First Experience with Fake Money

Crooked people will sure find ways to do their evil deeds regardless of who their victims are. One good example is those who reproduce fake money. Sadly, me and a friend became victims of this deceitful act.

My friend, Dee, and I agreed to meet at a fancy restaurant to pay off an investment she bought from me. She handed me folded thousand peso bills which I did not bother to scrutinize each but I only counted it to ensure I received the exact amount. I trust Dee. She is a good friend so I was not worried at all. That was Saturday.

Monday afternoon, my husband And I decided to go to the mall to buy me some new clothes and as I was paying for my items, I handed the cashier a thousand paper bill from the stack Dee gave me. I noticed as I was handing the money to the cashier, the hologram is dark. I initially thought it was just burnt or damaged but I had a hunch already that the cashier will decline my payment. That’s what exactly happened but to my surprise, I found that the bill is not damaged but fake!

It took me a few seconds to admit that the money is indeed fake even if I already saw the uneven paper cuts on the edges. My initial reaction was I got worried. I know that Dee would never do such crime but I feel so worried that she might think I made this all up and also, I feel scared I might get in trouble because of it. I have below a photo of the fake money compared to the original money.

Fake money (top), Genuine Money (bottom)

At the onset, you won’t notice the difference because the paper used to print the fake money has the same thickness with real ones but it’s not hard to spot if you really pay attention to it. The edges is cut poorly exposing paper beyond the edges, the color is different,  size is a bit smaller and more importantly, the hologram and other embedded security features are missing.

Fake money, side A
Fake Money, Side B

As my husband and I are travelling back home, I saw on the streets, the sidewalk vendors who could be unsuspecting victims especially those who are old and with poor eyesight. What if it landed on the hands of these small vendors? I cannot imagine the dismay from those who makes just a meager income and be deceived by these evil beings.

I texted Dee to report what happened and she called  me to ensure that she will replace the fake money. She also narrated the three (3) cash transactions she did the day she got it. At this point, we don’t have any lead yet from where Dee got the fake money from.

A WORD OF ADVICE

While most of us are trying to make ends meet through noble means, crooked people still roam around, finding their next prey. The best we could do is to be vigilant and ensure that we are checking the authenticity of paper bills before accepting them. Also, if by a string of bad luck, a fake money landed in your hands, please do not attempt to get rid of it by tricking others. It may be a loss on your end, but let’s not create a ripple of trickery.

There are devices nowadays that can help you spot fake money such as this new basic phone I just recently purchased. It has UV light that allows me to see the hidden security features of money. It may seem crazy to have this feature added to a phone but I found that it is somewhat helpful especially to those who are exposed to a lot of cash transactions.

Basic Phone with UV Light. Sample of UV light over a 500 Peso bill.

Cebu Pacific’s Poor Customer Service – Worst Ever!

On our flight back to Manila from Legazpi, we were about 15 minutes late from the boarding time. We arrived at the check in counter at 12:10 while our flight is at 12:40. I saw the plane still parked loading some baggage. We were told that the boarding time was at 11:55, & we’re already late & there’s nothing they can do but to rebook me to the next flight back with additional costs. I politely asked the woman at the counter to please try to ask if they can still squeeze us in since I cannot afford to rebook and I have two kids in tow.

I was nice and polite at first but the woman at the counter pulled my string so I sort of made a scene which caught the attention of several other passengers who turned out to be just like me, rejected from taking the same flight. There is this one woman who got there earlier than I did and another traveling with 2 adults and 2 babies. We were all 9 who were denied to take the trip.

I understand that I should be at the airport 45 minutes prior to my flight and I got our tickets at promo rates (which made me feel even more insignificant) but you see, we have our own grind &reasons why we were not able to make it on time. We know you have policies & you don’t give a fuzz about our personal lives. But please let me emphasize that we paid for the tickets regardless if its on promo or not & as a paying customer, I should be given the service I deserve.

What was really disappointing about the entire situation was how we were treated by your staff in Legazpi City Airport. I politely asked the woman at the counter to please do something or ask someone if they would allow all 9 of us to still get in since we were so plenty. You staff never left the counter & never asked nor tried doing something. All that was implied was, if I don’t pay for the rebooking, they don’t give a fuck! To be honest, that was the worst customer service I received in my entire life. And what’s frustrating is I work as a Customer Service Supervisor for a company that provides the BEST customer service in the entire country & was given poor service from a reputable airline. It’s so disappointing how your service was so divergent despite your magnate standing in the industry.

All I ask from your staff is to go & ask someone. She never showed any empathy nor any implication that she’s gonna act on my concern. A guy (the supervisor) walked up at us & explained that he already submitted the documentations & he can’t do anything further. The plane was just there sitting, not moving, not starting, still loading in some baggages but we’re told that there’s nothing that can be done. They never even pretended to contact someone just to make us feel that they did their best. The woman at the counter never left her ground. I told them to do their jobs as customer servants & they said “We are doing our job.”

With late customers like us, I know you take advantage of selling the seats to waitlisted passengers & earn more in rebooked flights. No problem only if this was communicated to us. If your staff took the initiative (or even pretended) to find out if we can still make it or not & had the integrity of telling us the truth if our seats were already sold, I would have surrendered. They could have expound the true reason we were denied rather than telling me that “it can’t be done simply because we said so”

I have contacted you today to complain about your Legazpi City staff’s incompetence & ask for a refund for the service I was deprived of . Kindly train your staff in proper Customer handling & tell them to never ever treat your customers with discrimination & with little importance. After the incident, my Blood Pressure went up. Your staff have put me at serious health risk.

The woman at the counter’s name is Maricor Belen & the guy’s name is Mark Imperial. My flight was under reservation code O32SUB. OCT 27 Legazpi to MNL. 12:40pm to 1:45

https://sunkissedwater.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/cebu-pacifics-poor-customer-service-worst-ever/

A Day in Zamboanga

I haven’t seen much of Zamboanga during my recent visit.  This is due to too much pressed for time. I was sent there short notice by our company as a speaker to launch our new product category. The trip is purely and officially business and Its just a one day affair.

