Wednesday, March 30, 2011

life's a beach

so here comes summer and you just can't choose where to go and what to do. here to recommend you places in the Philippines based on the activity of your choice. Gay the PinayTravelJunkie and Chyng of No Spam, No Virus, No Kidding on recommending summer beach activities.

[1] Snorkeling. i grew up with this as one of my favorite water activity. in the Philippines, our underwater resources has been damaged for quite some time yet some areas had its locals support its preservation. Anilao in Batangas, which is part of Verde Passage, is a personal favorite because of accessibility from Manila. i highly recommend Dive n Trek.
Other recommended spots: Apo island in Negros, Apo reef in Mindoro, Coron in Palawan, El Nido in Palawan, Pamalican island in Palawan, Balicasag island in Bohol, Sombrero island in Batangas, Pambato reef in Palawan.
[2] Shell Picking. very few does this. except on spots where people would collect it for business. i remember Sibuyan island in Romblon where people would roll over stones to pick some of the shells. i was surprised as there were rocks with about a dozen shells stick to it. those were live ones, which i don't recommend. one can collect shells which are already dead or i should say there's nothing inside and has been dried up ashore. Malamawi island in Basilan and Gaspar island in Marinduque are great spots.
other highly recommended spots:
Rock islands of Calaguas, Alibijaban in Quezon province, Balicasag island in Bohol.
[3] Making Sand Castle. kids favorite and are most of the time geared with a pail and shovel. sand castle making does not require very fine sand but the finer it is, the better the surface can be. but i won't be surprised to see adults still ding it. you can still see people doing it in Boracay. you might perfect a wall but it's still a challenge to make a good castle.
Other recommended spots: Anguib beach in Cagayan, Panglao in Bohol, Malamawi island in Basilan, Gumasa beach in Sarangani, Tondol in Pangasinan.
[4] Scuba Diving. Chyng says after I discovered scuba diving in Balicasag, Im in shocked and it left me breathless. It's the 1st time I actually thought Im inside that animated screen-saver in the desktop computer. It's surreal! (and you know very well that I hardly say that a place is "surreal") Chyng shares her first scuba diving experience.
other highly recommended spots: Malapascua and Moalboal in Cebu, Anilao in Batangas, Sarangani Bay, Tubattaha and Coron in Palawan, Apo Reef in Negros, and Apo island in Mindoro.

[5] Island Hopping. we have 7,107 islands but island hopping requires multiple islands in an area and the Hundred islands in Pangasinan is a top spot for this in terms of the number of islands in a specific area. but don't miss out awesome spots for this activity like the enchanting towering karst of El Nido and Coron in Palawan and the equally stunning islands of Caramoan in Camarines Sur.
other highly recommended spots: Higantes islands in Panay, Honda Bay in Palawan, Siargao islands in Surigao, Mactan in Cebu, Calaguas in Camarines Norte.
[6] Fish Feeding. when we were in Honda Bay, many got excited on the fish feeding part of the trip. asked myself, didn't they had enough? we just came from Pambato reef where we did snorkeling. but when i saw them all smile coming out of the water, it meant something. i ended doing it and it was indeed worth it.
other highly recommended spots: Sombrero island in Batangas, Dive n Trek in Batangas, Coron in Palawan, Sibuyan island in Romblon.
[7] Ball sports and Frisbee. whether it's beach volley or simply touch ball, it has always been a popular group activity. that's when you just love to stumble and jump without the fear of falling. international competitions are sometimes held at Boracay's extra wide beach line. Puerto Galera is also a top spot for this as you can join with other locals and even groups.
other highly recommended spots: Bantayan island in Cebu, Mactan island in Cebu, Samal island in Davao, Subic in Zambales, Gumasa in Sarangani.
[8] Landscape Photography. this is when the amazing modern camera flexibility and great scenic beaches jive to bring out the best of natural wonders. the hilly beach views of Palaui island in Cagayan province and the unusual rock forms of Kapurpurawan are stunning. i remember going to beaches taking photos and ends the day not even able to swim.
other highly recommended spots: Capones island in Zambales, Biri island in Samar, Mairaira/Blue Lagoon beach in Ilocos Norte, Anawangin, Nagsasa and Silanguin cove in Zambales.
[9] Luxury and Leisure. that's when you just look for a relaxing weekend spending long hours on a hammock by the mangrove beach of Microtel in Palawan or lying down in between the towering karsts of El Nido. matched with a massage by the bay under a cabana.
other highly recommended spots: Pamalican island in Palawan, Elephant island in Marinduque, Mactan island in Cebu, Boracay, Panglao in Bohol.
[10] Surfing. though summer may not be the best season for surfing, it's those opportunities when small waves and a little push from the experienced gives you the feel of being on top of the board. the coastal shorelines of Siargao in Surigao, Catanduanes and Baler in Quezon are great avenues for this.
other highly recommended spots: La Union in Pangasinan, Borongan in Samar and Bagasbas in Camarines Norte.
[11] Isolation. this would usually lead you to the idea of setting out of the busy daily activities and the usual crowd. the Philippines still has a great number of these islands. Calaguas islands has some of the best isolated beach shores apart from the famous Mahabang Buhangin beach which now attracts a good number of tourists on weekends.
other highly recommended spots: Palaui island in Cagayan, Higantes islands in Panay, Maniuaya island of Marinduque, San Vicente beach of Palawan.
[12] Parasailing. if there's an activity that i highly recommend when one is in Boracay it would be this. though can be costly to the usual budget traveler, i say that you should try it even once in your life. being hundreds of feet above the sea and a great view of the island will be memorable.
other highly recommended spots: Mactan island in Cebu and Subic in Zambales.[13] One with Nature. be one with the green surroundings of mangrove reserves while doing bird watching in the island of Olango in Cebu. you learn to value the importance of mangroves and shallow sandy shorelines to the eco-system.
other highly recommended spots: Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Kalibo in Panay, Malamawi island in Basilan, Alibijaban and Cagbalete island in Quezon.
[14] Food trip. after all the activities that you've done in the beach, you will feel like your tummy is empty. when on the islands, sea food will be at its best as you get to have the fresh catch cooked right infront of you. the Curacha, a deep sea crab, is highly recommended when you're in Sta Cruz island in Zamboanga. but Lechon Cebu while island hopping in Mactan is not even a bad idea.
other highly recommended spots: Dasol in Pangasinan, Calaguas in Camarines Norte.
[15] Cycling. don't be surprised if early morning you will find people cycling on the wide low tide area of the Boracay. look for the shop that offers bike rentals within D'Mall and an hour can bring you to the nearby beach of Bulabog. but if you are friendly enough, you can even borrow the bikes of the locals at zero cost.
other highly recommended spots: San Vicente beach and Sabang beach in Palawan, Sibuyan coast in Romblon, Malamawi island

