Feel the festivities at General Santos City’s thanksgiving by celebrating with them their annual Month-long Tuna Festival. The festival usually includes so many activities that both locals and tourist will definitely enjoy – from parties to EDM Music to tuna presentations to street dances and float parade and so much more. Below are my photos to the recently concluded street dance competition (My first festival cover using 55-300mm Nikon lense).
For the past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied by work loads and pressures. Admittedly, sales isn’t doing well. In fact, there is decline. Any degree of brainstorming doesn’t immediately help to at least ease the heavy feeling that I carry everyday, every second of the day. Not much to say that it’s a big portion that direct my life. It is that, and most of sales people would agree with me, our sales performance defines who we are in the field and who we are in the eyes of the bosses regardless whether we did our best or not.
The pressure pops out at home, and almost never in the workfield. I found myself throwing a big smile whenever I enter a client’s clinic or in the field – talk about so many things but not what’s preoccupying my mind. We never share stories of our back. Our smile is to keep them delighted with our presence. Our smile is to burst some positivity. Almost everyday, it’s the first thing the clients and other stakeholders will see in us. Our smile.
However, behind those smiles are stories of hardwork and determination. Before we wear those smiles are thoughts of what-ifs scenarios, thoughts of the essential things to be done to deliver our goal, and thoughts of fear and uncertainties of the future, of sales, of performance.
We always wear that smile so we can give positive impression and in the hope of attracting positivity regardless of the situatin we are in to. Those smiles that nobody knows where it came from and what defines it.
When I was still in university, I remember having a personalized tee with a print saying “I am blogger”. It was the time when almost everyday (knowing how much free time we have back in the days), I write anything I realize – from shallow and crazy thoughts to interesting subject matters in few of my classes. It was the time when blogging has seriously been a way of life to me in the university although it didn’t matter to me whether I have avid readers or none. I just wanna write and tag myself as a “blogger”. But for the past years I have that shirt, I have never worn it – maybe suffice not to call myself one.
However, I just love the experience of writing something and creating a story out of something you didn’t thought will ever exist from your mind. I continued to write so I can pull myself away from the world for quite little time. And those days was just me since only few of my friends take blogging seriously – until I met a group of passionate people who share the same interest as mine.
I was (finally) invited last May to join the Davao Bloggers Society, the premier community of bloggers in the Davao region, where my first attendance was their annual acquaintance party. I’ve known nobody in the group except this beautiful lady who invited me through facebook through a common friend who happens to be the host for the night named Chamee. I didn’t exactly know what I’m gonna do when I first stepped in to the stunning vintage-looking White House Fusion Cuisine and Wine Lounge. I am a shy person in crowd especially when almost all of them knew each one and you’re a stranger to the eyes of many. I was lost for a time; even registering to sponsor’s attendance sheet instead of the bloggers – until Mommy Vanessa assisted me for the registration and the membership, the only time I felt quite relieved kasi finally may pumansin sakin. #attentionseeker :)
I sat beside Miah, who blogs about parenting, and had an interesting small talk about her life as a blogger and what it is like to be part of this group. Indeed, it’s different when you talk to someone with the same hobby as you do and it feels good.
Later on, we were grouped into four for the games they prepared. I belonged to group two and was with the future lawyer, Angel; the public relations officer of Marco Polo Davao, Sarah; the tech enthusiast, Faust; the videographer, Romeo; and the teenage kid in #myteenagekidandme Danaea. With this group, I know the night will be awesome and more exciting than expected.
And it did. When they told us that raffle prizes will be through hashtags in social media, I immediately posted my tweets with the help of fast and very reliable internet connection from Smart Communications. Through Smart, we have live-tweeted the happenings in the party and what kind of fun we were having and enjoying. Indeed with Smart, we can live more.
And through those tweets, I won the first raffle prize, a tumbler from Marco Polo, that I never expected because I carry a jinx in all raffle prizes I’ve been to. And then I won again, and then again and again and again until I felt so shy to receive another raffle prize I’ve won because I already got more than four when it was only my first time to attend the society’s activity. It seems like my luck pushed itself! Thanks a lot to Bulgogi Brothers, SM, Marco Polo Davao, Krispy Kreme Joy in a Box, Crocodile Park and Glamourbox for the gifts! It feels like a big winner to bring home these so many items with new friendships I got.