I was excited at first, learning that I was chosen to do this however, as the day comes closer, I was thinking that I should have declined the offer instead. I needed that weekend to relax and unwind. It wasn’t an easy week for me. Peak season is coming so that means more work for us in the office.

So anyways, I went on and took that trip to Zamboanga. I was seated in the middle of a 3-seater row so I didn’t get to see much of how the province looks like from a Bird’s Eye View. But as I got off the plane, I was welcomed by the airport building’s unique facade. That’s when I truly believe I am stepping on the soils of Zamboanga and of Mindanao.

I was picked up by our branch operator and brought to the office straight. I was not able to enjoy the view of the surroundings or rather, I didn’t really get to see a good one along the way. The city is urbanized, reminding me of Kalibo, Aklan. I don’t remember passing through a body of water so I was literally enclosed in the urban streets of the Zamboanguenos.

The heart of the city reminds me of Divisoria, minus the sidewalk vendors and the huge amount of people. Stores are everywhere, I haven’t seen a residential home and the road is too small making it easy for people to travel on foot. It seems like everything in the city is within reach. Shopping malls are all over. It was indeed a highly-urbanized area.

What surprised me is how the whole picture of Zamboanga negates my long-time conotation about it. All this time, I dwell on the thought that Zamboanga is filled with the traditional muslim people with scarves covering their faces. Prior to the trip, I even thought of bringing a scarf so I can chameleon in case I would be in trouble being the “outsider”. But well, I found out that I didn’t have to do that in Zamboanga City. Most people doesn’t wear pashmina or the scarves muslim people wear to cover their faces. Most are dressed in the usual shirts and jeans like what we see here in Manila. It’s nothing scary as I imagined.

What I was really amazed about being in Zamboanga is their dialect. They speak Chavacano and it’s a revolution of Spanish. I can clearly identify most spanish words from my Spanish class in college. People there speak the Language Fluently and I even thought to myself that putting up a call center solely for Spanish Speaking agents is a great idea here. It would be much easier to teach them Spanish. The language is not really 100% grammatically correct spanish. They have minor differences in terms of conjugation of words like, they don’t say “hablas, habla, hablamos, hablais, hablo”, which is common in spanish to identify the personal pronoun. Zamboanguenos only say hablar, the root word of ‘to speak’ for all other purposes.

The people I met in Zamboanga were nothing but pure beauty and goodness. I was treated there with true Filipino hospitality – warm, friendly and welcoming.

I was not able to go around the city. Like I said, I was pressed for time. I didn’t get to see the museums and tourist spots the city has to offer. I didn’t even get to check out the trades in their infamous barter market. I left the office at exactly an hour and a quarter prior to my flight back to Manila and I’m even satisfied that I was able to accomplish all the things I needed to do there. If only I was given more time.

Moreover, despite my trip to Zamboanga lacked so much to fill my memory bank with beautiful places, sights and views, my heart was filled with so much joy and warmth from the people I interacted with when I was there. Other than the beautiful sights and surroundings the Philippines have in store for its travelers and tourist, the people is another thing we can be proud of. I am very much appreciative of the wonderful people I encounter in each trip I make and that’s what keeps me coming back over and over. A beautiful experience is not only about how much beauty your eyes’ been filled, it is really measured by how great your experience was being there and that’s what’s truly matters.

With that said, I can say that my trip to Zamboanga is nothing but a wonderful experience to cherish forever. How I wish I could be back there again and be given the opportunity to see more.

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Coron Experience

I booked a flight to Coron about 6 months back. Nakuha ko ito sa promo ng Air Philippines. Airfare for Kiko and I’s roundtrip transfer (Manila-Busuanga-Manila) costs us only P1,600 total. Super cheap!

Hindi na sana kami tutuloy. Una, madami engagements si Kiko sa work. Pangalawa, limited budget. Pero last minute, may blessing na dumating. We received a decent amount of extra income which made us secured para sa 4-day trip na ito.

I wasn’t really excited about the trip pero tumuloy pa rin kami kasi sayang ang opportunity. Kung hindi namin ito itutuloy, hindi ko alam kung kelan na ulit masusundan ito.

We consider this trip as an adventure. Backpacker kasi kami ni Kiko this time compared to our recent Boracay trip where everything is arranged for us. Hindi ako nag-book ahead sa anumang accomodations and island hopping packages.

Busuanga Airport

Our adventure started paglabas namin ng Busuanga Airport. We have to ask the tourist help desk on what to do next. We were led sa van stop where several vans are lined-up to bring guests to Coron town. Van transfer costs P150 per head per way. Tahimik kami sa byahe. Travel to town is approximately 45 Minutes. Smooth naman ang ride. Kapansin-pansin ang mga under construction bridges nila. Karamihan sa mga tulay ay made of wood o kaya naman ginagawa. May rough road din pero konti lang.

Hindi kami masyado nag-uusap ni Kiko on the way to town kasi na o-overpower kami ng kasabay naming pasaherong mag-asawa na nakikipagkwentuhan sa driver ng van. Kung anu-ano ang pinag-uusapan nila and they seem to have some things in common.

Ang terrain to town is hilly. Walang kahit anong istraktura sa paligid. Ang makikita mo lang ay ang mga bundok na may mababang damo,  mga puno at kung anu-anong hayop sa paligid gaya ng baka, kambing, kabayo, manok etc.

Busuanga Terrain

Nalaman na lang namin na malapit na kami sa town nang may pakonti-konti nang istraktura ang nadadaanan namin. Napansin ko lang na ang mga mukhang mamahaling hotel e matatagpuan sa outskirts ng town.

Nang makarating kami sa town proper, I was expecting a town talaga na maraming commercial establishments na mataagpuan rin sa Manila. Pero karamihan sa mga negosyo dito ay mga maliliit na business ng mga taga-roon. Walang Ministop o 7-11. Pero meron naman silang banko- BPI. Yun na ang pinakasikat na alam ko. Ewan ko lang kung may BDO. Pero kung meron man, hindi namin iyon nadaanan o di ko siguro napansin.

