10 Reasons Why Coron is such a Charming Destination

For the annual trip with friends, we chose Coron as our destination. Coron is part of Palawan, Philippines. Previous destinations of my trip with friends were Naga, Sagada, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley.  For this June trip, we started booking for Coron last November.  We had time to prepare and gather friends to join us. The wait was long but it was all worth it.

My words may not be enough to describe the beauty of the place. You have to visit Coron and bring friends along.  Let me try to convince you to take a trip there.  Here are 10 reasons why Coron has charmed its way to my heart:

1. The sunset is glorious.

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I know that there are many glorious sunsets in the country.  I have seen many but this is the first time I experienced the sunset from the top of the mountain. We climbed the 700 steps of Mt. Tapyas.

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It was an easy climb so you do not have to worry about not being a mountain climber.

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2. Coron Town is very accessible. Our hotel was a few blocks away from the port so we mostly travel on foot.

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3.  The boat ride was an experience itself. We had a double decker boat equipped with toilet and kitchen.

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From the second deck, it was possible for me to take this photo of my friends.

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My favorite part of the boat is the netted outrigger.

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Photo by Bong Flores.

4. I love snorkeling.  I learned how to snorkel in Apulit, Palawan in 2012.  The corals there were amazing. Coron is known to have same beautiful corals and colorful marine species. This is why me and my friend, Gail, were the first few off the boat to snorkel. This photo is proof that we would rather snorkel than pose for a photo. On the top right, you can see me too busy to be bothered by a camera. Hehehe!

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Photo by Bryan Edulzura.

Coron corals broke my heart.  Although we saw healthy and colorful ones, many were in a sad state. Coron was hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 and we witnessed the damage it had on the marine life while snorkeling.

5. We enjoyed rafting at Kayangan Lake.

This area in Kayangan Lake is the what we often see in postcards. I think this is the most popular spot in Coron.

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The actual lake is this.

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We stayed on the raft for a looong time. We laid on our back. We laid on our stomach and bent over with our goggles to view the world underneath.  Our time in the lake was one of my favorite activities in Coron. Kayangan Lake is known to be the cleanest lake in the country.

Photo by Bong Flores

Photo by Bong Flores

6. Hidden Lagoon is a quiet sanctuary. We visited the site before lunch. We were already hungry but when the boatman approached the area, I momentarily forgot about lunch and posed for photos.

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Me and my friend, Gail.

I took this diving photo of my cousin. Look at the clear water!

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7. Barracuda Lake is serene yet eerie underneath.  I swam (with lifevest, hehehe) in the middle of the lake and put on the goggles to see what is underneath. I saw nothing.  Just deep blue water.  I swam to the sides and did the same, I saw jagged rock walls underneath similar to walls in this photo. It looked like there is another kingdom underneath.  It was in this lake where we saw some people being taught how to scuba dive.  Must be that deep.

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8. Swimming time at Banol Beach was fun. The sand was soft on the feet.  Water is clear. What is not to love about this beach? The beach was not really part of the package we chose but when my cousin saw a photo of Banol beach in the wall of Coron Village Lodge, he asked to include it to the itinerary. We just have to pay the entrance fee.  We enjoyed our time here. Swimming here was the best way to end our Coron tour.

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We really enjoyed the beach!

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Photo by Bryan Edulzura.

9.   We never stopped laughing. Well… unless, we were eating or sleeping.  My friends are cool people who can take a lot of our ribbing. We had bullies who never stopped teasing their targets but all is well. Look at four of my friends who wore shirts of the same color as the tour guides on two different days.

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10.  I have wonderful friends. The most number of friends I have traveled with before was 8.  In this trip, we were a group of 14 – a mix of new and long-time friends.  We all had a great time. No one had tantrums. No petty quarrels. No little arguments. No heavy discussions. All were game. Each had fun. Even the quiet ones had fun. No one was left out. We had so much fun in this trip that we are all looking forward to the next trip together.  Say hello to my wonderful friends.