[16] kayaking. this is my favorite water activity. i would even bring my camera inside a dry pack while paddling away from the shoreline. it would be great to start on lakes near the beaches like the inlet of Calayo in Batangas. but a highly recommended spot is Hundred islands in Pangasinan as you get to hop from one island to the other.
other recommended spots: Boracay, Bantayan island in Cebu, Panglao in Bohol, El Nido in Palawan.
[17] Night Out. some would love the sun but others fall in love with the moon. when in an island, you wanted to maximize the experience and ends up going out with friends like the busy night restos and coffee shops in Boracay and Puerto Galera. after hours of laughter and walking by the beach... you realized that sleeping at 2:00am in Boracay is still early.
other highly recommended spot: Bantayan island during long summer weekend.
[18] Skim boarding. yes i tried this in Calaguas but let's say the longest time i was on top of the board is five seconds. but is definitely something that i would love to do again. this usually requires long straight shore of fine sand. this is getting popular in Boracay.
other highly recommended spots: Bantayan island in Cebu, Siargao island in Surigao, Panglao island in Bohol, Camotes island in Cebu.
[19] no itinerary. i should say that sometimes it's just really fun doing everything and sometimes even nothing when you're in the beach. Gay Mitra Emami says "Our entire trip was enveloped with time constraints. Not to mention I was two months pregnant which forced me to move a bit sluggish and overly wary. Gay's full experience of Sta Fe beach in Bantayan island, Cebu.
other highly recommended spots: it's about just being there. every spot is a recommended spot for this activity.
[20] Volunteerism/Immersion. we always enjoy great beach views and unending beach activities that we sometimes overlook the idea of actually being with the locals. last year, i had my first encounter with the Atis of Boracay whose ancestors first enjoyed its white sand beaches. interesting stories of them transferring from one side of the island to the other depending on the season led me to actually realize that this is their island. through the help of some missionaries, outreach activities are open to guests. small acts of help aren't really small when done with a big heart.
other highly recommended spots: Fishing Village Immersion in Alibijaban island in Quezon, Calaguas in Camarines Norte, Dasol in Pangasinan, Polillio island in Quezon.
definitely there a lot of things to do more than these lists and a lot more places to check out. share your summer experience or even plans in the coming months.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

team three one

one hot summer day with thirty one who decided to join the Pinatubo Adventure and supported my first outreach project for the Aeta community last weekend. bringing used clothes, books, stuff toys, some biscuits and smiles that touched the hearts of the Aetas even for a short while.here to extend my deepest gratitude to Rea, Paul, Divine, Josh, Leigh, Gerald, Majane, Carlo, Tina, Jarvik, Gerard, Alex, Tine, Sir Toto, Jen, Ricky, Dave, Chacha, Joanne, Cris, Romeo, Mariel, Theo, Faith, Dory, Rosa, Paz, Efren, Shy and Che. also special thanks those who were not able to join yet still sent their goods for the outreach. our help does not end there as we formed Team Three One to gather some of the community's requests to support their other needs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

