Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 8 – Foodtrip in Coron

Dining in Coron is not that expensive.  Many restaurants also cater to the expat crowd — most visitors when we were there last January are foreigners.  The locals said foreigners do flock around that time to avoid the winter weather in their countries and that taking the trip here is cheaper than paying electricity cost of a heater back home.

Let’s see the variety of food we have eaten here at Coron.

Kapemos Restaurant

The first time we ate here, we had lobster in lemon butter sauce.

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Kapemos is just along the main highway in Coron

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We came back last January 2013, we tasted the lobster thermidor and a native shell (locally called ‘litlit’) ceviche.  The owner Sir Aries also had us taste his local chocolate dessert.

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La Sirenetta

The menu is rather pricey here but the food is also that good.  I was told that the La Sirenetta prawns were the bestseller at 450php per order.

The restaurant is built above the boat wharf itself, its columns designed with mermaid sculptures -- so unique!

The restaurant is built above the boat wharf itself, its columns designed with mermaid sculptures — so unique!

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo

Lato (seaweed) salad

Lato (seaweed) salad

Bistro Coron

We tried the Bistro Pizza and Baked mussels.

Entrance of Bistro Coron, at the town's center along the main highway -- you can't miss it

Entrance of Bistro Coron, at the town’s center along the main highway — you can’t miss it

baked mussels

baked mussels

Bistro Pizza -- the house specialty

Bistro Pizza — the house specialty

Sultana Restaurant

We ordered the sinigang na salmon belly, sizzling gambas and a house specialty Sultana sizzling seafood that became our instant favorite.  The restaurant is found just across the the market plaza.

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Centro Coron

We ate here on our last night, we order liempo (grilled pork belly) and the menu is straightforward Filipino food.  Their place is also in the town center along the highway.

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In-house restaurants of hotels

Coron Village Lodge

Their continental breakfast can be had at 100php per person.  They also had a bar where we ordered frozen margaritas.

continental breakfast

continental breakfast

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Apartelle de Gabriel

Their breakfast has local danggit, beef tapa (my favorite), longganisa and hotdog that comes with egg, rice and coffee for 120-180 Php per order.

Paluto at Apartelle de Gabrielle

We gave money to the staff of the hotel to buy crabs and lato (local seaweed) at the market.  The food was cooked by the hotel staff and this was our dinner:  Sweet Spicy Crab, Fried Crab stuffed in its shell (our favorite) and Lato salad.

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Street food at the market

Banana cue is 10 Php per stick that has 3 pcs.

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This stall is beside the keychain souvenir stall in the marketplace also owned by our trike driver.  Fruit shakes can be had for 10php per cup and waffles for 5php.  So cheap and good!

refreshing fruit shakes -- so cheap!

refreshing fruit shakes — so cheap!

cheeses waffles for 5php only!

cheese waffles for 5php only!

Island hopping picnics prepared by boat crew during tour- At Banol Beach lunch

We had inihaw na isda (grilled fish), lato salad (seaweed salad), kinilaw na tuna, (fresh tuna ceviche) and sinigang na ulo ng tuna.

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Malcapuya Island

fresh buko (coconut) juice can be had for 40 Php per piece

fresh buko (coconut) juice can be had for 40 Php per piece

In Coron, everything is fresh and delicious!

Acknowledgements – the pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my sister Maria Jennifer Joy B Repas of Creative Booze Photography and friend Jennee Oliveros.

Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 7 – Coron Town Charms & Pasalubong Shopping

In Coron town, there are many inland sights to tour.  We went to climb the 720 steps of stairs to the top of Mount Tapyas where a huge cross marker can be seen even from far out.  From the top you can see the whole town and the islands out in Coron Bay.  We climbed there before sunrise, slowly but surely.  We started at about 530am and we reached the top after 1 hour.

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View of Coron town from Mt Tapyas’ peak

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Hello sunshine! Sunrise views are the best!

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Early morning climb to the top…

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There is also the Makinit Hot springs.  Entrance fee here is 150 per person.  Tricycles can be hired going back and forth here to your hotel for 300 to 350php.  A group of 5 can ride one trike and this way, they can split the fare cost.

pools of hot spring waters -- so lovely and relaxing to soak in!

pools of hot spring waters — so lovely and relaxing to soak in!

It is best to dip in the hotsprings at around morning when the sun is still not hot and in the late afternoons.  They are open until 8pm.

Trees and flora abound the area of the springs. Soaks your stress away!

Trees and flora abound the area of the springs. Soaks your stress away!

A walk to the market and souvenir shops near the pier can get you to Lualhati Park.  Its nice to walk here during sunset like we did.

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sunset views at the park

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Lualhati Park in the afternoons

 Pasalubong

Cashew trees with fruit abound the road going to Makinit Hot Springs like these.

