Part of our Dumaguete trip was to visit Forrest Camp, one of the known tourist spot located in Valencia, a 15-20 minutes drive from Dumaguete City. It is a mountain resort with pools made up of natural water from the Mt. Talinis. The fresh and cool water, complemented by lush-green trees, truly a perfect combination to soothe the weary body needing a quick refreshment. Forrest Camp has a restaurant as well as accommodations for overnight stay. Entrance fee is Php 80.00 only. Bringing of food from outside is allowed. It is advisable to bring own food and drinks to lessen the expenses.
Forrest Camp's hanging bridge...
This is one of the open cottages, beside the pool.
Taking a dip in the pool situated in the highest part of the resort. The water here is cascaded to the lower pools. (Must be the cleanest pool. hehehe).
One of the typical Filipino snack food is the local known "Budbud" which is made of sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar and other ingredients added to give it a varying taste. Tanjay, Negros is known for their tasty "budbud" commonly referred to as "Budbud sa Tanjay". This delicacy is best tasted with their delicious hot chocolate made of pure cocoa. Don't forget to grab a piece of this tasty delicacy if you visit Tanjay.
After a short dip in the cool waters of Forest Camp in Valencia, Negros Oriental, we continued our trip to one of its tourist destinations, the Casaroro Falls. This magnificent falls is located in between the enormous mountains of Valencia, Negros(20-40 minutes from Dumaguete City) and is dubbed as the most photographed falls in Negros Oriental because of its distinctive form and beauty. However, witnessing this beauty requires great adventure spirit…
We asked a few locals information about Casaroro Falls before venturing on our trip. We found out that Casaroro is actually the source of the fresh water flowing in Forest Camp. So, after getting instructions on how to get there and getting confirmation on the road condition and safety of the area, we rode our rented Honda motorcycle to begin our trip. It was expected that the travel would be 15-25 minutes from Forest Camp to the falls depending on your driving speed. The well-cemented road made our drive blissful since we were able to enjoy the luxurious mountain view of Negros.
Road going to Casaroro Falls(good, right?, just wait and see.)
However, as the road started to look steep and weather was getting colder, unfortunately the road was also getting harder. The rest of the road going to the falls was very rough, rocky and some other parts muddy. To be on the safe side, I decided not to ride on the motorcycle and just walk to give my partner a better maneuvering clearance in driving.
This is the beginning of the rough road.
I needed to repeatedly ride and walk until we reached a part with a sign “Casaroro Falls” 30 meters ahead. We then proceeded and finally reached the entrance to the falls. A small-wooden waiting shed is located beside the stair that obviously will bring you down to the falls. We approached the shed and waited for the person in-charge so we can pay the entrance fee of Php 10.00 only. However, few minutes have passed and still there was no trace of the in charge.
The welcome sign.
The sound of the falls made us very excited and decided to go down without waiting for the person in charge. Without any information of what to expect, we started to descend the stairs. We realized after taking a few steps that it will indeed be a very long and hard descend after seeing the hundreds of steps below us.
As we descended, the sounds of the birds, rushing falls, the swaying of trees as the wind blows, the silence made me shiver and gave us a second thought of whether to proceed or not. We talked and considered our options since there were no other visitors along with us but also thought that they might be other visitors already in the falls area. According the information I researched from the net we have to trek 350 steps to get to the place.
A view of the stairs to the falls.
When we reached the base, we walked on a cemented pavement along a stream and crossed a short man made bridge before we reached our destination.
Man made bridge...near the falls.
Finally, drenched with sweat, we reached our goal. To our surprise, we were the only visitors in the place which made us a bit scared. Nevertheless, Casaroro falls is certainly a beauty of nature to behold. Unique to this falls is its narrow opening which causes the large volume of water to fall at once and thus, causes a loud sound. Large boulders surround the area along with forest trees and plants. After taking a few pictures, we hastily turned back and headed up.
