Tuesday, December 16, 2014

White Island (Camiguin)

Around 15 minutes off Mambadjao Camiguin, there is an island that immediately captivates and intrigues travelers – White Island.  Not an island really, but an uninhabited sandbar that changes shape and form depending on the tide.

White Island is very accessible from Paras Beach Resort.  It appears to be a shining gem from this resort in the middle of day. As we were having breakfast in this resort’s restaurant, we can see White Island as if inviting us to go and visit. We did, but that was after we have toured the whole island of Camiguin.

White Island is one beautiful spot for a photo shoot. Photos shot on the island appears to be as if you have traveled to an isolated area with the beach all to yourself. With the volcanic island of Camiguin as background, White Island seems to be somewhere in far away Hawaii as said by some who had been there.

Sunset is the best time to visit White Island. Just make sure that rains will not ruin the romantic ambiance.  There are beach umbrellas for rent on White Island that we thought is much better without. Any form of improvement on an island that is expected to be somehow isolated can be considered a nuisance of some sorts yet we came to accept that entrepreneurship is always present where tourists can be found.

White Island is somehow similar to Puka Beach in Boracay without the Puka shells. Its sands are soft to touch, pristine and magically white. The sands composing White Island slips on your hand while you hold them similar to an hourglass reminding of the passage of time. And time does pass unnoticed at White Island.

After a few minutes of snorkeling, swimming and frolicking in the sand – it was already sunset. It was a very beautiful sunset that has to be enjoyed in full. The array of colors are common but the nostalgia of seeing a sunset while on a sandbar is something different from us who lived most of our lives in densely populated Metro Manila.  It is more than spectacular and it is definitely not an exaggeration.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pearl Farm Resort (Davao)

It is not my first time to visit Pearl Farm but I can still recall how beautiful it was. I can still remember their famous pagoda where a huge chessboard resides therein. I never had the chance to play chess during my first visit as time was flying every minute. Sometimes, it is regrettable that being in an amazing place does not give one the license to save time.  If only time can be saved in a bottle, as what that song of long ago says, I could have saved more time and spend it in Pearl Farm to savor its splendor and play chess while nestled in its pagoda. It could have been wonderful to play chess at Pearl Farm while enjoying the vast expanse of the resort and dream of the best defense against the Winawer or the Najdorf.

This year, I got another chance to visit Pearl Farm – there is still the pagoda but without that huge chessboard.  I am not sure if I have not noticed the presence of the chessboard. Perhaps, a chessboard is misplaced in a place such as Pearl Farm. Who would want to sit all day playing chess in such a beautiful resort?  But despite the absence of a chessboard it is still definitely worth visiting Pearl Farm.

The travel from the Marina Wharf took at least an hour. While navigating, I cannot help thinking how to eliminate garbage and thrash in our seas. I cannot help being dismayed seeing plastics and other thrash floating in the sea on our way to Pearl Farm. Why not deploy a “garbage police” to clean our shores and seas? It is time for everyone to refrain from throwing garbage into the sea. I don’t want to think that it is just a matter of time before we lose our great resource – our seas and ocean.

As our boat gets nearer to Pearl Farm, I was praying that the plastics, glass bottles, pieces of wood and other debris would disappear when we reach the resort. Either the trash has been accidentally or deliberately dumped into the ocean is matter hard to be known but the effect to the environment is the same – it is disastrous and a bane to tourism. Any form of litter whether on land or on the sea discourages travel. Who would want to travel to a place riddled with thrash?

When the resort is on sight we saw its buoy that acts as an artificial divide or a territorial marker keeping garbage away from Pearl Farm. The sea is actually clear. It is only the biodegradables that threaten the beauty of the whole area.  

At the arrival in Pearl Farm, we were greeted with a sound of drums reminiscent of the tribes in Southern Philippines. Welcome drinks were served. Photos taken. Sweet smiles from the resort’s staff are a silent announcement that we arrived in somewhere nice. Everyone was excited and happy to be at this resort. Except for the eyesore of seeming intrusion of informal settlers at the edge of the resort, everything is perfect.

At the pagoda, water is crystal clear. The buoy kept the litter away. Corals are visible from above the water and several species of fish can be seen playing as if inviting the visitor’s attention. Try throwing a piece of bread and they can be seen scrambling for more to the delight of the guests.

Most travelers find paradise in Pearl Farm. It is definitely one of the best resorts in Mindanao. Sometimes, it is difficult to describe something stunning unless you see it for yourself. It may not be the best in the world, but Pearl Farm is definitely a must visit.

I enjoyed their buffet consisting of a superb collection of flavorful cuisines. Perhaps, everyone who tried this resort’s buffet is more than satisfied. The Filipino desserts served together with a concoction of fruits and other sweets perfectly complement the different variety of main courses.  Nothing can be better having a buffet breakfast with a view of the infinity pool and the sea.