Cashew trees with fruit abound the road going to Makinit Hot Springs like these.

On our way back from Makinit we asked our driver to stop by some stores where we can buy pasalubong.  We bought dried fish locally called danggit, dried pusit (squid) and dilis (anchovies) in the stalls near the wharf or pantalan (where ferries from Manila, Puerto Princesa and El Nido dock) that can be had for 125 per 1/4kilo pack.

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our favorite breakfast fare — fried Danggit (dried fish)

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Dried pusit (squid) too!

Next we stopped at L. Escarda’s Cashew pasalubong shop and we were entertained by Nanay herself.  Her shop is a household name in these parts and the walls were decorated with pictures of her with famous movie stars and politicians.  Her cashew goodies range from roasted, fried, toasted and candied varieities.  We bought ¼ kilo packs for 175php each.

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Nanay’s memorabilia displayed on the walls of her shop

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Different varieties of cashew packaged for pasalubong

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Jen with Nanay who’s she’s always ready for a photo-op =)

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You can’t miss the sign in front of her shop just along the highway going to the port

Then we dropped by the market to buy souvenir shirts.  They are priced starting at 90php each for kids sizes and 130 each above for adults. 

Our driver also owns a stall in the market selling key chains, ref magnets, native necklaces, and bracelets.  Keychains can be bought 8 pcs for 100php that can also be personalized if you like.

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personalized keychains where they stamp the names on the back

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different trinkets are for sale as well

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Cheap souvenirs — key chains are very popular

 This boat in a bottle is priced at 200php.

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Watch out for my next post — Coron Part 8 – Foodtrip in Coron

Acknowledgements – the pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my sister Maria Jennifer Joy B Repas of Creative Booze Photography and friend Jennee Oliveros.

Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 6 – Let’s go on a Safari Adventure @ Calauit Island!

Last May 2012, our family went on a tour to Calauit island Safari by land.  I booked this trip through the DIY Coron website.

The tour included a roundtrip van transport to Calauit and back to Coron town, boat transfer to the island, lunch, stopover at Concepcion Falls and last tour at Makinit Hotsprings (with entrance fee) on the way back.  This tour cost us a 1443php per person (for a group of 8).

We left Coron town early at 4am.  We stopped for breakfast at Salvacion town.  The meal was not included in the tour rate and paid 100php/person.

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Our van transport during the tour

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Inside Dayon Karaenan Restaurant…

At around 8 am, we arrived at the dock going to the Calauit Safari park.

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Dock at the Busuanga side — a short ferry going to Calauit Island. It is actually separate from Busuanga but from the air, it looks part of the mainland because of the healthy growth of mangroves connecting them.

After registration at their reception office, we walked for a few minutes going to the park.

calauit sign

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From afar, we can already see the giraffes leisurely eating bushes.

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Giraffes having their breakfast

We were taken to a waiting area where the tour truck will fetch us for a drive around the park.

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There’s a small playground for children to play while waiting for the tour truck

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Gazebo where the tour guides meet the guests to give a briefing about the Calauit Island Sanctuary and Park

While waiting, we fed the giraffes their favorite leaves.

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The animals in the park like the calamian deer (mouse deer) and zebra like the giraffes roam around freely.  The Calamian Deer is endemic in Calauit island and cannot be found anywhere else. 

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The Calamian deer is said to be the smallest deer in the world

The kids are so amazed by the animals and they enjoyed this tour even if it’s a long trip.  We rode the tour truck around the sanctuary.  We again fed the giraffes.

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Our sweet ride going around the park

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My son enjoys feeding the giraffes! What a healthy appetite they have!

Driving around, there are also other animals as well but they are kept in enclosures.

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Bearcat or locally called Binturong

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Wild boar or Baboy ramo (local name)

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Porcupines roused from their sleep so that visitors can see them! They’re nocturnal you see hehe!

Going to Calauit can also be made by boat which is 3 and a half hours ride from Coron town.  They said it is advisable to go by boat if the waters are calm usually in the months of December to March.  During summer, the waters in the Gutob Bay become rough that is why we chose to go by land when we went there during May. 

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boat dock on the Calauit island side

If you are going to Coron with your kids, go to Calauit and the joy in their eyes will make the trip truly worth the cost and long trip!

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We hope to see you again soon!

Watch out for my next post — Coron Part 7 – Coron Town Charms & Pasalubong Shopping.

Photo credits: Pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my sister Joy of Creative Booze Photography.

Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 5 – Let’s go Island hopping! Calumbuyan-Lusong Loop tour

For our tour in Calumbuyan Island and other snorkel sights, we availed the offering of www.cheapcorontravel.com whose day tour rate is 950php/person.  3 of our group went back to Manila that day so it is just me and my friend left.  This time it is cheaper to avail of the per pax rates.

