Gigantes Islands: BEST BUDGET EXPERIENCE SO FAR!!!

 

I was able to side trip during my work while I was in Ilo-ilo. I planned it quickly when my boss told me he’s going to send me to Ilo-ilo. Since it’s biglaan, I have no company. I decided to travel  with or without companion. Fortunately, a friend from Cebu accompanied me (thanks Gelo!). Although I did all the planning and diskarte (like asking around where to go and what to do), he did one of most important things, to capture moments. He was my official photographer. haha! 😀

Before my trip, I did a little research on how to travel Gigantes Island. I read about the famous places to stay  (like Hideaway Inn) and some travel packages. I learned about the pros and the cons and all in between too. 

So my initial plan was to stay in a non-airconditioned room in Hideaway Inn but not avail their island hopping package because I’ve read a bad review on its monopolization in the island (whether it’s true or not). Who knows that could be a black propaganda. lol!

So what did I do?

I made a DIY travel plan. Asking around the cheapest way possible on how I can enjoy Gigantes, I discovered a remote area in Gigantes Sur, it is not the usual place tourists would choose to stay because there’s no hotel or any resort in the area. But I chose to stay here because of Joy. The place is not commercialized. You’ll enjoy a pure local experience.

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DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A TRAVEL DIARY NOT A TRAVEL GUIDE. I do not encourage anyone to do the same like I did. But if you’re a risk taker and kind of adventurous, you’re welcome. 🙂 I spent around 1500php-2000php my whole trip. Expenses tallied from my starting point: Tagbak Terminal to Gigantes Island and vice versa.

DAY 1. Exploring Gigantes Sur

As soon as our pump boat boarded the shore, we immediately settle our things in the house and headed to the beach for a stroll. Accompanied by the local children, we went to stroll around as far as our feet can go. Some kids were following us wherever we go. lol! Gigantes Sur is a laid-back island rich in sea shells. Toilet, water, and electricity are very limited.  

Here are some cool stuff I found in the island:

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rock fomations

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A mini cave along the beach
And a land of shells!

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While strolling the island to look for food, we met these ladies cleaning scallops. They excitingly shared to us how the scallops are prepared for export. They separate the white meat from the black and orange meat using scissors. They sell scallops (with shell) for 15php-20php per kilo. While the tenga (white meat) which are ready for export are sold for 150php/kilo.

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This is how the scallops look like before cleaning. They only get the white round piece for export.

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I just imagined how much my family pays for a few pieces of scallops in Gloria Maris, and I got all these for only 150php! H E A V E N!

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These are the parts of the scallops which they don’t export. I forgot how they call it, but it taste like an exotic chicharon/ tuyong seafood.

We stayed at Joy’s house during the trip. They were very welcoming and hospitable. Even their neighbors were joyous to welcome us in the island. Some even invited us to a small chat and they were telling us that they are so happy that a visitor chose to stay in their island. 

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DAY 2. ISLAND HOPPING

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My morning view from my bed. It’s so cold! ( insert rooster’s crow here).

Our second day was the my most anticipated day! Right after I woke up, I  immediately ran to the shore to buy fresh fish the fishermen caught. 

Joy found a small scale pump boat for the island hopping for 1000php. 500php each for Gelo and I! Way cheaper than the island hopping packages offered in the internet! 

While waiting for our boat, I was busy putting tattoo stickers on these kids! haha!

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My glitter tattoo disciples. haha!

ISLAND HOPPING! THIS IS IT!

FIRST STOP: BANTIGUE SAND BAR

They say the best time to go here is during the sunset and during low tide but it was too late for me to know because we went here during high tide. The sand bar wasn’t full, but at least there were few people so that means less photo bombers. haha!

The water is crystal clear perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The sand bar is too clean, the cleanest island among the Gigantes group of islands if I may say.

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Kudos to Gelo who’s game to take me photos!

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I direct the angles, he does the taking.

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Except for this one. DAT TOES DOE. :))  Btw, this is how the sand looks without filter. Locals say that it used to be powdery white before typhoon Yolanda hit the area. Today,  it’s more of creamy color but still beautiful.
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Gelo with our new found friend

SECOND STOP: CABUGAO GAMAY

Cabugao Gamay is the said to be the icon and the most photographed island among the Gigantes group of Islands although there are more equally beautiful islands around.