Nang nagbabaan na ang ibang pasahero, tinanong kami ng driver kung saan kami. Sabi namin, di namin alam. Wala kaming reservation. Nag-offer siya na hanapan kami ng hotel pero ihatid muna namin ang mag-asawang kakwentuhan niya. Ibinaba namin sila sa isang hotel rin pero sabi nila, hindi daw sila doon tutuloy kundi sa maliit na bahay sa harap noon. Tinutukoy nila yung maliit na villa na gawa sa semento. Napakaliit nito na parang isang kwarto lang pero ang structure ay yari sa semento at moderno naman kung titignan. Nang makababa ang mag-asawa, sabi ni Kuya Kit, yung driver namin, sila yung may-ari ng Leslie’s, yung sikat na bulalohan sa Tagaytay. Sila rin ang kasalukuyang concessionaire ng Nestle Philippines, feeding thousands of their employees everyday. May mga restaurant din sila sa iba’t ibang probinsya. Namangha naman kami ni Kiko. Sa sobrang simple at bait ng mag-asawang iyon, hindi mo akalaing bigtime pala sila.

Sabi namin kay Kuya Kit, gusto namin sa hotel sa tabi ng dagat. Agad na naisip ni kuya ang Shirley’s Pension House. Nakita ko na ito sa net pero di ko naman masyado pinansin kasi wala sa budget namin ang rates nila. Pinilit naman ito ni Kuya Kit dahil siguro, iyon na ang pinakaconvenient na pension house sa tabi ng dagat.

Pagkatapos ng maiksing haggle-lan with the manager, we got our room at P1,000 per night. With aircon ito, cabled TV at private CR. Simple lang yung tinuluyan namin at malinis. Meron itong terrace overlooking Mt. Tapyas at ang dagat.

Panoramic View from the Terrace
Panoramic View from the Terrace
Sigle Shot Photo from the Terrace
Sigle Shot Photo from the Terrace overlooking the ocean
Shirley’s Pension House Terrace
A view of Mt. Tapyas from the house. Sorry for the Quality

Agad kaming nag-settle sa room at pagkatapos ay naghanap na kami ng makakainan. Sa isang karinderya sa tapat ng Shirl’s kami kumain. Ang ulam nila costs 30 to 50 pesos. May kamahalan. Medyo nagulat ako kasi I was expecting lower rates dahil probinsya iyon. Pero mahal halos lahat ng bilihin doon. Tubig na nga lang, P25 to P30 pesos dito sa Manila, doon P95.

Pagkatapos naming magpahinga ng mga 2 to 3 hours, lumab.as na kami ni Kiko para mag-cast sa tabing dagat. May lumapit sa aming isang grupo ng kalalakihan na tila na-curious sa panghuhuli ni Kiko gamit ang rod and reel. Medyo amoy alak sila kaya nakataas ang depensa naming mag-asawa. Pero habang tumatagal ang kwentuhan namin sa kanila, pumapalagay ang loob namin lalo na nang maalala ko ang ipinagmamalaki ng Coron – zero crime rate. In-offeran kami ng kausap namin ng fishing tour. Ipapasyal niya kami sa Islands para sa mga fishing spots. Iyon naman talaga ang gusto namin. Ako, sight seeing, si Kiko naman, fishing. We made it clear na ayaw namin ng mga aakyat-akyat kaya hindi na rin namin piniling puntahan ang mga lakes. He offered a whole day trip for only P1,300. Solo namin ang bangka.

The next day, maaga gumising si Kiko para mag-fishing. Sabi kasi ni Jan-jan, yung bankero namin, na maganda manghuli sa umaga dahil high tide. Ilang saglit lang, nakahuli na si Kiko ng kanyang first Lapu-lapu. Nakahuli siya ng dalawa that morning.

Kiko's First Catch: Lapu-Lapu
Kiko’s First Catch: Lapu-Lapu
Yin-yang
Ying Yang Lapu-lapu
2 Lapu-lapu and a crab
Lapu-lapu and the crab
Kiko's Early Morning Activity
Kiko’s Early Morning Activity

Bandang 9:00am, umalis na kami para mangisda. Dinala kami ni Jan-jan at nang kanyang parter na si Kuya, sa tabi ng isang isla doon para manghuli. Si Jan-jan maya’t maya nakakahuli gamit ang “pangawil” niya. Bottom fishing ito kung tawagin sa Angler’s vocabulary. Ito yung paraan ng pangingisda gamit ang nylon, hook at sinker lang. Fish meat ang gamit niyang pain. Si kiko naman, hindi pinapalad sa pangingisda niya gamit ang kanyang bait cast at spinner bait. Super enjoy naman ako sa pagtanaw ng magagandang isla at rock formations.

Panoramic view of an Island
Island View from our Boat
Island View
Closer Look at the Rock Formation. They said it used to be submerged under water.

Pagdating ng tangahali, ipinagluto na kami ni Jan-jan ng kanin at inihaw na Surat (Triggerfish). First time ko kumain ng ganung isda kaya naman hindi ko masyado na-enjoy. Pero in fairness naman, masarap siya. Hindi lang talaga ako adventurous sa pagkain. Kahit naman konti lang nakain ko, sa ganda ng nakikita ko sa paligid, hindi ko masyadong maramdaman ang gutom.

Afterlunch, ipinasyal na kami ni Jan-jan sa mga destinations doon gaya ng CYC beach, Culachichi Beach, Vivian Beach, Twin Lagoon, Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks at Siete Picados. Hindi na nga lang kami bumaba sa iba doon dahil ayaw nga namin ng akyat-baba at magbanat ng buto. Sa pagbalik na lang namin sa Coron ie-explore ito.

