Enthralled by El Nido

I found my paradise in the Philippines.

Spellbounding Siquijor

A brave girl's first ever solo trip was to this mystical island.

The Quiet Charm of Cagbalete Island

Outdoor serenity at its best.

The Rugged Beauty of Islas de Gigantes

The off-the-beaten rockin beauty of Northern Iloilo.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Davao River Tubing: So Wet, So Wild!


Day 5

It was our last day in Davao and our flight was not until the evening so, we were still able to squeeze this in to our itinerary. Beau initially wanted to do the Whitewater Rafting but I disagreed. It is ridiculously expensive at PHP 2000 per person! Whereas in CDO, it's just PHP 700. Nope, ain't gonna work for me. It's not that I can't afford it. It's more of, I could spend that amount of money for something more worth it.

We looked for an alternate outdoor activity that does not cost too much but still an engaging one. That was when we read about "paanod" or river tubing. It also looked exciting and fun, just what adventurous people would love to do. It also thrilled me that it only costs PHP 450. We then contacted Layak and reserved our slots.


getting ready


The meeting place was at the Layak Outdoor Shop (photo above). They are also located in Calinan. The same place to go when you're heading to the Prayer Mountain and the Philippine Eagle Center. From the drop off, we just took a tricycle going to the shop. We just paid the minimum fare (PHP 8.00 each).


en route to the river


We all agreed to meet at the shop by 9:00 AM but the other group was late. We got completed at around 10:00. We were only a group of 7. We were supposed to be 8 but our other friend backed-out. From Calinan, we were transported to Malagos along with the tubes. The ride took about 20 minutes. From there, it was another 10-minute hike to the riverbank.


the compulsory group picture before tubing :) 


At this point, we were instructed to get ready and wear our gears and life jackets. The tubes were also distributed individually to us. Bring your own tube. :)


warming-up


Until finally, we reached the river. I listened attentively to the briefing because I need to know the things to do when something happens. I'm always very cautious when it comes to water activities because I don't know how to swim hehe.


this is it!


It was an ideal day for tubing. The water was not too high and the current not too strong. I immediately felt relaxed because the Layak Team (our guides) were very mindful of us.




We also had our breaks. If you see those bottles of water and snacks in our vest pockets, yes we munched on them during breaks haha.


break


Then time again to get through these rapids. We were lucky that the sun was not all out that day. We never had to worry about getting our skin burnt.


hawak paa, di kita iiwan sa paglalakbay ♪♫ lol


After a series of difficult rapids, it was break time once again. Though it was not that hot, the activity made us  thirsty and a little hungry.


wee!

snack time


After 3 hours of floating in the river and bumping our butts to the rocks, it came to an end. There had been some minor accidents but everyone made it safely which we were all grateful for.


awesome!


My friend Khaye and I were the only 2 people who didn't fall off the tubes throughout the course. Yipee! My bum made a good balancing I guess haha. We were totally unscathed. Others had a bad fall and some accidentally hit their head. We're thankful nothing very serious happened.


survived with flying colors haha!


It was a very happy experience. Some girls from the other group swore never to do it again. In my case, I wouldn't mind repeating the adventure. I think I would be happier to do it on a higher water level. It would be more mind-blowing haha.


Beau with Team Layak


We got to talk to the boys of the Team and also met the owner/founder of the shop/group while waiting for our picture CD. We learned how everything started and how it became the fun adventure that it is today. We also got some Apo hiking tips from them hehe. They are a bunch of cool ourdoorsey people.  :)

We ended our Davao trip with this wet and wild adventure. Don't miss this when you visit Davao City! The adrenaline rush and the refreshing water from the river will make you feel so alive.


If you also want to try it, you may contact:

Layak Outdoors (Paanod)
Address: Fausta Street, Calinan, Davao City
Contact No: 0925-518-0707; 0933-207-5696
Email: layak_paanod@yahoo.com
Fee: Php 450.00

Enjoy!!! :)



This is Part 5 of my Davao travel series.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Up Close With The Philippine Eagle: Philippine Eagle Center, Davao City


Day 4 (continued)

It was still early when we finished touring the Prayer Mountain. We still have half of the day to see more of Davao City. We had lunch in one of the eateries (read: carenderia) in Calinan, where we tasted the best Balbacua so far. Ugh, I felt bad not taking a photo of it and for forgetting the name of the place. My bad. But it was delicious enough, that I won't forget how it tasted.

