The Island of Fire – Siquijor 2017

The Island of Fire – Siquijor 2017

Siquijor is the 3rd smallest island province in the Philippines. Commonly known to be associated with witchcraft and sorcery, tourists would normally have second thoughts visiting this wonderful place. But with the rise of social media and commendable effort of the Tourism Industry, Siquijor is now known for its awesome beaches and pristine waterfalls aside from it rich historical background.

Our 2017 Siquijor Travel Experience:

Since we were home for the holy week our point of origin was Bantayan Island. And after spending some time in our home town we took the 1st trip of the roro vessel that would take us back to Cebu City. Upon arrival, we headed directly to Cebu South Bus Terminal and were able to catch a bus directly bound for Dumaguete via Bato (Port) – Tampi (Port) route.

roro vessel at Bato Port

Arriving in Dumaguete City at around past 5PM, we hurried to the Port hoping to still be able to catch a trip to Siquijor. Unfortunately the next trip for Siquijor was already scheduled on the next day so we had to stay for a night in Dumaguete.

On the next day we were not able to catch the earliest trip bound for Siquijor, Siquijor so we opted to take the next earliest trip of the Fast Craft Vessel bound for Larena, Siquijor scheduled at 9:40AM.

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fast cradt bound for Larena Siquijor

At Larena Port, there are already plenty of tricycle drivers welcoming the passengers and offering their tour packages. Day Tour packages in Siquijor are already standardized so there is no need for you to haggle with the driver/guide for the price. Since we were only four in a group we availed of the tricycle tour for php 1000.  The tricycle can actually accommodate a maximum of six persons.

Places we visited:

Lazi Church

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Lazi Church

San Isidro Labrador Parish Church commonly known as Lazi Church was built out of sea stones and woods in 1884. It was declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 1984 and was also declared as a National Cultural Treasure in 2012 by the National Museum.

Salagdoong Beach

entrance at Salagdoong Beach
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diving board at salagdoong beach

As explained by our guide, Salagdoong Beach got its name from the two word salag meaning nest, and doong, a specific kind of bird that frequented the place. The beach is located in Maria, Siquijor and is famous for its two cliff diving spots.

Cambugahay Falls

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3rd level of Cambugahay Water Falls

A three-level waterfall with light green waters, Cambugahay Falls in Lazi is also one of the famous tourist attractions in Siquijor.

Enchanted Balete Tree

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fish spa experience at enchanted balete tree

Located just along the Circumferential Road in Lazi, Siquijor, this balete tree is believed to be more than 400 years old. It is famous not only for its age and size but also for the cold spring streaming into a pond on its base where people can enjoy an instant fish spa by just dipping their feet in the water for a fee of php10.

Capilay Spring

Capilay Spring is a public spring park located in San Juan, Siquijor. Located just along the road and just across San Juan’s Municipal Hall, this park is frequented by locals because of its clear and refreshing natural spring water.

Cang-isok House

Located along the shore just a few meters away from the Circumferential Road in Brgy. Libo, Enrique, Siquijor, Cang-isok House is considered by the locals to be the oldest surviving house in the province believed to have been built in the mid 1800.

Siquijor Mangroves

Mangrove trees

I am not sure the exact location of this area in Siquijor but after we passed by Cang-isok house we saw these two cute mangrove trees so we requested our guide to stop for a while for us to take pictures.


Expenses:

FARE:

Tricycle in Dumaguete – php 8/head/destination

Oceanjet Fast Craft  (Dumaguete-Larena/Siquijor-Dumaguete) – php 230×2= php460

Terminal Fee (Dumaguete-Larena/Siquijor-Dumaguete) – php 15×2= php30

TOUR:

Tricycle Tour – php 1000/4= php250/head

Entrance Fees:

Salagdoong Beach – php 25/head

Cambugahay Falls – php 10/head

Enchanted Balete Tree Fish Spa – php 10/head

Parking Fees:

Salagdoong Beach – php 25

Cambugahay Falls – php 20

Guide Fee:

Cambugahay Falls – php 100 (depends on the group how much you will give)


Siquijor definitely have so much to offer and a day tour is just not enough to experience the wonder of this island. But since we were still going to have a Dumaguete City tour on the next day, we traveled back to Dumaguete right after our day tour.

