My Year of Philippine Travel

I traveled a lot in 2011 that some of my friends have labeled me “laagan“. Laagan  is a Visayan term for wanderer. The word describes someone who can’t stay put.  I know a lot of travel bloggers who went to a lot more places than I do. Compare to them, my trips looked mild. Nevertheless, I felt I traveled more this year compared to my trips for the past 30+ years.

2011 was the year I started to fulfill my travel dreams.  I am hoping to see new places this year.

Dalaguete, Cebu

This is a town in Southern Cebu. My paternal grandfather came from this quiet town. Their town fiesta (300+ years!) is on a February. My cousins invited me to come along and coincidentally, we had a Cebu Pacific trip scheduled on those dates. (Dalaguete is pronounced as “dalaget”.)

Cebu City

We always visit the Sto. Niño whenever we are in Cebu.  However, it was my first time to check out Magellan’s cross.

Davao City

Although I spent 4 years of my life in this city, it has been 8 years since I last set foot on this place. I attended some important matters in Davao in April and I squeezed in some touristy activities by visiting Jack’s Ridge and People’s Park.

Masao, Butuan City

Butuanons (and several acclaimed historians) claimed that Magellan landed here and not in Limasawa.  For us, Butuanons, this is also our beach.

Checkout the sign: Do not "ride' the boat. If you want pictures, use ground area. (rough translation)

Luneta, Manila

My quest to visit the Rizal monument remained a dream. More stories on this post.

Magallanes, Agusan del Norte

The oldest tree in the Philippines can be found here.  One can reach this place via a 30-min boat ride.

Camarines Sur

It was the first time I traveled with friends. We had so much fun that we are planning another trip this year to another Philippine destination. There was so much to see in CamSur that I wrote 4 blog posts about this trip: here, here, here and here. 😀

Legazpi, Albay

The two-hour trip from Naga city was all worth it. Mayon Volcano, the world’s most perfect cone, was magnificent.

Bit-os, Butuan City

One need not go so far to see new places. Even a small city like Butuan has hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Intramuros, Manila

It was a short yet memorable visit. I will explore more of this place next time. I should join  Carlos Celdran’s walking tour .

Tagaytay City

The short trip with relatives was still fun.  Taal Volcano is always fascinating.

Bantayan, Cebu

Bantayan rekindled my love for the beach.  This place is paradise. I hope Bantayan does not get too commercialized.

Cebu City

I traveled to Cebu again and explored it on my own.  I walked to the Plaza Independencia early in the morning before my trip back home.

Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur

We braved the roads during Sendong to attend a friend’s wedding. I would have taken pictures of Pagadian. The city’s unique features are the inclined streets and angled tricycles. I failed to take photos because my mind was in CDO and Iligan. We went to Lakewood and the place was beautiful. I relaxed a bit before traveling back again to Cagayan de Oro. We traveled during the night along Lanao del Norte.

I will travel more this year.

I end this post with this video.

Tara na!

Ten things I love about Bantayan

I was supposed to write a chronological post about my experience there but I always end up looking at photos instead. I get sidetracked every time. Bantayan is such a beauty. I get mesmerized by looking at photos which consequently brings me to dream land and I start reminiscing the 3 days I spent there without writing them down. My thoughts run faster than my typing speed.

So I come up with the list of things I love about Bantayan Island.

1. The BEACH!

Of course! What else could it be? We stayed in the town of Santa Fe and the beach there is gorgeous. Do you see the sand bar? In the morning, when the tide is low,  that large area with water is all sand like this one below. 2. Bantayan Sunrise

We woke up early to catch the sunrise.  The cool morning breeze jolts us up. No need for coffee to perk me up. It is worth waking up early.

3.  The Bantayan Sunset

The sunset was also beautiful. We were fortunate we were near this area when the sun set. 4. Empty beach

I am quite selfish when it comes to personal space. This may be the reason why I was not a beach lover before because the beach near my city was always crowded. I like the comfort  wide open spaces bring. It is like owning a beach.  What I like most is that we can just leave our things on the sand and swim to our heart’s content without worrying about our belongings being stolen.  Well, there was one little scary moment when a dog sniffed on our bags on the sand while we were in the water. The dog went on his merry way afterwards. No harm done.  Mental note: Do not bring food on the beach.