All participants also received free item from My Skin Essentials to lift everybody’s spirit every morning with their hand-made pore no more soap that contains the finest and purest certified organic ingredients that will surely purify and nourish our skin.
Aside from the mentioned above, we were so lucky to have free (almost unlimited) heaven-on-earth-feels Sans Rival and Green Tea Cakes from my all time favorite restaurant Lachi’s which I recently found out to be one of the best in the country (as published online).
Others include Sun Life Financials, Air Asia, Campaigns and Grey, TGIFridays, Italiannis, Eden Nature Park and Resort, Maxima Aquafun Resort, SM City Davao, SM Lanang Premier, NCCC, Martish Marketing, Alor’s Home Kitchen, Waterfront Hotel Davao and Annipie.
The party was indeed a proof that I am with the people whose passion for blogging is solidly supported by so many enterprises. I actually never thought that this event was so big to have so many sponsors. But it was and what an honor it must be for me to be part of them.
It has always been my wish to be part of a group like this. Though I’ve waited for so long, the wait was just so worth it especially to find it in a place miles away from home. To be surrounded with people whom you share the same interests with, it could have been easier to nurture and grow in a field you decided to stay with. I really look forward to more experiences together with them!
Lastly, I’d like to believe that the acquaintance party commenced another chapter of the journey I started six years ago. Six years of blogging more of personal stuffs. Maybe it’s about time to notch a level higher – about time to finally and proudly put that personalize shirt on.
In the midst of complexity of life, I found the opposite whenever I wander to places I’ve never thought I will be. In the first place, I never thought of staying in Mindanao for the longest time I have ever been away from home. But in this point of my life when I realized what kind of paradise I must have been in; especially the kind of paradise I lived in Lake Holon.
When we planned to visit Lake Holon, I never expected anything to experience more than I even expected. All the purpose I brought with me was to get away from the busy district of Davao. In fact, I didn’t even actually know that this lake exists; only to find out that it’s one of the must-visit lakes in the country. It was closed for sometime, for uncertain reason, and was reopened last March to let travellers and tourists live in a ‘different form of life.’
Lake Holon settles at west of General Santos City, that is a two-hour drive from the city proper; or more than four hours from Davao City (where my reference point was). Before the start of the trek, we traversed an hour drive from Tourism Office of T’Boli using habal-habal. The road is quite challenging as it isn’t concreted yet. Masakit sa hita at sa mata because of dusts that welcomed us — way far from the comfortable seats we were in the four-wheeled airconditioned vehicle we used to stick with for transportation. As it brings discomfort to some, the sceneries pleased my naked eyes. A lot of old trees and crops captured my attention which tells me the diversity and prosperity in this habitat. We were just starting to make our way to the mountain and lake, yet, it feels like we were already in the most secluded part of the south.
After an hour, we reached the receiving area where registration and short orientation happen. The T’Bolis welcomed us with their mother tounge (few words sounded familiar to me after I learned it the last time I visited Lake Sebu). After which, we completed all our gears to get ready for the hike. At around eleven in the morning, we put our best foot forward to move forward.
The hike went for almost three hours. On the first 30 minutes, we passed by a small community mixed of T’Boli and Illongo. The houses were made of bamboos and were built uniformly. Abaca fibers, that looked like hair strands of an old lady ghost, were stocked all over and were ready for weaving of malong and our favorite blankets. And what delighted me most was when I saw two kids happily playing something we used to call ‘Dama’ in Manila. It only needs stones and drawn grid to use your brain and checked your opponent. Indeed delighted to my eyes because I haven’t seen such for so long after virtual games have overpowered the spirit of larong pinoy.
We continued ascending for the next two hours into this diverse rainforest. From different kind of soil we stepped in – sandy, rocky, muddy, black, whitish, etc. – to tallest, oldest, and largest trees and flowers, fruits, crops and vines. Indeed, we were walking along a forest, where preservation of all living things prevail, that seems like only few had passed by. And maybe some of those few are also the people who make a living from the rich lake down below who would traverse the mountain to the lake, catch few numbers of Tilapia, go back to the base, sell their catch and make money to buy their necessities – and you would see them smile like the experience of doing it routinely is nothing.