We were supposed to be 7 in the group as 5 Chinese tourists were supposed to join us but only one showed up (despite the fact they already paid in full).  We made friends with Effie from Beijing, China.  Effie said it was common among her ‘kababayan’ to pay for a tour but will not show up on the day.  So our boat crew decided to move out without them at about 9am.

Our first stop was the Sangat wreck and coral garden, an hour and a half boat ride from Coron town.

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Sangat Island and its beach and snorkel sites

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Then we moved onward to Calumbuyan island for lunch.  Entrance fee here is 200php but it is already included in the fee we paid.

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Reach the beach! the water’s so inviting!

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panoramic photo of Calumbuyan Beach

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Calumbuyan Island

After lunch we proceeded to snorkel site at Lusong’s Coral Garden with more corals to again.  My underwater camera was really very useful in trips like this.

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Fishes galore!

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Beautiful corals! No need to dive deep to see them =)

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Then we went to the Lusong Gun boat wreck site.  Many wrecks are found in this area around Coron bay as a Navy battle was waged here during World War 2 between the Americans and Japanese.

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Lusong Gun Boat Wreck

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Then last in the itinerary was the hidden hot spring in the island where we have to go through a path between the mangroves.  The water feels wonderful and we wished to stay longer but it is getting dark.

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Gang way!!! Here we come, hidden hotspring!

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It’s behind those rocks!

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the water’s so relaxing! Wish we came here earlier!!

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soaking with our new friend from Beijing, Effie

We left the site after 5pm arriving at Coron town at about 630pm.

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Till we meet again!

The tour was tiring but our today adventures were truly worth it.

Watch out for my next post — Coron Part 6 –Calauit Safari Tour

Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 4 – Culion Island Tour

Culion was a town made famous by its quaint history of being declared a leper colony in 1904 when the island was once home to people with leprosy at a time when they believed that the disease was contagious and lepers need to be segregated from the rest of the populace.

Approaching Culion island...

Approaching Culion island…

Today, this town still had a small population of former lepers who were already cured and a sanitarium.  In Coron area, their hospital was considered to have the most complete equipment and facilities.

I had planned to drop by Culion Island to see their museum and go around town for a quick sightseeing.  In my previous post, we had come from an overnight stay in Banana island, then  dropped by Malcapuya Island to have late breakfast and swim.

At around 10am, we rode our boat for an hour’s trip to Culion Island.  Our boatman, Manong Fred is based is Culion Island.  He graciously arranged for our lunch there in one of the town’s restaurants the Tabing Dagat Restaurant that is also a lodging house.

Our boat docked beside the Tabing Dagat Lodging House and Restaurant

Our boat docked beside the Tabing Dagat Lodging House and Restaurant

If you were coming from Coron town, ferry boats for public transport regularly ply the route to Culion at noon until late afternoon only.  The ride was from 90 minutes to an hour going there.

Certain tourists opt to book their accommodations in Culion as the island was centrally located when you want to visit islands in the Gutob Bay vicinity like Banana-Malcapuya, Calumbuyan, Bulalacao, Black island, Dibutonay island, North & South cay islands.  If you were booked from Coron, you can only visit one or two of these islands before going back. Staying in Culion is good if you plan a tour of Gutob Bay islands for a day or two.  The downside to staying here was that food choices are limited (according to Manong Fred).

The restaurant that prepared our lunch was the in-house restaurant of the Tabing Dagat Lodging House.  The owner was there and he graciously toured us to inspect the rooms in his hotel.  Some are airconditioned with its own toilet & bath.  Some were fan rooms only and have common areas for CR but all were clean and comfortable.  Our meal for 5 cost 700php.   

We always have Coca Cola =)

We always have Coca Cola =)

After lunch, we rode a tricycle to town and went to Culion’s 18th century church, the La Immaculada Concepcion that was built by the Augustinian missionaries in 1740 that was inside a fort (Fort Culion) to protect against moro raids at that time.  The building was beautifully restored, the altar magnificent as its ceilings.  Beside the church was the ‘parola’ where the ruins of fort now remain and a view deck looking out to the sea.  Antique cannons are still placed there used during the Spanish era .  Today, a lighted beacon and antenna is attached to the fort’s remains.  Looking below, you can see the crystal clear waters of Culion in a breath-taking view.

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Beautiful altar

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Church of the La Immaculada Concepcion

Church of the La Immaculada Concepcion

standing of the fort ruins called the Parola

standing on the fort ruins called the Parola

The waters are so clear below

The waters are so clear below

Next Manong toured us in the sanitarium and town hospital before going back. Unfortunately the museum was closed for renovation that day

Sorry the Museum was closed :(

Sorry the Museum was closed 😦

Entrance to the Sanitarium

Entrance to the Sanitarium

following Manong Fred from the Church

following Manong Fred from the Church

The trike we rode we paid for 100php total.

