Enchanting Isla de Gigantes Day Tour

Antonia;s Beach at Isla de Gigantes
Antonia;s Beach at Isla de Gigantes

It took Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation to bring this beautiful archipelago in Northern Iloilo to light. Carles, Northern Iloilo was one of the hard hit areas. Rescue aids and volunteers went out of their way to find remote communities that needed assistance. Their perseverance paid off as they found these communities. At the same time, they also found the islands of Isla de Gigantes. An enchanting set of islands that was once solely enjoyed by the locals. Gradually, photos of the stunning white beach and captivating rock formations became viral online. Isla de Gigantes name came big. Every body wants to experience this piece of paradise and that includes me.

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Luzon Datum of 1911 : At the Geodetic Center of the Philippines

Birds eye view of Luzon Datum of 1911 site
Birds eye view of Luzon Datum of 1911 site

If you’ve ever wondered how the shapes of the islands, the elevation of peaks, the depths of seas are measured and translated into easy readable maps that common people can understand, it’s all about the science of geodesy and datums. Even before Google Maps ever existed, surveyors and scientist uses datums or geodetic reference points to collectively gather information on the lay of the land and sea in longitude and latitudes. That is why I had much appreciation to finally visit the Luzon Datum of 1911 site in Marinduque . A pivotal refernce point used to triangulate networks of different datums in the country. It is, literally the center of the Philippines in a geodetic sense.

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Oriental Mindoro | The Hanunuo at Panaytayan Mangyan Settlement

Bugkos Dagay holding a carved Hanunuo writing
Bugkos Dagay holding a carved Hanunuo writing

The island of Mindoro is also home to the indigenous people of Mangyan. There are eight tribes scattered around the island, from Oriental to Occidental Mindoro. I’ve encountered several tribes already from my past visits and wrote extensively on the Buhid and Iraya Mangyans. Won’t be repeating the same general information from them but rather focus on our visit with the Panaytayan Mangyan Settlement at Manansalay. This time we take a glimpse on the life and culture of the Hanunuo Mangyans.

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Oriental Mindoro | Island Hopping in Bulalacao

Sandbar at Aslom Island, Bulalacao
Sandbar at Aslom Island, Bulalacao

There’s more to Oriental Mindoro than the famed white beach of Puerto Galera. At the southern tip of the province is the municipality of Bulalacao. A place locals used to fondly call “Bula-layo” (layo means far) due to its remoteness from the rest of the towns in the province. It was a time when the roads were rough and people had to bear almost a day’s travel to get to Bulalacao. Now with paved roads, sea ports and nearby airport, Bulalacao opened up a set of islands and beaches sans the tourist crowd. A place still with provincial feel, less commercial and genuinely laid back good time.

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Banaue | Museum of Cordillera Cultural Heritage

A visit to the Museum of Cordillera Cultural Heritage
A visit to the Museum of Cordillera Cultural Heritage

“Did someone turn this wooden staff around?” I asked. There were only three of us in the museum. I can clearly remember when I first passed by this wooden staff with a carved bulul (wooden carved sculptures from Cordilleras) on top with a lock of hair that it was facing out towards the window. Going back to take a photos this time with my camera after going around, I was surprised it was looking towards the room this time. Ate Fe, our guide and care taker for the Museum of Cordillera Cultural Heritage said she did not as she was busy talking to my good friend Lagalog. I tried to move the base, it was heavy and not easy to budge. Reading the small description at the base, this wooden mahogany staff was carved by a tribal shaman in the 1970s. The bulul image inspired by the image of his wife and actual lock of hair used on the top. Gave me a little goosebumps. Was it watching over us?

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#SailEast Chronicles: Adventures in Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte

Sail East video cover
Sail East video cover

Admittedly, the regions of Eastern Visayas are some of the areas I haven’t visited as much. Joining the #SailEast fam tour with Tourism Promotions Board was a great opportunity to familiarize with the area. To experience, even partially, what these places have to offer. In our four-day tour we ventured to Southern Leyte’s idyllic shores and islets, Leyte’s island gem and Samar’s Eco-adventure spots.

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#SailEast Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge Park: Basey’s Natural Gem

Sohoton Cave and Natural Bridge
Sohoton Cave and Natural Bridge

This was stuff I only read on textbooks when I was still studying. I remember reading about Sohoton Coves and Natural Bridge Park before and has always been fascinated by this place in Basey, Samar. But it was only in our last day of #SailEast tour that I had the chance to visit this nature wonder of a lush jungle, dramatic limestone formations and a meandering river snaking through the vast 840-hectare park. It is only an hour away from Tacloban city proper, a worthy day tour when in Eastern Visayas.

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