The magnificent Casaroro Falls
A note to visitors planning to visit the falls. Don't come alone or two(don't follow us hehehe), it is much safer to be in a group as the place a bit secluded. If there is someone in your group who can safely drive a motorcycle it's advisable to rent one since "habal-habal" going to the falls is very expensive maybe 200-300 pesos. Come early and go home early. Going there in a rainy day is not safe as the road and the stairs are slippery. Be extra cautious for any unexpected happenings like SNAKES! crossing you way. Not to scare you though, we saw one but it got scared of us and ran away. That's why we also ran with all our might.
And that's our unforgettable trip to Casaroro Falls...
I was walking along the streets of Dumaguete City to the Computer Studies Building of Siliman University to attend a workshop related to my work when I saw an old lady maybe 70 yrs or so coming toward me with helpless eyes. She readily extended here right hand as a gesture of asking for something.
Seeing her action, I looked down to avoid seeing her face and expression of receiving a no for answer to her plea. However, her bare, old, dirty, and tired feet met my eyes. In spite of what I saw, I stepped aside and proceeded to my destination. When I passed by her, I can't help feeling the guilt of not giving the old lady a little of what I have. I took a few more steps and turned around and saw the old lady walking slowly. For all I know she doesn't even know where her feet will take her. I turned around and followed the old lady and handed her a little money. Without looking at me she simply said "salamat".
There are a lot of activities to do in Boracay, there is helmet diving, parasailing, banana boat, and many others to choose from. We decided to try helmet diving which cost 400/person. A small boat will pick you up from the beach and bring you to their station where the fish sanctuary is located. It was a frightening experience but we got our nerves up and took the dive. A short orientation will be given first on what to do and not to do underwater. The helmet allows you to breathe, if I'm not mistaken because oxygen is provided via a hose. I can still remember the feeling when I was started to submerged in the water with the diving assistant. I was very scared and my ears hurts very much that it seems to burst. I signaled a thumbs up to the diver which means go up. Fortunately, he held me steady and massage the area near my ears to ease the pain and reminded to neutralize as what we were taught. Thankfully, I managed to reach the sea floor. My heart was still pounding, when the diving instructor handed me a piece of bread for feeding the fish. Holding the bread in my hands, different kinds and color of fish started to surround me and ate the bread. My friends were also enjoying their chance of being close to these sea creatures. A very nice thing in this experience is they will take pictures of your group underwater and burned it in a CD. Truly a perfect way to document such and experience. After a few minutes I signaled to the diving assistant to go up as I can't bear the pain already even after doing the neutralization techniques.
A couple friend of ours invited us on a road trip to Mantayupan Falls in Barili. However, due to prior engagement with my best friend who invited me to Amara in Liloan, we passed the invitation. So, last Sept. 17, driven by the power of curiosity, we forced ourselves to wake up as early as 6 am to head to Mantayupan Falls.
It was a hot-sunny day but in spite of the scourging heat, we traveled on our motorcycle from Cebu to Barili. We stopped by Carcar and bought some food and drinks for our travel, then proceeded to Barili. On our way to our destination we stopped by the hot bibingka of Mantalungon, Barili on the sidewalks for 5 pesos each. We also stopped at the Milk Station to try their cold and nutritious fresh milk only 25.00. After driving for 1 hour and 30 minutes we reached Mantayupan falls.
We paid the entrance fee and made our way to the falls. There are man made stairs and short, concrete bridge for visitors use in reaching Mantayupan falls.
Smaller falls that you will see on the way up to the main falls.
The sound of the falling water, smell of rocks, lush-green trees and green-colored water is indeed breathtaking.
Mantayupan Falls is one of the tourist attractions in Barili, Cebu.
Enjoying the ice-cold water of the natural jacuzzi from falls' current.
The water here is very cold, you would not want to go back after taking the first dip. Some rock formations are slippery, so extra care must be observed. There are no food stalls near the falls area but you can order in the restaurant near the entrance. We would have wanted to try their native chicken but it's expensive(Php 280.00), good thing we brought our own food. It's advisable to bring your own food and drinks.
