2011: The Year That Was

And here goes my year summarized in photos taken from all over the Philippines. I have thus proven that once bitten by the travel bug, one can never go back. Thanks to all the friends I met online at first, on the road eventually. I hope 2012 has a lot more in store for me and my itchy feet. 🙂 Cheers!
































EAT Danao: The Rush

16 March 2011

EAT Danao or Extreme Educational Eco Adventure Park

As lifted from their website http://www.eatdanao.com, E.A.T. Danao is the town’s newest brainchild. “E.A.T.” does not only pertain to the partaking of the town’s organically grown and fresh food which is in abundance but also a whole new experience far superior to the common offer of Chocolate Hills’ tour, tarsier and dolphin/whale watching.

Danao offers unique and exhilarating activities in different categories set amidst verdant valleys framed by the majestic expanse of mountain ranges.

All these activities converged in one place which the town calls the Danao Adventure Park. The Park is located at barangay Magtangtang, 72 kilometers from the City of Tagbilaran and only about two (2) hours ride away.

As of December 2008, the zip line in Danao town, province of Bohol is the Philippines’ longest and tallest zip line. It traverses around half a kilometer from one mountain to another, taking you to a one-minute exhilirating ride.

Charges for Recreational Equipments/Facilities and Activities

  • Plunge – P700 per person
  • Sky Ride – P250 per person
  • Caving – P350.00/person (minimum of 5 persons)
  • River Tubing – P200.00/person
  • Kayaking – P200.00/person
  • River/Mountain Trekking/Hiking – P200.00/person
  • Wall Climbing – P100.00/person
  • Rappel (60m) – P600.00/person (Minimum of 5 pax)
  • Rappel w/ root climbing – P400.00/person
  • Suislide – P350.00/person
  • Tent Rental @ 200.00/rented tent, then 100.00/own tent
  • Camping – P25 per camper
  • Village Tour – P200.00/person
  • Ziplet @ 100.00/pax

We reached the place at around 12 noon, chose our beds, unpacked our stuff and headed for the dining area. The ladies seemed to ignore the wide array of sumptuous dishes served before them, for fear of bloating in their meticulously chosen bikinis. haha! Some even took their laxative teas after. Good thing Manong Lloyd Cabanlit, our driver from Johnny Tours RV, had a good appetite. 🙂

After a quick rest, it’s off to the river for some kayaking! It was drizzling and we passed by some farmers along the way. They offered to get us some coconuts for free. They were so kind but we just couldn’t eat pro bono at the expense of their hard toil so we offered to pay P10 per coconut.  After an exhausting but rewarding rage against the rapids, we drank coconut water straight from the shell and thought of this is as one of the things we love about provincial life. You would never go hungry when you have a coconut tree in the back yard. The local cut out a makeshift spoon from the inner shell of the coconut and this is what we used to scrape the soft and deliciously divine white coconut meat off the shell.

I never knew it only took 30mins to grow those muscles on our arms. After kayaking, we headed to the rappel station for our 60ft descent down an almost vertical limestone face.

Rappelling was very tiring and silly as I was, I thought I had an automated control to just press when I wanted to go down. I didn’t know it was just rope you place to your side when to wanted to descend, and then place at your back when you wanted to stop. Or was it the other way around??? I would pause and stop in midair only to look down and find that I’m still not halfway there. That only adds to the increasing fear and discomfort. And when the crew shouts “lean back”, I would instantly panic and lean back almost comically, keeping in mind the crew’s scary warnings of getting the shirt caught into the intertwined ropes or getting the skin burnt because of rope friction.   So when I was a little past the midpoint, I just closed my eyes and released the lock for a fast and almost furious descent into the guide below. Thank God, I made it alive.

But to my dismay, the ride back up was equally fear-inducing and cuss-provoking! You make the ascent through a cable wound by a motor at the top, so you expect the ride to be fast and smooth. But no! It was snail-paced and there were abrupt pauses! Those were the moments when you think that the rope snapped because of too much tension and you just surrender yourself to the piercing rocks below. But that’s just how the machine operates, with 3 traumatizing brief stops that add to the overall drama. The 2nd stop will send chills down your spine and you’ll say out loud, “now this is really it, I’m going to miss my mommy!”. The third stop will just set you chuckling “you won’t fool me this time. haha.”

Next was the zipline, or the suislide as EAT Danao calls it.

