PHILIPPINES’ OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS FOR 2015

My friend, are you planning a year before your trip? I do!  Why?  Because airfares are usually the cheapest if you book it months before your trip.  That is why even if we just ended the first half of 2014, I already have official trips in 2015!  Yes, that early.

Though I was surprised, I was more excited when the Philippine Government announces the official holidays for next year (2015).  This is not only to plan our trips early, but also for business projection and planning especially we will have eight (8) long weekends.

So my friends, here’s our holidays for 2015 as posted on our Government’s Official Gazette:

As usual, Muslim Holidays will still be determined which are Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.

 

So my friend, let’s plan our trips together for next year! 🙂

 

 

 

*Tinakits*

 

 

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DAKAK PARK AND BEACH RESORT: A Surprise at Dapitan City

Dakak Park and Beach Resort

Dakak Park and Beach Resort

My friend, when you were a kid, where do you wish to go?  We both want to go to Disney and any other fun theme parks overseas.   But sometimes, we were influenced with what we usually see on TV on the things we want to have or the places we want to go to.  Yup! Television is powerful.  That is why I also want to go to Dakak Beach Resort because of its commercial I always saw on the noontime show my family watched before. That is one of the reasons why B and I chose to go to Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao for our annual summer getaway.

When I booked a discounted flight with Philippine Airlines going Dipolog City, the gateway to Dapitan City & Dakak.  We stayed at Dapitan City for a day and stayed at Dakak Park and Beach Resort for 2 nights.

Based on their website and Facebook page, their package already includes hotel pick-up and drop off and one-day pass to their sister park named Gloria Fantasyland.  Since we stayed at Home Sweet Home by the Bay, we arranged that they pick us up there.

The Php 5,500 per day Dakak ‘Ta Bay package given to us was expensive compared to the resorts we availed in most of our trips.  We were somewhat forced to avail of that package for our contact said it was their cheapest, only to find out that they have a cheaper room.  Anyway, we got we have paid for and more because it includes free buffet breakfast daily, can use their swimming pools and Jacuzzi, free one-day pass to Gloria Fantasyland, and the surrounding area of our private villa was quiet but near their restaurants and pool area:

Our room from the outside.

Our room from the outside.

We got our own cable TV.  We only have 2 channels available, ABS-CBN and HBO Asia.

We got our own cable TV. We only have 2 channels available, ABS-CBN and HBO Asia.  We’re not complaining though.

Separate beds - one single and one king-size.

Separate beds – one single and one king-size, plus an extra mattress.  I think 4 people can sleep here.

We got our own rack, separate lavatory and personal fridge inside the bathroom.   Shower area and toilet were separated with curtains.

We got our own rack, separate lavatory and personal fridge inside the bathroom. Shower area and toilet were separated with curtains.

The pools evoke fun that we maximized it and swam there for 2 days:

Slides!  Watch your kids here for the water is 7 feet deep in this pool.

Slides! Watch your kids closely here for the water is 7 feet deep in this pool.

This is fun!!!

This is fun!!!

With fountains at the center and surrounding areas of the pool.  This has a separate section for kids.

With fountains at the center and surrounding areas of the pool. This has a separate section for kids.

Third pool with man-made falls, only 5-foot deep.

Third pool with man-made falls, only 5-foot deep.

B enjoyed dipping at one the pools after swimming on the beach.

B enjoyed dipping at one the pools after swimming on the beach.

The area was serene since the resort was far from the city center:

Pagoda in the middle of the resort which serves as their Function Room.

Pagodas in the middle of the resort which serve as their Function Rooms.

Serenity at the beach.

Serenity at the beach.

And the beach was heavenly! The sand was fine, water was calm and clear and the atmosphere was serene!  Perfect area to unwind and forget the busy work life we have back in Manila:

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Peaceful afternoon

Peaceful afternoon

Relaxing at the beach underneath a tree.

Relaxing at the beach underneath a tree.