At about 2pm, we left Culion to drop by the Lusong gun boat wreck snorkeling area (that I’ll post on the next blog article) then got back to Coron town at about past 5pm.

Our whole two-day tour boat hire rate with Manong Fred cost us 8000php.

Here is a summary of our expenses for the two day tour:

 

Total cost(Php)

Divided by 5/per head cost(Php)

Boat hire 2 days

8000

1600

Food from market- (lunch-dinner-breakfast)

2440

488

Kayangan lake- entrance

200

Banol island -entrance + table rent

120

Skeleton wreck-entrance

100

Banana island –overnight accommodation + entrance

700

Malcapuya island –entrance

200

Culion lunch

790

158

Culion tricycle fare (town tour)

100

20

Lusong loop -entrance

50

TOTAL

3,636

Contact Details:

Tabing Dagat Lodging House & Restaurant – their fan room rates start at 450php/night and aircon rooms at 900php/night; Bgy Balala, Culion, Palawan;+63 928 6757473/ +63 920 2779327 / +63 920 4056659

Culion Museum and Archives – entrance fee Foreigners – 250php; non-locals- 100php, locals- 50php and students (with ID) – 20php; +63 928 2812276 / +63 921 5787152 / +63 919 3779757

Manong Fred Credo’s Contact number at this blog.

Watch out for my next post — Coron Part 5 –Calumbuyan Island-Lusong Tour

Photo credits: Pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my friend Jennee Oliveros.

Step-by-Step Travel to Coron Part 3 – Banana-Malcapuya Island Tour

One of our itineraries last summer was a day tour to Banana-Malcapuya Island loop.  We hired Manong Fred’s boat for a whole day (his contact details are posted in my previous blog, Part 2). The previous day, we met with him to discuss our plan and the food we want to have for lunch the next day.

Welcome to Malcapuya Island!

Welcome to Malcapuya Island!

We left the pier before 9am and it was more than an hour’s ride from Coron town going to Malcapuya which was our first stop.  We also had our lunch here. Entrance fee here was 200php/head while the table rent is 100php.  The kids had fun at the beach and the whole stretch of white sand was picture-perfect for any photo-shooting addict.

Heaven for beach bums!

Heaven for beach bums!

After lunch we headed to nearby Banana Island — also another white sand island with snorkel sites nearby.  The kids had fun frolicking in the sand and snorkeling.  Entrance fee here is also 200/head.

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We paid Manong Fred 4000php for this day tour.  The produce bought from the wet market cost us between 800-900php for our group of 8.  So our per head costs for this day tour is 1,025php including the entrance fees.

Last January, I planned our itinerary with Banana Island as the last destination for our island hop tour where we will sleep overnight.  Manong Fred was the one who contacted the proprietors for our reservation.  Nipa hut units with its own T&B can be had for 700/night and half rate for kids.  The entrance fee is already included in that rate.  Water though for bathing is scarce and had to be fetched by the staff to fill the water containers inside the huts for our use.  Also, there is no restaurant in the island.  So the food we ate from Day 1 lunch and dinner and Day 2 breakfast were already bought in the market by Manong Fred and his crew.  Our menu was meticulously planned as our group always prioritizes this.

We stayed in these huts for the night.

We stayed in these huts for the night.

It's good to be back at Banana Island!

It’s good to be back at Banana Island!

During our stay, we befriended the owner of the island. A group of foreigners were also staying in the island with us, who are kiteboarding during windy days.  The island’s recreation room also has a videoke where we can sing for free but only until 12MN since power in the island is also limited.  They close the power at around 3am and open it again at 6pm the following day.  Some nipa units have power via solar panels and these rooms can be had for 1000/head per night.

Our 2nd day of island hopping led us to Malcapuya Island where we ate our breakfast. There were also overnight nipa hut rooms here for 700/head but the toilets & bath are outside and common.

Nipa hut accommodations in Malcapuya Island

Nipa hut accommodations in Malcapuya Island

We swam at the beach and watched kiteboarding foreigners catch the wind in the stretch of sea in front of the Malcapuya beach. We were also able to chat with the caretaker.  He said that Boracay Regency resorts owned the island for some time and they were plans to develop this place as a full time resort.  So maybe sometime in the near future, a visit here may be worth much more than 200/head!

Many foreign tourists are kiteboarding in this stretch of water between Banana and Malcapuya Islands

Many foreign tourists are kiteboarding in this stretch of water between Banana and Malcapuya Islands

This is not goodbye... Til we meet again!

