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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! 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. It 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 which was JCI Lepa’s inauguration of new officers. 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? Early Muslims in the Philippines are said to have arrived at Simunul. The Sheik Karimul Makhdum mosque which is the first ever mosque in the Philippines is located here. 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. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen because it really is hot out there! 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!

To get here, one must have to rent out a boat. You have to haggle with the boat owner plus you’ll also have to cover for the fuel. This is recommended as a group outing since this place is quite isolated and the more, the merrier and cheaper also applies! Don’t forget to also bring food because there are no restaurants there and going to the beach can often make one quite hungry after travelling 2 hours just to get there.

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. Of all the things likely to happen. 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.
  • The phone signal is also scarce when you’re situated away from the city which I found out the hard way. 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!

On A Reset at Siargao, The Surfing Capital of The Philippines

No nudes at the Naked Island

Siargao’s Naked Island. No nudes though. Wanna read the tiny tidbits? Just click on the photo!

I’ve been away at a slightly longer time than expected dear reader! Good thing the frenzy to write is still at it’s peak period. I have also decided to write in a semi-organized way. This said post won’t be exaggeratedly long but will rather contain tidbits with where I and my travel buddies went to and the other fuddy duddy stuff. There may be a shameless selfie here and there but that is for you to find out! I’ve been wanting to travel to Siargao for a long time and would have supposedly gone there last September in time for its Surfing Fest but my body gave up on me *weeps*. My surfing skills on a scale of 1-5 is definitely at a 0 unless you count the ones where I do surf sleeping. Wanna read the tiny tidbits? Just click on the photo!

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Travelling to this little island proved to be quite a challenge with a total travel time of about 17 hours! Still, I guess it was worth it with the adventure in store for us. It’s not only the place for surfing but there are ideal places for non-surfers and are food inclined such as myself. There are also many places and scheduled events to go to when you’re the partying kind. The ratio to tourists and locals is quite high that you may actually think you’re at somewhere abroad. We actually went to two of them!siargaoD46sneak23sneak15shaka2sneak24

They told me it was silly to learn to surf there since the waves were of mammoth proportions and I’d be swept away the moment I try to stand on the board! They were wrong! Siargao is absolutely the best place to learn how to surf with all the locals there being competent surfers and very much willing to teach you a thing or two about it! The island vibe really got me. I wish to stay longer next time but for now, I’ll be sharing my four day travelogue going to/while/leaving the surfing capital of the Philippines! There are so many things to do there and so many places to see. I only stayed about four days and am longing to go back already!

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Wanna read the tiny tidbits? Just click on the photo!

Photo credits to: The ideal travel buddies someone like myself will ever have in this lifetime Leia Khu and Jessica!
Here is Leia’s very informative post pertaining to our travel: http://reiyakhu.tumblr.com/post/138023947140/siargao-travel-guide

Check out more of my Siargao related reads with:

 

It’s Daku Naked Island Hopping Time

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Photo by Leia Khu Bartolome

SiargaoD3zcThe best way to travel around the island would be through the use of motorcycles! Siargao Rentals is definitely the one to run to. We hit the boulevard at about 10AM. The waters were calm and clear and the weather was quite inviting. The familiar scent of the tangy sea got me all excited as we  walked toward the boat we were renting for our island hopping.

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Photo by Leia Khu Bartolome

Naked Island

First stop would be a 20 minute boat ride to Naked Island. Nope, no naked folks but rather some sort of sandbar just like Camiguin’s White Island! The only visible creatures there were a flock of seabirds which immediately took off when they sensed our human presence. The clear shallow coast around it is perfect for swimming activities but there are some hard corals on some parts too.SiargaoD3zdSiargaoD3zfSiargaoD3nSiargaoD3ze

It was a nice place to chill and spend some down time had there been no refuse. Sadly there were remnants which weren’t supposed to be there like rusty cans, fluorescent lights and a toothbrush? Srsly!? It’s not right to just irresponsibly leave these things behind. It’s a hazard with animals choking on them or other people accidentally stepping on the shards. I tried to put them in one place and I’m posting this photo as an awareness to other travelers who plan to visit there or at any beach. We have to be aware of our responsibilities to the environment. #LeaveNothingButFootprints

Daku Island

The next island on our list would be Daku Island whose name comes from a Visayan word which means big.The area offers a long strip of angled white beaches, breathtaking views and random greenery. They have cottages to rent that can fit a dozen people. The one we rented was at 300php. It’s the perfect place to chill for beach goers and absorb some natural Vit D. More pictures of our beach bumming below!SiargaoD3x

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Photo by Leia Khu Bartolome

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Before I let my silliness take over me, look what I found after I scratched my head… a micro sand moon and star! Did you know they also sell various seafood there ranging from 200-300php per bucket. They can also cook and prepare them for you in various ways at 50php per kilogram. We had grilled and ceviche-ed octopus, grilled Saang(spider shells) and a baby giant clam soup!