We noticed that the waters were always calm.  Maybe because the beach is surrounded by cliffs and mountains which breaks the waves.  It is ideal if you want to swim at calm waters.  There is no stones at the beach nor at sea which means you can walk barefoot here.  The sand is cold to the feet, which is similar to the sands in Boracay, even if the sun is beaming hot .

Fine sands of Dakak.

Fine sands of Dakak.

Beach activities like kayaking, banana boat ride, jetski, and other activities were available for an additional fee which we did not asked nor availed since we want to relax and not do any strenuous activity.  But we did availed of their zipline adventure for Php 500 which includes a free 30-minute horseback ride going to the starting point. They claimed that they have the longest zipline in the country, and I guess they were right.  I think it took us more than a minute for us to land on the other end.  It was scary at first for our starting area was very high.  But once you’re released, you will enjoy the fresh breeze and the scenery of the mountains, its forest and the sea.

Our ride going to the Zipline area.

Our ride going to the Zipline area.

Almost ready :|

Almost ready 😐

Success! Here's my certificate :)

Success! Here’s my certificate 🙂

If you’re hungry, they have the Bamboo Restaurant that serves Filipino and international cuisines.  This is also the venue for their buffet breakfast and is facing the beach.

B at the juice and bread area of Bamboo Restaurant's Breakfast Buffet.

B at the juice and bread area of Bamboo Restaurant’s Breakfast Buffet.

 

So many food to choose from! yum :p

So many food to choose from! Yum :p

Us enjoying our hearty meal overlooking at the beach.

Us enjoying our hearty meal overlooking the beach.

But if you have enough money, try their Italian Restaurant named Il Patio.

Il Patio Ristorante Italiano

Il Patio Ristorante Italiano

Il Patio Ristorante Italiano is their fine dining restaurant.  It is surprising to know that there’s a semi-fine dining Italian Restaurant at the beach cause I was used to seeing crowded bars.  The price was quite heavy on the pocket but it was so worth it!  Their pizzas were cooked the traditional Italian way.  The pizza crust of our Margherita Pizza was soft and chewy.  We never ate any other pizza like that in Manila.  Their ravioli was al dente and full of cheese and basil inside.  The entire meal was so simple yet so full of fresh flavor of its ingredients!  So far, Il Patio is the best Italian Restaurant I have ever been!

Our Ravioli stuffed with cream cheese and basil, sauteed in butter, topped with tomato sauce.  Delicious!

Our Ravioli stuffed with cream cheese and basil, sauteed in butter, topped with simple tomato sauce. Delicious!

Pizza margherita - so simple but so delicious, too!

Pizza margherita – so simple but so delicious, too!

The resort was a surprise for me.  You can’t imagine that a quiet and laidback province like Zamboanga del Norte will have a world-class eco-resort hiding at the back of its mountains will full of modern amenities. Again, the fee we paid was super worth it!

Cheers to our successful summer getaway added in our list!

Cheers to our successful summer getaway added on our list!

This is my second part of our Dapitan Tour. Wait for my last post about availing of our free tickets to Gloria’s Fantasyland.

 

-Tinakits-

DIPOLOG & DAPITAN CITY: The Peaceful Side of Mindanao

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Tinakits in Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte

My friend, how’s your summer?  I hope you have maximize this season to worship the sun more and explore our beautiful Philippines.  Have you even gone to one of your dream destination?  I hope you do.

Of all the major islands in the Philippines, Mindanao intrigues me most for I have not been to that place.  Though I almost booked a flight there, but I kept on holding back due to news of their unstable peace and order.  But last year in December, I took advantage of Philippine Airlines’ promotion on their flights going to Mindanao.  After trying my luck, discounted fares to Dipolog City was still available.  So I grabbed the chance and booked for 2 for me and B’s getaway for April 2014.  I grabbed this once because of the commercial I just watched on one of the popular noontime shows in our country where they show a beach that reminds me of my childhood. When I was still a kid and fond of watching Eat Bulaga, I kept on seeing Dakak Beach Resort’s commercial.  I recall that all of my sibling, including me, were amazed by its beauty and told ourselves that we will go there once we grow up.