CYC Beach
A view from the Boat
An island
To Twin Lagoon
Beautiful Landscape
To Kayangan Lake

After our last stop sa tour, nagmakaawa pa si Kiko na magfishing pa. Dinala naman kami ng aming mga bankero sa isang isla doon. Pagpark namin, nagulat ako sa coral reefs na halos 3 ft lang ang lalim at natatanaw ko na ang mga makukulay na corals at isda. May Nemo at Dory pa nga eh (clown fish at blue tang fish). Sa spot na iyon naging sunod-sunod ang huli ni Kiko. Nagcontest na nga sila sa padamihan. Nanalo naman ang asawa ko. 🙂

Kiko getting ready to fish!
Coral Reef!
Another Beautiful Catch!

We called it a day ng bandang 4:30pm. Payapa na ang araw at hindi na masyadong umuulan. We headed back sa Coron Town. Nakahuli si Kiko ng halos kalahating balde ng isda which the resort manager graciously offered to cook. Medyo ginutom ako sa trip namin kaya after naming maligo, nagikot-ikot kami para magmeryenda. Nang malaman ko na lulutuin ni Kuya Jun ang lahat ng isdang nahuli namin, nanghinayang naman ako sa mineryenda namin. Kumain kami sa Esh Eatery. I ordered Clubhouse and Beef Mami while Kiko ordered Carbonara. Hindi naman masyadong remarkable and lasa kaya di rin sulit ang binayad namin na halos P300 para lang sa meal na iyon.

Pag-uwi namin sa Shirl’s, nagulat ako nang makita ang pinrepare ni Kuya Jun, ang Manager. He set-up a table with water goblet, chopsticks at white plates. It was an exceptional customer service!

Kuya Jun’s Set-Up

Kuya Jun prepared 4 dishes of Lapu-lapu. May Escabeche, Fried, Pinaksiw at Sinigang. Lahat masarap! I was so full!

A clear copy of the set-up

The next day, we went to town naman. We asked around kung ano ang mga magagandang puntahan doon. Sabi ni Kuya Jun, pumunta kami sa House of Casoy, Mt. Tapyas at sa mga aquarium ng mga buyers ng isda. Dahil 725 steps ang Mt. Tapyas, hindi na kami tumuloy doon. Pero pinicturan ko na lang yung street sign to Mt. Tapyas.

To Mount Tapyas Sign

Pumara naman kami ng trike (tricycle) at si Kuya driver was very accommodating. He took us to our destination and waited for us. Kung saan-saan pa niya kami dinala, gaya nang bilihan ng mga souvenirs. Bumili ako ng rainmaker, Coron souvenir sando, at keychains for pasalubong. Kinontrata rin namin si Kuya driver na sunduin kami sa Shirl ng 5:00pm para sa Maquinit Hotspring Tour.

House of Casoy

Pinuntahan namin ang Public Market ng Coron at doon kami nakabili ng mga pampasalubong na daing na pusit, danggit at boneless danggit. Bumili na rin kami ni Kiko ng malaking fresh pusit para ihawin. Ilang araw na akong nagke-crave dito. Pinaluto nga namin ito kay Kuya Jun at kasalo namin sila ng pamangkin niyang si Mac-mac kumain. We keep on asking “Magkano na atraso namin kay Kuya” for all the service. Ang sabi niya, hindi na raw kasi it’s his job.

Coron Market

Bandang hapon, Kiko and I strolled along Lualhati Park and met Mr. Luis Manalo. Part-owner siya ng Zipline and Floating Restaurant doon. Sabi niya, he used to teach Engineering sa FEU-Fern pero he retired na. He moved to Coron to take care of the business together with his wife. Tumambay muna kami ni Kiko sa restaurant niya ordered burgers and naki-wifi.

At Zipline Floating Restaurant

After an hour, we head back to Shirl’s para magpahinga ng konti at magready ara sa Maquinit Hotspring trip namin. Five minutes to 5:00 pm, Kuya driver arrived 5 minutes early. The transfer to Maquinit and Coron  cost us P300.00. May entrance fee pa sa hotspring of P150.00 per head. We stayed there for an hour.

Mangroves at the Maquinit Hotspring
Bridge within the Mangroves leading to the Ocean.
The Hotspring

That night, Kiko and I decided to eat dinner at a local restaurant. Akala ko mura based on the restaurant’s location at hitsura pero I was wrong. An order of common sisig is P195. A plate of Pancit is P100, an extra rice is P15 and a grilled pusit is P250. Similar pa rin sa prices in Manila.

On our last day, we just strolled around Lualhati Park and watch the Fun Run being held there. As we are waiting for our van to pick us up, nagtataka ako why I feel sad leaving the town. The beautiful sights are inconvenient naman kasi you have to take a boat to see them. There’s not much to see sa town. We were looking for museums, old churches, etc. pero wala naman talaga. Ang mamahal pa ng bilihin.

Fun Run

Then I came to realize that it wasn’t really the scenic view which made me feel sad about leaving Coron. It was actually the people. Sa lahat ng napuntahan kong lugar sa Pilipinas, it was in Coron where I met the nicest people! Lahat magagalang at mababait. Lahat handang tumulong ng walang hinihintay na kapalit.

I remember this one morning when Kiko’s Spinner Bait got stuck while he was retrieving it. The water level was high then so it’s impossible to see what tangled it. To our suprise, one manong who owns a boat made an effort to paddle his boat towards the line and tried to pull it. Kaya lang, it didn’t work. So Jan-jan, our bankero, took off his shirt and braved the waters. He instantly unhooked Kiko’s lure.  Kiko offered a tip to the manong. We are grateful for his efforts even if he didn’t got the lure. Pero he declined and even ran away para hindi na ipilit ni Kiko yung TIP. Kiko offered TIP to Jan-jan, pero Jan-jan gracefully refused. After nga ng island hopping namin, Kiko gave  P100.00 each for Jan-jan and his partner. They refused na naman pero after several attempts to give it, they took it. We agreed that they go back to get half the fish we caught but they didn’t return. They were already grateful for what we gave them. At si Kuya Jun naman, we gave him P300 tip for all the cooking and service. He was surprised and told us that it’s too much. He considered joining us in one of our meals a favor we did for him rather than him to us kaya naman sabi niya, our TIP is too much.