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Photo by Bong Flores

I know that the 9th and 10th reasons had nothing to do with Coron but with the people I was with. Thus, I recommend traveling with friends. You will get to know your friends better when you travel with them.

Consider Coron for your next vacation destination.

For our Coron trip: We flew via Cebu Pacific. (Cebu Pacific has multiple flights to Busuanga from Manila every day. Philippine Airlines also flies to Coron.) We book our tours through Coron Galeri. We stayed at Coron Village Lodge.

Summer Sojourn at Bucas Grande

Early March, I received a message from my cousin that she is coming  home to the Philippines in April for  a few days. You see my cousin was born and raised in Canada and the last time we saw her was 13 years ago. This trip was long overdue.  We were all excited. We agreed to meet her in Surigao to be with her  and her friends to visit Bucas Grande.  I have long wanted to visit the place and this is the perfect opportunity.  I have long wanted to travel with my cousins, too!

Bucas Grande Group of Islands is part of the municipality of Socorro in Surigao del Norte. To get there, you must reach the port of Hayanggabon in Claver, Surigao del Norte to cross to the islands. Claver is an hour and a half land trip from Surigao City.

This is our home in Bucas Grande for four days. This called Cinnamon Island. There are cinnamon trees in this island. We get an unlimited supply of cinnamon tea.  After every island hopping trip, there is cinnamon tea waiting for us.

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Electricity was available from 5 PM to 7 AM the following day.  Who needs power when you are out  exploring the whole day? There is cellular signal in some areas of the island.

On our first trip out of the sea, we visited the Jellyfish Sanctuary. Bucas Grande is home to stingless jellyfishes.

We had to transfer to a paddle boat.

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There is only one passenger per paddle boat.  Here’s my cousin and her boatman.

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I love the boat ride towards the jellyfish sanctuary. The sea was calm and the air was cool.

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Trees surrounded us as we sailed towards the sanctuary.

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We were not allowed to swim with the stingless jellyfish because the lotion in our bodies can harm them.  We were allowed to touch them for a little while though.

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This is the white jellyfish. I would not have seen it had the boatman not pointed it out to me.

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This is the stingless jellyfish that is very visible from the boat. I am glad I was able to capture this photo as it swam near the surface.  I added some calligraphy into the photo.

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Bucas Grande has so much to offer.  We toured inside the Sohoton Cove. We  can only do this during low tide since we need to pass through this inlet.

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There is so much to see.

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We also swam inside the cave. I have no photo to show since my camera is not waterproof. In another activity, they went inside the a cave and the easier way out is to jump off a cliff.   It looked fun but I chickened out. There were so many people. I might cause delay to some people if I take time to prepare myself to jump.

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We had lunch in one of the islands.  We spend some time swimming here and taking some jumpshots.

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There were 11 of us on this trip.

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This island is beautiful.

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Oh, we ate fresh sea urchin, sea oysters that are attached to the rocks and other sea creatures whose names escape me right now. We saw this blue starfish.

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We had this seaweed for dinner.

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We also went spelunking inside the Crystal Cave. Stalactites and stalagmites are encrusted with crystals.

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Three of our friends went inside the Bolitas cave.  It was a narrower cave where there are a lot of rounded stones inside the cave.

We cooked our own food so when we ran out of food to eat, we went to nearest island with settlements.  This is Barangay Bay-ang in Socorro.

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We bought vegetables from a sari-sari store; meat and fish from a supplier’s house.

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This community has a fowl that is a cross between a rooster and a turkey. I do not know what this is called.

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We were able to visit Club Tara. This is the most expensive resort in Bucas Grande.

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Our humble accommodation was okay, too!

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We woke up to this view every day.

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Before we left the island, we had a special delivery! Fresh young coconut! Buko!

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Oh how I miss the island life! Some good things had to end to welcome new adventures. Can’t wait for the next beach trip!