Zamboanga Del Norte or ZaNorte is the largest province of Zamboanga Peninsula in terms of land area.  Tagged as the Gateway to Mindanao, this province is better known for its city named Dapitan – where our national hero was put on exile.

(NOTE:  Dr. Jose Rizal is the Philippines’ National Hero.  For more information about him, please click on here)

We first planned of hiring a tour guide since B and I were unfamiliar with the place.  We are also concern about our safety because of the impression that we have that Mindanao is not a safe place.  But we were wrong.  Dipolog and Dapitan City are so walkable, accessible and peaceful!

ACCOMODATION

Though the airport is in Dipolog City, the city of Dapitan has more to offer.  That is why we choose a place at Dapitan.  For us, we highly recommend Home Sweet Home by the Bay Pension House.

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This place lived up to its “sweet” name. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! 🙂

The place is at the famous Sunset Boulevard facing the sea.  The building itself seems to be a big bungalow turned into a Pension House by Mr. and Mrs. Hamoy.  We arranged for an airport pick-up and it was the owner, Mrs. Linda Hamoy, who picked us up with her new Fortuner.

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Their Reception/Guest Area

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Their mini-Altar

Inside the house, you will feel that it was once a lovely home full of decorative plates of places in Asia and Europe.  It turns out that the Hamoy couple were once envoys of the Philippines to other countries!  Since B and I were both devoted Catholics, we highly appreciate the Marian image we saw. I love the garden and the lanai outside were you can sit and appreciate the instant view of the sea and its sunset.

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View outside our Pension House

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Upon arrival, B immediate test the softness of the bed 😀

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Our own closet and cable TV. The door at the middle is our own bathroom with hot & cold shower

We chose the blue room which only cost us 1000 per night, including breakfast.  It was huge with a working aircon and our own clean bathroom with hot & cold shower.  Truly this place is a home away from home.  Mrs. Hamoy was so caring that we feel like she’s our aunt or our mother during our stay. The place and the warmth of their owner really deserves its sweet name.

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Beautiful colors of the setting sun at Sunset Boulevard just right across our place

RIZAL IN DAPITAN

Touring the city is very easy.  Their common mode of transportation is the tricycle with a minimum rate of 7 pesos.  But the very first place we visit was just a few walks away from our hotel and that is the Punta de Desembarco de Rizal.

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Depicting Rizal’s landing on the shores of Dapitan City

It is said that this was the landing place of Rizal when he was sent by the Spaniards for his exile.  They chose this place due to the presence of Jesuits.

After waiting and riding a tricycle, we went to Rizal Shrine.

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B and I at Rizal’s Shrine

This is place that Rizal bought with the money he won from the lottery.  He built his clinic, house and water system here.  Our guide (we forgot his name) was very knowledgeable and friendly.  Though we learned a lot from him, the place needs to be taken care of more especially their building which houses their museum.  It seems that the Department of Tourism and its local Government left this place out.

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Casa Redondo – The octagonal clinic of Rizal

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Rizal’s House

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The mini water dam made by Rizal. It is still working but they turned it off since the water is already polluted

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Mi Retiro Rock – The rock where Rizal and his wife, Josephine Bracken, usually have their sweet moments

Next was to go to the City Plaza to see the Mindanao Map made by Rizal.  When we went to that place, we can only see the grass map but the tags were no longer visible.  Again, another evidence of a forgotten heritage.  After this, we just turn around and visited St. James Cathedral.

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St. James Cathedral

This was the place where Rizal stands in one corner and hear Mass every Sunday. I love old churches! I love the place even more when we saw a friendly beagle roaming at the altar.  She approached us when B called him!

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The friendly female beagle inside the cathedral

After saying our thanksgiving prayer, we roamed around to see Casa Real which is at the side of the church.  We thought we can go inside but it turns out that it was close and now being used as a Government office.