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Guyam Island

Ryan, Jess and I decided to leave earlier than the others to catch some surf time so we hitched a boat ride. Sadly we didn’t get to set foot at Guyam Island but we had the best glance! There’s Maligaya too! Pagoda’s house puppykal stowaway of the day. The sea was starting to get slightly troublesome because the waves were getting bigger! I tried my best to not get seasick by not looking at the horizon but rather focusing on the sea at hand. I’d compare it to a saltwater coaster ride though with the boat crashing on to huge waves while beyond it are more waves going at it as high as 15ft in barrels! If ever you’re in the island, try joining a S.E.A. Movement activity!SiargaoD3lSiargaoD3tSiargaoD3m

Midnight Buffet at Somethin’ Fishy

I could never be the most happiest food lover at 12AM a couple of days ago when my friends and I decided to wait for Somethin’ Fishy’s Midnight to Morning Buffet from 12 midnight to 10am. At the price of 199php for an Eat-All-You-Can affair now it is definitely a steal!

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We arrived there at around 11:30 and there were people already seated inside the premises. The area was spacious and the ceilings were high but the rows of long tables wasn’t too hard to miss. There were some that have already been reserved. I recommend you do that if you don’t want to have a challenging time looking for seating. The ambience was nice with theirSome hearty conversations and several minutes pass by and they ring on the buffet bells and a crowd of hungry eaters arise.

All the kerfuffle made us hungry like ravaging lions from a month long starvation period! Everybody wanted a piece of this and a scoop of that. Empty trays were bussed and refilled. We were caught up in the rampage. A good tip to keep in mind is to always look behind before taking a step. You might never know there would be someone or something you could bump into while in a frenzied state.

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I took a little bit of this and that and proceeded to what I thought I would be dining peacefully with a glass of margarita at the side. Nevertheless, hunger overpowered us and we devoured what was on our plate and took off for another round of food.

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There was a lot to choose from since they served over 40 types to choose from. The table started with different breads and spreads which moved on to the meats ranging from beaf, chicken and ham!

The salad table was abundant with….greens of course! and dressings. They also had the pancakes, waffles and french toast which I drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled some chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. A heavenly treat.

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There was something about the margarita mountain that made it a game to drink. Everytime I sipped, it fills itself to the rim. You really had to drink it at a fast pace or it might flood your table silently! It costs 50php only.

I wasn’t able to take photos since the crowd of people didn’t even up until we left the place! It was pretty tricky holding a camera steady with people pushing at each other and grabbing food off the trays.

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We ended going home at about 2AM since we were checking out of our hotel early. Here’s a master list of the things that can stuff your tumtum…

Starters: Pandesal, Loaf Bread, White Bread, Waffles, Pancakes,French Toast, Lumpiang Shanghai
Eggs: Spanish Omelette, Scrambled Egg, Egg Sunny Side Up,
Beef: Beef Tapa
Chicken: Chicken Pringles, Chicken Adobo,
Pork: Tokwa’t Baboy, Baked Ham, Bologna,  Pork Adobo, Pork Tocino, Sweet and Sour Pork, Pork Siomai,Cheesedog,Longganisa
Fish: Sardines in Oil, Daing na Bangus, Sardines in Tomato Sauce
Noodles: Beef Mami, Chicken Mami, Pancit Palabok, Pancit Canton
Porridge: Arroz Caldo, Champorado

Dessert: Puto Bumbong, Bibingka, Biko, Palitaw, Maja Blanca, Gelatin, Banana Fritters
Rice: Garlic Rice, Steamed Rice, Chinese Fried Rice

somethingfishy0Somethin’ Fishy

Location: Eastwood information center, Citywalk 1, Lungsod Quezon, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines Contact no. +63 2 421 6412

They Sell: Eat-all-you-can midnight to morning buffets from 12AM-10AM and lunch and dinner buffets and even Birthday Buffets. I hope to try the Seafood Dinner Buffet at 569php when I come back.

Price Range: 199 for the Midnight Morning Buffet and a 50php margarita.

 

(All food photos courtesy of the Somethin’ Fishy facebook page)