Rewarded For Traveling

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If you enjoy traveling, there are ways that you can earn dollars that can go toward a future vacation. These programs give you points that can be exchanged for air travel, hotels and other aspects of your trip. When you go on a vacation, you earn a certain percentage from the total spent on the trip. Once you have enough dollars or points accumulated, you can use them on a car rental, hotel room or something else that you want to save money on when you book your next vacation.

This is a benefit for those who like to travel through the year. Most of the rewards earned don’t expire for quite some time, and you can sometimes combine other offers so that you save more money. If you have a large group traveling together, then this would be an idea so that you don’t spend a lot of money for a hotel room or air travel. One way to save more money is to book your vacation in advance of a busy season so that you get the lower price while using the savings earned from your points. If you want to travel extensively, learn how today for as little money as possible.

One Saturday in UPLB

I had a work trip and some free time so I made arrangements to meet with my college roommates. We have not seen one another in 12 years.  I stayed for one weekend in the house of one of my roommates and we agreed to meet  my other roommate who lives in Laguna.  All of us needed a break from work and school. We brought my roommate’s kids. Laguna is a perfect escape from Metro Manila.

Because my roommate spent her high school in the University of Philippines Los Baños’ Rural High School, she is familiar with the campus and toured us. We were all roommates at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP Diliman). I love the UP Diliman campus but I have to say UP LosBaños (UPLB) has its own charm. I should have cross registered and took some subjects there for one summer.

I’ll take you to some places we visited though my photos. This is the park near the entrance.

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UPLB has a Thai Pavilion.  I do not know what the structure is for but anyone can hang out here.

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One of my roommates and I at the Nihon Koen Steps. It looked like we’re in Japan, eh?

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If you get tired after waking on these steps, there are benches where you can rest.

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Going up the mountain, there is the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Jamboree Site.

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This site is near the entrance to the National Art Center of the Philippines.

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On our way up, we passed by this open church, where a wedding scene in one of Aga-Regine movies was shot.

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These are the buildings of the Philippine High School for the Arts. Artistically-inclined scholars study high school here. 

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The topmost area in this route is the National Arts Center.

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On this plateau, we can see the Alligator Lake, parts of Los Baños and Calamba. I think.

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All the touring made us thirsty. We dropped by the College of Agriculture.  They sell delicious fresh milk, yogurt, pork and beef products!

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We still have a lot of time in our hands so we visited IRRI (International Rice Research Institute).  This is the Ipil drive on the way to IRRI.

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We visited  IRRI  a month before Bill Gates did. (Not an important information, I just want to mention that. Hahaha)  IRRI is the premiere institution in the world that conducts research on rice.   The top rice scientists from all over the world work here.

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They study different varieties of rice from all over the world.

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They have different enclosures that mimic the climate of a particular country.

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At the end of the road at IRRI, we found the UP Open University Oblation.

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After this tour, we hung out at the open field in UPLB near the fertility tree.  The fertility tree is just a large acacia tree. It is called as such because a lot of things happen underneath the tree.  What are those things? Your guess is as good as mine.

IMG_1413We had dinner at Dalcielo inside the campus and we called it a day.

It was a wonderful day with friends.

Vacation Home Pleasures

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When you go on a vacation with your family, you might think that the only option for somewhere to stay is at a hotel. There are Singer Island vacation rentals and other homes that you can stay in that have most of the amenities that you would find at home. These types of rentals have more room and are ideal for large families or a group of friends who want to stay under the same roof instead of getting a few hotel rooms.

If you want to stay in a location that is quiet and away from all of the sights and sounds of the city, you can often find a vacation home much easier than you can a hotel. There is plenty of space, including separate bedrooms and a living area as well as a kitchen so that you can prepare meals together. Most vacation homes allow pets where hotels usually don’t allow pets. This makes it easier when you are faced with putting your pet in a kennel while you are out of town. While you are in the home, you will likely be in a residential area. You can see what life is like if you are thinking about moving there or if you want to go back in the future.

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