Suislide is basically a zip-line consisting of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline cliff. The Suislide has two lines, going forth and back. Its starting point is parallel to the Sky Ride and Plunge’s height.


Suislide is the local version for zipline, a sky ride or a slide for life. Sui-slide is coined from the word, “Suis“ (the sound of the cable ride once you get to slide) and “slide”. It could also mean for some who is so much petrified with heights to be a suicidal slide. It traverses around half a kilometer from one mountain to another, taking you to less than a minute exhilarating ride…


It’s a pretty nasty name, if you ask me. Not a good marketing strategy at all. Haha. But for the adrenaline junkies, like me or as I’d like to come off (fine ridicule me all you want),  it’s a dream.

Trying out the zipline was a surreal communion with mother nature. I marveled at how beautiful the scenery was with the rapids central to the gorge and the thick blanket of trees that serve as home to a diverse group of organisms. I thought “this is the true essence of tourism I guess, getting people to appreciate  and cry in awe for the natural wonders that a place has to offer. it is having to enhance, and not commercially industrialize, natural spots and make it accessible for all”. For a second, I wished to be in midair forever.

the face of genuine happiness and content.

17 March 2011

Caving was scheduled at 7am and Manong Chedeng (whose name’s origin you will  know as you go along this post) was assigned as our cave guide. Chedeng, together with two other guides whose names start with J forgive me for my selective memory, told us that we will only be doing moderate spelunking as the rains are starting to pour and it is not a great idea to explore caves with ear-high water levels, snakes and whatnots that come with extreme spelunking. And did I fail to mention that in the difficult level, you need to be able to swim and rappel and walk 6-7 hrs through a hiking trail without any makeshift  rope guides/handles and stone path. Now that’s what I call extreme!

manong Chedeng being oh so informative! He told us that it takes about a hundred (or was it a thousand??) years to grow an inch of a stalactite so it was an absolute no-no to touch the stalactites as you may break off a piece that took a century to grow!

This is one of the many fancy-shaped formations inside the cave. I forgot how they call this one, umbrella formation perhaps? I could remember, as I actually wrote them down, the mushroom (also called the nose), grotto, candlestick, and angel formations. The key is imagination, even just a tiny bit of it because some of the formations have very striking resemblances to certain objects or beings.

Limestone droplets deposited over time, that’s how you form these wonders. The caves were actually used by rebel soldiers during war time as their hideout but as darkness fell, they are faced with a dilemma – what will be their source of light? Chedeng told us that the soldiers, phasing out torches and bonfires as the smoke could very well be seen by the enemy, resorted to fireflies and glowing mushrooms. How ingenious!

We turned off our cap lamps for a minute to know what pitch black looks like and boy, it was .. well, NOTHING. You couldn’t see a thing!

Another group photo. Manong Chedeng shouts “Chedeng” once he presses the shutter, thus his name. There are just certain spots in the cave where you could have your photo taken. The camera’s flash actually causes the limestone to darken and so some spots in the cave are being rehabilitated. It is advised not to have your photo taken in these specific rehabilitated spots. Only chedeng takes the photos, so you have to give your camera to him prior to spelunking and he keeps it safe within his dry bag (which we really really love, btw so we purchased a similar one 2 days after in SM Cebu. haha).

After the session, the team headed back to the accommodation for a change of clothes before heading to the Plunge station for the jump of our lives! Look how tired we are in this photo!

The plunge (separate video post on https://throwcautiontothewind.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/the-plunge-of-my-life-quite-literally/ )

The plunge was the highlight of my stay in Danao. It was the epitome of an adrenaline rush! Once you’re in free fall, you just have to shout to the top of your lungs and let it all out. Curse all you want! The descent is about 75m as what chedeng has been bragging and was patterned before New Zealand’s. But Danao made it grander because it was 15m longer than that of NZ. After freefall, you have to swing several times before being lifted. They throw you a safety rope that you have to fasten onto your harness because this will hoist you up. With shaking hands, I tried but failed twice before getting a grip on the rope.

Finally I was on the platform again, with shaken knees and a racing heart but now a braver spirit!

EAT Danao is a must on everyone’s Bohol itinerary!

