can rent for the day, however, and a small sari-sari store which sells drinks and chips. There is also a rustic bathroom and a toilet for campers, but you need to pump your own water should you use them.
You need to bring your own camping gear because going to Calaguas means staying overnight. Camping will be so much easier if you bring your own tent, food (cooked or bring cooking utensils), flashlight, sleeping bag, etc. Portable mats and hammocks would help make camping more fun, too! Also, while there's a sari-sari store in the island, you'll never know when they'll run out of stock so make sure to bring your own drinkable water.
At the back of the beach is a field and a forest where birders can spot, watch and observe crows, swallows, cuckoos, etc. Make sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a guide book if you want to go birdwatching.
The boat ride going to Calaguas is not always calm, but a scenic one. Taking the Vinzons route, we passed by a beautiful river with a view of Mt. Balacay before going out to ocean where big boats are needed to brave the rough waters. Hours after the view of the open sea, you are again rewarded with rolling hills, beautiful rock formations and white sand beaches. Seabirds fly near you once in awhile, and flying fish may also be seen along the way. Just note that since the waters are rough, your stuff will most probably get wet. So make sure to bring waterproof bags to protect your things, and a raincoat if you don't want to get wet. Another wise option is to wear your swimsuit already so you can just enjoy the splashes of water without having to worry about your outfit! The best time to go is during the drier season, but just to be sure, you can always shoot an email to the Camarines Norte Tourism Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to check the weather.
This is how we did it:
1. Flew to Naga, Camarines Sur (45 mins flight)
2. Took a cab from the airport to the van terminal going to Daet (20 minutes, P250)
3. Took a van to Daet (2 hours, P145 each)
4. Took a tricycle to the jeep terminal going to Vinzons (5 minutes, P8.00 each)
5. Took a jeep to Vinzons Public Market (15-20 minutes, P16.00 each)
6. Took a tricycle to the boat area going to Calaguas (5 minutes, P8.00 each)
7. Chartered a commuter boat going to Calaguas (2.5 hours, P4,000/ big boat/ overnight)
You can also catch a bus going to Daet, Camarines Norte from Manila. From there, you can either head to Vinzons or get a boat from Paracale (about 2 hours away). For information on Paracale, click here.
Another option is fly to Naga, Camarines Sur but instead of taking the van to Daet, hire a cab all the way to Vinzons, Camarines Norte. Rates start at P2,500. This is probably the fastest option to Calaguas Island.
Or...you can also drive from Manila all the way to Paracale, Camarines Norte since it's nearer Manila than Vinzons is.
NOTE: Whatever option you choose, be prepared for a loooong journey. Take note, too, that a lot of the boats are either fishermen or commuter boats and not really intended for tourists. Don't expect boats with comfortable seats. Also, in our case, getting to Calaguas took us more than 2.5 hours because we had to stop by a town where our boatmen dropped off the town's water supply. It would be best to respect their time and just enjoy the ride. :)
NOTE2: If you're alone and willing to join a big group, several travel groups organize tours to Calaguas. Prices range from P1,800-P4,000 per head. Here are some of them:
Personally speaking, we prefer the DIY option. But if you want everything planned for you, you can try those groups. We haven't tried them and we cannot vouch for them. :)
HELPFUL LINKS: http://www.lakwatsero.com/destinations/calaguas-islands/
CONTACT: Bhuls, boatman for Calaguas - +639493187597 (P4,000/ big boat, roundtrip)
OUR CALAGUAS CAMPING CHECKLIST: (in random order)
*sunblock/ tanning lotion
*flashlight and headlight
*first aid kit
*3L of drinkable water
*snorkel and mask
2. Even if you're not a surfer, this is a great place to hang out, fly a kite or try skim/ bodyboarding! Sometimes, kiteboarding is done here, too. You can also just sit on your mat while watching surfers catch the waves!
P400/ hour - surf lessons (board and instructor included)
P200/ hour - board rental (long and short surfboards)
P200/ hour - surf instructor
P100/ hour - boogie board and skim board rental
NOTE: Beware of currents. Bagasbas beach is notorious for its fast moving currents spread all over the Bagasbas waters at random spots. If ever this happens, swim/ surf sidewards to get out of the current.
