Thursday, May 17, 2012

el encuentro: jerome y marky

two good friends of mine who has consistently inspired me to explore more. jerome, whose first trip to Mindanao, joined a nine-day backpacking trip in 2008 along with nine other friends from Zamboanga to Davao. he considered it a sort of baptism to backpacking and budget traveling. while Marky considered every Mindanao trip special. one time he and a friend celebrated their birthday in Cagayan de Oro and was hosted by a family.

                                                    "el encuentro" 
jerome baluyut                                   blogger                                  marky ramone go
balintataw                                             blog                                 nomadic experiences

beijing                                            farthest north                                        hong kong 
yogyakarta                                       farthest south                                    kota kinabalu       
camarines norte                                farthest east                                            sorsogon
bangkok                                           farthest west                                            bangkok

manila to sta ana, cagayan               longest road trip               manila to sta ana, cagayan
manila to coron, palawan                longest boat trip                        batangas to romblon
manila to bangkok                          longest plane trip                    manila to kuala lumpur
shanghai to beijing                         longest train trip                      roosevelt to gil puyat

mt pulag                                           highest point                                           mt pulag
apo reef, mindoro                             deepest swim                     kayangan lake, palawan
palaui island                                      longest trek                          mt banahaw traverse
mt pinatubo                                      hardest trek                                          mt halcon

money, shirt and towel                   item/s lost in a trip            jimi hendrix artwork shirt
roasary bead from a tibetan          item given on a trip   an intricately designed knife in kl
fried spicy worm, starfish                worst food eaten                      frog legs in binondo  
fried crickets

mindanao series questions:
dong ho: what was your best experience in Mindanao?

jerome: it would be my nine days backpacking trip in Mindanao back in 2008. i was with nine other traveler friends and most of us are first time visitors of Mindanao. it was sort of my baptism of fire on the idea of  backpacking and budget traveling. we fly out from Manila to Zamboanga City, visited the pink beach of Sta Cruz island, ate the best breakfast --- Spanish sardines in Dipolog. checked out Rizal Srhine and Dakak Dapitan. passed by Iligan. did white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro. saw my first ever waterfalls in Camiguin. wave watching at Pilar. island hopping and surfing in Siargao. saw the majestic Tinuy-an Falls near Bislig city and ended the trip at Davao for some zip line adventure.

marky: All of my trips to Mindanao was something to remember. I enjoyed our trip to Cagayan de Oro because me and my friend celebrated our birthdays there and we were hosted by the family of another friend. We went river rafting, toured the countryside of Bukidnon and went to nearby Camiguin Island. When I went to Davao, it was with my then girlfriend and visited places such as Camp Sabros in Digos City and Samal Island. During the SEX Tour (Soccskargen Experience tour) I met other travelers and visited places like Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Saranggani while staying at General Santos City. 

dong ho: when you return to Mindanao, where will you go?

jerome: i have two areas in mind, first is the SOCSARGEN provinces because i want to see Lake Sebu, the beaches of Sarangani, and the Tuna capital of the Philippines and lastly Tawi-Tawi because like Batanes, it is something you can brag about.

marky: I have a flight booked in October for Zamboanga City since I've heard so many amazing stories about the place that is complete opposite of what mainstream media has been feeding me all these years and what better way to find out than seeing and experiencing the place by myself.
1. farthest places reached are referenced from Manila (with Manila to Europe as West and Manila to Guam as East).
2. records here are subject to update. as we know travelers break their records from time to time. records here are updated as of this posting

previously featured:
lois yasay and monette fernandez

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

seventeen not so secret things about basilan

now that you already know that i spent my first seventeen years in the island province of Basilan. there's more to being photographed in front of the capitol and going to White Beach of Malamawi island. so here are seventeen of not-so-important but could be interesting things that you might want to know about my island province.
[1] heard of a beach river? it was way back when i was still 8years old when i visited it. the view of the beach captured my memory until now. i've been there only once. access to this part of Basilan is not recommended. it is located on the coast of Lantawan. if you thought Malamawi island's White Beach is the best beach in Basilan. it's not.

[2] Tilapia is rarely seen and eaten in the island province. some locals might not even recognize it as the bountiful kinds of sea fishes are available everyday in the pier. go to the pier as early as 4am to see the fishing boats unload.

[3] Lamitan used to be a town with calesas as main mode of transportation. we would even travel on a weekend just to be able to ride one around the town. so when you go there, you will be fortunate enough if you can spot one.
[4] the church of Sta Isabel in the island could be too ordinary from outside but did you know that its backdrop is a large Italian brick mural similar to those seen in St. Cyril church in Ukraine? when you're there, ask permission from the church office for you to be able to see it up close and check the details. you will be impressed.
[5] along the Isabela channel, there's a military camp and navy dock site that transforms to a resort during the weekend. it is called Fuego-Fuego which when translated to the local dialect, Chabacano, means "Fire-Fire".