Bohol: A travelogue

16 Mar 2011

H & I took the 5:30am PAL flight to Tagbilaran. We left gohotels in Boni around 4am and may I say, check-out was a breeze! The staff were very efficient and accommodating and we didn’t have to pay the incidental deposit of 500 when we checked in the day before.

Aboard the plane the in-flight monitors were showing a sitcom Mike & Molly. It was pretty hilarious with the two main characters Mike and Molly meeting for their disastrous first date. H &  I made a mental note to download this series once we get back to manila. But it never happened. ha!

Touchdown in tagbilaran airport was early at 7am. We made our way past the drivers and agents who were nudging their tour package cards into our faces. We insisted that we already have a package arranged and that we were just waiting to be fetched. Since the group which we’ll be joining is scheduled to arrive at 8am from cebu via ocean jet ferry, we have an hour to spare for breakfast. The nearest restaurant is Cion-Virge Cafe and Restaurant within the airport compound. As what is expected from restos in airport, everyday food fare will cost you a fortune so I just settled for a hearty tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee for P140.

We  kept in touch with Manong Johnny of Johnny Tours RV, our tour agent. He fetched us from the airport to his home, telling snippets of Bohol history along the way, and showed us his apartments while waiting for the group to arrive. He’s a talker, Manong Johnny, telling us how we was at sea for years before finally retiring and settling in Bohol and managing his many businesses. BTW, he also accepts transient stay for 300pesos/night which is a good price considering that the units have AC, television, cooking area, and his place is just near the mall and the city square. You can contact him at 09177031664.

Total RV cost was at 7,000 pesos. We were charged 3500 from Tagbilaran to Danao, 2500 for the Bohol day tour, and 1000 for Panglao. It’s really an advantage to be in a group because you get to divide the expenses. This left us with 778pesos per head.

We need to leave for Danao at 10am if we want to maximize the day, so we bid Manong Johnny goodbye and spent 2 hours on the rough road to Danao. Our stay at Danao cost us each 2400 pesos, food and accommodation included. Thanks to Weina for being so pretty and approachable and for arranging our stay and giving us the cozy Tugpa Uno and Dos rooms.

See how we got the rush in Danao, as I document every extreme activity we enjoyed to our fast-paced beating heart’s content.

We shelled out P4502.56 for the van rental, EAT Danao accommodation, food, and extreme activities, and our accommodation at Panglao (Citadel Alona Inn).

16 Mar 2011

Early rise for spelunking. See how amazing the formations are.

After freshening up and taking the plunge, the group hurried to kickoff the tour with Chocolate hills and catch lunch at Loboc. The snacks from EAT Danao, included in the package, were packed and eaten in the van. Along the way, Manong Lloydie, showed us the ship-shaped home a retired seaman built for  his family. He loves the sea alright.

On the way to the well-publicized postcard-perfect Chocolate Hills, we passed by the Billiar man-made forest instantly feeling the drop in temperatures as hundreds of trees  frame our path. You could very well picture yourself from a scene in twilight. The forest was commissioned after a landslide destroyed the area years back.

Chocolate Hills

214 steps mark our ascent to get a nice view of the world-renowned chocolate hills. These hills are a product of limestone whose sinkholes have been carved out by ancient waters and the formations being uplifted above sea level and molded through the ages. I’ve actually learned that in my first geology class in uni! ha! The hills are a remarkable example of karst topography.

But I was not impressed by what I saw, perhaps because of all the media sensationalism and the dozens of postcards I have seen as a child. It was just overrated but nonetheless, still beautiful.

The fee was 50pesos per person and we bought for 100 pesos, 2 tarsier souvenir purses and a tarsier watch (which doesn’t really tell you the time, it’s just a bracelet with a little tarsier stuffed toy sewn to it that seems to be watching you with its humongous eyes, hence the item’s name).

Loboc River Cruise


We had to pay 300 pesos for the buffet and 100 pesos for the entrance fee (I think). The river was murky and not pristine at all as what the tourism sites have been telling people. The food was not remarkable for the right reasons. It was everyday fare (bbq, vegetable dishes, fruits) and the only thing unusual to sight, at least for me, was the seaweed salad, which was not even good. The staff only serves softdrinks and a 350ml bottled water comes with a hefty P30 additional charge. Oh wow. I’m fine with the watermelon, thank you.