After that hearty lunch, we decided to visit the Philippine Eagle Center which is also just nearby the area. Since there were four of us, we just rented a tricycle to take us there. Like what we did in Tamayong, we just asked our driver to wait for us and just give him extra for his waiting time.




We reached the Center within 10-15 minutes. We paid the PHP 50 Entrance Fee. We find it cool that they have umbrellas ready for their guests. It seems like it's always raining there hehe.




So our assumption was right. Only after 5 minutes, the rain started to pour. It wasn't just rain showers, it was a heavy one. We ran to the nearest shed we could find before we got soaked.




We waited for a while for the rain to stop. We wanted to wander slowly in order for us to get more up close with the birds. We didn't want to rush it. The rain never really stopped but at least it reduced in to mild rain showers. We continued our sightseeing right then.




The trails became wet and muddy and I was just wearing those thin flat shoes. My feet will get wet in no time if I continue wearing them anyway, so I just took them off and walked around the center barefoot. Nothing quite like it haha. :)




The Center resembles a tropical rain forest environment. It is a perfect habitat for our eagles. It currently houses 36 of them.




We finally get to see this lovely bird up close. I actually wondered for a second if it's okay for them to get rained on. Won't they catch a cold or something? Sometimes I can get that silly haha. But seriously, I hope they don't get sick.




Philippine Eagle used to be called as Monkey-Eating Eagle. It was later changed upon discovering that they don't only prey on monkey for food. It was declared as our national bird on 1995. It is the largest breed of eagle in the world, length wise. They are also one of the most rare and most powerful birds in the world. It's so sad that they are now severely endangered due to deforestation.




They are endemic to the Philippines. See the definition of endemic on the photo above. All the more, we should do everything to protect and conserve them.


The Center is also a home to 10 other bird species. I took photos of some of them below.






















They also house four species of mammals. One of them is this pig which is also endemic to our country.







We enjoyed our mini-educational tour here in The Philippine Eagle Center. Even if you don't have a guided tour, just reading the signages will give you so much information and will make you understand more about them.






If we all do our part, we will still get to see them on the years to come. Our next generations will still be able to see them too. My heart bled upon hearing the news back in 2011 that a Philippine Eagle has been shot by some ignorant farmer. It takes years for them to produce an egg and they will just be killed just like that. It was really depressing. Educating people properly will help to preserve them.




I also read a lot of not so good comments from fellow Filipinos who visited the Center. They say the place is poorly maintained and all that rubbish. Surprisingly, the foreigners who came to visit had much more good things to say. To those people who just went there to criticize the facilities of the center and not appreciate the effort of conserving them, instead of giving negative comments, why don't you just do your part? Give donations to help them improve the facilities. Volunteer, so you'll have a feel of how hard it is to maintain the place. It's not just some park, you know.




I hope the Philippine Eagle survives for a long time. It would be awesome if our future children and grandchildren can still get a glimpse of this magnificent bird. Let us all do our share to protect and preserve our forests and animals.

Long live, Philippine Eagle! :)



This is Part 4 of my Davao travel series.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding Tranquility in Tamayong Prayer Mountain


Day 4

I've only heard and read about this place a few times before. And no, not from seasoned travelers. I heard about this from people who weren't just seeking for a new place to go to, but from people who were chasing serenity. I've seen their astonishing photos and I was sold.

After doing a little bit of research, I found out that you can't just walk-in there. You have to register first and a secure a recommendation letter from their office at Jose Maria College. You also have to pay PHP 100 per pax for Entrance Fee. These properties are owned by Apollo Quiboloy's family. Yes, Pastor Quiboloy of the religious group, The Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name. Others were probably taken aback because of this. But for open-minded travelers, this is not an issue at all. :)


the main gate


The Prayer Mountain is located at the foot of Mt. Apo, in Third District of Davao City, in Calinan. Going here is not very easy. From the city center, you have to travel to Calinan. Then from the town of Calinan, hire a habal-habal to take you to Tamayong. It was quite a ride! The pineapple plantations, the durian trees along the way and the very cold weather, altogether gives you a wonderful feeling. I once again felt that urge (the way I felt in Siquijor) to raise my hands while on the motorbike but then it was not safe hehe. All in all, it will take you less than an hour to get here.


