That One Saturday I Joined a Matin-ao Trail Hike

After several Saturdays of planning to join this hike (which I always put off because sleep is life hahaha), I finally was able to push myself to wake up early in the morning and drag myself to McDonald’s where the agreed assembly area would be. My friend, Erns, was already there waiting for me. We would be joining a group of friends who bonded over hiking and alumni homecoming preparations (Hi, Saturday Warriors!). The start of the trail was in Barangay Bonbon since Matin-ao is part of the barangay. I think it was already almost 6 A.M. when we started hiking. The sun was up but the air was cool. It was a good day for a hike.

So let me show you the awesome views I saw along the way. This was primary reason I wanted to join the hike.

There was a community we passed by along the way which made me wonder what it was like to live away from the city.

I snapped photos of flowers which I shall use for future painting references.

Although there were a number of times that I found myself chugging my water bottle and catching my breath, it was a relatively easy hike especially for a newbie like me. We were chitchatting while walking. It was like a stroll in a park. Well, it was partly because Daryl, who frequents this trail, kept telling me that we were near the end of the trail. “It is near that next turn, Kat.” “Just a few more steps.” All lies. hahaha  The pedometer reading on my phone recorded my 16,417 steps that morning.

Saturday Warriors on a hike.

We met kids with a carabao. What a cheerful child!

I forgot the beads of sweat trickling down my face whenever I saw a view like this.

How marvelous Our Creator is!

At the end of the trail is a rolling plain that makes you want to sing like Maria in the Sound of Music!

Erns was happy to reach this place.

From this vantage point, you can see Mt. Mayapay.

The best part of this experience was sitting on the grass and eating breakfast. Ha! Who said we were on diet? Never mind the amorseco (Chrysopogon aciculatus) on our clothes, it was a wonderful experience.

Thank you, Saturday Warriors, for letting me tag along your hike!

Photo credit: Siegred Lumayag Colima

Living it Up in Libjo

I always look forward to visiting new places especially those off-the-beaten-path types. These places are not usually teeming with tourists so I feel like I own the place. (Yes, I have a very active imagination. Didn’t I say I was a dreamer?) So when an opportunity to visit Libjo in Dinagat Islands came up, I was thankful that I had no important activity in my calendar. I thank my friend, Bryan, for inviting me to talk about blogging and photography to high school students there. I had a wonderful time living it up in Libjo.

Libjo is a municipality in Dinagat Islands. Dinagat Islands is a province in Caraga Region in Northern Mindanao.  To get there from Butuan City,  we traveled by bus to Surigao City, took a jeep to the port and rode the boat for Libjo. The boat ride took us almost 4 hours.

Port in Libjo.

Libjo is a charming little town with so much potential for tourism.  We had time to just stroll around the town and the introvert in me just loved the peacefulness of the surroundings: no traffic, no crowd, no pollution.

This is the park and government center in Libjo. Children of all ages hang out at this park.

We walked further to reach an area overlooking the sea.

From this vantage point, I get to see these views. This is a great reward after walking a few kilometers.

There is a fishing boat docked below.

Libjo has rice fields that looked like small terraces.

Awesome, isn’t? Wait till you get to the beaches.

Beach hopping was part of the workshop so that the students can get some inspiration with their writing and practice photography.

So we hopped on a boat and we passed by this view  on the way to our first beach.

Don’t you want to just hang out here and relax?

How about sipping buko juice and scooping the yummy meat afterwards?

Say hi to my friend, Bryan, who made this trip possible. Thanks, Bry!

Libjo has white sand beaches with wide shoreline that we have enough space to jump…

… and do some yoga.

How about some quiet time in the blue lagoon?

I love hanging out in the grass under the coconut trees.

Oh, the students had fun, too.  I hope they learned something from this workshop.

My heart is full. Even for a short time away from the city life, I get to live a little better.

I will be back,  Dinagat!

Living it Up in Libjo

Travel Video: Camotes Islands

I know I still need a lot of practice when it comes to creating travel videos. This is my way of learning how to put all my video clips together. Someday, I will learn how to take better videos. For now, I hope you still find my video interesting enough that it would make you think about a trip to Camotes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DImnwm3xa0]

No Stress in Camotes

A month ago, I got a message from my friend, Shirly, asking if I want to spend her birthday with her. I missed her big birthday bash in Phuket last year because I had work. This time, I did not have vacation plans for November and my work schedule is manageable. It was so easy to say “Yes!”. She planned to go to Cebu which was convenient for me because we just have to meet halfway.

I booked an overnight ferry to Cebu. I specifically asked for a top bunk because I feel more secured when I can see everyone.

Good thing, I was also placed near the window so I can see what is outside.

I took the boat because it leaves Nasipit port at 7pm and arrives at the Cebu pier at 5:30 am the following. I have enough time to catch the 9AM fast craft to Camotes Island. Shirly took an early flight from Manila so we agreed that I drop by the airport to pick her up (with my cab from the pier) and proceed to the wharf which was just around one kilometer away from the airport. The cab driver got lost actually. He brought us to Island Mall in Lapu-lapu instead of the Island Central Mall in Mactan which was just across the more popular Marina Mall. Inside the mall was a ticketing counter of Jomalia Shipping. The wharf was just a walking distance from the mall. It was just near the Cebu Yacht Club.

We arrived Camotes at around 10:30 AM. Our tricycle from the resort was already waiting for us. We were booked at Sunset Vista Seafront Guest House. It was located in Esperanza, a quaint and secluded barangay in San Francisco, Camotes Island. Shirly said that we were easily sold at the “quaint and secluded” description because we both wanted the peace and quiet areas. (The tita blood in us is showing! Ha!)