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So here I am again doing mah thang. haha! The happy kiddo.
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My favorite. Kunwari senti. (insert hugot quotes here)

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This is Cabugao Gamay in no filter. I failed in my panoramic skills though. haha!

THIRD STOP: ANTONIA ISLAND

Antonia Island is famous as camping site for those who would love to camp out. You just have to pay P100-P150 per person if you have your own tent. For those who don’t have their own tent I think the locals offer P200/ person a night on a first come first serve basis because of the limited tents. For day tours, the entrance is 40php per person.

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My first impression? Loaves of BREAD! or maybe I’m just hungry.

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Candid. Literally checking myself. lol.

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The different side of the rocks.
Few feet away from the shore lies the coral reefs rich in marine life. It’s best to bring snorkeling gears and fins with you or if not, you can rent snorkeling gear for 50php.

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Antonia Island also provides a venue for spelunking. They say it will take 15min to reach the end of the cave where you have the option to cliff dive during high tide. Since we do not have a tourist guide with us, we did not explore the end of the cave. We might end up somewhere and not be able to find our way back. LOL!

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I just enjoyed the beach view from the cave though.

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Perfect chill spot.

FOURTH STOP: TANGKE SALT WATER LAGOON

Tangke literally looks like a water tank. It’s a natural swimming pool surrounded with a beautiful rock formations. Truly enchanting! The color of the water changes depending on the tide. During low tide, it’s kinda greenish and it becomes bluer during high tide.

We dropped by during the low tide, which the water was just my knee-level. The good thing about it was that there was no crowd, only monkeys around. WILD MONKEYS.

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Before leaving Tangke, don’t forget to ask for the cliff dive spot! My knees were shaking but it was worth it! (see my video on facebook)

FIFTH STOP: SEA URCHIN HUNTING/ SNORKELING

Our fifth stop was the sea urchin experience and a bit of snorkeling 🙂 This is not offered by the usual island hopping package, but you can request if you really want to. I was taught how to eat fresh sea urchin and giant seashells. It’s a little gross but worth the experience. 🙂

(video will be uploaded soon)

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The father of our hosts is a fisherman, we’ve eaten his catch. 🙂

DAY 3. DEPARTURE

BUDGET BREAKDOWN. (From Tagbak terminal as our starting point to Gigantes Island and vice versa.)

DAY 1:

 VAN FROM ILO-ILO TERMINAL TO ESTANCIA TERMINAL -150PHP

TRICYCLE FROM ESTANCIA TERMINAL TO ESTANCIA PORT -10PHP

PUMP BOAT FROM ESTANCIA PORT TO GIGANTES SUR- 50PHP

DAY 2:

PUMP BOAT RENTAL FOR ISLAND HOPPING (INCLUSIVE OF GAS)-1000PHP (500PHP EACH FOR GELO & I)

ANTONIA ISLAND ENTRANCE-40PHP

CABUGAO ENTRANCE-20PHP

DAY 3:

BOAT FROM GIGANTES TO ESTANCIA- 80PHP

TRICYCLE FROM ESTANCIA PORT TO ESTANCIA TERMINAL-10PHP

VAN FROM ESTANCIA TERMINAL TO ILO-ILO-150PHP

TOTAL: 1,010PHP

*HOMESTAY AND FOOD NOT INCLUDED IN THE TALLY.

For home-stay, the original plan was a 200php/night  budget the same rate for non-airconditioned room in Hideaway Inn, but we decided to give Joy more because our experience was more than worth it. 

For food, I wasn’t able to record the exact amount spent. But seafood is really CHEAP AND PLENTY in the island. You can even fish if you know how to! 

So if we stick to our original plan, we would only spend 1,410php for our transpo + entrance fees+homestay. 

Tips: 

 Always do a research before going to unknown place to avoid being taken advantage of.

 Always be VIGILANT and WISE when talking to strangers.

 Be polite, courteous and friendly.

And pray.

Love lots,

Claudine Jay

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A Roadtrip to Pagudpud Ilocos Norte PH

I tagged along my friend Tristan to Pagudpud during my stay in Ilocos Sur. We left Sta. Maria around 8am and then dropped by at the nearby Jollibee for breakfast. After our breakfast, we headed to Pagudpud sleeping throughout the trip because we only had 3 hours of sleep the night before. We arrived in Pagudpud around noon time.