At passed noon time, we reached the viewing deck to the lake which I believed to be the highest point. Though I’ve been to few hikes already and has regular leg workout, I felt a little pain on my hips and legs. Suddenly, I thought again the lola carrying her dog we bumped into. In my estimate, she’s already in her 70’s yet she seems more energized and powered than any of us. It made me think how less active our lifestyle must have been to see a lola as healthy, if not stronger than, as us – given the more resources, more options and, ultimately, more convinience than anyone living in the mountain.
But we survived. At pass two in the afternoon, the more than 300 hectares of water peacefully boxed in this mountain welcomed us. Although I already felt tired and dizzy, my eyes just can’t stop capturing this post-card instagram-worthy scenics we were privileged to experience. At the heights of the sun, we were chilling. T’was probably around 20-25 degree celsius in the vicinity with the fogs and clouds almost hugged us tight.
The pain didn’t matter anymore. We have seen the portion of the lake already, now we can’t wait to see its entirety. We descended a steep slope with all the remaining energy we have for almost 30 minutes – no stops. Nobody seemed to use up energy to speak nor to care what we could encounter along the way nor to choose where to grip beside us. The trail was one of the hardest – with very narrow steep downslope slippery trail one might stumble if not heeded.
The feeling is simply captivating. I was like time-hopped to a different dimension in a strange place. But if I were to get lost in this kind of paradise, I’m probably not wanting to come back. The cold breeze in a calm lake on top of a tranquil mountain is indeed heaven on earth. The hums and chirps of birds and insects are music to my ears. The green meadow is a blanket to lay down myself. And the clouds and the sky are movies must-watch.
It was truly worth all the time we rendered to conquer the mountain. Patience is indeed a virtue because after all the wait and challenges we encounter, we were delighted to embrace the beauty of life in Lake Holon.
This morning, my senior (at work), who is also into Photography, phone called me to deliver a good news of big discounts in a camera store in downtown. I showed my interest to buy a tripod so we both visited the store. At the store, I am surprised that the discounts would go to as high as 50% to 70%; really enticing to buy an item. However, it made me think of actually buying the tripod.
It costs PHP5,800.00 including the grip. The original price was more than 10K, which is almost 50% off. While it puts star on my eyes, I declined, for now.
For the reason that, although it theoretically saves me 50% of money, in reality, I feel like I will just lose it because I do not have enough now. You can’t actually save money from the ones you do not have enough with; especially when you still have a month to budget it.
For the reason that, I don’t believe to credit cards and pay-later schemes when I’m in reason number 1. My senior told me to lend me money so I can have the discounted-not-discounted tripod. I refused because I know I am not saving money from money I do not have yet. In fact, I will just dig myself deeper in the long run when you come to think of it.
For the reason that, right now, I care more about my stocks in the stock market especially when the company I watch out is going down. It made me wanna invest more. So instead of spending, my heart is happier putting it in stocks than buying the tripod.
So I postponed buying the tripod; and it actually takes an effort to turn down such deal especially when you are surrounded by people pushing you to take it. Whenever I’m on that kind of situation regardless whether there are people coaching on what should I do, I always put time to feel if I am happy pushing it through or a single drop of doubt is present. Either way, the later is my judgement.
It means ‘Welcome to Lake Sebu!’ One of the first things I learned while in the vicinity of the T’boli tribe was that their language is really quite far from any dialects of the Philippines. In fact, when I first hear them converse, I thought I was somewhere in the middle east – their diction is matigas and they speak fast like those I watched in movies. However, it made me wonder to ask some expressions and words to translate in T’boli and to my surprise, none really sounds familiar. So if you wonder how I talk to them (for those interested to visit the place), there are some of them who have bachelor’s degree, who are doctors and lawyer, who have embraced changes in the world while keeping theirs.
I didn’t exactly know where the first stop would be when I reached the municipality of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato. So when I noticed the tourism office sign board, I immediately drop off. There I met Kuya Greg Fungan (09262659005), nephew of the mayor with a habal who received a degree in agriculture. He offered me a tour for PHP400.00 only which I okayed with although I drove my car to this place. It’s just a different experience to tour around using a habal and talk to your guide to get to know the place and the people, or in this case the tribe, any better. Aside to that, the tourism office, according to Kuya Greg, charges a separate fee for the guide, the habal, and their own fee. So technically, I got a cheaper access to the beautiful place of Lake Sebu.