How to Get There
From Cebu City, you will have to travel for 2 hours or less if you have your own transportation. If you don't have your own transportation, buses are available in Sourth Bus Terminal. Mantayupan is located in to Barangay Campangga, Barili. Along the way, you will pass by the Milk Station, a few meters from there you will come across the Dakit Elementary School on the other side of the road.. A few meters from there you will see a sign to Mantayupan Falls. Follow that direction and at end of that road, you will a sign welcoming you to Mantayupan Falls. A nice thing about going to the falls is the well paved and cemented road making it safe for driving. Once you reach the area, you pay 10.00 pesos entrance fee(worth the price, hope to have this price in Cebu City...). There are also small umbrella cottages on the falls area for 150.00 pesos or you can just place your things on the rocks that surrounds that place.
This could have been the most beautiful background we ever had in our trips. See closely why.
The Replica of the Statue of David is erected at the heart of a park by the owners of Queensland motel. A known motel chain as a lover's nest which has plenty of branches sprouting all over the Philippines. Davao locals call place "Davids Park" and is located beside a baywalk. I'm sure that when this statue was constructed, it stirred a lot controversy in the area. Probably, like the attention enjoyed right now by the RH Bill.
The is the Replica of the Statue of David.
A closer look...
If you have a chance to visit Davao City, don't forget to check out David's Park. Don't forget it's Rated PG.
Coming to Panglao will never be complete if you don't go island hopping. It's recommended to have an arrangement in the beach area as it's more expensive if you have it negotiated by the resort or by those from the pier area. The cost is Php 1,500 good for 15 persons and includes dolphin watching, island hopping and snorkeling in Balicasag and Virgin islands. You have to arrange the activity day before as you have to leave as early as 6 am as the dolphins comes out early according to the folks there. Indeed these dolphins are early dolphins as we were able to see only a few of them since we left late around 7 am. Nevertheless, it's an unexplainable feeling to see these huge and friendly creatures swimming beside our boat and seems to enjoy the attention from all the other island hoppers surrounding them. After the dolphin watching, we proceeded to Balicasag island.
This small island is a protected fish sanctuary where you can go for snorkeling. I was expecting that from our boat, we will just dive right into the sea with our snorkels and feed the fishes. To my surprise, we docked into the sea shore and suddenly guys came over and offered to give us a ride in their small boats which can accommodate only 3-4 persons for a whooping Php150.00/person! Imagine 150/person for a ride in a boat to bring you to the fish sanctuary which is a just a few meters away. I asked the boat men and he said that walking in the sea is not allowed as it will destroy the corals, understandable but the 150??? never mind, I will just swim. God must have heard our prayers as there is one who offered us for 50.00/person in exchange of keeping it a secret to the other boat men as it will cause him trouble. We readily grab the opportunity and proceed with snorkeling. The sanctuary is rich with different species of fish but still if i paid 150 was not worth the price. The last island we visited was Virgin island. True to its name, indeed it was a virgin.
Excited to reach Virgin Island
Enjoying the clear, blue waters in the Virgin Island.
No touch of human destruction and exploitation only nature at its best. This island is very small you can tour it for 10-15 minutes just by walking. It has a very long sandbar that extends for a number of meters and goes very shallow especially during low tides. This island completed our island hopping and we rode home, with wide smiles and sun-darkened skin.
The same day that we went to Mantayupan Falls, we decided to continue our road trip to Balamban via Transcentral Highway. From Barili, we traversed the roads of Aloguinsan-Pingamungahan-Toledo for about 2 hours. It was indeed a very long trip but fortunately, the roads are smooth and with very few rough roads.
At last, we reach Balamban and without any delay we ascended the intestine-looking roads of Transcentral Highway. Looking up ahead as our Honda Dash motorcycle worked hard climbing the steep path, I could not help but feel scared at the same time fascinated with the awesome mountain views. The Baguio-like road, high altitude, cold weather and breath taking views was an experience that I could never forget. I never thought there is place like this in Cebu. Racing with us are plenty of "Habal-habal" or motorcycle used for public transportation which is the main mode of transportation in the area bringing passengers to-from Cebu city. To our dismay we almost ran out of gas, good thing there was a small store selling gasoline placed in bottles along the road or else God help us, we would be pulling our motorcycle. Along the roads are stalls that sells freshly-picked fruits and vegetables which is very cheap compared to the city. We stopped on one of the stalls of a friendly old lady who readily offered us her yellow bananas which according to her is "hinog sa punoan" or naturally riped.
