The days have been so mercilessly hot and humid. Living in a tropical climate all my life would make me think that I could take this summer beating but this is somewhat too plain much!  After going through all those rains and floods last year, now this?

The unbearable heat leaves you drained of energy – move an inch, and you’re already shedding buckets of sweat! ハッ!(`ロ´ ; )  Sure there is an AC at my place of work, but it’s the Holy Week break (yahoo!) so I’m at home now.  My unreliable AC can’t fight off the heat in my room. During the hottest part of the day (10 am to 4 pm) I can’t help but lie down and sleep off the heat.  Ugh! huhuhu!

But summer has its perks: fruits like mangoes, melons, avocado, and watermelons are cheaper and abundant; tropical flowers like our fiery fuchsia bougainvillea seem to be thriving in this unusual dry spell; since school is out, there’s less traffic jams, and of course, summer means BEACH OUTINGS!

Last Sunday, we had our company outing at Laiya, Batangas.  I brought along my best bud, Levlev.  I’ve been going to Laiya every summer since 2004  (except last year though 😦 ). It’s my most favorite beach (even topping Boracay in my list) so far…

Located in San Juan in Batangas, Laiya is a three hour drive from Manila.  The beach is clean, and has no dangerous waves… great for kayaking.

Casa Remo was where we stayed.  It is reasonably priced and has small apartelles and one big house (above) with plenty of rooms.  It is not beside the beach though, so you have to walk a short distance to get to it.

Palm Sunday 2010: we celebrated mass at White Cove Resort.

Early Monday morning, we woke up to make use of the time left… swim to our hearts’ content!

Watcha waitin’ for? Ligo naaaah! Woo-hoo!

I♡♡♡  Laiya, forevah! \(♡´∀`♡ )/ If only this is the view that greets me when I look outside my house.  Sighs.

if not, then, i’m praying for the rains to come soon…*fingerscrossed*

~pls Lord umulan na sana~ (^人^ ) 雨乞いをする

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Note: This is a continuation of Part 3 - More of Camiguin

On our last day in Camiguin… we woke up before dawn today to catch the sunrise at White Island. To get to the island, one can rent a boat for Php450 for a back and forth trip.

White Island is a crescent shape sand bar just off the coast of Mambajao. White sand or powdered corals can be found here. You can also get a nice view of Camiguin Island on this sandy strip…

We had the whole island to ourselves when we got here at 5:30 am…

Watching the sunrise in the east of the sand bar…

…while the moon sets in the west.

The Gathering: The A Girls and I are getting ready for a new day of…

…more crazy  jump shots, what else? Wheee! :0) (shots by Kneil; camera by Jjai)

No, please! Don’t make me quote THAT song…lol!

Just me and my trolly feet

More tourists were coming in while we were getting set to leave. Above pic shows the Old Volcano on the left while Mt. Hibok-Hibok is the one farther into the background on the right.

Goodbye, beautiful island! 😦 (Left pic by Amih)…

Alas, it was time to leave Camiguin…I hope to come back again and get to explore more of this unique island – a day and a half just isn’t enough…

We headed to Benoni Port to catch an 8:15 ferry for CDO’s Balingoan Port. The fee was Php150.

We had to hurry because we still had an adventurous afternoon ahead of us…

Next Post: Rafting Adventure in CDO!

If you wish to visit Camiguin, Adarna Travel and Tours can help you with your bookings. Their tel. nos. are (02) 9344632 and (02) 5717739.

Day 3, 4, and 5: April 7-9, 2008 (Monday to Wednesday)

Donna was our next hostess in Indonesia.  We joined her, her three kiddos and a friend for a 2-3 hour ride to Pelabuhan Ratu, which is a fishing village in the south coast of West Java.  I was told that we will get to see the Indian Ocean from there.  Wow, this is the farthest I’ve ever been away from home…

The three hour ride (coming from Sentul City) was…well, long but I love long rides anyway. It gives me a chance to observe a place especially when it is my first time to visit it.  As I said, tea plantations were everywhere.  Not only that, there were oil palm and rubber tree plantations as well.  I guess that the Indonesian government doesn’t like leaving their lands idle–they will take advantage of their volcanic enriched soil and plant anything that can prove to be productive (I could insert here a sarcastic comment and comparative remark about our own idle lands here in the Philippines but I won’t, baka mawalan lang ako ng gana–just think happy thoughts, SL).

“Ay…ano yan?” we asked ourselves as we zoomed along the road…I just recently found out (in the internet of course) that these were oil palm plantations.  Indonesia produces 44% of the world palm oil production. (info source: pedca )

We arrived at Ocean Queen Adventure Resort at Pelabuhan Ratu.

We were thrilled with our cottage!  To me, it was more of a real house than a cottage –there was a sala, porch, kitchen, one bathroom, and three bedrooms. Pardon me for those towels hanging out there…that’s just how we do it, and that’s that. 8)

There is a pool and a restaurant.  You get to have your own personal attendant (to help you cook and prepare food and clean the cottage.

Indonesian-style cabanas dot the shore line along the bay.