The tour guide immediately accompanied me to the famous lake. Looking back the past, it has been the center of civilization of the T’bolis. It’s very evident now that the lake provides life to the people. It is currently the source of food and water in the municipality and its neighboring provinces. The lake has a rich biodiversity. It is famous for inhabiting large number of Tilapia. You’ll noticed along the road wholesale of live Tilapias. In fact, their catch could reach to as far as General Santos and Davao City.
I took a kayak for PHP100.00 to atleast feel the experience of being within the Lake. And the feeling? Gah, I could stay there for much longer. The lake is so calm and peaceful. It’s a place to go whenever somebody wanted to relax together with nature. The only things you’ll hear are the music coming from the tribal band and the sounds of birds playing while catching their meal. The lake truly gives an impression that there is something to discover about this place than the fear of mere visiting it (due to neighboring provinces such as Maguindanao and Cotabato City).
Not to exaggerate, the lake seems like a living one. While we are kayaking, it feels like somebody was telling me the simple life there is. There are people, mix of T’boli and Ilonggo, living in an island within the lake. Their main transportation to the municipal proper is the kayak made out of ‘Lawaan’ tree which they hand-carved themselves. They use it to fish, to transfer goods and do it routinely; it’s also the same kayak we used to go around the lake. Needless to say, they make a living out of the resources they only have. They value the simple things they have as it plays a significant role in their life.
Afterwards, we visited the famous Seven Falls. For those who have already felt not thrilled to ziplines, I still recommend doing so because the scenery is just epic! I’ve witnessed the other falls through it and there you’ll realize how truly wonderful Mindanao is when you forget about the turmoil you thought of in the entire region. The Falls 2 or Hikong Bente was just breathtaking. I feel a portion of The Grand Canyon when I first saw it. It stands to as high as 70 meters that brings too much pressure even I was about 200 meters away. In fact, it seems like the falls poured out rain upon us. The other falls, as I said, can be seen via the zipline. The 6th and 7th falls aren’t accessible for not known reasons.
The experience in Lake Sebu can be done in a day. But for those interested to have an overnight stay (to also witness a mesmerizing sunset in the lake), the LGU offers a PHP60.00 per night stay. I haven’t seen the place inside but I believe the place is enough for travelers to spend the night.
I won’t end this post by not including the road to Lake Sebu. Seriously, anybody (especially those from Manila) would not thought that South Cotabato has a well-done road system. It’s an eight-lane traffic. Some parts of the highway of Koronadal and Marbel implements a 40KPH speed limit. And mind you, the people obey traffic rules (there was a time when I thought of it as a joke because the road they have kind of deserve an 80KPH MINIMUM speed limit). If you feel safe traveling in SCTEX or CAVITEX or NLEX and SLEX, you must consider it safe in this highway.
So when you still doubt visiting the place, you better doubt your choices.
My visit to the province of Bohol was compacted to only two short days because aside from the famous chocolate hills, the other tourist spots are just few kilometers away from downtown Tagbilaran City. In fact, it can be done by one whole day except if you wanna visit Danao Adventure Park for some thrill and be mesmerize in the white beaches of Panglao Island.
My travel started from Cebu where I rode an Oceanjet Ferry for two hours going to Bohol (Fare: PHP800.00 round-trip). That two hours of travel helped me re-energize myself from my hike a day before in Osmena Peak and actually changed my whole plan in Bohol – one of the things I like about travelling solo because you can change whatever your plan is whenever you wanted. While on our way to Tagbilaran City, I was reading some travel blogs about Bohol when I came across a blog sharing her experience about The Plunge in Danao Adventure Park. I suddenly remember the time when a friend of mine did a bungee jump there that made me wanted to visit the place. So I put Danao as my first stop.
