Cordova: Charming & Captivating (Cebu, PH)

The province of Cebu has a seemingly endless list of delightful attractions, both natural and man-made. Almost every town or city has something to offer to anyone who is visiting the island. One particular place that shouldn’t be neglected is the small, coastal municipality of Cordova. This town is located in the island of Mactan, the home of Cebu’s international airport, making it a very accessible place to reach.

So which places or what activities can one do when in Cordova, Cebu?

GO ISLAND-HOPPING.

Being a sea-side town, Cordova boasts off small islands with picture-perfect views and teeming marine life. When I visited Cebu in 2009, I got the chance to do island-hopping and was able to visit Hilutungan Island, a marine sanctuary that is one of the seven satellite islets that forms the Olango group of islands off the coast of Mactan; and the smaller Sulpa Island, a great place for beginners to dive and snorkel. These islands are low-lying coral islands with rich marine life and white sandy beaches.

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Hilutungan in particular, has a sand bar and a resort that is ideal for a weekend or overnight staycation. Although they are considered as protected areas, the local government allows snorkelers, divers and beach-lovers to experience the beauty of these islands. Besides Hilutungan, the nearby islands of Caohagan Island, Cabulan Island, Nalusuan Island, Olango Island, and Talima are also marine sanctuaries open to visitors despite some of them being private.

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There are sea patrollers (civilian volunteers) around the area who watches Philippine coastal waters from the shore. They are said to have trainings on conservation, protection, management and development of fisheries and aquatic resources; they also restrain destructive fishing practices and illegal fishing in the area.

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How to Reach the Olango Group of Islands:

From Manila, take a plane bound for Cebu. Upon arrival at Mactan International Airport, take a cab to either of the following options: You can rent an outrigger at the Hilton Pier in Mactan, or take the regular ferry at Angasil pier to Olango Island. From Sta. Rosa pier in Olongo, there are outrigger boats that ferry passengers to and from Hilutungan. There are also organized transfers when you’re booked at dive resorts. From there, one can go and see other nearby islands like Olango and Sulfa Islands. Another option is to go to Maribago area where one can take a traditional outrigger boat (called ‘pumpboat’ or bangka) that takes around 35 to 45 minutes to get there.

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After an entire day of island-hopping, make your way to the tip Lantaw Restaurant and 10,000 Roses Cafe where you can: (1) wait for the sunset, (2) have a sumptuous seafood dinner at Lantaw; and (3) marvel at the led roses at 10, 000 Roses cafe once darkness sets in.

10000 Roses Café & More has recently become a tourist attraction at this side of Cebu. The artificial, LED-powered roses are a sight to behold at nighttime or even during sundown. The café starts operation as early as 10:30AM and closes at 10:00 PM. You’d probably have the place to yourself early during daytime but you can’t deny the fact that it becomes more magical as the day comes to an end. By the way, an entrance fee of P20 per person is collected.

So there you go, a Cordova, Cebu experience that is filled with captivating moments from broad daylight til nighttime.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy.

Sambawan Island (Biliran, PH)

Sambawan Island is a top destination of the 4th smallest island province in the Philippines, Biliran. Part of the island municipality of Maripipi, this up-and-coming gem  is a world of enchantment with its shifting blue to green crystal clear waters, undulating cliffs, teeming corals, IIndian almond (talisay/Terminalia capitata) trees dotting the white coralline and sandy shoreline, and a few karst formation. The best part? The island’s irresistible charm is not messed up by commercialism (yet, and hopefully would be kept that way).

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Personally, the view offered by this island from the top of its hills has to be one of the most picturesque I have seen. I can just sit down all-day and gaze my eyes at the very pleasant, 360-degrees sight that can make you forget how life can be torturing at times. Since I cannot fully describe how lovely and stunning and lovely and stunning and (you see I am lost for words)… I will just have to allow my photos to do the talking… (And oh, did I mention that the sunset is as glorious as one could imagine. Check photo below. I am betting that the sunrise is as equally glorious as the sundown from this island).

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If you are interested in staying overnight at the island, a kiosk or an open cottage (no walls) are available in the area. These can accommodate 5 persons, with which they charge P500 for a 12-hours stay and the bigger kiosks they call kamalig for P1,000 per night. There are also three-beach cottages with three large beds, with own comfort rooms and attic. The cost of stay is at P2,500 to PHP3,000 that can accommodate 10 persons. They have a generator that runs from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. and solar lamps.  If you are on a tight budget, you may pitch your tent for a Php100 fee.

