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Marajaw! Sights and Tastes of Siargao May 24, 2012

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Last week, I had a chance to join a four-day trip to the infamous yet isolated surfing paradise of Siargao. I was there as part of our office’s support to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Read-Along Storytelling session. For this event, our storybook entitled Marine Crusader was chosen to be shared to some 100 school children in Del Carmen town. Though the activity only lasted for hours, the limited flight schedule to and fro of Siargao Island forced us to stay at least two more days, meaning more time to explore and enjoy the wonders of country’s surfing capital.

Siargao is composed of several islands and islets bounded by the vast Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Dinagat Islands and the Mindanao mainland. It is composed of 8 mainland towns and 1 island town, all boast of their unique wonders . Siargao is geographically under the province of Surigao del Norte, whose capital, Surigao City is more than two-hours by motor boat. One can also take the Manila-Cebu-Surigao route to Siargao via Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines (this is our route due to full booking).

What to experience: There are many to mention about Siargao, from surfing, swimming, spelunking, partying, etc. But as far as our limited time spent there, I could only share so much. In fact, while still there it already came to me to be back there perhaps next summer, like for a week stay. Sharing here some snaps of our two day excursion:

Surfing at Cloud 9

  

  

Island Hopping 

 

 

Where to stay: There are many affordable and high-end accommodations around the island to choose from. We stayed at Cherinicole Resort and Kesa Cloud 9 Resort. For more details, please check this site for more information: Wow Siargao.

Conquering Yourself: White Water Rafting in Davao June 1, 2011

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We don’t conquer the river, we conquer ourselves.

White water rafting or river rafting is previously considered to be an extreme sport or undertaking which requires specialized equipment and training. But this event has now become one of the booming attractions in strategic locations in the country that offers rafting as one of their newest activities. Although white water rafting activity has been in existence since the 1990s, this is mostly available in few areas in the country namely, Cagayan de Oro City and Kalinga Province. In recent years, Davao City and Quirino Province offer this attraction to thrill-seeker tourists for a minimal price and with safety guarantees.

So upon learning this activity, our group reserved for this who-knows once-in-a-lifetime experience. And even though were beginners in this kind of activity, we are nevertheless persistent to conquer our fears and the mighty river of Davao, not to mention, this is our first activity in our two-day itinerary. We woke up early for a scheduled pick up at 6:30 AM by our rafting organizer, the River One Adventure. Adding to the excitement is seeing two rafts on top of a multi cab that would ferry us to the jump off point, more than an hour away from Bajada District. We briefly passed by River One shop (a small studio-type office) to fill out the registration and waiver and get our protective head gears (Tribu) and life vest (Jansport). Seeing their office and knowing that most if not all of theme are trained rafters cum first aiders gave us some assurance of our safety, nonetheless the idea that this activity may cause untoward circumstances rendered some of us uncomfortable. We were told to leave our belongings in a safety cabinet, so all we had are our clothes (it is preferred to wear light clothing, if not wet suit).

It took less than two hours before we reached the jump-off point, beside the national highway (leading to Bukidnon). There, we were briefly oriented on the use of the gears, the conduct of the rafting and most importantly, the Do’s and Don’ts. After which, our guide led us to our respective rafts (we were eight in the raft, including the guide) and were briefed again on what to do on board the raft. Shortly after, we did a simulation in case any of us is thrown out of the boat or whenever the raft capsized. We were also told that it would take us around three hours to ply the rapids, 13 kilometers long. And so there, we started paddling through the mighty river. On our fleet were four rafts (our groups were in two rafts) and four single-rafts (looks like a kayak) paddled by the guides and a documentor. By the way, the water was a bit murky brought about by the rains the day before, although it is said that the higher the water, the more exciting.

Navigating the long and raging river was a test of endurance and focus. I set my mind to follow the instruction of our guide all the time, especially when negotiating the rapids, which are characterized by sudden fall, sharp curves and the dreaded washing machine spin that could render our boat to capsize. At one point, I was almost thrown out of the boat but my left foot was able to hold me off the water. But two of our companions in the other boat weren’t that lucky. In fact, one of them was caught briefly under the raft after she was pound out by the rapids. Halfway through the trip there was a stop-over for a water break and group picture. In between, a designated River One photographer-in-raft was taking photos and videos for the documentation of the trip. Later, a group (there were four rafts that time) of Japanese tourists behind us didn’t manage to negotiate successfully a spinning rapid and capsized right before us. Due to the raging waters, the guides declared a rescue, which means other boats have to salvage the soaked paddlers. Fortunately, we were able to take in into our raft three paddlers for safety and we go paddle again. After another hour or so, we were approaching the final stretch of the trip by passing under a bridge, where onlookers and passersby abound.

After almost three hours of exciting and fun-filled paddling, were were served with sumptuous heavy lunch (still part of the package; pancit, fried chicken, boiled egg, zest-o and water) which completed our first rafting experience. The 13 kilometers of adrenaline rush and 15 rapids is only the start, we still have three others to conquer. As to when, only money and weather can tell.

For those interested to avail of the rafting package in Davao, please consider Rafting Davao Adventure.

Package Rate:
Php1, 500 per person for a group of six (6)
inclusive of transportation (pickup from City Proper-Davao River-City Proper), gears, guide, meals, documentation CD and souvenir shirt

Trip Schedule:
Morning Batch: 7am to 2pm
Afternoon Batch: 11am to 6pm

For inquiries and reservations, contact:

John Oliver Valmoria
Operations Manager
raftingdavao@yahoo.com
paddler_local@yahoo.com

Cellphone:
09323500921
09088941468
082 305 7624

Address:
Door 89-91 Madrazo Fruit Complex, C. Bangoy Street, Davao City

ADVANTAGES:
– They are newer as compared to the Davao Wild Water rafting organizer.
– Guides are all professionals and well-trained and accredited Red Cross first aiders.
– There route is longer than the Wild Water
– The guides are conversant and funny

Mt Pulag: Sights of Luzon’s Highest Peak March 22, 2011

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18-19 March 2011, Mt Pulag (Pulag National Park), Kabayan/Bokod, Benguet

Although this is my second time to conquer Mt Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak and third in the country at 2,922 meters above sea level, this climb is particularly meaningful and special as first, because this is a pioneering major climb for the KAMPINGERS: The PCARRD Mountaineering and Outdoor Club of which I am a member; and second, this is the first time that I and Ive are together on a climb (she’s worried everytime I join a climb). Sharing some sights below:


Sunrise at 5:30am


Sunrise at 6am and the famous Sea of Clouds


Sky over Bokod town


Pulag early morning landscape


Pulag landscape


Ambuklao Dam reservoir

*thanks to Syd for the camera