Man...conquers the mountains.
Visiting Cebu Transcentral Highway is truly an satisfying experience for adventure-hungry people like me. However, caution and safety must be the first priority. If you're taking your own vehicle, have a safety check (brakes, oil, fuel, wheels etc.) before starting your trip. Reckless and high speed driving is a no-no here much more drunk driving. Nevertheless, this "Little Baguio of Cebu" is definitel a nature's gift.
Another recall....last Dec. 2010, me and my boyfriend together with our friends went to Boracay. We have been planning this get away for quiet some time and we were fortunate to grab a promo fare from Cebu Pacific for only Php 499.00(Cebu-Caticlan). I can say that this magnificent island is indeed a Philippine treasure. The white, powdery and clear waters will really make one speechless.
Before our trip, I searched for information about affordable accommodation, activities to do, food and tips in going to Boracay. I came across this blog
http://justwandering.org/2009/destination/philippines/cheap-accommodation-boracay/, which indeed was very helpful in planning our trip. Checking out the accommodations mentioned in the blog, we eventually stayed at Jerome's Bungalow in Station 2. Each room cost Php1,200 for 2 persons, already cheap for an airconditioned, w/ own CR and cable TV in Boracay. The place is safe and more importantly, just a walking distance from the beach. Food is not a problem in Boracay in terms of kinds and price. There are Eat All You Can every night for (250-500 pesos), more affordable than Panglao. There is also Mang Inasal with their unlimited rice, very suitable for budget people. Oh, don't forget to taste Jonah's Shake, the most delicious shake I've ever tasted.
How to Get There
The most convenient way to reach Boracay is by plane. There are plenty of airlines that fly to Caticlan which is your jump-off point going to Boracay island. Upon arriving at the Caticlan airport, you can either walk or ride a tricycle to the Jetty Port. Here in this port are small boats that will take you to Boracay island for 15 minutes for P20.00.By the way, you will also be asked to pay the environmental fee for Php 75.00. When you reach island, there are motorcycles or mulitcabs going to White Beach for Php 10.00. This long stretched of whites, powdery sand is divided into three stations namely, Station 1, Station 2 and Stations 3. Accommodation in Boracay is not a problem since there are plenty of resorts that you can choose from and affordable. Most of the time, airfare promos are only Cebu-Caticlan or Manila-Caticlan and no available promo for going back. The regular fare for this is expensive, so the most budget friendly is to travel from Caticlan to Iloilo which is 5 hours by bus and a little lesser if you take the V-Hire or vans.When you reach Iloilo City, the bus will finally dropped all passengers in their terminal and from their you can take a taxi going to the airport. The airport is a bit far, so make sure you depart early from Boracay advisably 6-7 am.
Dumaguete City is a small, laid-back capital city of Negros Oriental. In highly urbanized cities such as Cebu, where people are always racing with time, it's totally different in Dumaguete, life here is slow and simple. I have been to this city a few times and I have always been fascinated with the place. I bet nowhere in the Philippines you can see all kinds of motorcycles driven by all kinds of people young, old, men, women, name it! Even senior citizens are driving their own motorcycles!
Coming to Dumaguete is not complete without visiting the prestigious Siliman University. I remember the first time that I stepped into the portals of this big university, I was astonished with the towering trees, the enormous buildings and the cool students. A perfect picture of a university that hones independence, maturity and holistic development. Being a small city, everything seems walkable. You can take a walk in the streets and enjoy the rich architecture of old and new buildings. One thing I appreciate in the city is the affordable accommodation. Here you find an airconditioned room, w/ cable, free breakfast for two for only 900++ pesos or even less. However, transportation here is expensive, mininum fare is 8.50 pesos(higher than Cebu). Also watch out for some drivers who takes advantage and ask for a higher fare especially if they find out you're new to their place.