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However, visitors are advised to bring food (although there is a small store in the island). A grilling area is available so one can buy some fresh sea produce and prepare it in the island. Drinking water is said to be available for free. The fresh spring water of the famous Viga Water Springs in Maripipi serves as the source.

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How to Reach Sambawan Island:

From Manila (or Cebu), the fastest way to reach Sambawan Island is through plane via Tacloban City. From city airport, take a cab and alight at the van terminal bound (Duptours) for Naval, Biliran located at the corner of P Burgos and Salazar Streets (van fare as of this writing is around P150). Travel time is around 2 to 2.5 hours.

There are also ferries from Cebu City that directly goes to Ormoc, Leyte. From Ormoc, there are vans bound for Naval.

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Once in Naval, ride a bus or jeepney bound for Kawayan. If you opts for a faster means, you can take a habal-habal ride too. Once in Kawayan, walk your way to their port. Rent an outrigger boat that will take you to Sambawan. For a boat that can accommodate upto 10 people, the price ranges from P1,000 to P2,000 (depends if you are for a day or overnight stay + your haggling skills). The travel time is 45-60 minutes depending on the time of day and current of waves.

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A cheaper alternative (but longer) is to take the public ferry boat to Maripipi that leaves Naval at 10:00AM and goes back to Naval from Maripipi at 5:00AM the following day. Ferry schedule is on a daily basis except Sundays. The fare is P60 and the travel time is about 2 hours. In Maripipi, you can hire a boat to Sambawan and back to Maripipi for P500 (again, depending on your haggling skills). The travel time is around 20-30 minutes.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Kalanggaman Island (Palompon, Leyte)

““Let the sea water wet your feet, and the sand be your seat…”

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The moment I saw several photos of my friend on an island’s sand bar and its ever clear turquoise waters wayback 2013, it never left my mind. Every now and then, I would seek for opportunities as to when I could possibly make my way to this indescribably beautiful island.

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Fastforward 2015. July. Rainy season in the Philippines. And I found my way going to Leyte – the home of the very paradise-like Kalanggaman Island. This uninhabited island that is 753 meters in length, is now considered a dream beach destination, not only in the Visayas, but in the entire Philippines. Located in the municipality of Palompon and the province of Leyte, it is known for its stunning sandbar that seem to stretch endlessly into the cerulean waters. The white coralline and sand shoreline and crystal clear waters along both sides of the island adds more beauty to this pristine place.

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FYI: In 2013, the island gained attention after a big cruise ship stopped there to let its guest relax for a few hours.

There are no resorts on Kalanggaman Island. However, the local government of Palompon have established some basic amenities for the comfort of visitors. There are also policemen stationed on the island for the guests ‘security If you intend to stay overnight in the island, make sure to bring your tent and food as there are no available cottages for sleeping and store to buy food.

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So if you want to relax and perhaps, get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, take time to go and see Kalanggaman Island. Bring with you a book to read or walk along and capture how photogenic the island is. Wait for the sun to set or rise, or just laze around and get your skin some sunshine vitamin early in the morning. Of course, swimming and snorkelling are some of the usual activities one can do.

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*Take note of the following reminders: 

Regular Rate (Day Tour)
International Tourists – P500
Non-Palompon Tourists – P150
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P40
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P30
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P20
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P120
Overnight Rates
International Tourists – P750
Non-Palompon Tourists – P225
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P60
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P45
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P30
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P180

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The rates for pumpboats (round trip) are as follow:

P3,000 – for 15 people and below
P3,500 – for 25 people and below
P4,000 – for 30 people and below

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Where to Stay in Palompon Town:

Hutton Lodge
Cor. San Francisco St. & Evangelista St.
Contact number: (053) 338-3098Juan Titang Beach Resort
Brgy. Buaya, Sabang
Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: 0917 741 0259
PACCI House
Rizal Street, Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: (053) 338-2880Whispering Beach Mini Hotel
P. Del Rosario Ext., Brgy. Guiwan I
Contacts numbers: (053) 338-2135/555-8045

*I personally stayed at PACCI House as it is the nearest to the Liberty Park where one has to pay the necessary fees.

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How to Reach Kalanggaman Island?

Fastest way is by air. From Manila, go to Palompon, Leyte via Tacloban Airport or Cebu Airport (a.k.a. Mactan International Airport).

