Best Cebu Blogs Awards 2014

Best Cebu Travel Blog
Credits: Best Cebu Blogs
December is without a doubt, the best month of the year. Christmas is fast approaching, anytime we will be receiving our 13 month pay, its my birth month and its the month where the best of the best blogs in Cebu from different niches will be named. I was utterly stunned and over the moon last 2012 when my blog won two major categories – Best Cebu Travel Blog and Best Cebu Personal Blog. The whole experience during the awarding ceremony and the trophies made me fall in love with blogging even more and made me even more determined to explore every nook of the country and share my stories with other people and to help inspire them to travel and enjoy life.

My blog once again was short-listed into the Best Cebu Travel Blog category together with other six notable travel bloggers. The idea of potentially repeating history made me more excited. I can't wait for the awards night and witness the winners. Congratulations to all the nominees!

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Climbing the Highest Peak in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao


My love for the mountains started in 2011 after I solo backpack Zambales. It was an unplanned climb, because I was there not physically torture myself, but to bum and chill at the fine sand of Anawangin Cove. The decision of climbing Mt. Pundaquit (despite the typhoon signal) gave birth to this new hobby, mountain climbing. After that climbed, I dream of climbing the three highest mountains in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. That's how ambitious I am.

Here comes February of 2012, I got an invitation for a Mt. Pulag climb via the executive Ambangeg­-Ambangeg trail. This is the preferred trail for the non­-climbers who only wanted to witness the sea of clouds which is the major highlight of this climb. I easily confirmed my participation without any second thought that I may not survive the extreme cold weather and the high altitude. Prior to this the highest mountain I climbed is just below a thousand meters above sea level. After climbing the highest roof in Luzon, I had a grandiose idea of climbing not just the three highest peak per major island group, but to explore and climb every mountain as much as possible while I still can.

I do not have any climbing group, because I do not consider myself as a mountaineer. I just love the feeling of being on top of the world both literally and figuratively. The downside of being a freelancer is that you have to wait until someone would invite you for a climb, or you have to organize your own event. I got bored waiting for an invitational climb for Mt. Kanlaon so I decided to organize a climb. Luckily, I have fibr supportive friends who responded to my invitation. Prior to the major climb, we had series of pre-climbs in Cebu to prepare ourselves physically for the treacherous trail of Mt. Kanlaon via Mapot­-Mananawin trail. I would say, this climb was the toughest and the most physically demanding climb I had so far, but that experience did not stop me in finishing my goal of setting foot in every peak of the county's highest mountain per major island group.

The last and the highest mountain that will complete this dream is Mt. Apo which stands 2,954 meters above sea level. Unlike the Kanlaon climb, I do not have any preparation for this climb because I do not have the luxury of time to do so. I almost backed out because my request to take a leave of absence was not granted.    To cut the story short, we were able to find ways and the event was push through. Finally, I was able to reach and stand at the top of the Philippines' highest peak.

Now that I have completed and reached the highest peaks in Luzon (Mt. Pulag), Visayas (Mt. Kanlaon) and Mindanao (Mt. Apo), that does not mean that I will stop climbing. Like I said, I will continue exploring every nook and every mountain in the country while I still can. My plans right now is exploring the mountains in Cordilleras (Mt. Amuyao, Batad, Mt. Ugo, Bakun Triology and Kibungan Circuit) so if you have any plans of climbing any of this, please don't forget to drop me an invitation.

Sipalay City Travel Guide, Itinerary and Budget

Sipalay, Negros, Beach
Sipalay is located about 200 kilometers both from Bacolod and Dumaguete City. Travel time is 3-4 hours. The remote town of Sipalay is surrounded by islets reminiscent that in Pangasinan, the Hundred Islands.

The main attraction here is diving because of its rich marine life. No wonder why most resorts here offer diving activities. Aside from diving, the major draw of tourist in Sipalay are the beaches. The beach has to be one of Negros best-kept secrets. Unlike other beaches, the sand is sugary white in appearance, hence got its name.

Tinagong dagat, sipalay, negros
Tinagong Dagat

What are the things that you can see and do in Sipalay? There is really nothing much to do and see in the city except for its Poblacion Beach which offers a long stretch of superfine golden sand, perfect for those early morning or twilight walks or jogs and of course sunset viewing. Aside from the Poblacion Beach, here are some attractions in Sipalay that draws most of the tourist.