As the cruise went on, a middle-aged local serenaded us with sunday classics (you know, what the local FM stations play during sundays, a selection of songs from the 70-80’s). One song would cling to  mind until a week after because the message is so sweet and the melody is appealing. It goes, “eventhough we aint got money, I’m so in love with you honey and tell me everything is gonna be alright..”

The cruise had a brief stopover at a local community that performs in a makeshift wooden raft-cum-stage complete with ukeleles and costumes and bamboo trunks for their dance. They have a donation box mounted for tourists to drop their coins or bills, as they desire. I wonder how much of the P100 entrance fee goes to these groups (yes, there were several others) because obviously the donation box doesn’t get filled that much. And the locals don’t look as happy as they have the same plastered and orchestrated smiles about them when they perform. I see a hint of exploitation there. I think the local government and tourism authority must hear their plight, if they have any.

Baclayon Church


We left Loboc and headed to the oldest coral church in the country, Baclayon church where the ultraconservative (no pun intended) clergy men and women drape pieces of cloth around tourists who do not dress according to the church’s code. Yes, you have to be modest in the house of God and so I came in with cloth about my shoulders and my waist. Oh wow. But I don’t mind. I saw a young korean man with cloth draped around him too since he was in a muscle-sleeved shirt. haha


The interior of the church is amazing. With the light radiating through the stained glass windows, it renders a very solemn and intimate feel to one of the famous stone churches of Bohol.

The tarsiers


The tarsiers were very tame. They look so cute and lazy! haha. I was lucky to spot 2 on a branch and they were just still, I wanted them to be hopping about from branch to branch. But tarsiers are nocturnal creatures and happen to be active just at night time. Oh well, good thing they look like Yoda in starwars when they keep their eyes shut.


Pruny the python

This cross-player is the legal guardian of the massive python. He kept saying “Fruneeeee” when it was actually “Prony” as the next photo would come to tell.

look at this bikini cut out from the snake’s shed skin. Now that’s authentic!

and now here I present the star of the mini-zoo, Pruny!

I didn’t have the guts to enter the cage and have my photo taken beside Pruny. It seemed friendly and too full to move. Or maybe it’s just too old.

Pasalubong House


We dropped by a souvenir shop for all our pasalubong needs. Aside from the peanut kisses, made from meringue and peanuts, another popular pasalubong from Bohol is the Calamay. It is sugar, coconut milk and sticky rice flour cooked and packed in coconut shells. Yum!

We had coffee while waiting for the others finish shopping. Some even tried on some swimsuits, bullied into buying by the others who told them that a bikini is mandatory in Panglao beach.

We went back to the city and purchased some food and supplies for a night in Panglao. We contributed 442 pesos each, inclusive of dinner, booze, and breakfast for the following day.

When all had their fill, we went swimming and then drinking. We gave in to slumber at 2am, in the rooms already reserved at Citadel Alona Inn.

Room with twin beds in Citadel Alona Inn. Rates are at 1800/room/night (good for 4), 200pesos for extra head.

18 March 2011

A swim and a stroll along the shores are a great way to start the day. Then several photos later, and after a quick shower, it was time to hit the road again and head to Tagbilaran port for the 11:30 trip to Cebu.

     

It was a temporary goodbye. Our stay had been short-lived and Bohol will always be a future destination for me. There are still a lot of things to see and discover. I still have to go snorkeling and see its corals. I still have to see the bee farm and the butterfly garden. I still have to swim with the dolphins at Baclayon. I still have to go to Mag-aso falls, Hinagdanan Cave and Sagbayan Peak. The list is long and I may not even finish it. That’s how much Bohol has to offer. You just have to discover and rediscover it for yourself.

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Total cost (exclusive of airport terminal fees and airfare): 140 (bfast at CION Virge Resto, Airport Complex) +4502.56 (contribution, inclusive of Danao food and accommodation,  Danao extreme activities, Panglao Accommodation, van rental) +442(Dinner and breakfast at Panglao) +100 (Souvenirs)+50(Chocolate Hills entrace fee)+500(ocean jet ferry, bohol-cebu)+400 (Loboc buffet lunch and entrance fee)=6134.56 pesos

The plunge of my life, quite literally.

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150120185466773

You can really feel my heart racing in this video. Notice how desperately I cling to the steel platform while being lowered. And how I still hold on to the rope though I know that it’s really senseless since I’m in freefall. Well, don’t we all need a semblance of security in our lives? haha

This is a repost from my facebook page.