Samar | Exhilarating Ulot River Torpedo Extreme Boat Adventure

Ulot River torpedo extreme boat adventure
Ulot River torpedo extreme boat adventure

I took the front seat of the ‘torpedo’ boat. That’s what they call this long wooden motorized canoes without outriggers in Samar. Like the faluwas in Batanes, these boats are designed to navigate wild waters whereas if they have outriggers, it would easily snap from the force of the rapids. Judging by the boats, I could expect an exciting ride over at Ulot River. The Ulot River Torpedo Extreme Boat Adventure is one of the main attraction in Samar which is also a part of the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop attractions of numerous waterfalls, caves, springs and an eagle sanctuary.

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Maligcong | Mt Fato: Embracing the Wind on Rocky Grounds

Sunrise at Mt Fato Maligcong
Sunrise at Mt Fato Maligcong

A mountain is never the same. The looming form may remain but the trails, the ecosystem and the peak weather changes constantly. Call it moody but the micro-climate dictates whether the view from the top is cloudy or not. Such is the case when we climbed Mt Fato in Maligcong for the second time. The neighboring Mt Kupapey (Mt Kofafey) with its outstanding view of Maligcong Rice Terraces and nature trail may have grown popular to the visitors of the region but Mt Fato offers a different side of the terraces as well as the mountain peaks of Kalinga and Sagada. My first visit with Backpack Photography gave us a clear view, my return howevers was welcomed with a cold embrace from the clouds.

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Tañon Strait | Mantalip Reef: From Starfishes to Starry Skies

Sunrise at Mantalip Reef station at Bindoy, Negros Oriental
Sunrise at Mantalip Reef station at Bindoy, Negros Oriental

It was hard to get used to the comforts of Hale Manna and explore more the beauty of the underwater world of Moalboal as in day 5 of our Oceana Philippines Photo Safari, we were on the move again. Off the coast the large white liveaboard outrigger vessel from Harold’s Dive Center in Dumaguete awaits to ferry us from Cebu, across Tañon Strait to Mantalip Reef in Bindoy, Negros Oriental. It was an impressive boat, spacious with lots of sitting and lounging areas, a well-kept mess area, restroom, and solar charging area. Ocean travel always had that soothing comfort, embraced by the breeze with boundless possibilities seen across the horizon.

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Tañon Strait | Snorkelling in Moalboal

In a breathing reef
In a breathing reef

The soothing comfort of Hale Manna in Moalboal may tempt us to just lounge around its garden in solitude but Tañon Strait, just over the cliffs, is calling to explore its depths. We’re on our fourth day into our Oceana Photosafari in Tañon Strait and it’s the day we get to become water creatures by being on the ocean the whole day visiting the denizens below. I was excited for this part of the trip that I made sure to bring my own snorkelling gear set. Some of our companion would be diving which I’m sure they’ll get the front seat in seeing the underwater spectacle. Some of us though would just content ourselves to explore near the surface and free dive once in a while.

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Travel Mindanao | Punta Isla Lake Resort: Savoring the Tranquility in Lake Sebu

Morning at Lake Sebu
Morning at Lake Sebu

I will never get tired of this place. The nippy air, the sight of canoes slowly cutting through the placid waters of the lake, some egrets and other bird species suddenly landing on a leafy branch nearby and catching the changing hues during sunrise. Marvelling on how the light falls on the water and spread into the low mountains and hills. It is mornings like this, sitting by the porch in front of our room at Punta Isla Lake Resort, I’m at the front seat as nature unfolds before me. It’s no surprise I would be back in Lake Sebu for the third time. On this trip, I’m accompanied by my #TravelMindanao buddies.

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Claveria and Tuguegarao Side-trip Cagayan Chronicles 2011

Our group shot at Ubing-ubing Rock at Sentinela Beach
Our group shot at Ubing-ubing Rock at Sentinela Beach

Let’s literally go beyond what North Luzon is mostly known for. Go past the borders of Ilocos Norte and step into the neighboring town of Claveria in Cagayan. I was awed by the raw beauty of Claveria even under gloomy skies on my first visit that I immediately planned a return trip soon after I got back to Manila. I was able to spend a few days here with my friends and found it as a destination in itself. Here you can find a dedicated video, the itinerary and travel budget chart for claveria and a side-trip to Tuguegarao.

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Three Days Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte Chronicles

Calle Crisologo
The UNESCO World Heritage site, Calle Crisologo, Vigan

I’ve been up north several times already but it’s not often I get to tag the family along. The Ilocos Region is probably one of the easiest place to travel by road and add to that, it has a number of sights from beautiful old churches, heritage houses, delicious food, mega structures and wonderful beaches. Even from the several times I’ve visited the place there’s always something new to try and discover. This trip was last September 14-16, 2010. It’s a bit cramped and covers the ‘usual’ sights first timers in the region and more manageable sights.

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