From the pier of Tagbilaran City, I rode a trike going to Dao Bus Terminal in front of Island City Mall (Fare: PHP50.00). Then I rode an SMTC bus with a 9AM trip going to Danao. This is a 3-hour long travel which already includes a lot of stopovers of the bus (Fare: PHP100.00). According to some locals, it’s better to ride a Van instead because it will only take an hour and half to reach the place. However, the long travel is enough to pass by a lot of chocolate hills. In fact, I could already afford not to visit the overlooking view in Carmen because I’ve got enough.
The 3-hour long travel traveled my mind farther. As I was observing the people inside the bus, I feel like I was the only one stranger because they talked to each other and having a good laugh. Seems like it’s the only bus to drive to Danao and their only vehicle to connect to the city. In fact, we were the only vehicle passing by that road at that time. That road is rough on almost half of the way. Perhaps, if you are impatient, you’ll get hot-headed just as how we are impatient with our own lives by complaining so many things we couldn’t get our way or things we haven’t seen in the first place. But just like any other amusement park, the wait will be over to experience the things we didn’t expect to be better.
When I arrived in Danao Adventure Park, the two sweet receptionists informed me that ‘The Plunge’ (Bungee Jump) has been closed since the magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed its foundation last 2013. But they offered me a more thrilling experience through Sky Rappelling. According to them, it’s the highest in the Philippines. So without any doubt, I booked one for PHP800.00. The video below sums it up.
When I reached the ground, aside from an overwhelming feeling of making it, I couldn’t help but be amazed with the rock formations in the river along Dagohoy Hill (It’s where Francisco Dagohoy and the longest revolt in the Philipppines took place). But according to the locals, the presence of huge rocks were also due to the quake.
PS: The staffs of Danao Adventure Park is what customer service all about!
I only stayed there for three hours but I feel like I have already experienced the whole Bohol. I got back to Tagbilaran City at around 7PM already (Fare: PHP85.00 non-aircon bus) and stayed in San Jose Pension House for a night stay of PHP800.00. (This made me think why there are more cheaper rooms in Manila and Davao than Bohol. Hmmm)
My first stop the next day is Carmen and see a view of the Chocolate Hills. I rode a non-aircon bus in Dao Terminal at around six in the morning (Fare: PHP65.00). Along the way, I passed by the historic Loboc Church ruined also by the quake. I haven’t brought out my camera because I was struck looking at it. It made me think how rich Bohol is in terms of heritage, culture and Catholicism. Spain’s influence was still present seeing a church, plaza, school and market all in the same place (called pueblo). Also, I saw the mesmerizing Loboc River with a blue-green clear water.
Not too far from Loboc, we passed by the famous man-made forest which is worth taking pictures while in the center of the roadway. But since I commuted and cannot have the time to drop off for a little time, I only captured it through a video.
After almost two hours of transit, I arrived in Municipality of Carmen. I hired a habal-habal for PHP50.00 to bring me up to the top of a hill. When I was younger, I always wonder if the Chocolate Hills are man-made because it’s kinda too good to be true to have all that hill in one place. The habal driver told me that the myth behind it was that all those hills were simply the teardrops from a giant living in there a long time ago. If those were teardrops, those are the most beautiful ones.
I went back to Tagbilaran City before 12noon and contracted a habal driver for PHP200.00 to get me to Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Baclayon Church and Sikatuna blood-compact with Legaspi. The price is okay already because Corella is like 15-20 kilometers aways from Dao Terminal and Baclayon is also farther from Corella. I took few photos only because I was already starving.
Afterwards, I visited the white Alona Beach of Panglao Island (Fare: PHP25.00 from across Island City Mall). This white beach is really a must-visit. The place is mesmerizing and the view is just heaven on earth (minus the tourist). I’ve heard that for those who wanted to feel the place more, visit Dimaluan Beach just few minutes away from Alona because the later is really crowded with a lot of foreigners. There’s no entrance fee to pay so feel free to wade into the crystal clear water.
I was so happen to be lucky that night because I got a free dinner from Ricardo and Vivian RestoBar with grilled big prawns and large red fish (Forgot the name). The food were seriously seriously great so I highly recommend trying this restobar. It’s truly worth your money!
It’s just great to end a travel in a beach. While it relaxes your body, it gives you time to think about how the days had gone so fast and how well you did to accomplish and bring back another set of time in your life.