Esperanza was a quiet fishing barangay.

Our first order of the day was to find a place to eat lunch. Our guest house was not serving lunch because their cook was on vacation. Good thing there was good pizza in the next resort.

We had nothing planned for the afternoon because we were chill like that.  Ha!  We took a nap and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  We were there to relax. So, relax we did!

We did all the touring the next day. Here is our guide showing Shirly all the spots we would be visiting.

Timubo Cave

I learned that both of us were non-swimmers. Before we entered the cave, we asked the lady at the entrance if there was going to be a guide. She said no. We asked how deep the water was. She said the deepest part was 6 feet deep so we were both careful. So careful that we only dipped near the steps and never went further down. Ha! Better safe than sorry!

Lake Danao

It was a beautiful lake. There were kayaks and boats you can hire. We  just opted to sit in the grass and let the sun dry our clothes a bit.

Paraiso Cave

The cave was underneath a well-manicured garden.  Stairs, lights and railings were there to make it easier for tourists to access the cave pool.

Amazing Cave and Beach Resort

Yes, there was a cave in this area. I just do not have a picture. I have a video clip though. I will post my Camotes video on my Youtube channel once I am done editing it.

Mangodlong Rock Resort

After all the cave pool swimming, we were looking forward to the beach. We found one in this resort.  They also have a large octopus-shaped slide that dropped to the ocean.

Santiago Bay

If only we have known how nice and wide this beach area is, we would have booked a resort near this place. Next time, next time. We went on a weekday and an off-peak season so there were few tourists and beach-goers. This is the kind of vacation this introvert likes the most- peaceful and no crowds.

San Francisco Baywalk

We were wondering where the market area was since all we saw in Esperanza were small stores. We found our answer when we visited the Baywalk area.

Tulang Diot

Our last stop was Tulang Diot. It is a small island near Esperanza. It was not part of the usual tour package of the Camotes. You need to pay additional fee to get there but since our resort was just a short walk away from where boats were docked to cross to the island, we were not charged for the trip.  We just have to hire a boat. It was a short boat ride and, as a bonus, we have Moana on board!

The beach was pristine. For a Php5 environmental fee per person, the beach was kept clean and immaculate.

It was raining on and off when we arrived Camotes.  Since we were billeted in Sunset Vista, I have been looking forward to seeing the sunset. I was glad to finally see the sunset in Tulang Diot.

As a bonus, we also saw a rainbow. I hope you can see the rainbow in this photo.

What a beautiful way to celebrate a birthday! Happy Birthday, Shirly! Thank you for inviting me on this trip!

No Stress in Camotes

A Quick Trip to Davao City

I spent 4 years of high school in Davao City. However, this is only the 4th time that I have visited the place after I graduated xx years ago.  It is because the bus ride from Butuan takes me 7-8 hours of travel. But because my friend, Maea, who lives in Singapore, was visiting and it might take a while before she will be back again with the family, I agreed to meet them. I arrived Davao the day before our scheduled get-together.   I arranged to meet up with my cousin, Baby (who got a new job so  yay!) and my friend, Gail, who was so kind to let me stay in their house.  Gail, Maea and I went to same high school and university. We also lived in the same dormitory in college.   Gail is my foodie friend so we went to a food trip as soon as I arrived (with my bags in tow!).

Food Trip

The first stop was in Kaizen.  It offered Japanese cuisine in a street resto setting like those in Tokyo. Gail was happy we got a table because  she said the place was usually packed with people. True enough, there were people waiting for their turn when we left. We got some ramen, katsu, curry chicken and DU30 roll (named after Davao’s famous resident).

Next stop was Yolks! We were easily attracted to its flowery display window. We got cream cheese cupcakes.

Our last stop was The Vegan Dinosaur.  Who would have thought that plant-based food can be filling?

 

Malagos Garden Resort

My friends and I finally met and we went to Malagos Garden Resort. There are so many activities for the kids and kids-at-heart. We saw a bunch of kindergartners on a field trip so we quickly went ahead to avoid the crowd.  Our first stop was the bird feeding area. And a bird landed on my head and I am not even feeding it!

There was a petting zoo.

There was a woody area. I felt like Little Red Riding Hood or maybe Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz since I have my red shoes on or maybe Alice in Wonderland because those cupcakes would be great for a tea party.

Actually, we were really in a real-life Chocolate Factory! Gail and I chose this place for the chocolate making activity! For a fee, you pick two molds and 3 toppings/fillings. You are then given 200 ml of chocolate.

Voila! These were some of our finished products.  The kid’s chocolates looked way better than mine so I made up for it by “prettifying” my box. Ha!

There are other activities you can do with the family here.

 

Davao Bamboo Sanctuary

Since we were already in the Malagos area, we might as well visit this resort whose photos made viral on social media.  Gail panicked when she learned I did not bring clothes for swimming. She was relieved when the resort staff told her that they sell swimwear. Ha! The manager of the resort welcomed us and the tour started with a little background presentation. The place was initially built for as a private family resort until a guest posted the photos and it went viral that they were forced to open it to the public.

We spent most of our time in the pool. The pool water came from the springs.

I am happy we had the chance to spend time together even for just a day.

Thank you to my awesome friends! Thank you for all the laughter. I miss all the chitchats on the van, while walking around the resort, while swimming, while eating and the list goes on.  See you next time!

 

A Quick Trip to Davao City

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