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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10 Things You Need To Know When Whale Shark Watching in Oslob Cebu

Oslob Cebu has dislodged Donsol Sorsogon as the Whale Shark Watching Capital of the Philippines for some reasons. One is probably because of accessibility, Cebu is more of a tourist hot spot easy to go to with so many attractions to choose from and the second reason I will discuss later. Here are some important points one has to consider when planning your trip to Oslob for a close encounter with the giant whale sharks. It is a very unique experience one has to seriously consider when visiting Cebu Province.

1. About Oslob

Oslob is situated South of Cebu Province. It is 2nd to the last municipality south of the province with Santander after it. The latter is a well known ferry link between Cebu and Dumaguete in the island of Negros. Oslob is a sleepy town with a population of only 26,000+ according to 2010 census. It is a 4th class Municipality which became popular due to Sumilon Island which is part of the municipality.

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2. Transportation to Oslob

The best way to get to Oslob via public transportation is by bus from Cebu City. It is approximately 114 km South and travel time takes around 4 hours so I would't recommend a taxi unless you have money to burn. There are van rental options from Cebu city but at a cost.

To get here, be at Cebu South Terminal where buses both aircon or ordinary leave usually on hourly basis. Schedule tend to be more flexible on peak season and weekends as buses leave as soon as they are full to accommodate high traffic.

Look for buses bound for Bato. Ask the driver to drop you in Oslob, not in the main town but in Brgy. Tan-awan, which is 10 km away from the center town of Oslob.

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3. About Whale Sharks
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 m (41.5 ft) and a weight of about 21.5 t (47,000 lb), and unconfirmed reports of considerably larger whale sharks exist.

The whale shark is found in open waters of the tropical oceans and is rarely found in water below 22 °C (72 °F). In the Philippines, it is called butanding and balilan. The whale shark is featured on the reverse of the Philippine 100-peso bill.
source: wiki

4. Don't Worry They Are Safe
As the description states, these giant sea creatures are filter feeders. They only feed on very small fish so don't be scared if you see one swimming towards you with big mouth open. They are safe, and they won't have any interest on eating you. hehe

.....and there are almost 10 of them in Oslob!!!
Don't be worried that you will not see a whale shark when you go to Oslob, there are not just two, not three but around 10 of them. Yes, imagine 10 whale sharks of varying sizes swimming around you. Our first encounter was with a medium-sized ine so I thought "ah, di naman pala ganun kalaki at nakakatakot". But came the largest one a few minutes before we finished and it was really huuuuuge! Ang laki at nakakatakot. The interesting thing is that fishermen know these whale sharks because they assigned them names! haha


Only 30 minutes to dive with the Whale Sharks
You are only given 30 minutes to swim around with the whale sharks. They are quite strict with the time so be sure not to waste time as soon as the boat gets into position. Lusong, dive kagad!
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5. Yes, they Feed the Whale Sharks
That's the well known secret in Oslob, fisherfolks and tourism stakeholders were so clever to come up with the idea of feeding that whale sharks with small shrimps. So you will notice a couple of folks on smaller boats going back and forth the feeding area dropping one by one pieces of shrimp and the whale shark would follow that boat. So if you want to timing your dives, the feeder folk will be your cue.

This makes the whale sharks traverse the whole length of the feeding area where tourists are positioned, so you don't have to go far from your boat. And it's very tiring I tell you, with or without life vest, so we were mostly clinging on the outrigger of our boat to stay afloat and grasp for air. Yes, you are allowed to remove you life vest so as to be able to dive a little deeper for that perfect shot with the butandings. Just make sure you know how to swim if you decide to.

The Feeding Area

You can notice the feeding area is just nearby shore. The nature of the sea in Oslob though is that at that point, (where you see small boats line up) that's where the visible part of the sea flood and the sudden deep converge. So when you dive and look down on the direction of the shore, you can see the bottom, thanks to the sandy nature of it. But when you look at the other directly, you see nothing but darkness. Scary! And that's where the surprise come, the whale sharks move from that part to the visible area so bigla nalang sila susulpot, surprise surprise nasa ilalim mo na! It adds to the thrill of the experience.