Kiko with Jan-jan and his partner, Kuya. 🙂
Kiko with Kuya Jun and Mac-mac

All in all, our trip to Coron not only filled our eyes with the beauty of nature at its finest, our hearts where filled with so much joy and appreciation for all the hospitality and genuine care the people of Coron had shown us.

Loving Coron

When we got back to Manila, there was this one guy who hailed a taxi for us. When he got one, he took my bag. I noticed that Kiko stopped and did not get in until the bag is secured in the compartment. That’s when I realized that I am already in Manila and I have to bring my defenses up once again.

Boracay Experience

Nagpost lang naman ako sa facebook tungkol sa plano kong mag-diet pero hindi ko alam na tototohanin pala ng kaibigan kong kausap ko doon ang pagsusuot ko ng two-piece soon.

Nagsimula sa isang makasaysayang post na umani ng maraming papuri ang pagpunta ko sa boracay. Ang kaibigan kong si Marie, nagcomment. Nagkapustahan kami na magto-twopiece ako pag pumayat ako. Hindi ko naman alam na uuwi na pala siya after a month sa Pilipinas.

Nagulat na lang ako nang bigla niya akong inaya sa Boracay. Syempre naman, para sa isang taong gaya ko na umiikot ang mundo sa bahay at opisina, kailangan ko ring magrelax at mag-unwind sa bagong lugar. Kaya naman hindi ko na pinalagpas ang pagkakataon.

Naka-book kami sa flight to Boracay via Zest Air last August 28 to 30. Kalibo route ang itinerary namin. Hindi namin na-realize na super hassle pala ang route na iyon. Ang flight namin is originally at 12:45pm ngunit dahil nag-check ako ng check-in baggage with the airline, nalaman ko na cancelled pala ang flight namin at naka-book kami sa next flight which is at 2:00pm. Buti na lang, binigyan din kami ng pagkakataon na i-rebook ang flight with no extra charge sa mas maagang trip which is at 7:45am. Kung sakaling hindi pala ako nag-inquire tungkol sa Check-in Baggage, hindi ko rin malalaman na na-move ang flight namin. At hindi rin sana namin malalaman until naroon na kami sa airport kung sakali.

So, we were at the airport 2 hours prior sa flight namin. Badtrip pa si Kiko kasi bumili siya ng locks para sa bags namin only to find out na sira yung isang lock na binili niya. So, naiwang unsecured yung bag niya.

We had a hearty but expensive breakfast at the airport. A meal of one viand and one rice costsP150. Hindi masyadong practical. However, nagkaroon naman kami ng moment to bond with Marie’s Australian fiance, Dave. Kahit medyo duguan na ilong namin, sige at practice pa rin ng ingles.

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Waiting at the Airport with Kiko and David

We boarded the plane at around 7:15am. Hindi naman masyadong nakakainip ang paghihintay namin. Mas nakakainip pa nga ang paghihintay ko sa pagupload ng picture dito. (hehehe!)

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Boarding at the Manila Domestic Airport

In fairness naman sa Zest Air, on time naman ang pag-alis namin. Hindi rin naman masyadong nakakainip ang byahe dahil in less than an hour, pa-landing na kami sa Kalibo International Airport. Na-enjoy ko naman ang magagandang tanawin ng ulap at ga-tuldok na mga bahay sa isla ng Luzon at mga karatig-isla nito. Natagalan lang kami sa paglanding kasi medyo malayo ang inikutan ng eroplano.

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Mabilis lang naman ang check-out namin pagdating sa Kalino airport. Hindi ito kasing arte gaya sa NAIA na andami-dami pang mga che-che-bureche. Hindi rin kami masyado nagtagal sa Kalibo dahil naroon na rin at naghihitay ang sundo namin na Island Star Express.

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Souvenir Shop at the Kalibo Airport.

Pinasakay kami sa isang malaking aircon bus papuntang Caticlan Ferry Port. It was a pretty long 2-hour drive. Pero hindi na rin namin naramdaman dahil nakatulog kami sa byahe.

Pagdating namin sa Caticlan Port, siningil kami ng fees then agad naman kaming pinasakay ng Ferry. Medyo na-seasick lang ako sa gewang ng ferry boat habang nakaparada siya pero hindi ko iyon ininda sapagkat excited na rin akong makatuntong sa isla ng Boracay. The ferry ride took us about 15 to 20 minutes lang naman.

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Ferry ride to Boracay Island

Pagdating namin sa Boracay island, Sinalubong na naman kami ng mga panibagong vans going to our Hotel. The drive was a quick 15mins travel.

Medyo hassle na lang nang makarating kami sa Hotel. Sa La Carmela de Boracay kami naka-book. Andaming guests na kasabayan namin ang nakaabang sa reception para magcheck in ng luggage at kumuha ng rooms. Siningil na naman kami ng Hotel ng P4,000 para sa dalawang rooms. Surety deposit daw iyon na refundable naman upon check-out. We were served our welcome drinks pero hindi pa kami allowed mag check in kasi 2pm pa raw ang check-in time. Mga 12:00pm or 1:00 pa lang ata yun. Dineposit muna namin ang gamit namin at nagliwaliw muna kami.

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At D’mall with husband, Kiko

Nilakad namin ang stretch ng Boracay to find D’mall. Medyo napagod nga ako sa kakalakad namin. Cluster siya ng mga shops at restaurants. Parang nasa siyudad ka rin. HIndi ko napigilang ihalintulad ito sa White Beach, Puerto Galera kung saan kaming mag-asawa ay madalas na nagpupunta noong hindi pa kami kasal. Mas maganda lang dito sa Boracay at mas ayos ang kapaligiran pero hindi naman ito nagkaka-iba. Kumpleto pa rin sa mga activities at kung anu-anong pwedeng kainan. Hindi ako masyadong natuwa. hindi rin ako makapaniwala na tinagurian itong ranked 1 sa best destinations ayon sa isang website.