Our first plan was to visit the lighthouse, but when we arrived at the entrance, we were told that we cannot bring our car due to road construction, because it was so hot and we were all hungry, we decided to skip the lighthouse and headed to the beach right away. 

Since I was still groggy, I don’t have my usual energy. But the moment I saw the beach, Bam! I GOT MY ENERGY BACK! So after our lunch at Hannah’s Restaurant I ran off to the beach and started shooting with my iPhone. I use my phone in almost all my travels. 

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Since the weather that time was a bit darkcast, most of my photos were bad. Good thing I was able to adjust the lighting during post-processing, thanks to VSCO. For most of my photos, I used hb2, hb1, a6 or c1 depending on the mood I want for my photos. 

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No filter. The skies turned darker and we suspected it would rain, so before it happened we managed to change location so we can maximize our road trip.

 

Our next stop was Patapat Viaduct. It is long bridge connecting Ilocos Norte and the Cagayan Valley. And it’s the fourth longest bridge in the Philippines.

The bridge offers great view of the bay. Truly breathtaking and enchanting. <3

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I just have to try the Nature’s spring. hehe!

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After Patapat Bridge we headed to Bangui Wind Farm, unfortunately it rained so I asked our driver to leave and hopefully catch the sunset in Kapurpurawan. Luckily, leaving Bangui as soon as the rain started was a good choice. We arrived in Kapurpurawan right before the sunset.

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I captured this beautiful rainbow. I love rainbows. For me, it’s a personal reminder that God keeps His promise. 

I enjoyed horseback-riding to the White Rock Formations. This is Jay-Ar, my assigned horse. Thank you for being well-behaved Jay-Ar. I hope to see you again when I come back. 🙂

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When we got to the White Rocks, I wasn’t able to maximize the beauty of the whole rock formations because there were a lot of tourists that came before us. So I am in the corners, trying to enjoy my own view. haha!

 

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We waited for the sun to set before we head back to Ilocos Sur.
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We had different route on our way back home and dropped by this beautiful Catholic Church in Paoay.

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There were lots of places and experiences that I have missed. But it’s fine because I’m coming back to Ilocos anyway. 🙂
PS. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to include budget and expenses breakdown because this trip was free. Hehe!  

Love lots.💕

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Things To Love in Sagada

 Cinematic view on the road!

I don’t know about you, but I love view (sounds like I love you too) I mean,  I love cinematic views. I’m gonna tell you something, one of the few things I dreamt of was to become a director-cinematographer but I disregard that dream of mine, for now. So while we were on the road, my mind was filming of the shots I wanted to capture. In my head, I was already a one-man prod team. LOL! Mountainscapes, roadside waterfalls, vegetable terraces and beautiful skies, these are just few of the things one can enjoy going back and forth to Sagada. <3

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The ‘bangil’ road to Mountain Province.

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Mid-day sun shining for us before it rained

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Bird’s-eye view from the highest point of the Philippine highway system in Atok Benguet. 7,400 feet above sea level.
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Waterfalls along the roadside

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There are a lot of roadside waterfalls but this one is the biggest.

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Chinese cabbage for P10/kg along the road, but they don’t have weighing scale so they just let me get all I can!
Cheap yet decent hotels

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Lodge Labanet
Hotels in Sagada is probably one of the cheapest in country ranging from P250-P350  per person a night. We stayed in Lodge Labanet for only P300/person. We had a private bathroom with hot and cold shower, and free WiFi too! Lodge Labanet also offers massage spa services for P350. Perfect night-ender after long exhausting activities in Sagada!

 

Cafés with charming sceneries

Sagada is a modest town yet has very alluring cafes. Curious of these character cafés, we ended up café hopping. HAHA!

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Sipping my hot tablea chocolate at Gaia Cafe
Imagine breathing the crisp scent of pine trees while sipping a cup of your choice from Sagada coffee, Tablea Chocolate or Sagada’s local mountain leaf tea with a view of rice terraces and breath-taking mountainscapes. Truly refreshing. What a wonderful break from the usual four-cornered cafés in the Metro that makes us all feel like inside a box.

 

Good culinary selection

More than I expected, there are actually variety of cuisines to choose from when in Sagada. There are Korean, Continental, American and of course Filpino cuisines to choose from in case one doesn’t want to eat Sagada’s local cuisines. Sagada has their own delicacy called ‘pinikpikan’, an Igorot way of cooking chicken stew. But PLEASE DO NOT EAT IT.