There is not much information one can see on the internet about Sipalay except the fact that this is the best diving spot in Negros Occidental. The city also became known to many because of Sugar beach. Unlike Philippine famous beaches like Boracay, Calaguas, Caramoan which offers tourist a powdery white sand, in Sugar beach the sand is not powdery-fine and white. Sugar beach is located just north of Sipalay proper. To get there, you must get off the bus at barangay Montilla and get a trike going to Nauhang. Your drop off point would be the bridge where you can hire a small boat going to Sugar beach. What I like about this beach is that it gets very little visitors. A perfect place if you are looking for a quiet beach.

A few minutes from Sugar Beach is La Isla Bonita or more popularly known as Tinagong Dagat. This place is known for its foot bridges that connected the islets together.

Campoquino Bay Beach Resort aerial view

Another must-visit destination in Sipalay is the Campoquino Bay Beach Resort. This is where we spent overnight and paid 150 pesos as camping fee. We pitched our hammocks instead of tents, as shown in the picture below. This is a recommended place if planning to stay overnight in Sipalay. The staffs are genuinely accommodating. Highlight: climb to their tower and witness the aerial view of Sipalay's vast shoreline. Breathtaking view on top!

White sandy beach in Sipalay is located in Punta Ballo Beach. This is also the ideal place for snorekeling and diving because of its rich marine life. Approximately 20 minutes from the Punta Ballo Beach is Campomanes Bay where a spectacular natural harbour was built.

A breathtaking view of the islets of Sipalay can be seen from the Perth Paradise Beach Resort (topmost photo). The place is reminiscent of Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. If you want to go nearer the islets, you can try their bamboo rafts and jet-skies. There is a pool in the resort where you can take photo with the islets as your backdrop. Perfect selfie moment!

Campoquino Bay Beach Resort

How to get to Sipalay from Cebu:

Head to South Bus Terminal. Ceres buses at the south bus terminal leaves the terminal almost on an hourly basis. Take the earliest trip as much as possible because the travel time from the terminal to Liloan Port is approximately 3hours and 30minutes. Fare is 180 pesos for air-conditioned buses. At liloan port, you need to pay 62 pesos for the terminal fee and ferry ticket to Sibulan, Negros Oriental. Because of the proximity, travel time will only take less than 30 minutes.

From Sibulan port, ride a jeep or trike bound for Dumaguete City, then transfer another trike that will take you to Ceres Bus Terminal. I am not sure if there are regular trips from Sibulan Port to Ceres Terminal.  A direct trip from Dumaguete to Sipalay only serve once a day (1:00PM). Other option if cannot take the sole trip is to ride buses bound for Hinoba-an then take another bus to Sipalay. Fare for direct trip is 278 pesos. If coming from Bacolod, hop on a Ceres bus going to Hinoba-an, which will pass by Sipalay.

Carnaza Island - Another Summer Beach Destination in Cebu

carnaza island beach
Carnaza Island

Carnaza Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu has been on my bucket list of beaches in Cebu I would want to visit and explore. I am not really a beach person, but hanging out by the beach is (as they say) a bliss. Life is just happier when on the beach, isn't it? For me, beach is not just about the sun, sand and  the sea - its the feeling of in a state of "hakuna matata," it means no worries. This made me want to explore every beaches within and nearby Cebu province.

I first learned about this island from Whacky Adventures, where he featured/narrated his experience in this island enroute for Masbate for his backpacking in Bicol Region. After that, I Immediately gathered some information about the island and scheduled my trip. However, I also found out that the waters from Daanbantayan which is the jump off point going to Carnaza island is really rowdy especially during afternoon. Until a friend of mine who has been to the island a couple of times invited me to celebrate fiesta in the island. My excitement grew bigger and bigger as the day coming near.

carnaza island beach
We rendezvoused at Cebu North Bus Terminal as early as 4:00 in the morning. We were expecting huge passengers in the terminal since it was Holy Week. We rode Maya-Kawit bound bus and alighted at Tapilon port where the outrigger boats going to Carnaza are stationed. We already contacted a boatman who will fetch us at the port, however due to time constraints, we have to ride a different boat so that we can maximize our time in the island. It was actually a special trip together with some locals also attending the fiesta.