Marahil siguro dahil naroon kami sa lugar kung saan maraming tao at kawing-kawing ang mga restaurants.   Parang hindi rin naman ako lumayo mula sa syudad dahil ang mga arkitektura naman dito ay classy talaga. Of course, classy is equivalent to pricey. Medyo nakamura na rin kami siguro sa La Carmela de Boracay pero ang walkathon naman para makapunta sa kabihasnan eh mala-mountain climbing sa layo.

Pagkatapos naming kumain at umikot para bumili ng swimsuit, board shorts at bag, bumalik na kami sa hotel kung saan ready na ang aming kwarto.

May kalakihan ang gusali ng La Carmela at sa hitsura nito, talagang na-maximize ang space ng property. May daan-daan sigurong silid ang naroroon. In fariness naman, may elevator din sila kaya kahit na nasa 3rd floor kami, hindi naman hassle ang pag-akyat panaog.

Malinis at simple ang mga kwarto. May dalawang double-sized bed ito na pinagtabi namin. May maliit na balcony, may cabled TV, airconditioning unit, cabinet at refrigirator. Kung hindi ka masyadong picky, pwede na ito. Mas maganda naman ito kesa sa ibang cheap accommodations na alam natin.

Nang makapagpahinga, nagbihis naman kami para mamasyal at mag-dinner. Dito kami nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na tumambay sa poolside ng Hotel. Maganda tumambay dito. Madaming makikitang tao, maganda rin ang service ng staff nila at dito rin kasi ang may wifi access kaya todo naman ang post ko ng photos sa instagram.

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La Carmela de Boracay Hotel Poolside (L-R Kiko, David and Marie)

After namin tumambay sa poolside, inexplore naman namin ang dagat ng Boracay. Hindi na kasi masyadong mainit nang bandang hapon kaya malaya kaming naglakad-lakad at nag picture-picture.

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Boracay Beachfront with Dave and Kiko

Dito ko talaga nakita nang malapitan ang sand ng Boracay. Kakaiba talaga siya compared sa ibang beaches na napuntahan ko. Mala-powder and sand nito at fine. HIndi siya ganoong kaputi gaya nang naiimagine ko. Parang mas maputi pa ata and sand sa Bantayan Island sa Cebu. Pero ang ikinamangha ko ay ang linis ng kapaligiran. People literally respect the place at walang mga nagtatapon ng basura kung saan-saan.

We watched the sunset then we head on sa next destination namin, which is at Villa de Oro. We claimed the free meals kasama ng package namin. We were given a choice of one grilled viand at rice. We picked 3 liempo at isang chicken barbecue to complete the four meals. Um-order din kami ng extra food at cocktails.

Grill at Villa de Oro

Karaniwan sa Boracay ang mga buffet at sa Villa de Oro, Korean food and sine-serve nila. Marami silang customers na Korean. Actually, naglipana ang mga Koreans sa Boracay. Para silang lumabas sa isang fashion magazine sa mga bihis nila. Sila ata nagpauso ng todo-porma sa lugar na ito kasi hands-up talaga ako sa fashion statement nila. Heels kung heels. Dress kung dress. Anyways, dito nga sa Villa de Oro, hindi namin masyadong trip ang food. Isa pa, ang pobreng food server namin na nakatikim ng maaanghang na salita mula kay Marie ay walang isang beses ata, sa bawat lapit niya sa amin, e hindi nagkakamali. Nariyan ang mali ang pagkakaexplain niya ng mechanics ng free meal namin tapos malabo rin ang pagkaka-explain niya ng buy one, take one cocktails namin, tapos natapon niya yung sawsawan ko sa table (and many more). Nag-fire up si Marie at napagalitan niya yung batang server which happened to be on his on the job training. Later naman nagsorry si Marie kasi kawawa naman yung bata. Pero the kid, super humble at sinabi pa niya na “kasalanan ko naman po”. Binigyan namin siya ng tip before kami umalis. Laging nagli-linger sa mind namin ang quote na “Never mess with the person who serves your food.”

After dinner, naghanap naman kami ng maiinuman namin. Sa dami ng bars na naglipana doon, mamimili ka na lang ayon sa budget mo. Kami naman, for one, we considered the ambiance then the price. May nakita kami na isang bar na may acoustic. Relaxing ang ambiance nila.  By the beach with tables covered with black linen and candle light tapos may mga hanging lamps at christmas lights na yellow. May drapes of white cloth ang ceiling. Ang mga guests nila puro foreign from white to Asian. May hispanic pa ata. Pinili rin namin ito para hindi naman masyadong stand-out ang pagkaputi ni Dave. Nahabol din namin ang Happy Hour nila which will end at 9:00 pm. Ang presyo ng Tanduay Ice ay P35.00 per bottle. Magiging P70.00 ito pagkatapos ng happy hour. We ordered 3 rounds.

I can’t remember the name of this place. With Marie and David, Kiko and I.

Pagkatapos namin uminom, magpakabinge, mapaos at mag-nosebleed, umuwi na rin kami sa hotel and we called it a day.

The next day, nag-effort kaming gumising sana ng maaga, mga 6am para panoorin ang sunrise pero nagising kami ng 7:00am. Medyo pagod at puyat kasi kami. Nadatnan namin si Marie at David na nagbre-breakfast na sa poolside. Nagbreakfast na rin kami ni Kiko. May free breakfast kasing kasama yung package. We had Corned Beef, Eggs at rice. Then naglakad-lakad kami sa tabing-dagat para maghanap ng murang Island Hopping, Snorkeling at Helmet Diving package. Nakilala namin si Kuya.  He offered P500.00 per pax for the four of us. Mura siya compared sa peak season na P600.00 per pax, helmet diving pa lang.