Our next agenda is to buy pasalubong.  Based on some blogs we read, Spanish Sardines are the best at ZaNorte.  Montaño’s Sardines is a popular one but it is located in Dipolog. When we asked tricycle drivers to take us there, they asked for a huge price.  When we asked Mrs. Linda for it, she volunteered to take us there for free!  She said she will also go to that city so it’s not a hassle.  AWW!!! She was so sweet!

DIPOLOG CITY’S SARDINES

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Montaño Spanish-style Sardines of Dipolog City

Mrs. Linda Hamoy dropped us at where we can buy the famous Spanish Sardines.  Prices here varies depending on the kind of sardines you will buy.  If you buy in bulk, they will provide a box for you so it can be easily checked in at the airport without the worry of breaking the glass bottle.

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So many sardines to choose from

After buying one box each, we took a bus to go back to Home Sweet Home and call it a day.

CONCLUSION

Dapitan is a very safe city.  The place is laid back that you will be relaxed with its serenity.  The people were charming and helpful that the negative impression that I have with the island of Mindanao disappeared in an instant. Thanks to the warmth of the Bisayas in Zamboanga most especially to Mrs. Linda Hamoy.

This is just the first part of our Dapitan tour.  Wait for my next post about our beach getaway.  Again, I am more than willing to answer your questions about our experience in Dapitan City.

 

 

-Tinakits-

Charity Work That Will Fill Our Hearts & Tummy

B and I with the famous Mt. Tapyas Cross at the back during our Coron Trip.  The cross was torn down by the recent Typhoon Yolanda :(

B and I with the famous Mt. Tapyas Cross at the back during our Coron Trip. The cross was torn down by the recent Typhoon Yolanda 😦

My friend, where are you?  Are you and your family affected by the recent earthquake or typhoon?  Glad to know that you’re safe and survived it.  As for me, I am safe together with my family.  Today, we are so addicted in watching the news lately to update ourselves about our countrymen affected by one of the worst typhoon in history.  I can’t help but shed tears to those in Leyte, Samar, Capiz, Iloilo and Northern Palawan who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones, their livelihood, and their town.

Before the storm happened, I already have plans to go out-of-town just to relax a bit and contemplate.  I am also stress with a lot of things that I am thinking of some activity to distress like a short travel or eat out.  Going on a travel is not the right time knowing that many are suffering.  Instead of spending it for a trip, might as well donate it.  So my other option is to eat to my heart’s content.  I love food!  I eat not only to nourish my body but to nourish my heart and soul, too.  I guess we all have our “comfort food” that we take to uplift out spirit.

So to hit two things I want to achieve: that is, to help others while I enjoy; I am planning to dine this weekend to some selected restaurants who commit to give a portion or all of their earnings to all Typhoon Yolanda victims.

It is called “Dine for a Cause” these eateries will not satisfy our tummy, but also serve our fellowmen that needs help.  My friend, here’s the list:

(NOTE: Just click on the pic to enlarge it and see all the fine details)

Yolanda-Action-Weekend-Participating-Restaurants

Chilis-Help-Is-On-The-Way-November-2013

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Yolanda-Action-Weekend-Cyma-Restaurant-November-2013

Yolanda-Action-Weekend-Nomama-Ramen-November-2013

 

Let us all lend a helping hand especially RIGHT NOW.  So, where are we going to meet-up this weekend?

 By the way, please do not forget our friends in Bohol and Cebu who were devastated by a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake. 

 

-Tinakits-

“Anti-depression” Loan from PAGIBIG

HDMF

My friend, are you sad?  Do you want to get out of your usual routine and have a grand vacation?  I guess even if you are not depress, everybody would want to go somewhere far to have a relaxing time and have a break from your usual routine.  And I also know everybody already have in mind where you want to go.  The next question to ask is: Do you have funds for your vacation?

If your saving is short or worst none and you’ve been working for 2 years or more, then have no fear for PAGIBIG is here!

legal3pagibig

Literally, PAGIBIG in Tagalog means love.  But the PAGIBIG I’m referring to is “The Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), popularly known as Pag-IBIG Fund (Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industriya at Gobyerno), was created by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1530 on June 11, 1978.  To provide its members with adequate housing through an effective savings scheme, Pag-IBIG Fund harnesses these four sectors of Philippine society: financial institutions, the industrial sector, the government, and the Filipino people. The Fund was created to address two of the nation’s basic concerns: (a) the generation of savings and (b) providing shelter for Filipino workers.” (source. Wikipilipinas).