[6] though Isabela City is in Basilan island, did you know that it is not under the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). it belongs to Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) apart from the rest of the municipalities of the island. so when you travel from Isabela City to the municipality of Lamitan, you are actually crossing to another region.
[7] often missed out by tourists when they are in Isabela City it would be the Aguada River. its outlet is just in the city center and a cruise to this river will include a view of fish ponds, coconut trees and a mosque by the river. this is not a usual activity. the locals will even be surprised if a traveler would want to do this.

[8] the island of Malamawi does not have energy source to support its small communities. so if you have keen eyes, when the ferry from Zamboanga enters the Isabela channel, you will actually pass under this electric high-pole wire that connects from the main island of Basilan and Malamawi island.

[9] when i was in high school, we did boating on mangrove areas in Eslita and it was a surprise when we met sea dwelling Badjaos who wanted to trade our fruits with their fishes. the local term of  the Badjao for this is "sambi" which means "exchange" or "trade". not sure if they are still doing this. you might want to find out.

[10] Basilan is the second largest island in Mindanao and the largest island in the Sulu archipelago but it is generally mountainous and hilly. so on top of a mountain range is an abandoned airstrip. now a site for motor racing. this is about 30mins away the city center only accessible by a private vehicle.

[11] natural golden pearls including blackish pearls are often sold on mini-kiosk like shops in Isabela. too bad that on my return, these shops were already out of sight. could they have found better buyers somewhere? if you see one, let me know.

[12] the house where i grew up is just behind the Grandstand which is a large open track and field area. most of the helicopters coming from Zamboanga would land on this site. from our house i would run out carrying a camera to take a shot of the helicopters landing. this site also has a great view of Malamawi island and the Isabela channel.

[13] during Holy Week, people would trek Monte Santo in Ubit in Lamitan. it has the station of the cross. the hike up includes passing under a natural tunnel-like bamboo trail.

[14] back when i was 10years old i was fortunate enough to be a junior member that won the national level of the Magnolia Youth Achievement Awards. the project was to expand the thin and slim footpaths of the Badjaos that connects houses in their community. coordinate with the city tourism to bring you to the site.

[15] being apart from the greater Mindanao island, Basilan highly depends on the floating power barge. it can be seen from the main sea port but to see it uplcose, you can either take a small power boat from the dock site to Malamawi.

[16] apart from huge rubber and coconut plantations in Basilan, on the outskirt of the city there's a huge area of oil palm trees. we would go there to get fallen seeds and used it for playing as an alternative to shell fight. you can find this area in between Isabela and Lantawan.

[17] on most province in the Philippines, the market day is on a weekend. not in Lamitan when the Yakan farmers coming from nearby municipalities would converge every Thursday bringing their crops. during our time, they would even come in their traditional clothes. i heard, they still do this.

on your next trip to Basilan. you might want to find out more. 
for tourist assistance, you can directly coordinate with 

Mr. Gerald Louise Tubil - Isabela City Tourism 0917-6344989

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

mindanao - a bigger picture

whether you've been to or have never been to Mindanao there is always something new to discover. let's set aside all the issues and conflicts and let's give way to the better side of the country's "Land of Promise". it is best to begin the series with a good list of reason why you need to visit Mindanao this year.
[1] FESTIVALS. Filipinos are happy people and Mindanao will never lag on this aspect. most festivals like Kadayawan, Kaamulan and Kalilangan highlight the islands ethnic culture of the Lumads. Camiguin's Lanzones Festival and General Santos' Tuna Festival celebrates the abundance of Mindanao's natural resources. while on the Western tip of Mindanao island, Zamboanga city celebrates the Feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar.

[2] ADVENTURE. it is every Filipino mountaineer's dream to reach the country's highest peak and traversing Mt. Apo connects the two province of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato. the city of Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon shares a wide range of adventure spots. including ziplines, caves and its world class river rafting. beach activities is growing in the East Coast with Siargao being the top spot for surfing in the country.

[3] BEACHES. a large part of Mindanao is landlocked but its peninsula and the Sulu archipelago has some of the country's unexploited beaches. from the unique pink-like sands of Sta Cruz in Zamboanga to the sandbar of Camiguin. don't be surprised, in Mindanao, even the public beaches are relatively clean.

[4] WATERFALLS. majority of the highest waterfalls in the country are in Mindanao. the island also holds the record with Aliwagwag Falls as the highest in the country and Tinuy-an Falls as the widest. Iligan and Cateel envelopes the most majestic waterfalls. not to miss out in the list, the famous Maria Cristina Falls, the largest energy generator by a waterfalls in the country.

[5] MOUNTAINS. six out of ten of the highest peaks of the Philippines is in Mindanao. Mt. Apo is the highest followed by Mt. Dulang-Dulang in Bukidnon. Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon like Mt. Apo are also among the largest Natural National Park of the country. Bud Bongao in Tawi-Tawi is a trekker's favorite because of the monkeys along its trail and its summit being a sacred site.


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