Umalis kami sa Boracay ng mga 7:30am to 8:00 am. Tapos kung saan-saan pa kami nagpunta. Ibinaba namin si Kuya sa isang Island kasi dun daw siya nakatira at doon din kami bumili ng tinapay para sa fish feeding. Naiwan na lang yung dalawang tauhan niya para samahan kami.

After doon sa bahay ni Kuya, dumiretso na kami sa Snorkeling. Nadaanan namin ang Crocodile Island na hugis Crocodile nga naman. Hindi ko siya nakuhanan ng picture. Sorry.

Saglit lang nasa Sactuary na kami. Si Kiko, kating-kati na magfishing/trolling pero bawal daw doon. So nag-snorkeling na kami. Hindi makukulay ang corals pero yung mga isda ang colorful at ang dami-dami.

Kiko and Dave

Kiko Snorkeling

 

After namin mag-snorkeling, nagpunta naman kami sa Site ng Helmet Diving. Excited ako kasi first time ko itong gagawin pero hindi ko akalain na ito na rin ang last time. We were briefed sa mga hand signals at kung ano ang gagawin namin. The guide stretched on the importance of depressuring. Yung tipong  hold your nose and try to breath out sa tenga. Nagpractice ako nsang nagpractice pero hindi ko naman alam kung tama ang ginagawa ko. After a few minutes, pinasuot na kami ng Aqua Shoes at dinagdagan pa ako ng sinker in a form of belt bukod pa sa 25 kilo na helmet dahil baka lumutang daw ako (dahil chubby-sexy ako, hehehe!).

So may butas doon sa floating station nila na may hagdanan pababa. Pina-descend muna ako sa hagdan bago isinuto sa akin ang helmet. Hindi naman ako nabigatan. Tapos yung diver, he led me to the bottom of the ocean. mga 18 to 20 ft below sea level. Doon ako nagsimula magpanic. I was afraid na baka tumumba ako or mag bend over at pasukan ng tubig yung helmet ko dahil sa sobrang sakit ng tenga ko. It was the most painful experience I had. Parang sasabog ang tenga ko. I signaled my hand sa diver na there’s a problem pero he kept on saying just depressurize. Hindi ko alam gagawin ko. Feeling ko katapusan ko na. It was the longest 3 or 5 minutes of my life. Iniwan ako ng diver sa baba para kunin si Kiko sa taas. I tried swallowing at mas effective ito para tanggalin yung pressure sa tenga ko at dahan-dahan naman nawawala ang sakit.

Nang makumpleto na kaming apat sa baba, the diver started taking pictures. I’m having fun na apero my problem naman is how to keep my self sa bottom kasi medyo nadadala kami sa current ng water although hindi naman ganoon kalakas. Medyo nahihirapan lang ako sa pagbabalance. Pinatayo kami, pinaluhod, pinakain ang fish at naglapitan naman sila. We tried to grab them pero ambilis nila lumangoy.

The four of us
Kiko and I
Kiko
Ako

 

After ng picture-picture at video, agad na rin akong nagpaakyat sa diver dahil medyo hindi nga ako kumportable. Si Marie ayaw pa sana umakyat pero hinila na siya ng diver paakyat. Isa pa, may nakapila rin after namin kaya siguro minamadali na rin kami. Mga 10 minutes lang ata kami sa baba. Hinintay lang namin matapos ang pagburn nila ng CD then umalis na kami para sa tour naman around the Island of Boracay.

Sinimulan na ni Kiko i-set ang pang-trolling niya. Pinahiram siya ng Kuya ng gamit dahil ang dala ni Kiko na lures at fishing line eh hindi pwede sa Salt Water. Mas makapal daw yata pag sa salt water kasi mas malalaki ang mga isda na pwede mong mahuli dito. Pinahiram si Kiko ng home-mad lure na may hook at may skirting na straws. Tapos nylon ata yung line na ginamit niya na naka-roll sa kahoy. Ki-nast ni Kiko ito, siguro may 20 meters ang haba ng line niya at umaandar lang ito kasabay ng boat namin.

Marami kaming nadaanang magagandang beach front. Mapuputi at yung iba, parang wala halos nakatira. Yun daw ang Station 1 sabi ni kuya. Layo-layo ang mga resorts at classy kung titignan. Makikita mo yung kakaunting tao na naroroon ay nagsnorkeling sa tabing dagat. Marahil ganoon kalinis at ka-untouched ng shoreline nila. May daanan kaming mga rock formation at grupo ng mga nagpa-parasailing at banana boat. Sumabit pa nga yung hook ni Kiko sa isang banana boat sakay ang mga koreans so we had to stop para tanggalin yung pagkakasabit. I wonder kung nadeflate yung banana boat.

 

 

 

 

Maya-maya lang naramdaman na ni Kiko na may pumapalag sa line niya. He knows he caught a fish. Nagslow down ang boat namin at ni-retrieve niya ang line. Habang papalapit ang isda, tumalon ito. Kulay silver. Kasing laki ng palad. He continued retrieving until a small “talakitok” fish came out of the water. Voila! Kiko’s first salt-water catch!

 

For an angler’s point of view, catching a fish is enough to call it a day. Malapit na rin kami sa Station 3 noon. Doon kasi ang parking area ng boats. Binigay ni Kiko yung huli niyang talakitok sa bangkero as TIP. We head back to the hotel, 15mins walk from Station 3, then we had a buffet lunch. Mga 12:00pm na rin noon. Merong Pasta, baked Potatoes, iba’t ibang unknown luto ng pork, beef at chicken. May blueberry at Strawberry cheesecake as desserts.  At marami pang pagkain na hindi ko alam pero tinikman ko naman. Hindi nga lang ako naka-round 2 sa sobrang kabusugan ko. Parang hindi ko nasulit yung P270.00 na binayad ko.

TO BE CONTINUED….

 

Places

Mahilig ako mamasyal. Kahit hindi inter-island basta’t hindi ko pa napupuntahan, nagkakaroon ako ng sense of fulfillment kapag nakakakita ako ng bagong Lugar. Sa pagkakataong ito, ipapakita ko ang mga lugar na napuntahan ko na.