During surf season (October or whenever there's a typhoon), waves can reach 8 feet or more! On regular days, the waves range from 2-4 feet, but take note that they are quite fast. Make sure you're with someone when you swim or surf.
The beach's length will leave you lots of spaces no matter the number of people in the beach. There are also a few cottages for rent as well as simple bathrooms along the beach in case you need to wash up or take a bath.
Right across the beach is a strip full of simple accommodations, surf shops and carinderias (small restaurants) in case you get hungry or you need a place to sleep in. Surfer's Diner, one of the inns, can book a seat for you on Philtranco and Amihan buses going back to Manila.
If you're not a surfer and don't want to try surfing, Bagasbas beach is still a fun place to hang while you're in transit (whether you're waiting for the bus going back to Manila or you're stopping over Camarines Norte to get some fresh air before you head further down south).
If you're a surfer or would like to try surfing, you can check out the wave forecasts here:
Or you can call the contact (Ate Mabel) below to ask about the waves in time for your arrival.
HOW TO GET THERE:
1. Fly to Naga, Camarines Sur (45 mins flight)
2. Take a cab from the airport to the van terminal going to
Daet (20 minutes, P250)
3. Take a van to Daet (2 hours, P145 each)
4. Take a tricycle of jeep to Bagasbas Beach (P100-150/ tricycle)
You can also catch a bus (Philtranco, Amihan, Superlines) going to Daet, Camarines Norte from Manila. From the bus terminal, just take a jeepney or tricycle to Bagasbas Beach.
Hangloose Surf Shop
Ate Mabel - +63909 5312869/ +63906 5737968
JB, her son, is a surf instructor, while Ate Mabel is in charge of the shop's operations.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
1. It's a great place to have an adventure and learn about our history at the same time.
2. It's one of the most underrated destinations in the Philippines!
3. All the tour guides of Sun Cruises are well-trained and funny!
4. It's so near Manila YET you're transported to a totally different world!
NOTE: It gets really hot during summer so make sure to bring lots of water and wear light clothes.
Another way (which is not under Sun Cruises anymore) is to take a ferry from Bataan. Details soon!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Day 1, February 11
Manila - Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific (arrival in KL - LCCT Airport is at 12:35 am)
Take STAR SHUTTLE bus straight to Classic Inn (RM 18)
Day 2, February 12
Stops for today:
Istan Negara (National Palace)
Muzium Negara (National Museum)
KLCC (Petronas Towers)
Malaysia Tourism Center for the Cultural Show (check this website for schedule of events)
Walk to Petronas Towers (for best view, go to the traffic island in the middle of Public Bank & Petronas Towers)
Walk to KLCC Park
Walk to Bukit Nanas Station (go home to Classic Inn via Imbi Station)
Day 3, February 13
Stops for today:
Masjid Negara (National Mosque)
Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square)
Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture)
Karakeneya (Crafts Center)
Day 4, February 14
Berjaya Times Square
Day 5, February 15 (early morning)
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
WHY YOU SHOULD GO:
FEES: Free entrance but you can buy any of the works in the exhibit
NOTE: Mag:net Gallery changes their art exhibits monthly.
Mag:net Cafe is an artist haven. It supports a lot of Philippine contemporary arts from visual arts to literature to music. It has a gallery which showcases different exhibits every month and a cafe that serves salads, appetizers, soups, sandwiches, pasta, desserts, merienda and "real" meals. It also serves as a venue for film screenings, performances, literary readings, impromptus, jamming sessions and other art-related events. It is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10am-7pm.
(mostly copied from the handout of mag:net gallery)
The television is a part of Filipinos' everyday lives. Local channels like ABS-CBN , TV5 and GMA offer cartoons, commercials, noon time shows, current news and events, showbiz buzz, talk shows, talent shows, telenovelas, koreanovelas, teleseryes and more. With everyday viewing of these shows, its influences are inevitable to Filipino culture. These shows continually establish cultural trends and are usually successful in hypnotizing its viewers to agree and operate accordingly with the culture they are secretly imposing. The influence they enforce on Filipinos is manifested through the prevailing characteristics of our society's culture such as being elitist, westernized, escapist, fetishist and having a dog-eat-dog mentality.