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Wandering in Coron: Twin Lagoon

Wandering in Coron: Twin Lagoon

One of the highlights of the ultimate island tour we availed during our Coron Trip was the twin lagoon. With its deep green water which is a mixture of salt and fresh water surrounded by towering lime stones covered in lush greenery, Twin Lagoon indeed is one of the must see in Coron, Palawan.

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outer lagoon

As reflected in the name, twin lagoon is composed of two lagoons. An outside lagoon that serves as docking area for the boats and an inner one where you can enjoy the waters.

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inner lagoon

The inner lagoon is accessible via a crevice. This small passage will be filled with water during high tide leaving you with only two choices – either to swim underneath or to climb up the ladder over the rock to reach the inner lagoon.

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the crevice and the ladder

The Lagoon is more or less a 30-minute boat ride from Coron pier and as you come nearer the entrance, you will be awed by the amazing stone formations around.

As we disembarked from our boat, I swam directly heading to the inner lagoon. The other tourists, since there was no raft around, were ordered by our guide to form a human centipede for easier and faster way for each and everyone to reach the inner lagoon.

human-centepede

Twin Lagoon is usually included in the ultimate island tours offered by various tour operators in Coron inclusive of entrance fee. But if you decide to go on a private tour, entrance fee is around php 100.


Things to do:

Swimming, snorkeling – fishes in Coron are quite territorial they would bite you whenever you come near their territory

Into the Ridge – Tarak Ridge

Into the Ridge – Tarak Ridge

For the second time, I gave in to the invitation of my sister to join them in another adventure in the mountains. This time the destination is Tarak Ridge in Mariveles, Bataan. I am more of a sea person but when I googled the place, an amazing body of water called Papaya River came into view so I pushed my doubts away and joined them on their two days one night adventure into the ridge.

We boarded a bus bound for Mariveles in Cubao and left Manila at around 12 midnight. We arrived at Brgy. Alas-asin around 4 am and as SOP, we registered at their Barangay Hall and paid the corresponding registration fee of which I could no longer remember how  much and had our early breakfast shortly after.

The trek from the highway to papaya river was an easy one. Just a typical long distance walk with some short climbs passing through some bent twigs and branches. The weather was not so good on the days before our trek so the trail was a bit muddy and slippery.

We reached Papaya River at around 9 AM. The rushing sound of the river was so relaxing it took away all the tiredness I felt from a more or less five hour trek. Since the river is the only water source in the area, we filled our water bottles first before we continued with our trek.

It was after passing Papaya River when my real struggle started. Climb after climb and it seemed like the steep trail was never ending. I had to held on to the twigs and branches of the trees around just to pull my self up. If it was a day tour I would have told them to just come back for me when they’re done at the ridge but unfortunately we would be staying overnight.

After almost 4 hours of struggle, my sister and I finally reached the ridge – we were the last one to arrive actually. We pitched our tent, and took some rest for more or less an hour and started our trek again, this time to explore the ridge.

cliff-solo

We were anticipating a night filled with star gazing and picture taking but it rained the entire afternoon until the evening. Wet from the downpour we just quickly changed clothes had our dinner and silently prayed for the rain to stop. Unfortunately, it rained until morning. A bit disappointed we took our breakfast and silently packed our things since it was time to go home.

Because of the rain, the steep trail was even more difficult to take. Quite a bunch of cogon grass I had to held on to that left some small cuts on my hand just to support my self not to slide down upon our descent from the ridge.

We passed by Papaya river once again on our way down and decided to stop by to take our lunch in the area and have some final dip. The water was too cold for me it was enough for me to just dip my hands.

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The bad weather might have ruined some of our plans for this adventure but still it was a wonderful experience. This was my first major climb and for a first timer to spend a night on the mountains on a rainy weather together with the sisterette and our awesome bunch of friends was indeed fun.

 

Shrine of St. Andrew Kim-Taegon

Shrine of St. Andrew Kim-Taegon

A certain post on FB about a Korean Temple caught my attention one idle Thursday afternoon. The intricate designs and the thought of having a Korean Temple an hour trip away from Manila made  my feet itch. My curiosity was sparked even more upon knowing that the temple is actually a shrine dedicated to a Korean Saint because I never thought that there is one. So three days after seeing that FB post, I was able to persuade my sister to come with me to fill my curiosity.

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The temple is actually a shrine located in Brgy. Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan. It was built sometime in 2009 and is dedicated to St. Andrew Kim-Taegon – the first Korean-born Catholic priest. 

