I think there was a time in Philippine tourism when we had a “Zipline Craze”. After a few successful ziplines in Davao, Bukidnon and my favorite, Lake Sebu, suddenly, a lot of province I had visited to wants to add a zipline as their attraction. In my head I was screaming “Not another zipline!” as a tourism officer enthusiastically shares their plan on site. In Pangasinan, there’s Balungao Hilltop Adventure view that claims to have the longest zipline in the country at 1.4km long. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve heard of the municipality of Balungao. If not for Lakbay Norte 5, this would remain out of my radar. And guess what? We get to try their zipline and more.
Sometimes, nature’s beauty just have to speak for itself. In an island of 30 waterfalls, Biliran Tinago Falls is just one of the nature beauties in the small island that’s hard to conceal for so long. Tucked in the forest of Caibiran, near the heart of the island, the falls (Tinago in Tagalog means hidden), no longer hidden, is probably the most popular falls in the province. The inner Naval-Caibiran road is well paved, passing through a series of low rice terraces towards the jump-off known as the Tinago Falls Eco Tourism Park. It’s accessibility makes it a local favorite for both tourist and island natives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.