down town nagoya and the world's largest train station

the world's largest train station didn't even look like a train station to me. from the airport shuttle drop off point, we were told that the Nagoya Train Station was just across the road. all i saw was this huge box type building and two towering white-walled circular towers.right infront of us was Japan's sixth tallest building and beneath was the Japan Railway (JR) Central Station of Nagoya. the station's floor area covers 410,000 square meters. now that's really huge.unlike Hokkaido, Nagoya's district was busy. people was all in transit coming from the subway, the nearby malls and office buildings. it looked like Nagoya's version of Tokyo's Harajuku, as teens wear colorful outfits. something i missed after staying two days in the sweet and quiet town of Obihiro.
among other most interesting structure in Nagoya is Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers which was also just across the street. it holds three vocational schools. it is so far the most beautiful vocational school that i've seen.went down the subway ticket station and just then, i realized how wide this station was. without good sense of direction, one can actually get lost. there were signs but with the number of lines crossing this station, i still found it confusing.
took some time to find the train line for my next destination. checked my ticket and it says car 6 seat 26 Kintetsu-Nagoya to Matsusaka with a no smoking symbol. it meant another long train ride, in transit before my last destination in Japan.how to get there (reference wikipedia):
Tokaido Shinkansen Line accesible if you are coming from Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka.

Other lines which also crosses this station:

Taokaido main line, Chuo Line, Kansai Line, Takayama Line, Higashiyama Line, Sakuradori Line, Meitetsu Nagoya Line, Aonami Line


location:

island: Honshu
country: Japan
prefecture: Aichi

GPS location:
35^ 10" 13' N
136^ 53" 0' E

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

inflight from obihiro to nagoya

i was saddened by the news about the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. i remember flying over Honshu's coast which was calm and beautiful even from the plane. though all of my Japanese colleagues are safe, still it was sad to know that many died from this natural calamity.on my last day in Hokkaido, i had to find something to remind me of this beautiful island. a country known to have some of Japan's indigenous animals that includes deers and horses. the airport of Tokachi Obihiro reflects the island as being industrial yet still naturally rich.while walking around the airport waiting for my flight to Nagoya, i checked out the shop in search of a souvenir. i found out that among the most important symbol of Hokkaido, the big brown bear dominates also known as Higuma and bears are generally called as kuma.i tried to check other items only to find that the shop also holds a wide array of chocolates and found out the Royce chocolate actually originated in this island. these chocolates even became famous when they started selling in airports.
i also ended up buying these chocolate-coated strawberry, something i thought the city of Baguio should do. like the city of Obihiro, this airport seems so isolated as i was seeing very few people. not even half of the plane was filled on that day.like most trips around Japan, plane took off as scheduled. our flight back to the big island of Honshu went bumpy as we approached the greater Nagoya area. it was cloudy until we started descending that revealed an aerial view of the big city.
after touch down, it started to drizzle as we were entering the old terminal of Nagoya Airport. after few minutes, bus arrived in time for our transfer to the Nagoya central train station that cut short our excitement of watching Sumo wrestling at the airport's arrival area.
let's hope that Japan will recover soon, let's not forget to offer a prayer for those who died and those who are still strongly affected by the catastrophe.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

earth hour 2011


it's here again, a time when we are reminded of the importance of saving energy. let's do our part that's beyond Earth Hour. take a shot of your Earth Hour experience and i'll post it here by end of March.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

obihiro by night

came night time and still it felt like we were so few in this industrial town of Obihiro, little did i know that the island of Hokkaido holds the record of having the highest rate of depopulation in Japan. it was so odd that even at night time despite all the lamp posts' on, you can almost count the number of people walking. ones energy can be drained by its silence. did i mention that it was still approaching seven in the evening?
the Obihiro Centennial Hall was all lights but seemed like there was no one performing. it indeed felt like i was Robert Neville for a moment. but this city is nestled by vast expanse of green fields with barns and few houses and in few miles the East Coast. it has a large agricultural sector of beans, wheat and potatoes.
finally it seemed like i finally found the place where people were gathering, the dining block which was just across the Obihiro Station. there were several food stalls with lanterns that lighted the small alley. they call the place "Kita No Yatai", popular as it holds foods from different countries.
Sashimi, Sushi, Miso soup at its best matched with the local beer Sapporo while enjoying Hokkaido's sweet climate. with a kimono served in the hotel room, just the way i wanted the nigth to end.

how to get there:
by plane: take a domestic flight from any Japan airport to Tokachi-Obihiro Airport
by train: take the JR line from major Japan train station to JR Obihiro station with scenic views of the mountains of Hokkaido.

location:

island: Hokkaido
prefecture: Tokachi

escape factor:
accessibility: 3.5
city walk: 3.5
parks: 4.0
climate: 5.0
overall escape factor: 4.0

GPS location:
42^ 52" 22' N
143^ 12" 20' E

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