6. Fees and Time Schedule

Whale Watching only : 300 php (Locals)
Whale Watching plus Snorkeling- gears included
- Locals : 500 php
- Foreigners- 1,000 php

Time
Daily, 6:00am-12:30pm Only

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7. No Sunblock please!
and other rules

So the normal mindset when you hit the beach or when you know you will be out in the open sea is to put on sunblock. Good thing my friend who has done whale watching before reminded me it is restricted because I was about to apply some. The chemical on the sunblock would harm the whale sharks. But I noticed that the ones at the registration are not strict with these. All they cared was to collect our fees and they didn't even brief us or anything. Maybe they though the big boards at the waiting area would be enough to remind people of what and what not but who reads them anyway? I noticed many foreign guests with face and body full of sunblock.


NO TOUCHING

Yes, water is very clear so can still notice the whale sharks swimming around but as much as possible try to conquer your fear and engage. Take note though, TOUCHING THE WHALE SHARKS IS PROHIBITED. Or so they warned us, it comes with a corresponding monetary price for violating this but I noticed some doing it. I think one of friends accidentally stepped on a whale shark. Not intentionally of course. Ahahahaha
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Boats
Boats are non-motorized and small. Non-motorized so as not to scare the whale sharks and also because these are more clean since they don't require oil or gasoline. They are small with maximum capacity of 5 pax plus 2 paddlers, one in front and one at the back. I thought our boat was almost at full capacity at that state, a rowdy move and it could sink. It has outriggers though so that provides a little reassurance the whole thing will float.

Don't worry if you come here solo, as a couple or as a family or big group, they assign a boat to e filled in 5 so it will not be a problem. You pay per head.

8. Take the Plunge, Don't just stay on the Boat

If you noticed the rates,
A. Whale Watching only : 300 php (Locals)
B. Whale Watching plus Snorkeling- gears included
- Locals : 500 php
- Foreign: 1,000 php

This means you got the option to 1. Stay on the boat and observe the frenzy of people swimming around you and if you ate lucky see parts of the whale sharks mouth above the water, or 2. Dive with whale sharks. Thus the rates, 300 and 500 pesos. But come on, the real fun is underwater, take the plunge, you traveled as far as Oslob to just stay on the boat.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

KAWASAN FALLS Badian Cebu: Not the Most Majestic Falls you can Find but its Clear Water will Leave you in Awe

First it was the confusion between staying overnight by the beach (Moalboal) or by the waterfalls, the latter won the day. Then came the question which waterfalls, Kawasan in Badian or Da-o Falls in Samboan. The former was the final choice.

It was difficult to decide at first while researching because while many blog posts refer to Kawasan Falls as a favorite, Instagram posts of Da-o Falls enticed me. I find it more unique in terms of the falls formation. Good thing I asked several IGers based in Cebu and all five (5) of them suggested Kawasan over Dau.

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I will tell you later why. First, the experience. So we came all the way from Cebu City on the 2nd day of our trip and went straight to Moalboal to meet a friend who now works in Cebu-Dumaguete area. It was already afternoon when we arrived to heavier than normal traffic along the way. We dropped by Basdacu beach for a few minutes to give it check. It was already made easily accessible thanks to a new road and we were there in a few minutes. First impression, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, it's so-so beach. Nothing to wow for so we only strolled for a few minutes, snapped a few shots, appreciated the sun already low in the horizon in the backdrop of Negros Island and left.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not Impressed with BASDACU BEACH in Moalboal


It is interesting how people on social media can make a place look so glamorous and beautiful. Basdacu Beach in Moalboal Western Cebu Province is one classic example. This was not our main destination having chosen Kawasan Falls as our choice for an overnight stay in Badian but we thought of giving the beach a quick check since we were already in the area. I remember seeing a drone shot of Basdacu Beach on Instagram and it made me so excited to see it in person. It actually gave me a hard time thinking whether to stay overnight there or in Kawasan. The beach wasn't disappointing for sure but it looks far more beautiful in pictures than in person. A so so beach. I was not impressed at all.

Basdacu Beach Moalboal Cebu
 BASDACU BEACH in Moalboal
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Perhaps because I have seen a lot of exceptional beaches in the Philippines? But factoring in only the merits of Basdacu beach, I am not kidding when I say it look photogenic but that is almost all. We didn't swim. That I admit. But there is a difference between a beach that you feel like just looking at or strolling and a beach which excites you to take a plunge. Basdacu beach sure is lovely but not inviting enough for me to strip my clothes for a quick dip. The sand is white but not as fine as I thought. The beachfront is wide in one section but narrow in most areas.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BEST WESTERN PLUS LEX CEBU: Great Value for a Hotel of this Caliber @LexCebu

We stayed in Cebu City for two nights and one night in Badian which is three hours South of the province. Our last night's accommodation was Best Western Plus Lex popularly known as Lex Cebu. It was a fitting culmination to an awesome Cebu weekend tour.