The live chicken is battered with stick until its skin turns blue. It’s their way to clot its blood so the meat will be tastier and tender. It’s literally “killing me softly” chicken. 🙁 Although I understand it’s a part of the Cordillera tradition, I just don’t like the idea of slowly torturing a live animal to its death.

Watch my quick review of the cafés and restaurants we’ve tried during stay in Sagada below:

 

Spelunking at Sumaging Cave

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The entrance to the mouth of Sumaging Cave
Sagada has around 20 caves in total but the municipal tourist only offers three to four caves open for public. If you’re a first timer or newbie in spelunking like me, I suggest choosing the short course caving in Sumaging. It is also called the Mother Cave because it is the main cave having connecting routes to the other caves in Sagada. Although entering the cave doesn’t require special training and equipment, the first 100m descent is very steep and even slippery especially during rainy days. After the very steep descent, we were required to take off our shoes as our feet have better grasps on the flowstones than our Nikes. Haha! The cave holds quirky limestone formations; some are even named after human genitalia.

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the pregnant queen

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the king

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The giant hot fudge

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the shy turtle

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king’s curtain

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Elephant’s head

Walking through the rice terraces

While on our way to Bomod-ok Falls we passed through narrow trails and rice terraces. Look at these beautiful man-made creation! I hope the locals will not forget to preserve these beauty.

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closer to the cloud 9

 

Chasing waterfalls 

There are actually A LOT of waterfalls to visit in Sagada, but we only visited Bomod-ok Falls since it is the biggest among all the waterfalls in town.

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Bomod-ok Falls
Going to Bomod-ok Falls requires descending through concrete steps along the mountainsides (one wrong step and goodbye Earth). I tried counting my steps but I lost count, one thing is for sure, it was a long exhausting descent. Imagine how much more exhausting it is going up. Good thing our guide’s dog accompanied our trek. I was fond of him because he’s so smart! He actually led the way. Haha!

Watch our video of our trek to Bomod-ok with our special guide below:

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It was raining when we trekked to Bomod-ok so as soon as we had a sight of the waterfalls, we refused to swim because it was icy cold and we don’t want to suffer from hypothermia. LOL! Ascending back was more exhausting. *Gasps air*

 

  Sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint

Sunrise in Sagada needs no filter! It’s afterglow colors changes from lilac-peachey-orange to golden hue when it’s full. AH-MAZE-ING!

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The famed sunrise at Kiltepan was worth the early wake. Before going to Sagada, make sure to check first the weather forecast because during bad weather fogs conceal the sun and be sure to come early so you get a good spot. Also, people flocks around weekends so better come on a weekday like we did.

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 Shout your hearts out at Echo Valley

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While most people shout their lover’s name, I didn’t know what to screech so I just shouted “Hoy!”

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On our way to Echo Valley we passed through an Episcopal Church and Calvary Hill

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Episcopal Church of  St. Mary the Virgin

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Calvary Hill
 Up-close view of the mysterious Hanging Coffins

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The Igorots practice unique funerary custom where the dead is buried in coffins that are nailed to the side of cliffs. The dead is placed inside the coffin in a fetal position due to their belief that a person should exit the earth the same way he/she entered it. They also believed that placing the coffin on the side of a cliff would bring the deceased closer to heaven.

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 Latang Underground River

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The road going to Latang underground river is just a 300-meter walk from an old gasoline station in Nangunogan. The trails are narrow and slippery at the time we passed because it was raining at the same time. When we entered the cave, I immediately heard the flowing sound of the river inside the cave but I couldn’t see anything. But of course, our phones have flashlights so that saved us.

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  Sagada Weaving Shop

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Sagada Weaving Shop is the town’s pioneer institution when it comes to weaving. When we got to the shop, it was already 6pm so we were not able to witness how the fabrics are done, but we met a local outside the shop named, Kuya Ezra. We were unaware that he is the owner of the shop, but we had a wonderful time chatting with him.