The resort was named after the Queen of the South Sea-whom the folks call Nyai Loro Kidul. They believed that this goddess queen lives in a watery palace in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the drownings of fishermen and swimmers in the area.  They even sent warnings to tourists not to wear green bathing suits or else–the queen will decide to invite you and pull you down to her home as well as to your watery grave…Did I think it was just a simple rural myth to entice tourists to the place? Of course…but still it wouldn’t hurt if I leave my green shirts and shorts behind in Sentul, just to be sure…ehe-he-he…

But real or not…I wouldn’t for the life of me, go and swim in the bay…The waves were just too strong (and real loud).  Even surfers avoid it and settle for the safe area near the resort. But notice how green the water was…If you were wearing green, you’ll disappear in the seascape the minute you dive into it…and the harder to locate you if you get carried away by the waves…so it IS better to wear something bright like orange or yellow, in case you may want to brave the waters.

Warning on the wall: “Take care at all times when swimming in the sea even when calm…An unexpected large wave can catch you unawares…LOOK BEHIND YOU.” No need to warn me…You got me at “take care.”

We enjoyed watching the surfers–local (they were great!) and foreign–riding the waves at Teluk Pelabuhan Bay. We also enjoyed seeing them fall, too (hehe)…and go back again…and again…

I’m not wearing green, see?” (left) Ha! Takot ko lang! Better to be superstitious than sorry…

Donna and her brood were real cool.  So is her Indonesian friend, Tet.  Donna was as usual in her generous and lively self, taking good care of all of us.

The Hostess with the Mostest: Donna with soon-to-be barbecued jumbo shrimps she bought from the local fisherfolk.  Nakakahiya sa yo, Mare. Salamat sa lahat-lahat!

We stayed in the resort for three days and two nights.  There were places to explore in south Java–caves and other beaches but we just stayed put and relaxed, for on Wednesday…we were headed for yet another exciting road trip…

To be continued: Indo-xicating Places (Finale)

We also revisited Lingayen, my mom’s hometown. A rush of wonderful memories of many happy childhood summers came back as I toured the town’s plaza, capitol building, market, church, grandma’s resting place, and of course, our beloved Lingayen Gulf!

There you are, Lelong! Locating my maternal great grandfather’s name etched on a bronze plate (at right) on a Rizal monument in the Lingayen town plaza.

(Left) We took part in a good old-fashioned small town religious procession making its way around the plaza…

How much does it weigh? One of the old retired bells from Lingayen Church on display (right)…

At dusk, we strolled along the sprawling, well-kept Capitol grounds and admired Pangasinan’s pride: the elegant Capitol building with its American design, Commonwealth era neo-classical architecture at left.

Better lift those shorts, guys…Night strolling at Lingayen Gulf (right) and enjoying the salty cool breeze and the rhythmic sounds of the waves.

Good food and awesome brood…

Relatives welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. At left, we were treated to a fantastic feast as we relived memories, went through photos, and updated each other with news regarding family.

Special thanks to Tita Dolly, Tita Nene, Malu and the rest of the clan! We had a blast! We hope to come back soon.  Next, we promise to revisit the ancestral house, pay respect to the rest of our brood and tour more of Pangasinan as well–Bolinao, Sual, and those secret white beaches you guys have been raving about. So excited already…

We spent Holy Week 2008 in Pangasinan. Most of the time, we spent it in Alaminos, the home of the Hundred Islands. It was a vacation well spent…

I’ve been to the Hundred Islands before but this is the first time I truly enjoyed it, being more adventurous and fearless now than I’ve ever been. At the Don Gonzalo Montemayor wharf, we chartered an outrigger motorized boat that could seat 10-12 people (I think we paid 1,500 pesos but you can haggle if you know how).

Picturesque emerald isles. We snorkeled and picnicked in and around some of the main islands (Quezon, Governor’s and Marcos).

The facilities were alright (although there was a funky smell at the Gov’s Island at that time), the heat was bearable and the tourists (and there were a good number of them) were tolerable. The Alaminos city government did a pretty good job in handling their local tourism industry.

Picnic at the beach (at left). Enjoying Pangasinan mangoes and burritos…and with a great view to boot!

Sizzle, sizzle!Ang init! The three beauties (Sis, Pchie and Paula) taking shelter from the summer heat (at right) in one of the main islands, Quezon island….

Sis and I with our “hermana mayor” for this memorable vacay: Dolly, our gorgeous tita (in the middle)! Galing, babalik kami!

Next post…Part 2: Revisiting Beloved Pangasinan!

We stayed in Gumasa for a week (continuation from last post). Aside from a few people staying in the other resorts and some locals passing by, we had the beach all to ourselves most of the time.

What am I supposed to be? A sarimanok? Donning a colorful costume mask for Halloween.

WBC Lightweight Champion and Gensan’s favorite son, Manny Pacquiao, his family and entourage plus the mayor of Gumasa stayed for two days and one night as well. We celebrated Halloween Night parading in costumes around the beach. During daytime, we as usual whiled the time away by taking pictures, playing frisbee, nature strolling, eating and kulitan, building sandcastles, napping, and swimming.

