That One Time At Tawi-Tawi

I will come back Tawi-Tawi!

It was our first time to travel to Tawi-Tawi! The land of seafood, sun, sand and beaches as far as the eye can see! The locals were friendly and we made new friends! We came at the best time to get a tan!

It was a 12 hour trip going there. From Iligan to Zamboanga by bus and then a plane ride from Zamboanga to Tawi-tawi. We were ever so patient and the overnight bus ride was the best way to get a long needed shut eye. A few comforts were supposed to be sacrificed during the trip but I suppose I’ll be making an entry on how to survive a long bus with the maximum comfort possible.

We arrived by dawn around 5AM or so just enough time travel time from the bus terminal to the airport. This was going to be an exciting day! A view of their shores above the skies was seemed to already invite us to go for a swim. We were warmly greeted by the members of JCI Lepa Tawi-Tawi, they were our gracious hosts who accompanied us from start to finish. First thing we searched for after they picked us up at the airport was…FOOD.


They introduced us to Tiyula Itum! In truth, I had been craving for this spicy beef dish for many months now. My ate was an expert at preparing this and it has been a long time since I got to eat this fine black soup. If you’re wondering why it’s black, that’s because of the grilled coconut they mix it with. The soup color in itself is actually yellow. What a hearty dish for breakfast!

Bongao

We stayed at Almari Beach Resort for the first day. One detail that surprised me was their check-in time which was at 8AM and their check-out time is at 7AM. Quite early eh? we rested for a while and then went out for lunch. A seafood platter is the best way to be welcomed when you’re at Tawi-Tawi. This was comprised of fried fish, shrimps, guso (seaweed), shells, squid, crabs and on the middle was the cucumber sambal appetizer. They also served us kinilaw (fish ceviche) and kamon or mantis shrimps!


They gave us an opportunity to walk around the city for a time. You might say they gave us a city tour. After that, we hopped on an open army truck and we proceeded to go to their city hall with an amazing view of the city. We also circled around their port just to see the view of their seas. We then returned to the place we stayed after that for a couple of hours rest and to prepare for tonight’s activity. This was JCI Lepa’s inauguration of new officers. I was amazed by how everyone looked during the event with their red motif and evening gowns. Everyone looked striking in their own way and they were ever so friendly.

Simunul

We awoke early the next day because our itinerary was to visit Panampangan Island. Not a lot of people go here so you could say you’d be having the whole beach to yourselves for a time being. I’m sure Tawi-Tawi has countless of beaches just like this without the hussle and bussle of tourists.



Before that, we had the opportunity to go to Simunul. This was a 45 minute boat ride from Bongao.

Did you know? The first Muslims in the Philippines are said to have arrived at Simunul. The place where the first mosque in the Philippines would be located called the Sheik Karimul Makhdum mosque. Too bad it was being restored that time so we were only able to catch a glimpse of it yet not in its full glory. There was a long standing wooden pillar there that was as old as the mosque itself. Who couldn’t resist touching that eh?

Panampangan Island

The beach was in pristine condition, with the waters so blue and inviting. You could see every little detail from sea urchin to stone! and the weather was fortunately sunny the whole time we were at the island. The tricky part though was getting to the island itself just when one was only a few meters away from the shore. Our boat had a hard time reaching the shore so we had to wade through the part of the beach that was laden with starfish and…..sea urchins! Good thing the waters were crystal clear or I would have stepped on one and that surely in itself is not a good experience. There were also a couple of Badjaos during the time we were there. They offered us their catch of spider shells, fish and sea urchins! They told me that you could get as many as you want up to what you can fill yourself with for only 20php! I scarfed down all the uni I could that day.




Upon going home, strong winds and  slight drizzle of rain greeted us. I guess you could say this was nature’s way of welcoming us to the sea. The boat then suddenly stopped midway and we were told that the fuel had run out! So we waited about an hour or two and during that time we went for a dip!

Zamboanga

We took a flight back to Zamboanga on a rainy early morning the next day. Their congee at the terminal was surprisingly excellent! Do take note the next time you take a flight from Tawi-Tawi. We toured a rubber tree plantation, ate some curacha and strolled around the KCC Mall before taking the 12 hour bus ride.

Things to take note:

  • Please take note that most of the areas there don’t have secure internet connection. So you better take that leave off from that online job.
  • Also I found out the hard way that the phone signal is also scarce when you’re situated away from the city. We had a bit of trouble contacting our loved ones most of the time. Better anticipate that.
  • Respect their culture. Don’t try to stand out too much.
  • It is always a good idea to trust in the soldiers for added security measure when you’re traveling in groups.
  • Tawi-tawi is a Muslim province therefore alcohol will be scarce and there is no pork there.