And since I took the habit of relating the hotels we tried in this particular trip to furniture, Lex Cebu reminds me of a well-kept old narra furniture, strong, steady, reassuring ----you know it has been around and you know it is gonna last a long time.


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High Ceiling Lobby

The lobby is the envy of other hotels in its category. High ceiling, ample space for waiting guests and floor-to-ceiling glass walls which gives for a more spacious feel seeing the busy intersection outside. This high ceiling lobby plays a very big factor in your overall impression of a hotel. Space means breathing space for me, a more relaxed mind, a more calm mood and when you start your stay in that mindset, all else will be good.

Monday, November 30, 2015

HAROLDS HOTEL: Luxury Without Breaking Your Wallet

Though my visit to Cebu City two weeks ago was not for business but purely for leisure, I still wanted my clothes well pressed when meeting local friends. Seeing an ironing board beautifully fixed in my room closet was such a view and it really made exclaim "yes!, yes!" accompanied by a body gesture as if I won a lottery. And then there's the bath tub at the restroom that added an extra grin on my lips. The spacious room allowed for enough breathing space not just for the weary body after the 5-hour flight delay back in NAIA that day. The soft bed very inviting, the intimate lighting very calming and the beautiful mountain view from the room, I knew it was going to be another amazing trip. Harold's Hotel Cebu is truly a businessman's hotel that leisure travelers will also find enticing.

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The lobby is pretty small but spotless and with class. The staff very friendly and the receptionists quick and efficient on the job. They speak good English and they always have a smile on their face. We were so tired and being greeted warmly with cold welcome drinks was really soothing. One of the most delicious welcome drinks I tried if I could say, unlike others where they just give you a drink masabi lang na me welcome drinks.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: YELL ENERGY PACK 8800mah- Power, Beauty and Functionality Wrapped in One!



If projections made in 2010 were to hold, 2016 will see 32 million Filipinos traveling in and out of the country. That's a lot of people wandering around! And these travelers will need to keep themselves geared for travel. One of the travel essentials one must have is definitely a power bank.

There are so many power banks flooding the market these days but finding a reliable one should be the priority.

I wrote about Momax iPOWER TOUGH 2 battery pack before and it has been a reliable home and travel companion. Now, there is an addition to my travel essential family, another power bank in the house, to the delight of my wife who shares with my existing power bank ---the Yell Energy Pack 8800mah.  
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Yell Energy Pack 8800mah
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Remember my yell Blueetooth Speaker? Spice Up your Next Summer Getaway w/ a YELL BTS710 Portable Bluetooth Speaker. I loooove Yell! It is known for infusing fashion and style into the world of mobile accessories bringing products to the market that allows people to express their personal style!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CAFETALY MALATE: Bingsu, Chimaek, Pimaek and more!


And I finally got my hands on bingsu! 

Patbingsu (팥빙수, also stylized as patbingsoo, literally red beans with ice) is a Korean shaved ice desser with sweet toppings such as chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup and Azuki beans highly popular in Korea.This snack originally began as ice shavings with red bean paste It was traded among government officials. Many varieties of patbingsu exists in contemporary culture. source


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classic patingsu at Cafetaly


Put simply, it's Korean halo-halo.  
I thought only Cafe Bene with only a few branches in Metro Manila offers it but two blocks away from the hostel is Cafetaly which sells breads, pastries, bingsu and even chimaek or chicken + maekju (beer).

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Idiot's Guide To Climbing Mt. Taraw El Nido #BawalAngPabebeSaTaraw


And I said climbing because I mean rock climbing and not mere hiking. And not just ordinary rocks, pointed rocks. So this is no easy feat. This is more than just wishful thinking to have that lovely profile picture or Instagram-worthy shot with you in the frame. You have to make sure you are physically fit, in good condition on the day of the climb --- enough sleep, not drunk and not suicidal.

And those IG posts of good looking creatures on top of Taraw seemingly victorious of the view got me. At dahil inggetero ako, I told myself I should not miss Taraw again this time.