Meron pa doon o! That’s not fish they’re catching…The Doc and son cleaning up the leaves and husks along the seashore.

Food was one of the perks from this trip. The fragrant local rice, asparagus from Bukidnon, and fresh Gensan tuna were superb! Plus fisherfolk plying their wares on the shore–freshly caught seafood from Sarangani Bay–was something we anticipated each day.

Puede pong magpapiktyur? Of course, your trip to Gensan is not complete without sighting a celebrity: Mrs. Jinky Pacquiao. Her famous hubby (surrounded by many bodyguards) was out fishing in the bay. Sayang!

On the downside…since it was a non-commercialized beach with a few amenities, the locals do whatever they can to clean up the organic wastes (e.g. leaves, coconut husks) that tend to pile up along the seashores. You’ll do fine if you don’t mind all that.

La curacha! I especially enjoyed the curacha or red frog crabs which I then learned were neither alimango nor alimasag. They cooked these with squash and creamy coc0nut milk.

Moreover, there was no signal for our cellphones during the time that we were there. We had to drive to the city in order to get a signal. There was no cable link as well…the only TV network available was GMA (being a Kapuso, I didn’t mind). But that’s expected for trips like these. You’re on vacation, that’s the point! If you’re the urban type who cannot live without checking his emails, receiving SMS messages, or throws a fit if you miss an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Lost–then don’t plan on staying here for a long time (or don’t bother going at all but sayang–you’ll be missing out, sige ka!). The only trouble we encountered was that we didn’t receive an important SMS message from Cebu Pacific, informing us that our flight for home was changed. Oh, well…

Kainan naaa! Dining alfresco (left photo) by the beach before leaving for Manila. Grabeeh! This is the LIFE!!!

Lechon de leche and lumpiang shanghai (top right) being served for Christian’s birthday and The Doc’s family reunion. Kudos to the brave Rox who climbed on a chair and hung on for his dear life just to get this bird’s eye-view shot.

If you plan to visit Gumasa, bring with you lots of music in your Ipod, frisbee, beach volleyball, sand-castle building tools (a spoon and a cup will do!) and a kite (please leave the PSP behind–get some sun and work on those lethargic muscles instead), several really good books, a laptop (if you want to write your novel, songs or poetry), art supplies (if you’re into seascapes), sunblock and Off lotions…and cameras!

And oh, by the way, the sunsets at Gumasa Beach (below right) are not to be missed. When I was there, the setting of the sun was one of the things I looked forward to each day. That’s me in the header shot for this blog, enjoying the spectacular fiery Gumasa horizon at dusk.

There are other Gumasa lovers that attest to the beach’s many splendors. They compared Gumasa to Boracay–saying this was just like Boracay decades ago without the onslaught of commercialism or Gumasa is the Boracay of Mindanao. You can check out Androtan’s, Anafilibini’s and Danny’s testimonials. They can give you the contact numbers of the Gumasa resorts as well as directions on how to get there.

Go ahead…Gumasa awaits you!

Postscript:

Thanks to Rox, Pchie and Paula for some of the shots posted here. My gratitude also goes out to Doc’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. A, and relatives for their warmth and hospitality. Maraming salamat po! This is also in loving memory of Manang Senia (Doc and Rox’s childhood nanny at left) who shared some of her last happy days with all of us together during this trip…we miss you, Manang!

During the sembreak of 2007 (last week of October), I joined Sis, Doc Drew and family on a trip to The Doc’s place of his roots, Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani. We had been planning this for ages, and I’ve heard of the place being talked about with so much awe for a long time that I had to see it myself. Taking advantage of Cebu Pacific’s promo discounted fares, we immediately booked the available seats months in advance for the sembreak period without second thoughts.

And it was without regrets…

Drew’s parents fetched us from the Gensan Airport. After a long trip, we arrived on a dark stormy afternoon with the waves crashing on the seashore. It felt like nature was telling us, “Welcome! You’ll enjoy your stay just as long as you don’t mess with me, alright?” As the waves calmed down, we walked along the beach at night and I immediately got fascinated by the soft, powdery sands underneath my feet. The next morning…well, the pictures below tell the story:

…..I lazed around, lying on the hammock under the shade of the manzanillo tree. The strong waves from the previous night had cleaned up the shore–making the sand stand out with its fine ecru-white hues. Sarangani Bay looked inviting and calm in its turquoise-blue state of serenity.

Other snapshots from the beach…

….Wow, Philippines! Pchie scanning the blue, blue horizon ala baywatch babe.

Hello, Gumasa beach boy! Levic showing off a shell he had found along the shore…

….Aah..sarraap! a local dog cavorting (more like getting a self-massage) on the sand

Ang bahay sa gulod…this privately-owned, charming, little pink house fronting the beach was where we stayed. Sis enjoys her respite on the porch, listening to the waves (top right). There is a series of simple beach resorts along the 3 kilometer stretch of the shoreline. Don’t expect anything fancy though. People who live around this area are simple folks who frown on loud, raucous drunks and ear-splitting karaoke singing…

It was a time to slow down and recharge, to breathe deep and throw away your cellphones (don’t gasp–it’s just for a while)…

More snapshots in the next post