A huge thanks to JCI Lepa Tawi-Tawi for accommodating us and a special thanks to Ms. Ina Lluch Gustilo for letting us tag along with her. Do subscribe to my youtube channel for more adventures coming from me!

Vlog: Behind That Tourism Video

This is the vlog where I show you what went on behind the scenes with several outtakes, bloopers and the funny parts. It was a four day intensive adventure of going out and about Iligan City with friends! I managed to take all the footage here in between takes. We’re quite a funny bunch and yes I’m awkward IRL. This was taken last September 2016 during the month long Diyandi Festival in Iligan City. I had to wait a couple of months for the official videos to come out before I made this post. The final output for this video was to be used to promote tourism in Iligan City.

To tell you the truth, we didn’t really prepare ourselves for this particular circumstance to happen to us along the following days of exploring (and acting) to come. I was kinda expecting to be more on the behind the scenes kind of girl where the magic takes place but it looks like they wanted us to be on camera. The four days we spent filming were rigorous and call time was at 7:30 A.M. I finish my shift at 6A.M. and our shooting sometimes lasted till 8P.M. and my shift starts at 10P.M. I tell ya, it wasn’t easy but we somehow managed to pull through.

Jumping off the side of a rock face by a waterfall was something I’ve never done before. And yes, I slipped on my first jump which was caught on camera (inserts a series of unintelligible shrieks kdnfdkjfndkfjnhasfnsskdnsd). I also slipped on a rock while crossing a stream (sobs). There was also another scene which wasn’t included because silly me had a bit of rice particle on my chin (hey, we just had lunch that time -_-).

There’s also the part where I got to hold a drone mid-flight while riding a motorcycle. Good grief, I was quite terrified on the inside! The thought of losing fingers on my dominant hand was something I would dare not think about. I had to do this while smiling on bright scorching afternoon while looking at the camera. We had to do three takes for this and thank goodness the final shot came out quite good!

To cap it off, a fly landed on my ice cream and got stuck there and we were to told to lick our ice creams while the camera was rolling. I just can’t do that gah! My friends had their own mishaps as well and luckily for them, it wasn’t caught on camera (except that one time where Yobz slipped face first on the pool though, lol). Overall, it was an interesting experience. Memories meant to laughed and replayed in our head. All five of us had to act like the very best of friends (that was the fun part) which was reassuring in terms of our acting skills.

Additional footage in this video have been provided by Rolly MagpayoAJ Ventura and Yobz Tolentino.

Watch one of four clips here!


You can view all four videos at Iligan City Tourim’s YouTube page here.

Credits to:

Rolly Magpayo (Director/Main Cameraman), Ralphie Grange (2nd Cameraman/Glide Cam Operator), AJ Ventura (Drone Cinematographer), Pat Noel/Iligan Tourism Office (Coordinator), Aj, Meric, Leia, Yobz and moi!
Music provided by the Department of Tourism
Produced by the government of Iligan City

Bukidnon: A Weekend at Dahilayan

Went away for the weekend to Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon! Yay! You could say this was a Dahilayan Weekend. It was lovely and windy way to de-stress from the everyday work routine by being disconnected for a while and just simply taking in a breath of cold fresh air in the mountains. I simply cannot stop pointing out that the weather was exaggeratedly windy and cold day and night! Wish I packed more jackets but this girl has to pack light. There were several things that happened along the way like missing the bus and being ushered to a detour because our mode of transportation wasn’t registered. You can check out what happened by clicking on the photos!

A Dahilayan Weekend

First things first though, there are two resorts that are adjacent to each other which are Dahilayan Forest Park and Dahilayan Adventure Park. The two have their own varied attractions therefore if you go to one, I recommend you go to the other.

Did I also tell you that there may be some rides you cannot take part in if you lean more on the heavy side. You can read more about it by clicking the photo below.

The all around cool breeze blanketed in clouds and mountain ranges. Towering pine trees and lush meadows as far as the eye can see.  This is what it means to be in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. A scene you’d never expect to see here in Mindanao and yet here I am off to spend a weekend here enjoying all it had to offer with the touch of a button thanks to an app with the best deals! I’ll tell you more about this particular app and how you can try it yourself by clicking the photo below!

Here I go eating my way around the area. Their hot coco is exquisite (you can see I’m halfway through already) that I had to go for seconds. I guess this has become my sorta food guide with what’s available in the area. P.S. Always go for pizza.

Check out my other Dahilayan related posts:

Visiting Dahilayan Adventure Park

Visiting Dahilayan Adventure Park and checking out their attractions. Most, if not all of them are for the thrillseeker of heights. They’ve got three zipline rides, a dropzone, sky jumps, zip rides and their rope course. You can get discounted rates if you take on their packaged zipline ride.  