After we met our host in Carnaza, we hurriedly explored the island by foot. We visited different beautiful beach sites as well as the lone beach resort owned by the Osmena's. Atop of the mountain is a runway where it gives you an aerial view of the neighboring islands. For adrenaline junkies, there is also a cave where you can explore and perhaps take a dip in the swimming pool inside the cave.

carnaza island
Carnaza Island Guide

 1. From north bus terminal, ride Maya-Kawit bound buses and dropped off at Tapilon Port. Travel time is approximately 3-4 hours.
2. There are outrigger boats in Tapilon port bound for Carnaza Island.
3. There is no resort in the island. You can camp out in your favorite beach site or ask some locals if they can host you for the night. Locals are really accommodating and friendly.
4. For your beach supplies, I suggest to buy it from the mainland. I did not see any market in the island what they have there are just convenience store for basic goods.

Niludhan Falls of Bayawan City

Niludhan Falls Bayawan
What is it about the waterfalls that attracts people? Have you ever thought about it? I myself always got hypnotized every time I stand in front of a waterfall. I really do not know the exact reason, I am just naturally attracted to this natural wonder.

There is no plenty of information you can find when you try to search for Niludhan Falls. This majestic water fall is not so popular to many, that only those who braved to go off the beaten will get to experience and witness the hypnotic beauty of Niludhan Falls. As they say, "difficult roads lead to a beautiful destination." This quote is so true! We traveled more than two hours of bumpy and rough road from Bayawan City to barangay Dawis via habal-habal to get to this site.

Tuesday morning, we traveled from Sipalay to Bayawan, that is approximately two hours trip. We do not have any idea about the bus schedule from Bayawan to Mabinay, we just purely rely on our luck.  The bus just left the terminal a few minutes before we arrived. That means we have to wait the 3pm trip if we would really want to pursue our itinerary. We tried to ask locals for some possible options and we ended hiring a special trip through a habal-habal which cost us 500 pesos. Initially, I thought that the rate was too steep then I realized that it was a good deal considering the distance and road condition from Bayawan to Dawis. Our driver also brought us to barangay Paniabonan where buses plying the Bacolod-Mabinay-Dumaguete route will pass by.

There was no other people on the site when we arrived at Niludhan falls. There was even no caretakers assigned to collect for entrance fee and rental for huts. Its totally undevelop compare to other waterfalls in the country. We just spent few minutes enjoying the view and take snapshots then left the area. If only we have enough time, I will not hesitate to take a dip into its water. Also another factor that made us decide not to spend much time on the falls is the bad weather and it seemed that a heavy downpour is coming anytime and we still have to travel to the next barangay.

How to Get to Niludhan Falls of Bayawan City

Via Mabinay: There are buses stationed at Dumaguete Ceres Bus Terminal plying the Mabinay route. Your drop off point would be at barangay Paniabonan. From the junction, you need to commute to barangay Dawis which is the exact site of Niludhan Falls.

Alternative route via Bayawan: From Dumaguete City, ride a bus bound for Bayawan City. Drop off point would be at Ceres Bus Terminal in Bayawan. Then there are jeepneys plying the Bayawan-Dawis route or you can also hire habal-habal that can take you right exactly at Niludhan Falls. 

Top 6 Outdoor Adventures in Cebu

One thing is for sure, thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkies will skip Cebu from their must-do adventure destination due to a common notion  that Cebu is just like Manila. Everyone knows Cebu as one of the best Philippine destinations for white sand beaches, nightlife, as well as history and culture, but Cebu is more than just meets the eye. This province is also the "perfect" travel destination where you can live some of the most unforgettable adventures of a lifetime, provided of course that you're willing to explore beyond the city.

To help get you inspired, I compiled some of the most highly-recommended destinations in Cebu to satisfy the daring side of you. From the canyons of southern Cebu to the high cliffs of the north, here are my top 6 Cebu adventures guaranteed to get you adrenaline-pumping.

Cebu Rock Climbing, Cantabaco
Rock Climbing in Cantabaco. Photo Credits to Cerwin
1. Although water activities are pretty popular in Cebu, trekking has never lost its charm. I  would say that mountain climbing/trekking is the most popular outdoor adventure activity among Cebuanos. The mountains in Cebu are not as high compare to those in Luzon and Mindanao, but that does not mean that you won't get to enjoy trekking here in Cebu. Osmena Peak is the most popular mountain to climb in Cebu. A four to five hour trek from its peak will take you to another popular Cebu tourist destination – Kawasan Falls. Another great place to trek or go mountain climbing in Cebu is Mt. Lanaya. The infamous lung-busting Lanaya trail is unforgiving due to its almost 60-70 degrees constant ascent and looseness of the soil. Click on the link for some lists of mountains to climb in Cebu for big adventures.

