Sunday, May 27, 2012

A glimpse of "Paradise" in Cebu

As a way of celebrating the proverbial "End of Summer", I shall write a post about my favorite city in the Visayas - Cebu! 
Last year I had the privilege of visiting Cebu for the second time. The first travel to Cebu wasn't that memorable because we literally just passed by the city on the way to Bantayan Island. We were rushing! Backpacking at its finest. But the second time in Cebu was an entirely different story. The trip is more on the luxurious side.
Armed with a book and money minus the laptop and minus work obligations this is by far my purest vacation. Meaning no stress, no hassles, doing absolutely nothing!  I had the entire weekend !
So what did I do? I spent it wisely by lounging around "paradise" the first day and doing a DIY city tour the next day.
The paradise I'm talking about is none other than Shang-rila Mactan!
stately exteriors. real classy

I went straight from my 8:00 am PAL flight to the little kiosk inside Mactan International Airport where I waited for the coaster to arrive that shall take me to Shang-rila Mactan! the ride was pretty short, around 20 minutes. 
What welcomed me was a very regal looking and elegant complex. I left my bags at the concierge and went straight to the little boutique where they sell the day trip package.

The daytrip rate was 2,000+ which includes  the use of pool, lounge chairs, spa, entire grounds,  beach, and other activities. This was glam-packing at its finest! The daytrip package also includes a sumptuous lunch buffet!  

The buffet is located at a restaurant called Tides. Class A luncheon baby! All quality gustatory delights are there. I cannot forget how I devoured all those lovely looking cakes and sipped the unlimited cappucinos. Uh-ummm. And for the record, the most melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi I've ever had.
I also had a golden time basking under the sun and by the beach. Definitely one for the books. One of the best luxurious experiences I've had!

 I can easily rough it if I want to but sometimes a girl has got to feel luxurious. And I got it all and more. Will definitely be back.

DIY Cebu city tour on my next post!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I went to Boracay and all I did was eat Pesto Omelet

So I finally met Boracay September of last year and it was overwhelming.

Overwhelmingly beautiful. And unbelievably accessible (if you land in Caticlan).  I've been to marvelous beaches (the country has a lot of that)  and yes they are oh so beautiful. But most of the places are hard to get to (Bantayan, Pagudpud, Siquijor, Guimaras) and  probably the other accessible beach I've been to that I can think of is Bohol. Yes, traveling is about the journey and not the destination so it's all good with me.
But as I walk barefoot in the Boracay sand, feeling the legendary powdery sugary texture of it, all I have to say  to Boracay is, "Where have you been hiding all my life?".

Of course Boracay is hardly a secret treasure. In fact it has been overexposed that a lot of adventurers who are worth their dime shy away from it (ehem), because it is such a cliche.
But cliches are used over and over again because there must be something good about them. A cliche that is tasteful is called a classic. And yes the beauty of Boracay is classic.

Being in Boracay is like being in the metro with a backdrop of a beautiful beach. It feels like I am very near the city. In fact the place is so cosmopolitan, I can imagine hailing a taxicab to take me back to my rented apartment. And yes, there is a Starbucks! Everything that I needed is here! And a beautiful perfect beach at that. Who am I to complain?

For people who want to feel isolated and yes pardon me for saying "one with nature", sadly you won't get it here. Maybe you can get it from the other coves near White Beach.

It's sad that I barely spent two and a half days. Most of the time I was cooped up in my room, doing hardcore writing.  I almost did not push through with the trip because of the impending deadline but what the heck. Also I am meeting some friends there so I might as well go.

I wasn't able to watch the famous sunset, or dip my toes in the waters. I wasn't able to  party at night, or to island hop and do all those beach activities. I did not even get to try the famous shake.

 but i did have a photo op at the Willy's Rock aka the telltale Boracay rock

I went to Boracay and all I did was eat Pesto Omelet from Real Coffee.And it was good! You should try it.

So I am Boracay virgin no more. It is overwhelming and also underwhelming just like any other first times. But there will be more to come. It ain't no one night stand baby. And when I come back I will make love to it like the first time on the second time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Siquijor, Dumaguete and Lake Balinsasayao

It’s been months since my last post! And I apologize to my three readers that I took so much time posting the continuation of my Siquijor sojourn that I did in September!

I’ve been busy lately writing this TV show called Wako Wako. It’s a fluffy, feel good, kid-friendly fantaserye which airs in ABS-CBN daily 5:45 pm before TV Patrol.

So before the next deadline hits, let me recount my amazing Siquijor-Negros Oriental adventure that I cannot wait to share with you in full blast soon!

Cambugahay Falls

Black Virgin Mary

Siquijor. I went here September of 2011. A truly magical place. I suggest you come visit this province and spend about three days or more. You’ll enjoy every minute as the place feels so faraway. The isolation transcends. It makes you feel one with nature. I went here alone (coming from Dumaguete) and indeed found the peace, the reflection, the alone time and the self-awareness I am looking for. The place is teeming with natural wonders! From beautiful beaches (I suggest Villa Marmarine resort) and waterfalls ! Everywhere you look, you’ll find God’s work of art.  Reserve an entire day for the island tour. And no it’s not a tour inside a jeepney or a freaking van. Get out there hire a habal habal, slop on sunblock, wear your sunnies and pump up the volume of your Ipod and rip the coastline of Siquijor. That’s what I did! Turquiose water everywhere! I enjoyed riding the habal habal to the point that stopping feels like a hassle.The stops were interesting though. Maria Church (where you can find the Black Virgin Mary).  Lazi convent and others. I also saw and swam in a waterfalls for the very first time! And the waterfalls is a delectable shade of soft teal. Perfect!
 Now if you want to search and discover the sorcery and witchcraft which Siquijor is known for, you can do that (some resorts even have packages that will give you a guided tour) but if you don’t, you won’t actually feel that the province is known for sorcery. Magic maybe because being in the island is purely mystical.

I enjoyed Dumaguete because of the youthful charm of the place. The city is accessible by easyrides or tricycle which cost only around 7 pesos each. What I liked about Dumaguete is the clean and relaxing boulevard! I also loved the artsy cafes and restaurants. I celebrated my Epicurean leanings and sampled the treats in Sans Rival cafe (yummy Silvanas!), Cafe Antonio, Lab-as . I stayed in Honeycomb Tourist Inn and it was glorious. I felt like I was a rich retired businessman who is on eternal vacation. Haha. I could do this forever.

While in Dumaguete, I decided to do a DIY daytrip to Lake Balinsasayao. I rode an easyride, then was dropped off at the terminal. I boarded the bus going to San Juan and asked to be dropped off by the highway where there are habal habals waiting for commuters. The fare is 200 one way. Steep huh! Because the road going to Lake Balinsasayao was indeed steep! But I looooved the trip going there. It was bumpy yes, but I didn’t have a single care. I just felt my arms spread wide open! With the cool air I felt like flying. We were literally inside a forest.  And then the road clears, leading us to a cliff! It was quite an exhilarating experience. An adventure which doesn’t feel forced. There must be this little nature lover in me because  I enjoyed this a lot. I lounged around the lake  and found the calm that would satiate me til my next travel.

Up next: Boracay Virgin No More!