Asia′s 1st Longest Dual Zipline

Dahilayan Adventure Park has two 840m Ziplines with a drop of 100 meters. Zipriders are transported via 4WD Safari Cruiser to a launch tower at 4500′ ASL. Zoom through the rainforest canopy at 60-80kph to land at our Carrier-type flight deck using a special arresting gear system. Its cool that they give you the instructions prior to being launched in the air and take note that if you lean on the heavy side, the faster you will be. This is a one minute ride!

Ropes Course

The ropes course is made up of two levels wherein the highest level being the more challenging. You get to build up quite a sweat with this so prepare yourself and your stamina for this one. Take note, that you harness yourself, so don’t forget to do that before each challenge for safety measures.

320MT plus 150MT Zipline

This is their so called training zipline. You get to do this twice back and forth which you can do with a pair or by yourself.

Python Roller Zipride

Python Roller Zipride Zip, rattle, roll, drop,swing & bounce over 500 meters. Asia′s first zipline roller coaster is now at the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon. I didn’t get to try this one but hopefully next time in the future.

Flying Lizard Canopy Glider

The canopy glider moves thru the trees, crawls along vines, and zips between tree trunks while you pedal along the high wire. It’s like trapeze bicycling.

Dropzone 120 Ft. Freefall Ride

Its a 120 ft Freefall into a man-made lake. Swoop to within feet of the water surface making it an adrenaline pumping Screamer of a ride. This one is quite popular too bad there wasn’t anyone that time.

Skytower Base Jump

Skytower Base Jump ride 8 storey platform this is the highest parajump in the Philippines using a cell site tower. Riders experience a split second free fall followed by a gradual descent , ending in a soft landing in less than 10 seconds.

Btw, don’t fret about photos because they take pictures of you before and during flight. You can claim them at their photobooth for 100php with the certificate included and if you want just the photos only, you can get them at 50php.

Check out my other Dahilayan related posts:

13 Things You Can Do at Dahilayan Forest Park

So, thinking about what you’re gonna do once you get there? Fret not my friend! Here’s a guide to the things you can possibly do at Dahilayan Forest Park along with the information you need to know about their activities. First of all be aware that they have an entrance fee of 100PHP for adults and 50PHP for kids. There are some that have weight restrictions, and minimum people requirements. So you better be within their ideal weight measurements because they’re pretty strict about it since its part of their safety protocols. But first! Let me show you around with my photos…IMG_0212IMG_0277IMG_0622IMG_0620a

Fish Feeding (10php a pack)

Here’s one of their main view decks. You get to see a view of a bigger pond with large Tilapia, Koi and floating duck statues. This one also has a pond full of Koi fish! You can also feed them by purchasing their 10PHP fish food by the Forest Park Cafe. Don’t tell management but one actually nibbled my finger. HAHA)
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Picnicking at The Picnic Grounds (200PHP a table)

Check out their picnic grounds. This one hectare area is quite nice for a weekend family get together and yeah, I kinda went a bit crazy with the animal statues. Towering pine trees cover the area which made the sound of a passing jet plane whenever a strong breeze passed by. They had chairs and tables at the ready to which one can rent out at 200PHP which can already accommodate ten people.

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tododahilayanLil’ old me going dorky with the animal statues

Zorbit (250php with the Monkey Tree Challenge)

Here’s an activity where you go zorbing down a hill. You got to have a partner though to actually be a potential candidate AND both of you must be below 70kgs. and no more than that because they don’t consider exemptions even if it exceeded about, let’s say…. 2kgs more. I really looked forward to trying this out but sadly was unable to
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ATV & Buggy Trail Adventure (750PHP per head for ATV and 1,200PHP for a 2 person buggy)

Get on an ATV(all-terrain vehicle) or buggy (for two) as a guide takes you on a 3.2 km forest trail of rough terrain, steep hills, scenic views and cool weather. Take note that the ATV is good for one vehicle per person ONLY and the buggy has a maximum weight capacity of 110kgs (this is the combined total weight for two). The ride is good for about 20 minutes of fun and laughs.
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Tree-top Adventure (250PHP with the Monkey Tree Challenge included)

This ladies and gents, is their tree-top adventure. A 21 stationed obstacle course located in between pine trees approximately 8-11 feet in the air. One has to have the will to climb ladders, cross floppy bridges, crawl in tunnels and even zip across just to finish this ordeal! Included in this package is the Monkey Tree Challenge as well.tododahilayan5IMG_0612 IMG_0615

Bumper Boats (150PHP. Just add 50PHP if you want to do a tandem)

This is their man-made mountain lagoon. Great for kids and adults who want to go bump in the water without taking a dip.

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I find this fern head unusual with its hairy and thorny texture. But I had to touch it. *cringes

Hanging Bridge (100PHP)

This scenic bridge hangs 30-meters above ground, you to to pass this if you want to directly reach the Forest Luge. Helmets are provided of course before you do an 80-meter walk from one end to the other. Below the bridge you will see lagoons and different pathways with an all around view of nature’s glory. Note: This activity is already included if you already got the Forest Luge package.