This is not goodbye… Til we meet again!

Around 1030am, we left to proceed to Culion Island so we can be there in time for lunch and a little sight-seeing in the town.

Watch out for my next post — Coron Part 4 –Culion Island Tour

Step-by-Step Travel Guide to Coron Part 2 – Let’s go Island Hopping! Featuring the Coron Loop Tour

Coron is in the northeastern part of Palawan province whose area includes the eastern part of Busuanga Island and some 50 minor islets that are part of the Calamian Archipelago that divides the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.

Ph_locator_palawan_coron

When in Coron, the best tours are to go island hopping.  Options can either be to avail of the many tour company offerings that have a per person rate or go DIY/do-it-yourself tour.

Island hop tour package rates include the ff:  licensed tour boat with life vest & first aid kit (standard), tour guide, entrance fees to all parks, beaches and islands, picnic lunch (usually grilled) with fruit and drinks. For by-land tours, package includes van transportation to and from your hotel, lunch and snacks.

For the DIY, you can hire a boat, buy fresh produce from the wet market to be cooked for lunch (boat crew usually does the cooking for you and they bring complete utensils) and pay the entrance fee upon arrival at your destination.

If you are a group of more than 5, it may be cheaper to hire a boat. Rates depend on where your destinations are. I have tried both – availing of tour packages and DIY—and it has its pros and cons. If you want particular menu to be served during your meals, the boat owner (like in our case) can buy them for you in the market before you leave.  So it is best to coordinate this with them in the afternoon the day before you go on island hopping.

For tour offered by local companies, you don’t have to think or coordinate anything but the food depends on what they will provide.  If you are not finicky about that, then this tour will do fine.

To have an idea of how much the tours cost, from our recent trip, the ff are http://www.cheaptravelcoron.com tour agency’s rates (contact nr 0999-581-5019):

Destination

Rate Php/person

Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks Reef, CYC beach, Coral Gardens, Siete Pecados 650/person
Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, Skeleton Wreck, Smith Coral Garden, Capt’s Point. Option to add Barracuda Lake +100php 650/person
Calumbuyan Island. Lusong gunboat shipwreck, coral garden, Sangat reef & wreck, Hotspring 950/person
Banana Island, Bulog Dos.  Option to add Malcapuya island +200php 950/person
Culion island historical tour 1000/person
Caluit Safari tour (by boat)- Calauit island, Black island, Calumbuyan island, Lusong gun boat wreck and coral garden 2,400/person

As you can notice, cheaper tours are those found nearer Coron town – it is usually called the Coron Loop tour.  Those farther out are priced higher.  They are the Banana-Malcapuya loop, Calumbuyan loop, the Gutob Bay-Calauit loop, and Maricaban Bay loop.  For a detailed itinerary of these destinations, I find the blog of DIY Coron very informative.  When I planned our first trip to Coron, this blog is my main reference.

Coron Loop

Last May, we did this tour DIY but only for half day.  In our case, we hired a boat owned by Manong Fred Credo who I read about in Marketmanila’s blog.  He charged us 1,500php for this trip and we are able to go to the ff – Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, and Barracuda Lake.  For our group of 8 including entrance fees, we averaged 537+ Php per person.

siete p fish

Fish swarms around the boat especially when you throw them bits of bread

Kayangan Lake's crystal clear waters found within the ancestral lands of Coron Island's Tagbanua tribe

Kayangan Lake’s crystal clear waters found within the ancestral lands of Coron Island’s Tagbanua tribe

For our trip last January, we again did a DIY hiring again Manong Fred but our planned itinerary was a 2-day island hop tour where Coron loop was scheduled for the first day. We went to the ff:  Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Banol Beach for lunch stopover and Skeleton Wreck.  The end of first day tour was overnight in Banana Island.

Here are the updated entrance fees to the ff sites:

Destination

Rate Php/person

Siete Pecados 100
Kayangan Lake 200 adult/ 100 kids — ticket to be purchased in Coron town if you come from there; but can also be paid at the site if for example you came from Culion Island.
Banol Beach 100; 100php per table charge (for lunch)
Skeleton Wreck 100
Barracuda Lake 100
Twin lagoon 100
Twin peaks free
CYC beach free

For Skeleton Wreck and Siete Pecedos, you pay the fees if you actually swim and snorkel in the water. If you stayed in the boat, it’s free.

Kayangan Lake is said to be the cleanest lake in the country.  But gefore getting to the lake, you must do The Climb…

my son climbing the stair path up and up... it's quite tiring...

my son climbing the stair path up and up… it’s quite tiring…

Best view ever in Coron!