With all these nonsense on television and with the culture as described above that these nonsense and fetish television shows communicate to its viewers every hour of everyday, it is constantly able to show the "ecstacy" of the real. The people, rather than just watching the shows, begin to actually live the "ecstacy" which is actually very ironic and problematic since the reality on TV and the one we are actually living are quite different. Popularity has become more important than content and quality and romanticism of reality is applauded.
The television, being a tool for advertisers, for show business and their biases, for entertainers who suck blood and life from the viewers is an ideological state apparatus to may be likened to the church and the academe. Its power of communication over its viewers is one-sided most of the time.
Now for the local channels to be acknowledged, their shows need to be "sellable", and to do this, they would have to romanticize and exoticize reality. They distort the reality in order to sell. They show what they want people to see, whether or not it's reflective of real life.
This exhibit focuses on the ecstacy of the real inculcated on by television shows, to depict and question the culture these variety shows infuse on each individual who watches television and challenge the present ideology accepted and oftentimes overlooked. The subliminal messages of television shows and how it hypnotizes its viewers' minds that lead to our decadent trying-hard-to-be Hollywood celebrities/ rockstars/ artstars will be represented in different approaches according to each artist and hopefully be of contribution in displaying and documenting this kind of culture. After all, the most common of everyday life are the ones that say many things about the society's thinking.
The works range from two-dimensional paintings to three-dimensional sculptural pieces and installations. In two-dimensional works, mixed media and paintings are exhibited while in three-dimensional works, both molded sculptural pieces and asssemblages of ready-mades are exhibited.
This exhibit will run until September 30, 2010.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Ang Araw-araw na Aparisyon ng mga Dyos na Puta sa Bawat Kahon na May Cablewire at Antenna (dyptich)
Acrylic and Collage on Canvas
108 x 48 inches
Price: P113,700.00 (48 x 72)/ P56,850.00 (36 x 48)
These Selfish People
Oil on Wood Panel
24 x 48 inches
Variations on Kuya Germs
Colored Pencil on Paper/ Size variable
Price: P820.00 (each)
Director Predator Series (multiples)
Acrylic on Resin, Size variable
Price: P45,500.00 (8 pieces)/ P5,700.00 (each)
Carlo De Guzman
My Bigot Tih
Oil on Canvas
36 x 36 inches
Mity Dela Pena
Collage - Acrylic, Latex and Ink on
Discarded Refrigerator Packaging
24 x 60 inches
Life in Technicolor (Information Overload) R,G,B series and Viewer no. 23, 639, 014
Spraypaint on Multi-cast Resin, TV size variables
Price: P58,500.00 (3 pieces)/ P19,500.00 (each)
The Squash-Head Projectile Theory (Viewers Demise)
Acrylic on Paper and Wood
36 x 36 inches
Mixed Media, Size variable
Bread, Paint, Microwave Container/ Size variable
Price: P13,000 (16 pieces)/ P820.00 (each)
WHY YOU SHOULD GO:
If you're traveling back from Surigao del Sur to Agusan del Norte, this is a perfect pasalubong center because they sell lots of Agusan-made products for very reasonable prices.
WHAT TO BUY: This center sells a lot of goods - from small souvenirs to Manobo-inspired beadwork to native pillows to lamps to local furniture! Make sure to buy a replica of the Golden Tara (aka the Golden Image of Agusan) and/ or mini Balangay boats, the most ancient sea vessels found in the Philippines.
NOTE: Although this center sells local furniture, they do not take care of the delivery.
Mondays to Saturdays: 9:00 am-12:00 nn and 2:00 pm-7:00 pm
HOW TO GET THERE: Once in Agusan del Sur, just ask the locals to bring you to Barangay Dos in San France. The Tourism Display Center is located right beside the gym.
Tourism Display Center - +63920 3514552
Kuya Juvy (driver/ tour guide) - 63927 7175267/ +63909 9899854
STUFF WE BOUGHT:
Golden Tara Replica
medium: P300.00 (in the picture)
Wooden Pen Holder
P25.00 per piece