PAGIBIG is popular as a Government Service for Filipino Workers who wants to loan to buy house and/or lot.  But not everybody knows that you can also request for Personal Loan to them via Short-Term Loan Program (STL Program). I first read about it in an article at ABS-CBN News website.  Initially, I did not believe it.  But I inquire at our HR and Accounting Department and they say its possible.  This Short-Term Loan Program that they are referring to is what they called Multi-Purpose Loan and I am already eligible for it!

To check if you are also eligible for this loan, here are the qualifications:

1. Has made at least twenty-four (24) monthly mandatory savings (MS).

2. For members who have withdrawn their MS due to membership maturity, the
reckoning date of the updated 24 MS shall be the first MS following the month
the member qualified to withdraw his MS due to membership maturity.

3. Has five (5) MS for the last six (6) months as of month prior to date of loan
application.

4. If with existing Pag-IBIG Housing Loan, the account must not be in default as of
date of application; and

5. If with existing MPL and/or Calamity Loan, the account/s must not be in default as of date of application.

If you think you pass the eligibility, the first thing you need to do is register to PAGIBIG Website and secure a PAGIBIG Number and membership card.  As of this time, members who were not yet registered online were requested to do so which is a part of PAGIBIG’s Automation and to update your records, too.  Although you can go to any of their offices to register (to know their offices location, click here), you can also do that online.  Just click on here and follow the simple instructions.

After which, secure a form by clicking here and fill out all the necessary information.  Our HR asked me to photocopy my one-month worth of payslip and attach it to the form.

MPLAF or Multi-Purpose Loan Application Form (first page only)

MPLAF or Multi-Purpose Loan Application Form (first page only)

There is a part on the form where you will choose your desired loan amount.  To guarantee approval, please check on the box below on the maximum amount you can borrow based on your contribution:

LOAN

How long should I pay for my loan, in case I’m approved? The loan shall be repaid over a maximum period of twenty-four (24) months, with a grace period of two (2) months.

I have an existing loan with PAGIBIG, can I still avail of this loan?  Yes!  For as long as you have a payment of at least six (6) monthly installments and you meet the eligibility criteria.  However, the proceeds of the new loan shall be applied to the borrower’s outstanding MPL obligation and the net proceeds shall then be released to the borrower.  In case of full payment prior to loan maturity, a borrower shall be allowed to apply for a new loan anytime.  In short, they will process your loan but they will deduct the remaining balance of your first loan to the approved new loan.

How long should I wait to know if I am approved or not?  Not really sure here but I was informed by our Benefits and Compensation Department to wait for 2 weeks to a month.  Once approved, you will be informed by your Accounting or HR that you are and they will give you your cheque issued by PAGIBIG.  After encashment, you can already enjoy the benefits and use it for your planned vacation to unwind.  YEHEY!

For more information about this loan and any services of PAGIBIG, you may visit their website here or call them at (632) 724-4244, 24 hours during weekdays and 8:00 AM till 5:00 PM during weekends and holidays.

My friend, enjoy your hard-earned money. 🙂

-Tinakits-

P.S.  I am not commissioned by anybody to post or recommend their products, services or site.  I am not even working for the Government.  This post is for pure information to help anybody in need.

Summer Trip to Coron (Day 3): Relaxing at Three Beautiful Islands of Bulalacao, Coron, Northern Palawan

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My friend, what do you do when you go to a beach island?  For us five, we just bum around and enjoy the beauty of Coron.

We have jam-packed activities on our first and second day of tour.  So when I planned for this trip, I want our last day to be relaxing.  So we choose the Sun, Sea and Sand Tour package of Coron Galeri where they will take us to 3 wonderful islands.  The cost?  Php 1200 each person including a ride going to the port, boat ride, entrance fee to the islands and lunch.  Remember that our tour is exclusively for our group that is why the price is higher compared to the regular tour packages they offer.