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going after my kids down the path — it’s steep but holding on to the rails keeps your balance

Barracuda Lake is some minutes away from Kayangan.

another rocky climb but not as tiring as kayangan

another rocky climb but not as tiring as Kayangan

the waters are cold and the bottom unfathomable

the waters are cold and the bottom unfathomable

gray cliffs of the island surround the lake

gray cliffs of the island surround the lake

Banol Beach is where we had our lunch stopover last January… so white and fine, sandy beach!

me and my friend Tiny

me and my friend Tiny

Skeleton Wreck looks ghostly in my photo. Lots of fishes here too like Siete Pecados.

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Contact Details

Manong Fred Credo, owner of FBS Boat for hire. His boat can seat up to 10pax – celphone # is 09196465685.  I just text or call him the dates and itineraries then agree to his boat hire rate. He does not ask for downpayment.  He charges 3000php for whole day Coron loop tour.

Mang Fred Credo's boat -- our favorite boatman from our summer trip and also this January trip

Mang Fred Credo’s boat — our favorite boatman from our summer trip and also this January trip

Watch out for my next post “Coron Part 3 – Banana-Malcapuya Island Tour!

Photo credits: Pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my sister Joy of Creative Booze Photography.

Step-by-Step Travelling to Coron Part 1 – how to get there and where to stay

The Philippine province of Palawan is becoming a big name in international circles for being a prime tourist destination.  I will be posting a series of blog articles about the many destinations in Palawan, the first being Coron.

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Last summer, our family visited this place for a 4-day tour and just recently this January for a 5-island hop and town sightseeing with my friends both having the same but slightly differing itineraries.

Our plane last May going to Coron

Our plane last May going to Coron

When visiting Coron, you have a choice of airlines like Cebu Pacific, Zestair, the new airline Skyjet, and Airphil Express.  It has been a routine of mine to troll these airline booking sites for promofares.  Last summer, we were able to book our tours for as low as 2000+ php ea (Cebupac) and for this January for 1200-2000+ php (Zestair).  Flights can originate from Manila airport and a new route– Cebu-Busuanga– is opened by Cebupac.  The flight duration is about one hour.  All domestic terminal fees are already included in the airfare starting 01 Aug 2012 so for tickets booked thereafter, no need to pay the fee before going to the terminal departure area like before.

Busuanga airport, Palawan

Busuanga airport, Palawan

Upon arrival, van transportation is available and can be booked in advance for 150php per trip, the standard rate.  From Busuanga airport, it’s a 20-30-minute ride going to Coron town. For our van last May, we got referrals from locals and this January, our hotel arranged the van ride.

Last summer we stayed at the Coron Village Lodge – in their family room worth 3600php/night that can sleep up to 12 occupants. It has aircon, cable TV, 2 T&B with hot showers.  Their double room rate is 1500php/night (same amenities, own T&B).  Breakfast is not included in the package but you can order them at 100php/pax with continental or Filipino breakfast options.  The lodge also has an in-house restaurant with wifi. It is close to town and if you do not mind walking, it’s a 10-minute walk to the marketplace and to the steps of Mt Tapyas. The proprietor Ma’m Bec is very kind and can be seen walking around the property talking to guests.

Continental breakfast at Coron Village Lodge

Continental breakfast at Coron Village Lodge

Last January, we stayed at the Apartelle de Gabrielle. Our group of 6 booked two triple rooms at 1700php/night with its own T&B, aircon, and flat screen TV.  They also have an in-house restaurant with videoke whose time for use is only up to 9pm.  The resto also has wifi.  The hotel’s common areas have hot-and-cold water dispensers for your coffee and noodles snacks as their resto closes at 11pm. Their staff is very friendly and immediately acts on queries and requests.  You can also ask the kitchen staff to market fresh produce or seafood for you and cook them for your meals with a minimal cooking charge.  Breakfasts are also not included in their rates but can be had at 120 – 180 php depending on the viand ordered.  The hotel is a little way off from the town center but tricycles are available for 10php per person when going around.

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IMG_0161 IMG_0163 IMG_0164

For those going on a tight budget, other inns and backpacker hostels offer 300-500php per night fan rooms with common areas for T&B (separate for male & female).

Eating in town is affordable. I calculated our total food expenses (breakfast/lunch dinner) during our 5-day stay and it averaged to 150php/meal (I will post a separate blog about food in Coron so watch out for that). Our meals sometimes are in our hotel, in restaurants or marketed and cooked during our island hopping tour.

go around Coron town in these trikes!

go around Coron town in these trikes!

All our accommodations are booked in advance and coordinated via cellphone calls/texts and email.  Downpayment is usually required at 20% of total cost and paid thru bank deposit.  Just keep and bring your booking details (sent via email) and bank deposit receipts.