St. Andrew Kim was ordained by Bishop Ferreol in Shanghai, China on Aug. 17, 1845, beatified by Pope Pius XI on July 5, 1925 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1984.

I have always been amazed by unique structures and this shrine is no exception but unfortunately, we were not able to explore the inside since it was closed.

Would have loved to know the specific details of each structure but I was too shy to ask the only Nun I saw during our visit, so I just took as many pictures as I can and reminded myself to google about the place when I get home.


Getting there:

From SM north take an SM Marilao bound UV express, fare is php 45/head. At SM Marilao, ride a jeep that would pass by Lolomboy and tell the driver to drop you off at McDo Lolomboy, fare is php7/head. Your landmark will be McDo and Jollibee (the only McDo & Jollibee that you would see along the way). Beside McDo is a small road with some sort of a waiting area and tricycle terminal. From there, you could opt to ride a tricycle or just walk your way to the shrine. We opted to ride a tricycle for a fare of php16 (both for me and my sister) but the shrine is really just a short walking distance from the main road.

 

 

 

Wandering in Coron: Kayangan Lake

Wandering in Coron: Kayangan Lake

Included in the ultimate island tour package we availed, Kayangan Lake was the 2nd to the last tourist destination we visited on our 2nd day in Coron.  Dubbed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines, I could say it has really lived to its reputation.

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Since the boats were docked along the bay, we had to hike for approximately 15 minutes to reach the lake. We passed through wooden walkways in the docking area and endured an uphill climb passing through the man made concrete stairs of approximately 300 steps. Midway through the climb we stopped by the view deck overlooking Kayangan Bay for some picture taking.

Upon reaching the lake, we were awed by the clear bluish green water surrounded by  walls of lime stones covered in lush natural greenery. The water was cold but just cool enough to refresh us after our 15-minute hike. We were not able to reach the farthest side of the lake since there was no raft on the lake when we visited. The lake is quite wide that it would take some time if one would opt to explore.

kayangan-lake

We spent just around 30 minutes in the lake since we were on a tour package, but indeed, swimming in Kayangan Lake is one of the not to be missed experience when wandering in Coron.

Kayangan Lake is usually included already in the tour packages offered by various tour operators in Coron inclusive of entrance fees. But if you opt to go on a private tour, entrance fee is around php200 per person.

Wandering in Coron: Concepcion Falls, Concepcion Pier & Malbato Chapel

Wandering in Coron: Concepcion Falls, Concepcion Pier & Malbato Chapel

On the 3rd & last day of our stay in Coron we decided to squeeze into our schedule visiting Concepcion Falls. We were able to hire Kuya Nestor, the friendly tryc driver who fetched us from the hotel for our scheduled island tour on our 2nd day in Coron. For php 1500 it was agreed that he will drive us from Coron town proper to Concepcion Falls and from Concepcion Falls back to Coron town proper.

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Mt. Tapyas

Located in Barangay Concepcion Busuanga, Palawan, the falls is just a short trek away from the main road. Since we went there early in the morning as expected the water was quite cold. (We left Coron town at 6:30 AM and arrived at around 8 AM) The place is clean considering that it has  no entrance fee but there is no proper restroom so better be on your swimming attire when you head to the place.

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Concepcion Falls

We spent almost an hour enjoying the water and taking pictures before we left. Upon Kuya Nestor’s suggestion, we did side trips to Concepcion Pier and Malabato Chapel.

concepcion-falls

Concepcion Pier was just a few minutes ride from Concepcion Falls. It is also where the Pierhouse Inn is located. After taking some pictures and enjoying the tranquility of the place, we then headed to our last destination – the Malbato Chapel.

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Concepcion Pier

Unlike Concepcion Falls, Malbato Chapel is already part of Coron. Located on top of a hill overlooking the sea in Sitio Malbato, Barangay Bintuan, Coron, Palawan the Chapel boasts of its unique facade made of stones and sea shells.

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Malbato Chapel

There was an on going mass when we went to the Chapel so we were not able to get inside to take some pictures especially of the bell tower so we just had our photo ops outside. 🙂 🙂 🙂

malbato

Since we still had a flight to catch later that afternoon, we did not stay longer and headed back quickly to Coron town proper.