Mangrove forest along the way

Mangrove forest along the way

Remember that on our second day tour, we were greeted by rains on our way.  But here, you will see that the waters are so calm that the view will already relaxes you.

The calm waters of Coron  became a mirror of the clouds above

The calm waters of Coron became a mirror of the clouds above

After an hour of enjoying the calm ride, we arrived on our first island for the day – Bulog Island.

Bulog Island

My friend Marie, the muse of Bulog Island :)

My friend Marie, the muse of Bulog Island 🙂

As usual, it has white sand.  It is unique because I think it comprises of two small islands joined by a line of fine white sand.

Enjoying the waters of Bulog Island

Enjoying the waters of Bulog Island

Noticed the white sand.  That connects the small island to the other

Noticed the white sand. That connects the small island to the other

The island above have stairs where you can climb and have a view of one of the expensive island resort in Coron – the Two Seasons Coron.

Stairs going on top of one of the islands

Stairs going on top of one of the islands

Enjoying the water, stones, corals and resort we see below

Enjoying the water, stones, corals and resort we see below

On the other small island, the water is shallow and not too salty.  This is the side of the island that we stayed longer.

Calmness again, but less saltier :)

Calmness again, but less saltier 🙂

After enjoying the island, Kuya Allan inform us that we have to go back to our boat to go to another area for our lunch.

Banana Island

Welcome to Banana Island!

Welcome to Banana Island!

The island was called as such because there were many banana trees here when it was first discovered.  Once you approach the island, you will see that it is bigger and more developed than Bulog Island.  Lots of coconut trees with hammocks were there for visitors to enjoy.  Kayaking, snorkeling and diving can be done here for a fee.  Sorry, we didn’t asked for the price that’s why I can’t tell you how much.  But I do know that fresh coconut here is 40 pesos only. 😀

During our first day in Coron, it was informed to us that this island has a lot of jellyfish.  But we did not saw nor encountered one.  Upon docking, we chose a hut farther from the crowd with a great view.  And this is what we chose:

View from our small hut

View from our small hut

B enjoying the table under the tree

B enjoying the table under the tree

The weather, the sea, the place was so relaxing!  Though we swam and enjoyed the sea, what we did here was more on bumming.  And of course, camwhoring 😉

Failed jumpshot pic :)

Failed jumpshot pic  🙂

Fave photo.  Now I'm wiishing to have SLR (my next project) :)

Fave photo. Now I’m wishing to have SLR (my next project)  🙂

Channeling Beyonce in this pic c/o my B ;)

Channeling Beyonce in this pic c/o my B  😉

We were already satisfied with doing nothing at Banana Island but our boatman reminded us that we have another island for today.

Malcapuya Island

B welcoming you to Malcapuya Island

B welcoming you to Malcapuya Island

The waves were stronger when we travelled going on this island.  Quite strange too because boats going here dock at the back of the island.  Reason is because the owner of the island wants to preserve the sand and waters at front for people to enjoy more.

Path going to the front of Malcapuya Island

Path going to the other side of Malcapuya Island

What to do on this island?  Aside from bumming around, there’s a massage being offered here.  Unfortunately, the masseuse went somewhere that we did not avail it.  Fresh buko is 50 pesos, more expensive than the one sold at Banana Island.  This island is more polished with regards to the facilities.  But I like Banana Island more.  But we won’t skip camwhoring here 😀

Tada! :)

Tada! 🙂

Feeling sexy (even if I'm not) :D

Feeling sexy (even if I’m not)  😀

Yup!  It was a slow day for us and we are not complaining.  We are enjoying our lack of activity this day since vacation is about that – relaxation.

We went back to our hotel in the afternoon and rest a bit.  In the evening after our dinner, B and I decided to have a massage.  Of course!  A relaxing vacation is never complete without a massage.  So we roam around the town and saw VKGV Spa.  B and I went there and choose their Swedish massage for Php 400 only.