How to get there
Ocean Jet travels Cebu-Dumaguete route for 950.00 one way. There are also domestic flights by airline carriers that will bring you to Dumaguete City. From Cebu City, the most affordable is via land trip. You will have to ride a bus from South Bus Terminal to Liloan Port, Santander. From Liloan Port, take a 15-25 fast craft to Sibulan, Negros. From Sibulan, a short tricycle ride for 15-20 minutes will already bring you to Dumaguete City.
Liloan Port, Santander, Cebu
South Bus Terminal-Liloan Port - Php 169.00
Liloan Port-Sibulan - 62.00
Sibulan-Dumaguete - 11.00
One of my favorite food since I was a kid is "Tinap-anan" as what local Cebuanos call for smoked fish. Smoked fish is different from grilled fish, since the fish is cooked because of the heat of smoke only. Because of this, it has a unique taste and smell that is loved not by Cebuanos but also Filipinos in general. Usually, the tinapa is used as one of the ingredients in cooking "utan" or soup with different kinds of vegetables.
A very famous tapahan in the province of Cebu is in Danao City, a 45 minutes-1 hr drive from Cebu City. Before reaching the city's church, there are plenty of stalls along the street that will surely catch your attention. One stick of tinap-anan will cost 50-100 pesos depending on the size. The stores here are situated near the sea shore, so the fish are very fresh.
This is where we eat most of the time. We find it cleaner compared to the others.
Very fresh and taste better than any other tinapa I've tasted in Cebu.
"Island in the Sky Resort" is a catching name for a resort. When traversing the challenging roads of Transcentral Highway, you will pass by "Island in the Sky Resort". The pine trees and cold breeze even on daylight gives you a feeling of being in Baguio, true to its name as the "little Baguio of Cebu". The swimming pool, according to the staff can be rented for Php 1,500 exclusive to your group. Entrance fee is only 50.00 and you can now have unlimited picture taking.. They also have a restaurant where you can order food and drinks. However, it's a bit expensive. So, it's practical to bring your own food. There are also small cottages where you can eat and accommodations for overnight stay. However, from what I've seen they are very small and not well maintained. The cost for the cottages is also expensive around 250.00. The swimming pool when we went there looks like not being cleaned at all. The water is dark and the tiles seems to scared of brushes. The view is very nice, I hope the management does something to improve the facilities.
Stairs going down to the swimming pool area.
The scenic view of the mountains in Cebu, with the slide going to the swimming pool below.
Last Aug. 31, 2011, my family drove from Lapu-Lapu City to Genesis Valley, Consolacion Cebu. This was a welcome celebration for my brother's arrival at the same time a good luck wish for my sister's boyfriend who was set to fly to Brazil for work. The place is nestled between lush-green mountains of Consolacion, Cebu.
Family bonding in Genesis Valley's swimming pool. At the back are two jacuzzis.
The second time I visited the beautiful island of Panglao was when we had our company's team building and as part of the organizers I suggested that we held it in Alona Beach. This part of the island has plenty of accommodations, more commercialized than Dumaluan, active night life and has other activities that you can enjoy. It's kind of little Boracay setup where resorts are lined up along the beach line and people can just cross from one resort to another. Resorts here ranges from affordable to expensive rates depending on your budget. After a stressful scouring of affordable accommodation, we decided to stay in Bohol Divers Resort located in the extreme side of the beach. The resort has the most number of rooms in the area which ranges from backpackers room,fan rooms to air-conditioned executive suites. We find the resort most appropriate for our needs considering our budget, it has large swimming pool and wide area suitable for team building activities. At night, you get to enjoy their band offering acoustic and party music for all the guests. There is also a bar where you can enjoy your drink. Good food here is expensive and its one thing that I find not amusing in Panglao. Eat all you can here cost is Php450.00, imagine that! So, if you're on a tight budget, it's recommended that you buy in Tagbilaran before going to Alona Beach. There are also affordable food such as barbeque along the sides that you can buy.