Contact Details:

Coron Village Lodge — Business #s (02) 8053414/ 8010623 or (0916)4200252/ (0928) 2020819; Email: becfernandez@coronvillagelodge.com; Website: http://www.coronvillagelodge.com

Apartelle de Gabrielle –Contact #s  (02) 788 2468 or (0939)6242927/ (0949)5614901; Email: apartelledegabrielle@yahoo.com.ph; Website: http://apartellegabrielle.webs.com

Van/ shuttle service: Raquel – (0908) 8668393; Carlo Barin –  (0919) 2597877

Link to Coron accommodations at Senyor Lakwatsero’s blogpost here — www.senyorlakwatsero.com/2012/03/12/coron-accommodation-cheap-lodges-guesthouses-resorts-and-luxury-hotels/

Photo credits: Pictures posted in this blog are from my personal collection and that of my sister Joy of Creative Booze Photography and my friend Jennee.

Watch out for my next post Coron Part 2 – Let’s go Island hopping!

One Fine Day at Pinatubo (24 April 2010)

Back in high school, I remembered having new classmates join us in the middle of the school year – they were previously living in Pampanga where their school was devastated by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, burying whole towns, villages and rivers.  Years later I would be assigned in Camp O’Donnell Capas, Tarlac.  One of the places where we have our training exercises was the Crow Valley in Bgy Juliana, where there was this wide expanse of sandy plains suited for maneuvers of armored vehicles.  Crow Valley was once a US Naval Communications base with its own runway now all buried by the debris of Pinatubo.

pinatubo erupts

Picture taken by photojournalist Albert Garcia chosen as one of Time Magazine’s “Greatest Images of the 20th Century.” It was also included in National Geographic Magazine’s list of the “Best 100 Pictures of the 20th Century.”

This cataclysmic event last 15 June 1991 was considered the one of the two most powerful volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.

Who can believe that this place of beauty now was a turbulent maw of a once-dormant volcano that became suddenly active.  Once the devastation has subsided and the people began to rebuild their lives, they discovered the riches Pinatubo has left them – the lahar where high quality sand is presently quarried earning significant revenues for the local government and this scenic crater lake where the maw of the volcano used to be.

Most people come here via the tour companies who offer 4×4 rides either coming from Sapang Bato, Angeles City or Bgry Sta Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.

At the time of this post, I was assigned with the 3rd Mech Battalion and the area where visitors come in to the Pinatubo was part of our unit’s area of responsibility.  VIPs were slated to visit that day.  So I joined our security team of soldiers that were deploying early in the area and rode with them. Our home was in Bgy Sta Lucia, roughly and hour and a half ride away from the trek’s start point. The security team came by our quarters to fetch us early before 6am.  My group includes my son Matt, sister Joy, her then-fiance-now-husband Jhun and my friend Jen.

that was our "sweet" ride at the back -- an M450 Mahindra truck (manufactured for the AFP by Hyundai)

That was our “sweet” ride at the back — a M450 Mahindra truck (manufactured for the AFP by Hyundai)

1 start point

We were early at the venue which was good.  It was not that hot for trekking.  During this time, the Skyway was still open and the trek was only a brisk 15-30 minutes to the crater depending on your stamina.  (Now the Skyway was not repaired and most of it was destroyed by landslides years ago so the trek today would take some 2-3hrs trek.)

my son and me, Matt still feeling the chill of the morning wore the malong I always bring to trips like this. =)

my son and me, Matt still feeling the chill of the morning wore the malong I always bring to trips like this. =)

3 us start pt

The sign up close at the entrance of the trek point. So where do you belong in this bracket?

The sign up close at the entrance of the trek point. So where do you belong in this bracket?

As we ascent the stairs to the crater, we were greeted by this wondrous view.

5

My son was really excited to come here, though it was his second time.

6 matt far shot

We were the first visitors at the scene so we immediately took our places in the picnic hut.  We ate breakfast first as we jumped off early in the day.

7b picnic hut

picnic huts then…

7 us eating

Breakfast first before exploring!

Then picture-taking galore!

10 8 9 crater view

We went down the stairs going to the lakeside…

11c 11 me going down 11b

Other visitors began arriving after us.  Some brought their dog…

12

The manongs who facilitate the boat rides came.  They offered to ferry us across the lake for 250php/head (at lakwatsero’s blogpost, they paid 350php last Jan 2011).  And so across we rode and explored the other side…

13c 13b us boat

..rowing towards that shore…

13d

We arrived – like conquerors on a new island haha!

14b matt me exploring 14 me mamjen

The views from the other side…

15b 15

The water in this side was quite hot and there were steam vents coming out from under those sulfuric waters.

16

Time to go back – happy campers we were once again!

17 us boat going back

Matt ventured a swim but only near the shore as the waters of the lake were never charted as to how deep the bottom really was.