B choosing oil for our massage

B choosing oil for our massage

The place was small but clean.  The massage was so relaxing that I dooze off for a bit.  I was awaken by B because there are customers waiting in line.  HAHA!

That’s our 3-day tour of Coron.  It was fun and we really enjoyed the beauty of our country.  So for you, my friend, enjoy our country first before you go overseas.  The Philippines has a lot of hidden gems waiting for us to be discovered and explored.  Hope you learned something from my post and include Coron on your next trip.

My friend, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about Coron.

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-Tinakits-

Summer Trip to Coron: Planning Stage

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

My friend, how was your summer?  How did you enjoy it?  Regardless of your location or the seasons in your country, summer is the happiest season for most.  This is where students end their school year and when the working adults create so many reasons to go on vacation.  In a tropical country like the Philippines, it is the best season to enjoy the best of our country.  That is, exploring the beaches.  So if you are one of those who want to plan out any vacation in Coron in the future, readout this series for your guide.  Of course, I will start my Coron Trip Series with the Planning Stage:

TIP #1:  PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO GO AND WAIT FOR ANY PROMO RELEASES FROM DIFFERENT AIRLINES ONCE ITS AVAILABLE AND BOOK IMMEDIATELY

My friends in my previous Department, my boyfriend B and I share the same passion for exploring the wonderful beaches in the Philippines and because of this, we always in constant search for our next destination.  And I tell you, we have a lot on our list!  Just like last year, B and I were reminisced the wonderful vacation we’ve had in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan in 2011.  Since we felt that the time we spent for snorkeling was short-changed on our last vacation, we agreed that we will explore the beauty of Palawan next year.  I guess PAL Express (new name for Airphil) heard our conversation that they decided to have a Piso Fare November of 2012!  Since Coron was on our list, we decided to book a round trip flight to Busuanga (gateway of Coron) for 2 intended for June of 2013.  The price?  Php 1,500 per person, ALL-IN (“All-in” means the price already includes the base fare, travel tax, fuel tax, surcharges, etc.)

Excited as I was, I told my friend Marie about our plan and she got envious because she heard Coron was full of beaches and we bought a roundtrip ticket for a very low price.  So I booked one for her and she availed of the discount we had.  A month after, one of our friend named Jill heard from Marie about our adventure for 2013.  Since June was her birth month and all her planned vacation for that year was cancelled, she sent me a message saying she wants to join us, too.  And off I go to my lappie and booked another ticket for her.  The price?  Around Php 2,000 roundtrip.  Now that makes us 4.  Another friend of ours, Sir Romie, heard about our planned adventure.  Since he’s very stressed with some personal matters and he hasn’t gone on a real vacation, he asked me to book a ticket for him so that he could join us!  He asked me that favor last December.  I booked the ticket but it cost him around Php 3,000 which is double the price of my ticket for the same destination.

What’s the moral of the story?

Have a list of the places you want to go.  So that once airlines starts with their promotion, you already have an idea what’s your destination will be for your trip.

– Sign up on different airlines news feed for you to get notifications about their upcoming promotions so that you won’t miss any of their deals.

– Make sure you always ALWAYS save money so that once a promo becomes available, you have the money to book for tickets and other expenses for the trip.  Really, it pays a lot if you save.

– Once an airline promo becomes available for the destination you want, BOOK IT!

– Be aware of the holidays in your country so you can plan out your vacation.  You may click here for reference.

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri's office in the town of Coron,  Northern palawan

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri‘s office in the town of Coron, Northern Palawan

TIP #2: RESEARCH ABOUT YOUR DESTINATION

Since we already have tickets, the next thing is plan for our itinerary.  I have not been to Coron nor any of my companions.  For this, I have 2 options for researching:

1.  Fire up Google and search for blog entries and travel agencies that features Coron

I know there are fellow adventurers that have been to the Northern part of Palawan that were eager to share their experiences to others.  They will provide details of their planning, their activities, suggestions and hands-on experience which you need to consider in planning your itinerary.