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Once you cross the bridge, it’s a playground and the Forest Luge that awaits you on the other side. The air gets pretty chilly once you get here but the view is awesome.

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Forest Luge (2 rounds for 600PHP including the Hanging Bridge and Mini Golf)

This luge is part go-cart, part toboggan ride that rolls down a track with thrilling twists n’ turns and mountain views amid the cool fresh air. They got two tracks which you can pick out. I think this one varies with the speed for each luge. It’s open for all ages too!IMG_0659

 Sauna & Jacuzzi (300PHP per head 10pax)

I didn’t get to experience this since they required about 10 people to use this facility. I only got a sneak peek of this area. What I did saw was a great view and separate bathrooms for the males and females. One can either dip in the hot and bubbly 10-seater eternity Jacuzzi pool overlooking a lagoon, get all hot and steamy in the sauna, or simply sit down, relax, get a foot or head massage and breathe in all that order.

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Forest Putt Mini Golf (50PHP & 150PHP for night golf)

It’s an 18-hole putting course with lush landscapes and life-sized animals, this is suitable for the young and old especially for those who like golf. I found this quite amusing considering that I have never played golf in my life and that this was my first time. P.S. my golfball reached their lettuce garden and I dare you to do a hole-in-one with their version of Mt. Kitanglad.

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Other activities which I may have excluded would be…

Barrel Train (50php)

Age does not matter in this ride! Towed by an ATV is a train of animal inspired barrel that can hold up to 1 adult and 1 child at a time. It’s a 10-minute tour around the park. Safe for the little ones and the not so little ones!

Bungee Bounce (150PHP) & Net Trampoline (50PHP for 5mins.)

Once you cross the bridge, it’s a playground and the Forest Luge that awaits you on the other side. Soar up in the air up to 20 feet high, strapped in a safety harness, in the midst of cool weather and a scenic view of the mountains. Take note that they have maximum weight capacity of 30kgs. So you could say let’s just leave it to the kids…unless you’re really petite.

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Boohoo no trampoline for you.

Horseback Riding (100php for 15mins.)

This isn’t part of their activities but I included this here if ever you’re in to try some horseback riding. This one was at 100PHP for 15 mins. You can find these outside of the Forest Park right by the parking area. I got to talk to a kid named Kimkim who said that he helped out during the weekends. I could see how much he cared for the horses. IMG_0374IMG_0382

So that’s about it! This place is very much recommended for families of varying sizes be it large or small, group or corporate meetings or just about anyone looking for a scenic adventure. Long walks are the norm here considering that all activities require every crevice of  your body to work! Warm-up exercises surely would help to anyone who hasn’t moved their butts in ages (like myself?haha).

Check out my other Dahilayan related posts:

How To Commute To Dahilayan Forest Park

I know the best way to get to Dahilayan Forest Park would be to have your own transportation but where’s the adventure in that? I originally had my day planned by taking the shuttle bus early in the morning but there are just some circumstances that can disrupt those said plans. In short, I MISSED THE BUS. Chill. Don’t panic. You have two options which can get you from Cagayan De Oro to Dahilayan by following these steps.

First Option. Take the Shuttle Bus

via Magnum Express
This is for those who want to opt for something stress-free. All you got to do is go to Limketkai Center and ask to be dropped off by the Magnum Express Shuttle Service. Their daily shuttle schedule is always at 9:00AM . Their rate is at 249PHP only so it’s quite affordable. This one was my personal choice. For details and reservations, contact (0999) 888 7999 or (088) 8521 999.

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via Zipzone Shuttle
This is only available every Saturday. There’s a Zipzone Shuttle from Cagayan de Oro to Dahilayan Adventure Park from 8:00-8:30 AM, at Coffeworks in Divisoria. So please make sure you get there earlier than that. Their round trip fare is Php 350.00 per person. Their Dahilayan to Cagayan de Oro trip leaves on the same day at around 3 to 4 PM. For details and reservations, contact 09228801319.

Do make sure you arrive there before their said time or you will definitely miss it (which happened to me having only arrived less than 3 minutes late). Also being early is actually a plus so you won’t have to wrestle your way in fitting their seats (which often happens during their peak seasons and/or weekends). The total travel time is a about an hour and thirty minutes. Fret not, both buses are air-conditioned and the views are worth glancing.

 

Second Option. Take the OTHER bus, jeep or van….and a habal-habal ride!