 

Wandering in Coron

Wandering in Coron

I’ve heard of Coron the first time when a colleague and friend mentioned it to me last year. We were thinking of a place to wander that time but unfortunately the airfare was too expensive for our budget.My luck came later this year when another friend informed me of an airline sale that would take only php 3000 for a round trip ticket to Coron. So on the 23rd day of a rainy September month, my sister and I went off to experience Coron for the first time.

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The most photographed spot in Kayangan Lake

Coron is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan that comprises the eastern half of Busuanga Island and Coron Island. Considered the largest island in the Calamian Islands of Palawan, it is frequented not only by local tourists but by foreign tourists as well because of it’s world famous beaches and diving sites.

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view of the islets surrounding Coron from Mt. Tapyas

We only had 3 days and 2 nights to experience Coron.Too little time to explore so many wonderful places.With the limited time that we had, we tried our best to make our first Coron trip as memorable and enjoyable as it could be.

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Wooden Walkway to Kayangan Lake

Basically we only had an entire day to do island hopping so we chose the Ultimate Island Tour which includes 7 destinations for a day tour.

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Twin Lagoon

To summarize our 3 days 2 nights Coron experience you may see our itinerary & summary of expenses below.


3D2N Itinerary

Day 1

  • 10:35 AM – 11:15 AM – flight from Manila to Busuanga
  • 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM – travel from Busuanga Airport to Coron town proper
  • 12:15 PM – 4:30 PM – checked in at Backpacker’s Hotel, lunch, rest, booked island tour, wander around Coron town solo while waiting for sister’s arrival
  • 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM – Mt. Tapyas (walked from Backpacker’s to Mt. Tapyas)
  • 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Dinner
  • 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM – Maquinit Hotspring
  • 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM – back to town proper, bought food for breakfast and enjoyed Coron’s Baywalk
  • 10:30 PM – 11:00 PM – went back to hotel
  • 11:00 PM – lights out

Day 2

  • 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Ultimate Island Tour (Twin Lagoon, CYC Beach, Coral Garden, Atwayan Beach, Skeleton Wreck, Kayangan Lake, Siete Pecados)
  • 6:00 PM –  7:00 PM – went back to hotel, washed up and rest
  • 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM – dinner (walked from Backpacker’s to Kawayan Grill)
  • 8:00 PM – 8:30 PM – went back to hotel
  • 8:30 PM – lights out

Day 3

  • 5:30 AM – 6:30 AM – breakfast
  • 6:30 AM – 12:15 PM – Concepcion Falls Busuanga with side trips to Concepcion Pier & Malbato Chapel
  • 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM – back at town proper bought pasalubong, washed up, lunch
  • 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – travel back to airport
  • 3:35 PM – flight back to Manila

Expenses (for 2 persons)

Transportation:

  • Airfare (skyjet promo 3000RT) – 6000 (3000 x 2)
  • Van (airport to coron town proper 150/way) – 600 (300 x 2)
  • Tricycle to maquinit – 300 RT
  • Tricycle to Concepcion falls rt w/sidetrip to Concepcion Pier & Malbato Chapel – 1500 RT

Accommodation:

  • Coron Backpackers 3d2n – 1000 (500 x 2)
  • 1 hour extension at hotel – 50

Tour / Destination entance fees:

  • Mount Tapyas – Free
  • Maquinit Hotspring – 400 (200/head)
  • Coron Ultimate Island Tour – 3000 (1500/head)
  • Concepcion Falls – Free
  • Concepcion Pier – Free
  • Malbato Chapel – Free

TOTAL – php 12,850.00 (php 6425.00 / head)


Did not include our expenses for the Food but we tried Kawayan Grill (fresh seafood especially the tuna, the crocodile sisig was not so good for my taste though) & Big Mama’s (loved their mango shake). Basically cooked our meal for breakfast since Coron Backpacker’s Hotel offers free use of their kitchen also with free drinking water. And for the island tour, lunch was already included in the package.

Mt. Tapyas signage visible from the main Road

Generally I could say Coron town is a safe place even for female travelers with friendly and accommodating people.

Prices for the tours are standardized and there are plenty of tour packages to choose from and plenty of tour operators.

Tagalog is widely spoken. Mode of transportation around town is tricycle that could accommodate 6 people at php10 per head for shorter destinations but one could actually walk around town with no hassle.

Will definitely go back to experience more of Coron and other neighboring islands. :):):)