Based on my research, here are some of the things I’ve learned in Coron:

– Coron is a part of the Calamines group of islands.  There’s a lot of small islands there mostly with white sand beaches.  Good for beach bumming.

– The seas of Coron were protected with diverse marine life.  Which means the place is good for snorkeling and diving.

– During World War 2, Northern Palawan was one of the sites for war battles with ships falling victim to bombs.  That is why Coron is a very known for shipwreck diving.

– Palawan is a well-secluded area and far from the city which was considered in building projects like the Iwahig Penal Colony in Puerto Princesa and Tala Leprosarium in Culion, Palawan – a place for those suffering from leprosy.  Culion is a part of Calamines Group.  Due to the social stigma about people suffering from leprosy, Culion was not a popular destination and was secluded from development which preserved its environment, monuments and ancient Spanish architecture.  Therefore, it is a great place to travel back in time and see Palawan during her younger years.

– Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the island of Calauit became the area for African animals purchased by the late President Ferdinand Marcos which was now called the Calauit Safari Park.

2.  Ask a friend you know have already visited the place

Lucky that I found a friend who visited the place last year.  Rommel, a friend and co-worker whom I share the same passion for cheer dancing, told me of his experience.  There’s nothing like getting tips from someone you completely trust.  Based on his first-hand experience, he said that it is best to hire a travel guide to arrange all the tours for our group.  He said touring the islands of Coron is a bit complicated since we need to pay a certain amount every time we enter an island or beach since some were protected  by the different tribes in Palawan, some were privately owned and a few were  no longer open to public for conservation reasons.  He also suggested to hire the services of the company named Coron Galeri to arrange everything for us.

The great thing about Rommel’s suggestion is that Coron Galeri has their own website where you can see all the available tour packages they offer.  He also gave me tips on arranging our itinerary:

– Among all of the Coron tours you can avail in an agency, do not choose to avail of their Coron Town Tour.  Why?  It is expensive and you can do it on your own. He was right about this and I will provide you details on my next entry.

– Hop all the islands you can for the entire duration.  But always check on the news in Coron for the islands that are not for touring.

– to get to another island, it requires time and boat ride.  Choose well on which island you want to go.  For our group, we chose to go to Calauit for their safari rather than going to Culion.

– There are no food nor convenience store chains in the town of Coron.  But they have Sari-sari Stores and eatery or calinderias around.

– Coron is a province.  Do not expect that their nightlife is like in Manila or in Boracay that it is open till sunrise.

– Roads are small.  Mode of transportation there is Tricycle.

– ATM Machines are not easy to find.  Better have cash in hand for your spending’s.

TIP #3:  RESEARCH ON THE BEST ACCOMMODATION THAT WILL FIT YOUR BUDGET

There are so many options on room accommodation.  Agoda, Hotels.com and Palawan-resort websites provides you with lists to choose from.  Research well on their amenities and their proximity to the places you want to go.  Since a part of our agenda is to go to Mount Tapyas and I am obsess with a good view but with affordable rates, we chose Mount Tapyas Hotel for our temporary home in Coron.

Facade of our home in Coron - Mount Tapyas Hotel

Facade of our home in Coron – Mount Tapyas Hotel

After our deliberation and agreement, we came up with this itinerary.  By the way, we have 4 days for this trip:

Day 1: Island Eco Tour. This means island-hopping to Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons, Barracuda Lake, Banol Beach, Smith Point White beach, Atwayan Beach

Day 2: Calauit Safari (travel via boat) & Black Island in the morning.  Mount Tapyas climb and Maquinit Hotspring in the afternoon.

Day 3: Beach-hopping to Bulog Island, Banana Island and Malcapuya Island

Day 4: Catch a flight going back to Manila

NOTE:  This itinerary was not followed.  Hihihi!  More on that on my future post.

Everything is set on our trip! Hope I helped you in planning for your future trip in Coron.  How was our vacation?  It was memorable!  I’ll post our 4-day adventure next.

My friend, any questions about planning for your Coron Trip?  Let me know so that I can help you.

-Tinakits-