18

Time to back track and head home.  One last shot for the road…

19 me

There were a lot of 4x4s parked at the start point when we got there.

20 parking area pauwi

We headed home with huge smiles and a beautiful memory of this place just right in our backyard. I know I would keep coming back here just like an old friend we want to see time and again.

21 me far shot

Goodbye Pinatubo! See you soon!

Acknowledgements:  The photos here are from my personal collection and that of my sister Maria Jennifer Joy Blancaflor-Repas (of Creative Booze Photography) and my friend Jennee S Oliveros.

Adrenaline Rush — Canyoning in Moalboal, Cebu (March 2010)

When my friends from the production team of Sports Unlimited asked if I wanted to come with them to go canyoning in Moalboal, Cebu, I immediately said yes. They featured this canyoning adventure in their show before and the group had scheduled this trip back there thus their invitation for me to join. I also invited my friend Jennee along and we booked our tickets. We arrived at Cebu airport 30 minutes earlier than them.

1 airport lobby

At the lobby of Mactan International Airport, waiting for my friends to arrive

This is my first trip to Cebu and after meeting up at the airport, we rode a taxi to South Terminal of Cebu City to catch the buses going to Moalboal that leave the terminal every hour.

2 bus ride

happy travellers and perfect weather!

After 3 hours of bus ride through winding roads with rather sharp hairpin curves, we arrive at Moalboal town. We bought snacks, water and other last-minute-stuff at the market then we rode a tricycle going to our accommodation on the beach side.

Here we are at the Tipolo Adventure and Dive Resort — home of the Planet Action Adventure tours that offer canyoning, caving, diving among other adrenaline-driven adventures.

3 tipolo

veranda in front of our rooms

4 tipolo rm

our rooms with two single beds

5 tipolo cottage

they also have single detached cottage rooms with their own private veranda

We arrived at around lunch so we decided to explore the beachside sights and find somewhere to eat lunch.

6 beach walk

paved walks under boungainvillea flowers

7 beach walk

it’s good to travel with great friends!

8 beach

emo-emohan shots — what lies beyond is anybody’s guess! =) @ Panagsama Beach

Our canyoning adventure is scheduled the next day so we just chilled around the resort, took a swim at the beach and had a great time!

9 veranda

The resort also has an in-house restaurant where you can order food to eat — here we are dining at the veranda.

10 restaurant

Our resort’s bar and in-house restaurant — The Last Filling Station. They also have a brick-oven to cook their pizzas (regretted that I did not take a photo)

I woke up early and took a walk at the beach side to see the dawn with the full moon still up…

moalboal dawn

Let’s start the day right! Adventuretime! Wake up guys!

At about 8AM, we assembled in front of the resort with these tour truck/jeep/i-don’t-know-what-they’re-actually-called vehicles to take our group to the start point of our canyoning tour.

11 planet ad truck

Snappy! I wanna own one of these!

12 ride to start pt

excited campers, me and my friend Jennee

There was a 30-minute trek going up the hills…

13 trek to start pt

…and a quick tutorial on how to rappel with the ropes and links tied to a coconut tree.

14 rappel how-to

…as if I did not already know how! Haha!

Here we are at the top of the falls, waiting for our turn…

waiting to go down

smiling but nervous haha!

We’re going down this gorge, the one of 4 waterfall escarpments called the Montaneza Falls. Our guides were expert mountaineers who helped us wear the rappel gear and assist us on our way down. Woohoo, I was so excited!

view down

And now, we were going down! So thrilling!

rappel down 2

This (photo below) is the highest falls among the 4, almost 30 feet high, the last one we rappelled down on.

rappel down montaneza falls rappel down

I made it!

down

And my companions as well! Many smiles now even if they’re screaming their lungs out just moments ago!

down2

Success is so sweet at the finish line but not yet =)

The best part is soaking at the hot springs below the falls…

soak hotsprings

Hot spring waters relax our tired muscles! Just look at our smiles of contentment!

…and eating our picnic lunch after our ardous journey! What a spread these guys prepared!

lunch

Super tired and hungry!

What more can I say? I want to go again and try their other canyoning tour at Tison Falls that they say is more challenging than Montaneza!

So when in Cebu, add Moalboal to your itinerary — it is definitely worth going and you will remember your adventures for the rest of your life.

-oOo-

How much are the expenses you have to consider when going on Moalboal canyoning?

food and pasalubong/souvenir expenses not included. Eating in Moalboal is not that expensive. Bus and tricycle fares are one-way

food and pasalubong/souvenir expenses not included. Eating in Moalboal is not that expensive. Bus and tricycle fares are one-way

Acknowledgement: Photos in this blog are taken by me and from my friends’ collections — Jazz Perez, Jennee Santua and Bernard Necio.