Panglao is a fourth class municipality in the province of Bohol, Philippines. It is one of two municipalities that make up Panglao Island, the other being Dauis(wikipedia). The island boasts of white sand beaches and a varying choice of affordable to expensive accommodations. There are two famous beaches in the island Alona Beach and Dumaluan Beach.
I have been to this island three times, the first with my family where we stayed in Dumaluan Beach Resort. This part of the island has long beach line, white and find sand even comparable to Boracay's. At night, you can hear the waves, lie down in the sand and wait for falling stars. This is one good place to relax and recharge. Food here is expensive and there are no other food stalls or restaurants other than the ones owned by the resort. So, it's advised that you bring your own food.
That's me and my niece, enjoying the white sands of Dumaluan Beach Resort.
My brother, niece and nephew playing on the sand on a low tide. See the long stretch of find sand.
How to Get There
From Cebu City, you may ride a fast craft such as Ocean Jet, Weesam or SuperCat to Tagbilaran City. Upon arrival, you can rent a van which is expensive will cost you around 700 one way or car 500. More practical is you ride a tricycle to bring you to the city's church. Beside the church area are jeepneys or mini buses that are going to Panglao island, fare is only 30 pesos. Unboard the vehicle when you reach the area where you will see a sign to Dumaluan Beach Resort. The beach is a distance away from the main road so you may take "habal-habal" or motorcycle for 20 pesos each person. Another option is to pay the tricycle to take you directly to the resort. Cost for this is 200-400 pesos. There are two resorts Dumaluan Beach Resort I and II, the other is public and the other is more expensive. We payed Php 2500 for our room good for 4 persons and 150/person in excess. Accommodation and food in Panglao is really expensive, even more expensive than Boracay's.
After a very stressful week, I feel the need to just go out and relax. So, my boyfriend and I went out to watch the European Film Festival in Ayala Center Cebu which started last Sept 30. Thanks to my friend who informed me about the festival as we were able to catch up with the last day. We were lucky to have watched two movies Mosquito's Tango(Slovakia) and Mammoth(Sweden). The movies are entertaining, heartbreaking, and most of all it's free...
I'm glad I let go of my plan to just sleep as I have not enough sleep the past days. The first movie from Slovakia has a good story but I think it fails to present the highlight or the climax of the story effectively to the audience. But the second movie Mammoth from Sweden really caught me by surprise as there are Filipino actors and actresses involved. The plot is something that every Filipino can relate to. It's about the life, struggles, sacrifices, pain and the longing of loved ones of Filipinos working abroad. The movie reminds me of the importance of family and relationships. It's kind of ironic that we work so hard for our family but in effect our work brings us far from them. It hurts to think that after all the hardwork and pain, we grow apart from our family. This is the sad reality.
Reality indeed bites. So, I thank God for my family, friends and my boyfriend for being part of my life. I'm so blessed. Just like the Mammoths who were here a long time ago but are not forgotten, we should not forget our families...they are priceless.
So many times in our lives, we come to a point when we are in a crossroad. We turn to left left, turn to the right, look forward or look back. Indeed, undecided.
Events happen that makes us confused and bewildered of what actions to take. Whether we move on or just go back. I've been in a lot of crossroads in my life, there those that I dared to cross forward and there those that I just turned back and succumbed to fear. Yes, fear paralyzes even the bravest, the richest, the most popular or even the most powerful person on earth. Fear of rejection, fear of betrayal, fear of being ridiculed and laughed at, fear of not being loved in return, fear getting hurt, fear of failure, fear of losing our loved ones...the list is long. As I recall, there are a lot of things that I should have done but I did not because of my fears. Some of them I regret and keeps me asking "What if?". What if I crossed the road. What is in the other side? Would I be happier now if did that? However, there are times that in spite of my fears, discouragement from other people and challenges, I moved on and close my eyes and let God's hand take the wheel in my life. And I'm glad I did, because now I know that after overcoming fear and strong faith is unmeasurable fulfillment and real joy.
I believe everything happens for a reason and God has His plans for me. I know that when I am in a crossroad, He is there is guide me which road to take...