This is the rather adventurous option. First thing you do to is to go to the Agora Bus Terminal/Market City and take either a van or jeepney ride to Brngy. Camp Philips, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. The van terminal is located outside Mang Inasal while the jeep terminal is at the nearest corner. I took the bus going to Bukidnon. They had two buses you can choose from. One with a portable bathrom which costs at 120PHP while the other had none which costs at 50PHP only. Both were airconditioned, bet you knew which one I took. Yep, peed in advance and opted for the second bus.IMG_9988

Travel time was at 30-40 minutes. Also, let the driver and conductor know that you’re going to Dahilayan. They will drop you off by the highway where there’s a lot of motorcycle drivers haggling to take you to Dahilayan. Make sure that you pick out a motorcycle that’s registered because by the time you get to Camp Philips, they become stricter especially towards unregistered motorcycles (like the one I unfortunately rode) and will force you to take a detour. The Habal-habal (motorcycle) fare is around Php 150 per person, depending on your negotiation with the driver. They do offer a back and forth trip for 300PHP for one person.
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Passing through a field of pineapples! This is where the Del Monte Pineapple plantation is located and yes the plantation stretch far and wide with spiky plants as far as the eye can see!IMG_0015IMG_0008

Me hugging their huge ass pineapple at Camp Phillips before a military guy told us to take the detour. Ugh. What a bittersweet moment to hug a pineapple in the middle of a roundabout. He blocked us from entering because he found out that the motorcycle we were on wasn’t registered, YET. So we had to go back and follow another road. T_T
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The  views here were breathtaking. So much mountains and the lush greenery in the area plus the weather was cold yet sunny at the same time. Tie your hair or you could get that ‘mahangin sa labas’ look. Be aware that the road could get rough and dusty in some portions of the route.IMG_0077

Me going nuts over the animal statues. If you wanna read up on where I stayed. click here!

Check out my other Dahilayan related posts:

A Dahilayan Forest Park Weekend via Traveloka

The all around cool breeze blanketed in clouds and mountain ranges. Towering pine trees and lush meadows as far as the eye can see.  This is what it means to be in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. A scene you’d never expect to see here in Mindanao and yet here I am off to spend a weekend here enjoying all it had to offer with the touch of a button thanks to an app with the best deals! More below.

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I stayed at Dahilayan Forest Park Resort! Located at Barangay Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich Bukidnon. It is nestled at the foot of Mount Kitanglad 4,700 ft. above sea level. It’s the ideal tourist destination for  families and groups with its wide array of activities which I’ll talk about later on in this post. Check-in time was 2PM while the check-out time was at 12NN. Here’s an added bonus, all checked-in guests were entitled to a 10% discount for each of their rides and activities!dahilayan9 I booked a standard room which was good for a maximum of three people. They had various room sizes to choose from which had different amenities. The one I stayed at was quite simple (no air-conditioning and TV) but that didn’t matter since my main goal was to actually disconnect from civilization by living in the mountains and the weather was currently at a very cold spell due to the LPA which resulted in a colder than usual climate. But then again this is Bukidnon with temperatures ranging from 18 to 28 °C above sea level. dahilayan5dahilayan14The room was well lit and I was in the third floor so it was quite cool and breezy. It included a ceiling fan which I never turned on because temperatures were almost freezing at night especially when you opened the windows. The room I booked had two beds (one queen sized and the other was a single bed). The only negative thing I could say about my stay was their daily housekeeping. I placed the ‘make up room’ sign prior to starting my day. I then called the hotel concierge as well requesting for my room to be made up. Sadly, when I got back after 4-5 hours, my room still wasn’t made up. Called them again asking for a follow-up and left the room for two hours but yet to no avail the room wasn’t still made up. I called the hotel concierge twice after and waited until 7PM but housekeeping never arrived. I do hope they would improve on their communication with housekeeping next time because there would be some guests who would find this unacceptable.dahilayan8
With all the fluffy pillows and comforters to myself, now it was the most comfy haven. The bed was so cozy, it was tempting to leave the room but I had to tell myself that now isn’t the right mindset to be lazy. Did I tell you they also had a complimentary breakfast that was good for two people. Mind you, they only served this until 10AM so you better be early or you’ll miss out on this one. Here are the other room amenities as well which I have listed:

  • Wi-fi (I was informed prior to my booking that there wouldn’t be wi-fi but surprise!)
  • Ceiling fan
  • Hot & cold shower
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos and TP)
  • Lots of towels
  • Electric kettle
  • Drinks (bottled water and instant coffee)
  • A phone.

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They had the Forest Park Cafe which served various comfort food and drinks at affordable prices. They also had a small sari-sari store for those simple needs like chips and other things you name it. The souvenir shop was nearby as well, which also sold iceberg lettuce aside from the usual knick-knacks. Their dining area was quite spacious and it looked more like a mess hall camp. No complaints here because the view was awesome and it was an open area. The staff were very accommodating and swift. As for the food, I splurged a bit considering that this weekend of fun required a lot of energy and energy comes from FOOD. I’ll talk more about it!

