Sunday, August 22, 2010

Apo Island

Day 3 

On our way back,our van service was almost like flying trough the road. We reached the port and while I was walking towards the terminal, I heard my name called, and I saw Benz(my friend from high school) with her friends. It was a big surprise for both of us. It was a second time we catch up on travel. Imagine that we have 7107 islands and we meet right then and there. 

When we reached Dumaguete, Ma'am Cinch and I ventured on for Apo Island. The island boasts of its marine sanctuary. We took the public transport which is quite easy. We took an ordinary bus in front Robinsons Mall and asked the conductor to drop us off at Zambaonguita. From there we walked towards the dock. We passed by closed Nipa market stalls under the heat of the sun. At the docking area we had to wait for the boat, because all the boats had already gone to the island.

 But the locals were helpful, they tried their best to accommodate us. While on the boat to the island the sea is perfectly still. Apo Island is a small island with several big rocks along the beach. The beach is made of big black slippery rocks and crushed corals. We paid fees at the tourist office and had our guides for the snorkeling. I'm not much of a swimmer but I had the guts to do it. We met with our guide Romelo, who's a student. 

When I first dipped in the water and see the bottom I was astounded. It's really awesome, I felt like  I'm in a giant aquarium. I've never seen corals that are so alive and soft. They are dancing in the water. The water is pretty clear and it was low tide so we are able to see everything clearly. But Ma'am Cinch had a trouble with her life vest so she had to return to the shore. My guide and I ventured on exploring. It's really beautiful, I also got to see so many clown fish hovering around me. It's really a beautiful experience. I did get scared at times when I see that we are in the deep portion. But I have to compose myself not to panic.

After the fish sanctuary, we went to see the turtle sanctuary but didn't find any turtles. They say turtles feed there every morning. It is more or less 10 meters away from the shore. We also explored the other parts of the island like the cave, and the big rock protruding at sea. Brave kids jump off from that rock.

I'm used to squeezing in so much on every travel itinerary. This travel was so much fun, we got to see and do so much. I love the food(pastries), the islands, and also what's under the sea. Dumaguete is rich with its history and has its promising future, it being the seat of education. Siquijor, just mentioning it to others will stir fear, but this is proof. The place is gorgeous and it has so much to offer. All I can say is it's so LAID BACK. Apo Island on the other hand is just amazing. It's one time that I really enjoyed snorkeling and seeing the beauty in the deep. Because most of the times, when we snorkel it's just fish matched with almost dead corals and unhelpful strong undercurrent. Thumbs up to the sanctuary and to the people protecting it. Once again,more islands explored,cultures learned,fears conquered and more awesome scenery saved in my my country is beautiful" image bank.

Salagdoong Beach Siquijor

I woke up early to be greeted by Salagdoong beach. There's a big rock formation in between the two coves.On the other side, they built a break water/steps so you don't have much left of the sandy portion. And on the other side the beach is made of crushed corals and sand. There are two concrete slides at the edge of the cliff for the fearless ones. It's nice to climb on the rocky cliff to see the view from above.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Siquijor Island

Early in the morning we headed for a breakfast at McDonald's. It is where I noticed that the place is packed with old foreign guys, maybe retirees. Well it's a good choice, the Philippines is a very good place to retire to, cheap expenses, paradise and the people are warm & friendly. 
We strolled along the plaza, visited the St. Catalina Cathedral and the Belfry, built during the 1800's.

That morning we are bound for Siquijor Island. We took a tricycle to the pier, which is just across Siliman University.  We waited in the lounge area, while I was amusingly watching the guard dancing & singing "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. It was a fun morning indeed.

In time we boarded out on our ferry which is a bit rickety and unkept. It's a 45 minutes travel. When we reached  Siquijor Port, I was astounded. Where can you find a  sea port beside a white beach. You just need to take a few steps and viola you can bathe in the sea and lounge under the sun. We hired a multi-cab for the island tour for Php 2000. It's a small island that you can explore for a whole day. The first site is the St. Francis of Assisi Church, with a big 
 " Welcome to Siquijor" sign.

We then reached San Juan Capilay. There's a natural spring water collected in a pool in the middle of their plaza. The water is deep.They also said they have an Olympic size pool nearby. I walked a few more steps and saw their washing area, where both men and women do their laundry. And beside it a beautiful scene of the white beach welcomed me. The locals are already used to it, maybe that's why they don't swim in it much. If I had that kind of beach in my back yard I hope I wont get tired of it. 

We also passed by the Enchanted Balete Tree(Rubber Tree) which seemed to be really eerie. Maybe hearing too much of folklore. When we took photos of ourselves we seem to glow. While we were there, an ice cream vendor passed by. We bought some Pinipig Crunch, Siguijor style. They use coconut milk instead of cow's milk. And come to think of it, the guy will be walking for miles towards the busy areas. It's what they say in the provinces, when they say "near", it still means "far". We roamed along the almost empty road. We stopped at one view point overlooking the sea and the lime quarry of the Australians. We noticed that along the asphalted road, they used lime underneath. The place is really rich in Lime.

Next, we visited the Lazi Church and convent. I love the convent, it lies amidst a thick lawn surrounded with beautiful big crowned trees. The convent is very old and not yet restored. The floor is built with big planks of rough wood laid into a herring bone. The walls are made of bamboo wood strips with lime. In modern times, it's most likely to be a gypsum board. The windows are bigger than the usual Bahay na Bato(Stone House). It's size is 42 meters  x  38 meters,one of the biggest convent in the Philippines. And for a few minutes Ate Avic had an allergy, maybe because of the dust. We were also welcomed by a friendly dog named Isidro, who loves to play with Ma'am Cinch.

I also took a peek of the Lazi Church which was being restored that time. The platform is elevated with planks of two colored wood. After which, we ate at a nearby eatery, nothing much but it was acceptable.

In Siquijor, I also observed that the road is clean and Golden Bells shrubs are everywhere. We reached Cambughay Falls. It's a few steps down from the main road. The water is green. The falls not so big. 

 I love the roads of SiquijorFirst it will take you along the white beaches, then overlooking the sea, then taking you to zigzag roads inside a rich forest. The next stop, we visited the Butterfly Sanctuary, built by the former employee of Malagos Farm in Davao. Some butterflies are approachable and some are very active. He decorated his place with scary but unique sculptures made out of natural materials. 

After that, we passed by a small fruit stand, the bought some Lanzones which I heard is from Camiguin. We reached the Mangrove plantation late in the afternoon. It was low tide. There were a few people gathering some small shellfish. The sea is calm, it's just like we're walking on water. The sea blends with the sky in the horizon. At times Ate Avic and I are both shrieking when we get stuck in muddy puddle which stunk like sewer. When we explored the area, I saw a sand dollar on its natural habitat. There are many small black spiny starfish everywhere.

On our last stop, we visited the St. Maria Church, where the image of St. Rita is holding a skull. It was a bit different. But knowing St. Rita and her story, it did not scare me.

It was already 6pm when we reached our hotel. We passed by a forest of Molave Trees. We checked in at Agripino Hotel, owned by the local government. The had a power problem that night. We just decided to lounge at the pool until there's electricity again.