The Perfect Time to Climb


The best time of the day to climb is either early in the morning or in the afternoon and our travel agency in El Nido told us sunrise in Taraw is best. That means starting the climb early in the morning. We were in El Nido for 5 days 4 nights and we attempted to hike on the 2nd , 3rd and 4th day but it was just impossible. No guide would accompany us since it was rainy on afternoons during
our stay. The rocks are slippery so it is not advisable" quipped one of our guides from Northern Hope Tours.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nobody's Tour? EL NIDO Tour-B Will Surprise You: Entalula Beach, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island and more via #NorthernHopeTours

You know that in El Nido, Island Hopping Tour is as easy as choosing A, B, C and D. What you might not know is that there is a new addition, Tour E, which includes Nacpan Beach and Mt. Taraw which I think you can do on a d.i.y.

Everybody also knows that the most popular tours are A and C. And no contest at all, Tour C is the best so it is where everybody goes. The 2nd option is always Tour A which is equally good. I have been to both and I can personally attest to that. While some tour companies offer speacial combination tour A and C, read: El Nido COMBINATION TOUR A and C #NorthernHopeTours, I still suggest you go on separate days so as to enjoy each spots more unless you don't have the luxury of time as what happened to us in 2013. Thanks to Northern Hope Tours we were able to do the combination tour back then. 

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And since many are first-timers in El Nido and many are also on a short stay, tours A and C are always the option. Tour B and D therefore don't get too much attention. Our guide actually referred to Tour B as "nobody's tour" and we have to admit, we too Tour B because it was stormy during our stay that Tour C was restricted. Waves were too big that no tour companies were allowed to set sail in the open waters leading to Matinloc Island. And so, no choice kami since we have already done Tour A on the 1st day.

Surprisingly, Tour B for me didn't disappoint. I was actually surprised that it could match, if not exceed Tour A. yes, if you take tours A and C, you feel the redundancy. But Tour B is like a breath of fresh air. It is the other side of El Nido which will make you realize that the place is diverse and multi-faceted. Read on.

EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOUR RATES
TOUR A: 1,200 Pesos/person
Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach
TOUR B:  1,300 Pesos/person
Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave
TOUR C:1,400 Pesos/person
Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach
TOUR D: 1,200 Pesos/person
Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach

Monday, October 26, 2015

SPIN DESIGNER HOSTEL EL NIDO: So Good, It's So Easy to Recommend to Friends @SpinHostelPH

SPIN Designer Hostel, El Nido
Balinsasayaw Road cor. Calle Real, El Nido, Palawan
Email: spinhostelph@gmail.com
Websitehttp://www.spinhostel.com


Finally, a designer hostel that El Nido deserves. My friend from South Korea who has been dying to see the Philippines said she finally found the schedule to do so for Korean New Year of 2016. She was so excited to break to me the news. Being a travel blogger in the Philippines, she asked me about the best destinations and her list narrowed to two (2) being Bohol and El Nido. Before my return to El Nido a few weeks ago, she was inclined to pick Bohol. EL Nido sure is amazing but she was a bit hesitant about accommodations in the area. Since she is staying for 7 nights, (2 nights in Manila and 5 nights in her forward destination) she wants something that fits the budget without necessarily sacrificing quality.

My first time in El Nido two years ago did not afford me to check on many accommodation options. So I told her I will update her on that aspect when I get back. Staying at Spin Designer Hostel for two nights, I was convinced this is the perfect spot for her. I immediately sent her messages and pictures of Spin while there. Thank God many spots in El Nido are now 3G and wifi connected and the wifi at Spin was indeed very helpful. I enjoyed Spin so much --- chick ambiance, trendy design, wide common areas, nice rooms, diverse guests, warm staff, the overall experience being around so many travelers from all over the world with its spacious common areas as divergence point. Spin Designer Hostel has elevated the hostel concept not just in El Nido but in the entire country. It is the best I have tried to date.

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SPIN Designer Hostel, El Nido
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No Better Location for a Designer Hostel
in El Nido
One of my major concern was location. I wanted to be at the center of the action. But El Nido town where the best restaurants and socialization are located is already saturated. Who doesn't want a place next to the main beach anyway but that beach area is so small as the town itself and most of the accommodations there are old and a bit of a run-down. So you see expansion in Corong Corong area and that's exciting but Corong Corong is a long stretch and so you have spotty attractions. I wanted to be where everything is walking distance away. Spin Hostel is not at the towns beachfront but it is still smacked in an area where things are concentrated. Looking at the map I thought it is a little off but it is actually an easy 2-minute walk to the beach.
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