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Okay, so now we’ve come to the part where you want to find out how I booked this place affordably. It’s all thanks to…

*drumroll* dundundun…

A trusty hotel and flight booking app called Traveloka!
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It’s quite easy to use too! Plus they have their own coupons to which members can apply upon check out for a discounted price. Here are several screenshots during my actual booking. It takes 4 steps to complete your booking which are Book > Review > Pay > Voucher.

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First thing I did was search the area for hotels and pick out which one suited me. Input in your check-in date and how many people and how many days will one be staying. I chose Dahilayan Forest Park Resort and then I clicked SELECT ROOM. Take note that they also have special codes which you can use to get discounts which you can find at their homepage screen!

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After that you just select the needed options such as I’M BOOKING FOR MYSELF and then you can review and click CONTINUE TO PAYMENT. It then goes to a screen where you can type in your coupon code for a discount.

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You can pay through the following:

  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • Dragonpay
  • 7Eleven
  • Cebuana Lhuilier
  • ML Kwarta Padala

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You can then await for the confirmation and in a couple of minutes you also get an SMS which would be your voucher summary as a confirmation that your booking was successful.

Experience the fastest way to book flights and hotels thanks to Traveloka!

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You can download it free:
appstoregoogleplay


Check out my other Dahilayan related posts:

Staying at Red Planet Hotel Cagayan De Oro

Cagayan De Oro has always been the nearest place to travel to when you’re searching for hard to find goods from food to clothing and just about anything else you can think of as long as you have the stamina to walk wherever you want to go the whole day. I decided to book an overnight stay at Red Planet Hotel Cagayan De Oro instead of traveling late at night back to my hometown. Thanks to a new app I discovered while searching through the interwebs, I booked this hotel for just 885PHP only! Sweet. Just scroll down if you want to know more about how I got this at such an affordable rate!

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Red Planet Hotel CDO is a ten story hotel located at Claro M. Recto Ave, Cagayan de Oro, 9000 Misamis Oriental. This is just right by the highway and is easily identifiable by a neat boxy looking red and white building. They have a total of about 159 rooms. The hotel facilities include a meeting room, disabled facilities, 4 wheelchair accessible rooms, and a car park.  It is also situated at a very accessible area when you’re the type to go out and about. It’s just a 5-minute walk to Centrio Mall and a 10-minute walk from the Capitol University Museum of Three Cultures. There’s also the Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village, Xavier University Folk Museum, and La Castilla Museum.

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Their lobby slash lounge area is quite spacious and sleek. There’s Wi-fi and you can comfortably wait while they search for your booking just like what they did with mine. The staff are very friendly and welcoming, a thing I like to take note of. They sell toiletries if you’re in a pinch and didn’t bother to get one or maybe just forgot. Their check-in time is at 2PM while the check-out time is at 12NN.
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I was at room 911 (talk about a fancy number eh?). It was a non-smoking room and the key card is your lifeline here from the electricity, lock to your room and even the elevator so don’t just carelessly leave it anywhere. The corridors and elevators were very tidy and cool. Check out the room!
IMG_9183First of all, don’t  you just love the very skin friendly and ample lighting here? Above the bed is a large enough mirror and across it is the TV (I love watching cartoons btw). This is their double room which can accommodate two guests and this is their standard room, you can also opt for two single beds if you’re with a friend. Room service is available and breakfast is optional.
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As you may have noticed in the photo, the bathroom door is made of glass. Don’t you think this as a bit odd? The space was fine considering that the shower area and the toilet was clearly separated by glass and not just some plastic shower curtain. They got hot & cold shower too and a bidet for a clean tushy! IMG_9191
All rooms have free high-speed Wi-Fi, quality custom-made beds with upscale linen which is quite comfy, theres the usual air conditioning and many other features like a workstation, an in-room safe, a hair dryer, a ceiling fan, and a 32-inch flat screen cable TV. Those who have children age 11 and under stay at no cost with an adult!

Okay, so now we’ve come to the part where you want to find out how I booked this place affordably. It’s all thanks to… *drumroll* dundundun…

A trusty hotel and flight booking app called Traveloka!
Traveloka_2014What does Traveloka do?

It’s a booking app that’s very easy to use! Plus they have their own coupons to which members can apply upon check out for a discounted price. Here are several screenshots during my actual booking. It takes 4 steps to complete your booking which are Book > Review > Pay > Voucher.7
The first thing I did was search the area for hotels and pick out which one suited me. I chose Red Planet Hotels and I was in luck because they had a promo voucher which discounted up to 700PHP for hotel rates! After that you just click NEXT and fill in the needed details.
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You can pay through the following:

  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • Dragonpay
  • 7Eleven
  • Cebuana Lhuilier
  • ML Kwarta Padala

Experience the fastest way to book flights and hotels thanks to Traveloka! IMG_9237

 

You can download it free:
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Swimming to Languyon Falls