From Tacloban Airport, ride a van going to Palompon. Van rides are found at the Abucay terminal in Tacloban. Trip takes about 4 hours.

From Cebu Airport, ride a taxi and choose from among the following location of shipping lines:

Super Shuttle Ferry (Bogo, Cebu – Palompon Leyte)
– Bogo, Cebu to Palompon, Leyte at 12:00PM daily
– Palompon, Leyte to Bogo, Cebu at 7:30PM daily

Super Shuttle Ferry’s office is located at 38 Gorordo Ave, Cebu City

Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc. (Cebu City – Palompon Leyte)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 08:00 PM (Mon, Thu)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 12:00 NN (Sun)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 08:00 AM Tue, Fri)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 10:00 PM (Sun)

Once in Palompon, go to Palompon Liberty Park and pay the necessary fees for the Kalanggaman EcoTour. The boat ride from this point to Kalanggaman Island takes about an hour for regular boats .

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Malcapuya Island (Palawan, PH)

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” – John Hope Franklin

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Palawan is undeniably one of the Philippines’best destination (if not the best). Having travelled to a number of beaches for the past years, I sometimes feel that they all look the same. During my 4th Palawan trip (and 2nd Coron trip), I decided to include Malcapuya Island in my itinerary.

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And was I glad I did include it this time!!! Malcapuya is such a sight to behold. Well, there is still the white sand dotted shore touched by cerulean waters character that is typical of a Palawan beach. But there is something refreshing that my senses could not pinpoint specifically. I was actually lost for words that I don’t know which superlative to use to depict its beauty.

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The boat ride from Coron mainland to Malcapuya Island takes about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how rough the waters are. The boats usually dock at the north side of the Island, from there; a short walk is made over to the south side. A long stretch of glimmering white powdery sand greets every visitor.

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The water is way more than inviting that one would jump their way to it. It is a delight to snorkel because a lot of fishes would swim with you. Together with Dicalubuan Island (Banana Island), I regard them as my best island beaches in Coron.

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The costs of going to Malcapuya include the following: The entrance fee is 200 Php per person and hiring a boat from Coron Town over the day will cost around 3500 to 4000 Php. That would also include 2 other islands to visit (Dicalubuan and Bulog Dos).

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Heads up: Heard from the grapevine that the island has been acquired by the Henann Group of Resorts and will soon be establishing a 5 -star luxury resort which is set to be the next big thing in Coron, Palawan. OH NOOOOOOO!!! I am not sure if this is really a good thing. But my wandering soul is quite dreaded about this news… Oh well…

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How To Get There

From Manila, tourists who wants to visit Malcapuya Island can take a flight going to Busuanga, Palawan. Upon reaching Busuanga, tourists should take a 40-minute land trip (usually a van) bound for Coron town proper. There are also various passenger ships that ply the Manila-Coron route. Once in Coron, hire boat to Malcapuya Island.

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Where To Stay in Coron:

Apartelle de Gabrielle  –  #231 National Highway Poblacion 5, Coron, Palawan; Contact Nos: 02-7882468 / 0921-4520473 / 0921-4521009 / 0905-3640753; Website:apartelledegabrielle.webs.com

Balay Majika Lodge – Real Street, Poblacio 3, Coron, Palawan; Contact Nos: +63 919 3169030 / +63 9178563187 / +639087316543; Website: www.facebook.com/MajikaTours

Busuanga Island paradise – Km. 12 ,Hi-way, Brgy. Guadalupe, Busuanga Island, Coron – Busuanga Road, Coron, Palawan; Contact No. (02) 911 9180; Website: www.busuangaislandparadise.com

Coron Backpacker Gusethouse- Coron-Busuanga Road, Coron; Contact No: 0916 400 4871; Website: http://www.palawan-coron-backpacker.com

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Coron Ecolodge – Calle Real Poblacion 2, Coron, Palawan; Contact Number: 0919 204 8824; Website: www.coronecolodge-palawan.com

Coron Gateway Hotel – Barangay Poblacion 1 , Coron, Palawan; Contact Nos: (+632) 887-7107 / 887-2420. Website: www.corongateway.com

Centro Coron Bed & Breakfast – National Highway, Barangay 4, Coron, Palawan: Contact Nos: 09277454625 | 09491414177; Website: www.centrocoron.com

Coron Village Lodge ­– Brgy. Poblacio 1, Coron, Palawan; Contact Nos: +639081089772 / 4252231; Website: www.coronvillagelodge.com

Princess of Coron Resort – Nueva Street, No.6 Barangay Poblacion, Coron, Palawan; Contact No. 0916 540 0288; Website: http://www.princessofcoron.com

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Nonetheless, don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Potipot Island (Zambales, PH)

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
― Michael Palin

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Potipot Island is one of Zambales’ many valued tourist attractions. It’s pure azure waters, and sandy white sand beach minus the presence of resorts within the island, has lured people to visit. So, if you are looking for a nippy, budget-friendlyt escape, then opt to go to Potipot Island.