Our accommodation is the “Mandaya House” tucked at the foot of a mountain, well designed, comfortable, clean and near another swimming pool unknown to most visitors of the resort. Upon entering our room for the night, we immediately wished we stayed a little longer. Its designed is superb and meant for a comfortable stay. There is a well - maintained aircon and flat screen TV. But who would have the time to watch TV inside Pearl Farm?

At Pearl Farm, an overnight stay is not enough. There are lots of things to do in this world class resort and enjoying the sand, sun and sea is just part of the fun. There are endless possibilities in Pearl Farm. Words will not do justice to fully describe the beauty of the place. Be there and see it for yourself.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kawasan Falls (Badian, Cebu)

There is a huge poster of Kawasan Falls in the airport in Cebu. The poster is huge and it captured Kawasan Falls’ magnificence enticing travelers to go and visit. With this poster and of what we heard about the falls, we included it in our itinerary.

The travel to Kawasan Falls was difficult - not that we went hiking or trekking in some rugged terrain – but because of the travel itself. Yes, we took an air-conditioned Ceres Bus at the Cebu South Bus Terminal via a taxi from our hotel in Cebu. We were lucky to find a taxi willing to bring us to this terminal using the meter. Most of the taxis that we hailed would rather “contract out” the fare (something illegal) rather than use the meter. However, it is a different situation going to Badian. We cannot find a single taxi willing to take us there with the meter. Some taxis charge as high as P 8,000 for a round trip to Cebu and Badian.

The bus ride is not a convenient ride to South West of Cebu heading exactly to Barangay Matutinao just to reach Kawasan Falls. I am sorry to say that this is one bus ride I have not enjoyed as it was overloaded.

At the entrance to the falls there are volunteers, for fee, who took us to our destination. The walk from the bus stop to the falls was a kilometer passing through coconut trees and a river in a rural setting. We enjoyed the walk while trying to ignore our guide whom we felt is not necessary as the trail is clear.

Kawasan falls is indeed beautiful except that lodge at the falls itself. Comfort rooms are not of standard and very inconvenient. If the government is serious in its effort to boost tourism in the country, improving the facilities in our “tourist areas” should be a priority.

Despite the inconvenience of the trip and the facilities, we enjoyed Kawasan Falls. As I said, Kawasan Falls is beautiful. It is stunning but the facilities around it needs grave improvement.  The area could have been much better without that lodge or if there are comfortable toilets.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Travel and Explore other Islands!

Sometimes, we do not realize that there is a much greater and bigger island than the islet we are in right now. Sometimes, we are afraid to change and we dare not take that boat and travel to that island.

We are, more often than not, afraid to take risks – contented with what we have.  In fact, some may have lived all their entire life in just one island without even setting foot on another.

Travel and explore that other island! There are more than a hundred thousand islands the world has to offer. The Philippines alone has more than 7,000 islands and islets waiting to be discovered, explored and enjoyed by everyone.

It is said that anyone who fails or opt not to travel only reads a single page of life.  In traveling, we would understand how and why life is at it is. We learn that no one is indispensable in this life.  In traveling, we open our life to something new…

Thursday, November 06, 2014

LimKetKai Lux Hotel (Cagayan De Oro)

One of the best hotels to stay for several days or even for a night or two in Cagayan De Oro is the LimKetKai Luxe Hotel. With its golden fa├žade, the hotel welcomes all visitors and guests  with luxurious, warm and friendly service typical and expected of Cagayan De Oro dubbed as the “City of Golden Friendship.”

Immediately at the entrance of the hotel, security is a priority.  Perhaps, a consequence of the bombing incident that happened last year where a provincial board member and a doctor were among the six casualties.  

Guests are routinely screened and their baggage’s and  other belongings  have to pass through a bomb detector machine similar to those found in airports. The added security, while causing a slight inconvenience, is greatly appreciated.

The hotel’s lobby evokes an ambiance of grandiose. It is splendid like most five star hotels. In fact, everything in LimKetKai’s hotel is a statement of what should be impressive. Its rooms are a measure of a luxurious stay. Everything is clean and well maintained. The bed and pillows are very comfortable. The shower area is spotless and well designed.

Most of the rooms in LimKetKai offer a very nice view of Cagayan De Oro being the highest structure perhaps in the whole of Mindanao. Its glass edifice gives a very clear sight of the whole landscape.

The hotel’s breakfast, served buffet, is something to wake up in the morning. Its wide array of cuisines is a gastronomic treat. Everyone can enjoy what is served either it be American or Asian foods.  

As a final note - never leave this hotel without taking a dip at its infinity pool and trying their newly opened gym. At any rate, the best thing in this hotel is the staff’s warm and accommodating service…

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