One had to take a swim just to get to this hidden gem of a waterfall which is popularly called Languyon Falls. It is located in Barangay Pugaan, approximately 14 kms from the city proper. The name of the falls itself comes from the Bisaya word ‘languyon‘ which means ‘to swim’ in English. Therefore someone, make that everyone will have to take a dip just to see the waterfall itself, unless you can fly.
languyon14languyon16We started our trek around 7AM which was supposedly earlier than that but we hit delays that time. We were a group made up of seventeen sturdy men and women with the zest for conquering new lands! I was looking forward to this adventure because it has been a long time since my last trek and this one had rainbows at the end caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light…okay enough with the geek speak, I will continue on with the story. (p.s. no  visible rainbows were involved actually)languyon11languyon10

A couple of minutes into our trek, we passed by a community of locals who we greeted cheerfully. After that, we had to cross a bridge. Little did I know that would probably the most easiest thing to do for the day. We passed by a farm which grew passion fruit at the entrance. The view was refreshing with a farm to one side and the opposite, a flowing body of water. Up ahead we had to pass by a Durian tree, I will admit that it made me think of the possibility of dying in a freak accident by a falling fruit. You should check out this post so you’ll know what i’m talking about! Our route was to follow the river. It would probably be the preferred path since it’s safer and you get to cross streams and having your feet soaked by cool water is a blessing while walking an arduous trail.

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The river was laden with rocks of all sizes from boulders you had to climb on and even fossils. We also had a marine biologist on our flank, he told us that some of these contained fossils that were millions of years old.languyon2languyon7languyon4

languyon17languyon20You can either climb the side of the gorge if you prefer to not get wet (for a short time) or you could do an 80 meter swim to the opening. I chose the latter, except that I floated. This time, I safely placed all the things that should be dry in a resealable bag and placed my backpack in a large dry bag I brought along with me. It was relaxing just floating along the way, the current wasn’t so bad. I held on to my dry bag and even want back and forth just to help out a fellow trekker by handing him a random log which served as his flotation device. Here’s the silly part though, I lost a shoe!   I don’t think I tied them up tightly and I may have dropped it on my first crossing. I was worrying at the back of my mind about how difficult this was going to be once we turn back and head home considering how challenging our traipse was going here. The jagged rocks and wicked boulders… What is a girl to do? Take a leap of faith! languyon3One had to also bring a rope once you get to the opening because the current was slightly stronger and the waters were deeper. We left our things to the pit stop rock. Here, we prepared for the next course. It is best advised though to use a life jacket in case you’re not that much of a swimmer. A rope had to be used and you had to use your strength to carry your weight while going against the current. I found this part yet another challenge of fun! It’s not as worse as Gollum though. Once you reached the opening, you had to carefully step on the rocks because some parts were quite slippery. We did not forget to also look out for our fellow trekkers. Keep in mind that it isn’t just your adventure but the adventure of the group as well. I caught sight of Languyon a couple of backstrokes later and it was very well hidden. I couldn’t reach it because the waters seemed slightly deep already and the rock faces looked slippery. The height of the falls was at about 15 feet and I could say the trek was worth it with all the challenges involved. It seemed like a secret cove where only the curious will ever reach. This was also said to be one of the main water sources of the Tubod river. Rock faces on both sides and not a hint of human alterations. There was even a medium sized python resting in between the rocks. I remember the pebbles there were quite smooth that it tickled my soles.

Photo by Bobby Timonera

Photo by Bobby Timonera

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After taking photos and just simply resting there while absorbing the tranquil feel of the place. We went back to the pit stop rock one by one with the help of the rope. We excitedly had lunch and talked about our personal experience of the day’s activity. Thankfully, our trek friend Dotdot offered to let me use his sandals because he wanted to practice barefoot trekking for an upcoming marathon. Thank you Dot!

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I was very thankful for that. I need to stress this out though, do not forget to always remember this saying…

 Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

So please, whenever you go to places like these, just bring your trash with you and don’t just throw your plastics anywhere. Always pick up after yourself.languyon15 The weather was starting to get balmy so we hurriedly made our way back before it got even hotter and by the time we reached back to civilization, we were already tired as ever but the feeling of accomplishment was very much felt. Be prepared from head to food but always anticipate many unexpected things to happen!