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Potipot Island is situated in Candaleria, Zambales and will take around five to six hour travel time from Manila. My Potipot getaway on June of 2008 was one happy time. The island, being small in land area, can actually be walked around within an hour. I recommend you do this in the afternoon so it wont be to burning to the skin plus, walking while the sun sets at this side of the Philippines is romantic!

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During my stay in the island, my friends and I opted to camp out. We brought our tents with us instead of staying at a resort in mainland Uacon (a barangay in Candelaria that serves as a jump off point to Potipot). However, if you choose to stay in a hotel for accommodation, then ask your boatman to fetch you after sundown. Anyhow, the island is just a good 101-15 minutes boat ride from the mainland.

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Some hotel accommodations in the area include Dawal Beach Resort, Puerto Del Mar Beach Resort,Villa Valerio. Trinidada Beach Resort, Sun Bloom Resort,  Isla Vista Beach Resort and Potipot Gateway Resort.  These resorts can also arrange your boat transport to Potipot Island. Boat rental is around 300-400php depending on your haggling skills (and charm, haha). Please note that there is an entrance fee for the island, 100php for day trippers and 300php for overnight campers.

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How to Get to Potipot Island:

From Manila, take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz or Olongapo, Zambales. If you happen to ride a bus to Olongapo only, ride another bus bound for Sta. Cruz. There is a Victory Liner Station in Olongapo that goes to Sta. Cruz Zambales. Inform the bus conductor to drop you off at Uacon in Candelaria Beach Resorts.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Nogas Island (Antique, Philippines)

Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

– Jerry Seinfeld

Robert Frost’s poem about taking the road less traveled never fails to inspire me in choosing my travel destinations. It reminds me that, i­­nstead of quickening my way to famous sites (where sea of people flock), I can always explore some less-traveled places that have their own inimitable charms and vista.

So, together with my interest in exploring and experiencing more of the Philippines’islands, I opted to visit a not so frequented tiny island in the province of Antique called Nogas Island.

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Jump-off – Sira-an Hotsprings
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Vista as you approach the island.

Nogas Island is an uninhabited marine sanctuary located at Anini-y, Antique Philippines. Since it is a protected area, visiting Nogas Island is regulated. The most prominent feature of the island is its frangipani (kalachuchi) lined walkway that leads to an old lighthouse. I find it amorous (and maybe, poignant at night). It’s very picturesque even if it was almost leaf-less. (I wonder how it would look like when it starts to bear flowers and all).

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The island is also a good spot for bird lovers and botany aficionado as it holds various vines, wild trees and shrubs. One of which is the Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), believed to be over 100 years. Moreover, being a marine reserve, colourful corals and diverse underwater organisms can be found (so make sure to bring your snorkelling equipment).

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The picturesque frangipani-lined walkway leading to the lighthouse.
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The walk-way going to the sea…

There are no ‘tourist facilities’ in the entire island. So if you plan to stay there all day, make sure to bring all your needed amenities.

How to get To Nogas Island:

From Manila, take a flight going to Iloilo. Then from Iloilo, take a cab that will bring you to Oton Terminal where Ceres buses, going to San Jose (Antique) via Anini-y, are. One may also ride a van from the Molo terminal wherein the drop-off point is at Dao aka Tobias Fornier. At the crossroad to San Jose and Dao, wait for a jeepney with San Jose – Anini-y – Casay route. The fare should be around 35Php/person. Ask to be dropped by Sira-an Hot Spring Resort. Travel time is around 2 hours.

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The beach of Nogas Island.

Upon registration at Sira-an Hotspring, (where one needs to pay a P10 environmental fee), hire an outrigger boat that will bring you to the island. Nogas Island is just about 15-20 minutes boat ride. A medium size motorized boat can be rented for P500 and it can accommodate up to 10 persons. Also, a life vest is provided for safety.

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So there! A perfect getaway sans locals and few tourists bumming around…