Tagaytay at ang view ng Taal lake – With brother, BobotImage

Subic, Olongapo

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The Orchard, Cavite

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Lakeshore, Pampanga with uncle Mons and DominicImage

Manaoag, Pangasinan

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Pundaquit, Zambales

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Capones Island, Zambales

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Noah’s Park, Rodriguez RizalImage

Aling Nene, Coloong, Valenzuela

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Lion’s Club Monument, BaguioImage

Butterfly Sanctuary, Baguio

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Camp John Hay, Baguio City

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Teacher’s Camp Track, Baguio CityImage

Mine’s View Park, Baguio City

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Wright Park, Baguio

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Burnham Park, Baguio City

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The Mansion Park, Baguio

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Botanical Garden, Baguio

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Casa de Carlo, Tagaytay

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Enchanted Farm, Angat, Bulacan

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Bulawan Floating Restaurant, Pililia, Rizal

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Liliw, Laguna

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Majayjay Falls, Majayjay, Laguna

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Lucban, Quezon (Pancit Habhab)Image

Kamay ni Hesus, Quezon ProvinceImage

Majayjay Dam, Laguna

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Caliraya Lake, LagunaImage

San Pablo City, Laguna

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Apalit, PampangaImage

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Pangil Beach Resort, Ilocos Norte

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Playa Tropical, Ilocos

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Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

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Baluarte, Ilocos Sur

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Banna, Ilocos Norte

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Batac, Ilocos Norte

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Vigan Heritage, Ilocos Sur

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Windmills, Bangui, Ilocos Norte

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Pagudpod, Ilocos NorteImage

Patapat, Ilocos Norte

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Currimao, Ilocos Norte

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Island Cove, Cavite

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Bosay Resort, AntipoloImage

Bantayan Island, Cebu

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Sto Nino de Cebu, Cebu City

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White Beach, Puerto Galera, Mindoro

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Leo’s Leisure Park, Bacolor, Pampanga

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La Mesa Ecopark, Quezon City

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Pantabangan Lake, Nueva Ecija

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Botolan, Zambales

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Dagupan, Pangasinan

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Villa Khristallene Resort, Talisay Batangas

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Palm Beach Resort, San Juan, Batangas

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Laguna de Bay

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Tagalag, Valenzuela

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Kap Larry, Coloonga, Valenzuela

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Boracay Island, Aklan

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Blue Coral Beach, Laiya, Batangas

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Mismosa, Clarkfield, Pampanga

Arayat, Pampanga

Freshwater Fishing Village

I’ve been ranting all week! I was forcing Kiko to bring me out of Manila and as I expected, Kiko picked a destination with pool and play pond. We contacted a resort we found over the internet and spoke to a nice Woman named “Bing”. Judging by their photos, the resort seems like a good place.

That weekend, we traversed the path going to Angeles City exit in North Luzon Expressway. We left a bit late than planned. I was travelling this time with my brother-from-another-mother, Chubby and my husband, Kiko. I awed at the sight of the ricefields and the magnificent view of Mt. Arayat as I always do in most of my travels. I grew up traveling through the roads of Pampanga but it always a new adventure for me every time.

We exited Angeles and found the route to Magalang. With all the new developments in that part of the city, I lost all my memory about the place which I was once so familiar with. Angeles Exit has always been a small road, undeveloped and country-like but now I behold at the sight of the newly-built Marquee Mall, the roads to SCTEX and the roundabout. It’s confusing.

We found our way to Magalang Road. It is a narrow one with moderate traffic condition. We drove along and made a few stops to ask for directions. We were led to the town’s Municipal Hall where we did a few turns before finally reaching the road to the resort. It was a pretty long drive, but comfortable one. We passed by Pampanga Agricultural Colleges. The University reminds me of my tertiary years in UP. Gigantic trees envelops the road.

We traveled a few kilometers more until we found a small road with the “Freshwater Fishing Village” Sign boasts by the entrance. We are in a town called Ayala. We took the turn and traversed a long path of rough road. We’re riding a Lowered Honda Civic so we’ve encountered a few ramps and the car literally dragged underneath which is quite painful. I feel sorry for “Carla” (what we named the car).

I celebrated as we finally reached our destination. It was a loooong, rough travel. We were welcomed by the property owner and toured us around the place. We entered a small gate which led to the property’s unutilized pool and a treehouse. The place is nice. It’s more like a resthouse rather a resort. There’s a big open dining area, a pool slide and garden set. Mount Arayat also appears closer in this side of the province. We were their only guests as the owner prefers small groups and bookings than opening it to the public. I doubt too that the place can hold large groups. It wasn’t that huge.

The boys were eager to go fishing so after a few intros, we were led to the fish ponds. the true purpose of the visit. They have several ponds divided into five big ones, about half a hectare each and a few small ones. Their most priced ponds lies at the center of the property. It has a floating hut and the pond is filled with big red tilapias. I went to trance watching baby red tilapia swimming ang playing along the raft’s bamboo sides.

Kiko and Chubby set-up their fishing gears and immediately cast their lures around, hoping to catch a snakehead.

My Destinations

I consider everything in my life as an adventure and I would love to fill my memory bank with my adventures while exploring the Philippines. Here are some places I have been and would like to go.

1. Coron, Palawan

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2. Grande Island, Subic Zambales

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3. Calaguas, Daet

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4. Pagudpod, Ilocos

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5. Baguio City

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6. Vigan, Ilocos

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7. Windmills, Bangui

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8. Patapat, Pagudpod, Ilocos

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9. Bantayan Island, Cebu

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10. Cebu City

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11. Camiguin

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12. Thunderbird Poro Point

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13. Baler, Quezon

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14. Balesin Island, Quezon

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15. Bolinao, Pangasinan

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16. Corregidor Island

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17. Cagayan de Oro

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18. Bohol

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19. Bicol

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20. BATANES!!! MY ULTIMATE DREAM DESTINATION!!!!

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