 

 Rock climbing a 99 feet cliff

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My dope tour-guide/photographer in this case
So lately I’ve been overcoming acrophobia by cliff jumping whenever I have the chance. But during my trip to Sagada, I tried to experience something I haven’t done before, and it was rock climbing. I honestly didn’t feel nervous at the time I climbed but I felt tired of finding a spot to grasp my hands onto (wala kaseng pointers kung san hahawak, bahala ka maghanap, ganon.) So I asked my guide to let me down but he told me to keep going because I’m near to the topmost so I carried on and continued ascending until I reached the top. OH YES! I MADE IT! My rock climbing experience was like a parable of never quitting until you reach your dreams. Because the moment when we are about to give up, it is the moment when we are the closest to reaching our dreams. Analogy it is!

 

 Getting my hands dirty at Sagada Pottery

Get your hands dirty with pottery. It’s a wonderful experience of turning a piece of mud into a beautiful piece of art. Like a metaphor, my experience speaks much of God as the Potter and we are just a mud. It’s a wonderful reminder that even in our nothingness and filthiness, God can create a beautiful work of art with His gentle hands. <3

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Sagada is the perfect place for people who love nature and adventure at the same time. Packed with bunch of natural beauty from caves to falls, from sunrise to sunsets, and even sea of clouds. Sagada also has one of the most unique landscapes and mountainscapes I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I’m personally planning to comeback to trek to Marlboro Hill and Blue Soil Hill and experience all the things I haven’t experienced during my four days stay. Actually, there are a lot of things I missed, but it’s a good thing at the same time so I have a reason to come back again. 🙂

Love lots,

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How I Spent 1,639php to Southern Cebu -Canyoneering, Kawasan Falls, Sardine Run, Snorkeling,White Beach included

Disclaimer: Costs and expenses may vary depending on how you negotiate. But this was how I did my ‘diskarte’, I hope you’ll get some tips from me. LOL!

Happy bargain! 😉

I’ve been eyeing to come back to Southern Cebu ever since the day I experienced the whale shark watching & swimming in Oslob. So when I had the chance to return to Cebu for work (meaning airfare cared of my work expenses), I immediately took advantage of my chance to explore the South, particularly, Moalboal.

I only had one and a half day in Southern Cebu to check off my to-do list that could fit in my budget.

My ‘to-do’ list:

1. Try Carcar’s Chicharon

Carcar is known as the heritage city of Cebu and a home to diversified Spanish- and American-eras structures. It is evident along highway when traveling to Southern Cebu. Aside from that, Carcar is also known as the major purchasing capital of chicharon (Crunch!) along with lechon, ampao, bocarillo, and shoes.

Being time-restricted I wasn’t able explore Carcar even there are a lot of reasons to. Luckily, our bus stopped in Carcar, so we bought some chicharon and ampao brought to us by the vendors inside the bus.

Since it was already past lunchtime when passed by Carcar, para na din kaming nag kanin at ulam sa chicharon (pork cracklings) at ampao (pop rice). HAHA!

Continue reading “How I Spent 1,639php to Southern Cebu -Canyoneering, Kawasan Falls, Sardine Run, Snorkeling,White Beach included”

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Baler: Love at First Surf

My beach-bum friends and I decided to head to Aurora Province over the weekend. Our first plan was to stay in Baler but later we changed our minds and stayed in a laidback cottage in Dinadiawan instead. Surfing in Baler was on the last list of our agendas (of course not the least).

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So we headed to Baler on our last day. We arrived in the town proper around 12noon and had our lunch at Yolly’s Ihaw-Ihaw and Seafood Resto. After our lunch, we set off to Sabang Surf Beach immediately!

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As a first timer to surfing, I was freaking excited to try. My adrenaline were already pumping at the same time I was nervous because I heard a story of a friend who was hit by the surfboard and broke his front teeth.  I don’t want that to happen to me! No! Haha! But as soon as I caught my first wave, all the inhibitions were GONE. Surf is life! LOL.

Another item checked off my buckelist! ✔️

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I want bigger waves. I want my own surfboard. I want more of this! ❤️ Looking forward to the ‘ber months. Counting days before I hit Siargao this September! Hopefully, it will not be postponed! Fingers-crossed.

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Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Most of my frames were post-processed in HB2 preset in VSCO. The sky that day was kinda gloomy so I had to adjust the exposure to lighten the photo. I also used Snapseed to heal. Blurred areas are commonly due to water spots in GoPro, others due to Snapseed healing. I know, my healing skills are kinda bad. 😁✌🏻️

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Here’s my edited video:

’til our next wave!

Love lots,

Claudine Jay

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