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Crediting several photos and footages to:
Bobby Timonera
AyosaOi

Climbing Down and Over to Gollum Falls

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I don’t usually take selfies, but when I do…

I have been wanting to reach this place ever since I’ve heard of it just last September. It has been infamously nicknamed as ‘Gollum Falls’ (though not official…yet) because to get there, you have to re-enact a scene from the Lord of The Rings movie wherein Gollum goes down to the forbidden pool to catch a fish, so juicy sweet! Now to continue on with my story…

Dotdot, a fellow trek buddy called me up all so suddenly in the wee hours of 7:30 in the morning just to let me know if I wanted to come along with them to visit Gollum Falls right after they gave out framed family photos sponsored by Umbrella, a photography group in Iligan. The meet up time was 9AM sharp and in just a few minutes I made up my mind and went along with it! I packed light and wore white which was something I should not have foregone against my better judgement. Our trek team that day was composed of nine fellows, six who have not yet ventured the area namely Ace (the very prepared looking dude), Aubrey (the adventurously timid photographer), Nj (the graceful lead), Jophet (the friendly support!) and Lupe ( the youngest of the group). The experienced three would be Rio (our guide), Dotdot (not his first time here but one of the excited of the lot) and Sir Bobby Timonera (Boy Kubal the trail runner).

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The path going to Gollum falls was a two hour trek which as slightly tricky as we went farther along. It started with us going off road once we met up with our guide Rio who is originally a habalhabal driver in the area. We passed by shallow streams, haughty carabao glances, plain grasslands, rocky areas and even a hanging bridge which rocked left and right for every step you took.  Just as we were at about midway through our destination we passed by some kids dunking their heads on the stream trying to catch hito or catfish with their makeshift spear gun. Talk about childhood…

Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum33Photo credits to Bobby T.

This is no walk in the park. The pictures posted here recounts the various flora and fauna found on the way. You can see the streams are pretty clear and the terrain is pretty tricky. Proper footwear is advised. The sturdy kind that sticks to your feet well without giving you blisters. Bring water too! Hydration is essential on long treks. If you’ve got a sensitive stomach like me then don’t risk drinking the water in the area unless it has been boiled.

gollum2Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum34

By this time we were slightly straining our breaths because we had to climb uphill at about a 45 degree angle. The trail was very steep and rocky so one had to carefully climb up while making strategic foot placements. It literally was a breath of fresh air and nature has more than ever looked so inviting in my eyes. The harder the climb, the bigger the anticipation! As you can see from the photo below, this was the final path to get to Gollum falls and the reason it was called that. One had to scale down a rocky crevice with an estimated height of about 30 feet. It was definitely a requirement to bring a rope! There are two tiers one should climb but, you can rest midway. There are roots you can hold on to and the rocks are very ‘grippable’, mind you it can be a little risky should they break of during your climb.

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This is Gollum falls. It may not look it but there’s a part of the pool that’s pretty deep and so far hasn’t been measured how deep it goes. The rocks here are slightly slippery because of the growth of moss around the area. So be extra careful where you’re stepping especially when you’re at the mouth of the pool which connects directly to Dodiongan Falls below.

gollum27 Gollum falls on one side and downward to Dodiongan falls on the other. I strongly advise to not make any silly motions while you’re at the spot I am (photo below). One little slip will doom you to a romantic 20 meter fall to Dodiongan. I was also told that one can rappel down but I guess we’ll have to do that next time since time was a luxury during this trip. Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum37

Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.

Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum28

The waters were inviting me to go for a cool swim but I didn’t bring any extra clothing so I had to make do with just partially submerging myself. We are now officially at the top of Dodiongan Falls! Yay! P.S. I haven’t been to Dodiongan Falls yet but hopefully I can get to visit it sometime in the future. Do remember to always bring your trash, keep the place clean and no to vandalism!

Photo credits to Bobby T. We didn’t stay too long because some of our companions had other places to go to and had much pressing matters to discuss. I guess it was time to go back up through that crevice again. If you’re having a hard time, try being the nature photographer, sir Bobby T. (All photos with no watermark are of his own takes).   gollum29Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.

I tested my bouldering skills when we got back up again (do not attempt this though). This means I wasn’t aided with the use of a rope and purely relied on my hand and feet coordination to reach the top. This was an exhilarating experience for me and the surge of adrenaline was very much welcomed. Yes, the struggle is real but our guide Rio managed to walk in between the crevices like some Jackie Chan! Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.This particular waterfall was quite difficult to reach as well but not as tricky as Gollum’s. You had to traverse through huge boulders slowly just to get to this part. I find this a good photo op despite my slightly messed up state. Haha! Sir Bobby liked to call this one as Frodo Falls since this was found on the way and goes directly to Gollum Falls. gollum26gollum25Call me silly but don’t you think this flower slightly resembles something we’re all to familiar with? While looking through the interwebs, I have discovered that this is scientifically named Clitoria L. I know you know what I’m thinking. Hey! Wanna smell a Clittoria? HAHA. gollum23 gollum20

I got home by 2pm. Our total trek time was at about 4 hours. I cannot wait for the second visit! You could say this was definitely one of those secret falls one has to climb through canyons and cross streams just to get there. Mind you I will definitely bring my picnic basket the next time I come back!

Awkward me washing off tiny pebbles that got stuck in my shoe along the way. Photos by Bobby Timonera

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