5. Affordable food on the street

I like it when I can spend less that P100 for a meal. I had chicken barbecue, puso (rice in basket of coconut leaves) and softdrink. I think it only cost me around P60 for that meal.  Another meal I had is grilled chorizo on a stick.  One stick only costs P15. Not bad. I had fresh pineapple for dessert. Sweet deal!

Chicken barbecue and puso

Chorizo and pineapple

6. Clean streets

I like walking especially in streets that are not familiar to me. It is an opportunity to explore. Walks are lovelier on a clean street. 7. The small town charm

Bantayan town proper is small yet charming.  Key establishments surround the town plaza. The church, municipal building , market and port are all accessible by foot from the town plaza. 8. Danggit!

Danggit is a fish.  When one mentions danggit and Bantayan, the term danggit often refers to dried danggit. It is a boneless dried fish. It is cooked by frying. It is best eaten when it dipped in vinegar and paired with rice.  Our hotel served danggit for breakfast.

But that was not enough for me, I had to bring danggit home. Thus, we trooped to the market to buy a kilo. A kilo costs P400.

Other dried products were also available. I also bought dried squid.

9. Getting the tan

I am Filipino. I have brown skin.  I love it that way. After my trip to Bantayan, friends and family have noticed that I got darker than my usual brown color.  The thing is, I don’t fret over dark skin unlike some Filipinos.  My only concern is sunburn. I did not get it so I am fine. It has been 3 weeks since the trip, my cousin still teases me that I am dark. I do not mind. I love my color.  My father often told me before that I was red when I was born. Now, I declare I have the tan of Victoria’s Secret model.  I do not need to post a whole body shot to prove it.  My tanned legs (uhm, logs!) are enough proof. HA!

10. Zero-talent photography

I do not need photography skills to capture perfect photos.  Bantayan is just perfect that way.

 

Bantayan and my love for the beach

I am not a beach person. I do not get excited over invitations to go to the beach. What excites me though is the prospect of eating good food in the beach. From where I come from, the beach is at least 30 minutes away and people who go to the beach bring food- lots of good food. Some bring fresh fish and cook it over charcoal. My favorite is the grilled liempo. I love how the heat of the slow fire carefully seared in the flavor of a slab of pork belly.  Okay, I’ll stop here. Suffice to say, my love for the beach is actually my love for good food.

So while everyone else may go to the beach on a Sunday morning, I  was content to just have my grilled pork belly in the comforts of our home. After all, this is reason why I go to the beach.

Bantayan changed all that.

Friends of mine who have visited Bantayan several times already planned to visit again. The long weekend during the end of October this year seemed to be a perfect time to go especially for those with regular jobs. Thus, my friends chose these dates. In my case, it was the end of a long vacation for me. I just came from a vacation with relatives and I flew to Cebu the next day. Friends have called me “laagan” because of this.  (Rough translation: one who wanders around, one who is always out on the streets) Well, I call myself a risk-taker. The opportunity presented itself and I grabbed and took the risk: weather, budget, confidence to travel alone. This was my first time to travel to Cebu City alone.

From Cebu City, Bantayan is a 3 to 4-hour bus ride north and a 1-hour ferry ride. I have motion sickness and I do not adjust well to land trips. My friend and I agreed to meet at the Cebu’s North Terminal to ride the bus to Hagnaya port. Luckily, we caught the 7AM air-con Ceres bus to Hagnaya. However, we only got the rear seats. Amazingly, I did not puke nor experience the uncomfortable knot in my stomach or the unwanted smell I often encounter whenever I travel by land. Whenever I travel with friends, I always tell them that I have motion sickness, that I have my vomit bag ready, that I vomit more during land trips, etc. etc.  I am always mentally-prepared with all the puking. Almost always, it never happened. My friend and I theorized that I only vomit when I am with family because I let my guard down. I get too comfortable with family because somebody else will be responsible for me. When I am with friends, I am responsible for myself. I will test that theory the next time I travel with friends.

We reached Bantayan past lunch time so we were a bit famished. After checking in, we went to the nearby restaurant and ordered food. I had chicken with mushroom while my friend had kinilaw.

Once full, we changed clothes and headed for the beach. I was not a beach lover until Bantayan happened. Amazing.

How can I resist this?

We had a perfect weather. My friend suggest we try the Sugar Beach because the sand there is as fine as sugar.

Never mind the cheesy poetry.

I thank Bantayan for rekindling my love for the beach. I forgot that I used to enjoy the beach.

Mama, my cousin and I enjoying the beach.

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