welcome! :)


When we arrived, the security guard asked for our recommendation letter right away. After verifying it, he then called the guard on the other gate and instructed him to let us in. Apparently, there are different gates for the members and the visitors. We were immediately entertained by a Brother (I'm sorry, I'm really bad at names). First, we were asked to watch a video about why and how the place was built and of course about their activities. Don't worry, they are very nice and they won't persuade you to be a part of their religious group. You will actually feel their lightheartedness by the way they welcome visitors no matter what your religious background is. All you have to do is to return their kindness. :)


We were then escorted by Brother and he toured us in the entire vicinity. He was so nice that he was even holding the umbrella for us. Aww.

This place is also known as the Covenant Mountain and Prayer Center or Garden of Eden Restored (which was its old name). Upon entering the gate, you'll already feel a sense of peace and spirituality.


so zen





More than 50% of the flora here were imported from different parts of the world. No wonder some of the flowers we saw seemed unrecognizable but all of them were so beautiful!










The trees, the plants, the flowers, everything you see has that calming effect. This is an 8-hectare property. So imagine being in this vastness surrounded with God's creations.



 a tree almost touching the sky


This place was built here at the foothills based on the belief that a mountain had always been a significant place for God's dealing with men.



prayer gazebo



It's so fascinating how well this property is taken care of. As you walk along, you will notice a group of hard-working people tending to the plants and cleaning every corner of place. They say trucks of water are being used here everyday to maintain the beautiful garden and landscapes. And would you believe that every single plants that are prone to pests, are being soaped by the gardeners individually? :)



lizzie in wonderland :)


There's a relaxing music playing all around the garden and when we tried locating where its coming from, we found these big kick-ass outdoor landscape speakers. A pair of these cost USD 500, so it's roughly PHP 10,000 each! We found out that the garden's centralized music is being played 24/7. Just wow!


the soothing music source


The mansion below is the official residence of  Pastor Quiboloy himself. This is located at the northern end of the property.


Pastoral Mansion


On the northwestern part, you will see the Millenneal Houses.





These are grand row houses which are being used by the group members, visitors and pilgrims from other parts of the world whenever they have big events or gatherings here.



Pink Millenneal House


Their colors are pink, blue and yellow. And nope, it wasn't just because they liked those colors. The color code has a purpose. The blue house is for the men, pink for the women and yellow for families or couples. We were able to check out the inside of the yellow house. :)


Yellow Millenneal House


Across the Pink Millenneal House, is Victoria's Restaurant. In front of it is the Star of David Fountain. Here, we were asked to sign their guestbook and there was also a section there where you can give some donation to a children's foundation. That was not obligatory though, you just give whatever you can or if you have a spare money to share.


Victoria Restaurant


We had a fun and enlightening morning that day. It was one of the nicest gardens I've been too, and the first of its kind, I've seen in the country. I'm so glad we made it to this haven. Please don't be put off by the religion factor. They welcome everyone with open arms.


just happy :)


Did this post made you curious? So you want to go there too? Here's how:


Directions from Davao City:
  1. From Davao City center, go to Bangkerohan where the terminal to Calinan is.
  2. Take the L300 going to Calinan, fare is PHP 45.
  3. Disembark in Calinan town proper, there's a queue of habal-habal in one of the side streets there. Tell them to take you to Tamayong Prayer Mountain. Locals also know this as Quiboloy's. They charge PHP 30 each one-way (PHP60 back and forth). But since it is quite far and secluded, you may find it difficult to get a ride back to town. We asked our drivers to just wait for us and just paid them PHP 100 per person.

Other Tips:
  1. Registration and admission fee payment is at Jose Maria College. It is just adjacent to the airport.
  2. Please dress appropriately. No revealing tops, shorts or short skirts especially for the girls.
  3. Closed footwear is most preferred. Those pink shoes, I bought it in Davao because I just brought flipflops with me on this trip hehe.
  4. If you're going there on the sunny time of the day, you may bring your own umbrella to keep you protected from the sun.
  5. Most importantly, follow their do's and don'ts to show respect. You will get a list of those when you're done with your registration.

That's all! I hope you'll also enjoy the presence of God in this paradise garden. I swear, you'll leave the place with a lighter and a happier heart. :)




This is Part 3 of my Davao travel series.