The 10-peso 20-minute ride to Paradise: Samal Island

Yet another solo adventure.

My wake-up call was the sweet chorus of birds making their presence known. Yes, there was a mini-aviary in my hotel. Eager to start the promising solo trip, I skipped breakfast and hurriedly left the hotel. Sasa Wharf was my stop and the jeepney fare was a mere P15. I noticed the group of people outside the wharf seemingly waiting for their companions; I approached them but was hesitant to ask for directions to the ticketing office. Instead, I turned towards the sari-sari store nearby and bought myself a bottle of water hoping that I could easily segue into sharing my travel concerns. The vendor turned out to be quite snobbish and as much as I hated having my questions answered in the form of another question, I kept my calm. I saw a group of teen excursionists hurrying their way past a tollgate of some sort and then I followed them. The ticketing station, it turns out, was a small booth where you get a token for 10pesos and you drop this token into a slot in a gate very much similar to that in MRT and LRT stations. How clever and efficient!


Not too long after I paid for my token, the barge was ready to accept passengers. Standing beside a motorcycle and a ladder dripping with oil the color of soot, I didn’t find the transit uncomfortable since it lasted for only 20minutes. I asked a lady near me if she knows of any resort she could recommend as I really don’t know where I’m going. She told me there are dozens, but never really gave a specific name. haha.


Disembarked and walked towards a convenient store for some snacks. I was starving but I needed a quick fill and something I could bring along the way so I opted for some chips and oatmeal cookies. Not knowing my destination, I approached and asked a Habal driver if he could bring me to the city tourism office for my inquiries. He gave me a better deal instead: a half-day tour around the island with stops in Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Hagimit Falls, and a beach resort of my choice (but I didn’t really know the choices so I went with what he recommended- Paradise) for just P350. The fare was originally set at P500 but I worked my charm. haha


 Monfort Bat Sanctuary (Entrance Fee: 40pesos)

It was a sight to behold. The cream limestone walls held black curtains of fruit bats. I marveled before the five cave openings that serve as home to 1.8billion Geoffrey Rousette Fruit bats, the largest colony of the said bat kind in the world! I didn’t mind the mosquitoes and the humid, putrid air filled with the stench of guano. I simply clicked away.

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Kadayawan Festival 2011: One Davao

Davao is a bustling metropolitan city still perfectly in touch with nature and tradition, keeping a careful balance of the new, the old, the strong, the wild, and the free. I was truly surprised to find the wide avenues, the heavy traffic, and the numerous malls. Yet more surprising was the fact that within access were the nature parks (Gap Farm Resort, People’s Park), the beach (Island Garden City of Samal, Passig Islet), and the wildlife centers (Philippine Eagle Center, Crocodile Park). Davao is a city of equilibrium. A sweet harmony of nature, tradition and progress is also exemplified by the Kadayawan Festival, this year having the theme “10 tribes, 1 vibe”.

P.S. I was lucky to have witnessed this colorful affair and I have Olan Emboscado to thank for the media pass.

Art Stud 1: Davao’s Ponce Suites Art Gallery

Ponce Suites is an unconventional hotel in Doňa Vicenta Village, Davao City which doubles as an art gallery as works of the celebrated Filipino artist Kublai populates the hallways, the hotel facade, the walls and the ceilings. Sculptures surround the establishment from a man taking a dump, to a kid in the quintessential oblation pose, to individuals coming to life out of a giant durian fruit. Kublai Ponce Millan is a UP Fine Arts graduate whose works are very much visible in the whole of Davao, from the Davao International Airport to the center’s People’s Park. And recently, Kublai embraced the world’s spotlight when his works were displayed at St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy for the Vatican Nativity scene.

I hailed the first tricycle that came to sight when I happily came out of Kangaroo Coffee Company (at the corner of V.Mapa and Tionko Streets). Fare was 30pesos and I was still in disbelief as I could not make out how close Ponce Suites was from the coffee shop with my google map as reference. Good thing I asked the cafe employee for directions. One of the many things I appreciate about the Davaoeňos is that they always are helpful in giving directions, answering questions, giving advice, and providing options.

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