2. Rock climbing is an adventure. A very extreme adventure! Imagine yourself hanging on a 100-ft high cliffs, with just your fingertips holding and feet pushing on the crevices of the rock clinging for your dear life. Scary? Well it sounds more fun to me. I have tried indoor climbing a couple of times, but the truth is real climbing exists far beyond the gym walls. Cantabaco in Toledo City, Cebu is the mecca for all junkies wanting to try rock climbing both locals and international rock climbers. Notes: Cantabaco is accessible by V-hire from Citilink Terminal. Drop off point would be at Silangan/Lutopan and from there you can ask local for guides who can also provide you equipment for the climb. Travel time is approximately an hour. There is no fixed rate for guide fee. Some of the rock walls were as follows: Snake Skin, Vulva, O Babe, Guyabano, Pumping Station, Miserable and etc.

Cliff Jumping, Malapascua, Camotes, Medellin
Aaron Cliff Jumping at Funtastic Island Medellin
3. Caving in Cebu. Although the province is not known for this activity, Cebu also has an abundance of cave systems waiting to be discovered. Honestly, I only got to    explore few caves in Cebu. To those looking for a real taste of  caving experience, I can only think of one place - Argao. The town is home one of the largest caving system in the province – Lantoy Cave or Balay sa Agta. Notes: Balay sa Agta is located in barangay Conalum and its about 30-40 minute ride from Poblacion. It measured 475 meters long, while its height measures 175 feet from the roof to the ground. It also has seven chambers and some of which are still unexplored. The cave is also the breeding place of bats in different species and is closed during nesting season.

4. Ready...One...Two...Three...Go! I hesitate. Standing there still gazing at what is ahead of me, a long drop, then water. My friends down there shouting and cheering trying to instill confidence in me and then start of a new countdown. You can do this! Jump! This is it. One...Two...Three...Go! I then took my last gap of air, closed my eyes and try not to think of anything. The next thing I knew, my feet push through the board and my last foot slowly and gracefully leaves the edge of the jump board, suspended in the air  for a few seconds and then suddenly, the water that I have been awaiting for patiently, strikes me - that was the indication that I made it! That's what I felt the first time I had cliff jumped. Notes: Cliff jumping spots in Cebu: the 45-ft high cliff in Funtastic Island in Medellin, 50-ft high cliff in Malapascua, and 40-ft high cliff in Camotes. Cliff jumping is one of the most exciting adventurous activity you can do in Cebu.

5. I am naturally attracted to waterfalls and just a mere view of it is already amazing. How about if lets level up that experience far beyond the limits of a normal sightseeing. Waterfalls abseiling is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope. The intense and powerful feeling of the water dropping above you combined with the fact that you are hanging on a rope, will surely give adrenaline push like you have never experienced before. Notes: Danasan Eco Adventure Park offers waterfalls abseiling and a not-so-known spot for this activity is in Montaneza, Malabuyoc, Cebu.
canyoneering cebu
Photo credits to Albert Aspacio

6. Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls. Before you sign up for this activity please do check if you have fear of heights and getting drowned, because the next adventurous activity you can do in Cebu entailed jumping off from a cliff, river trekking, waterfalls abseiling and swimming. Bearing all this in mind, I had a “why not” moment and signed up myself for five hours of canyoning/canyoneering into Alegria-Badian Kawasan Falls. Just merely peering over the edge of the 20-feet high waterfall, my knees begin to shake and my head spins slightly. My past experience cliff jumping 45-feet high does not help at all. It's now even more harder to fight anxiety in my head. But, our guide, Albert (Albert +639359254769 or JB +639065132480) gives me an assuring smile that its going to be fun. I just took my first step on the rock, stretch my legs and jump into the water. Within a few seconds, my fear is replaced with sheer excitement and adrenaline. For the uninitiated, canyoneering is an outdoor sport that involves technical descents down narrow canyons and often requires rappels, technical climbing, jumps and swims. Notes: popular canyoneering spot in Cebu is in Matutinao, Badian, but for a more advance canyoneering experience, Montaneza Falls in Malabuyoc is the perfect place!

My Extreme Canyoneering Adventure in Badian, Cebu

Canyoneering Moalboal Cebu

Canyoneering or canyoning is one of the most heart-pumping activities in Cebu. Why? Simply because this activity involves river trekking, bouldering, climbing uphill slope, jumping off a 30 feet waterfalls, rappelling and swimming the turquoise pool of Matutinao river. This adventure is relatively new, but now is gaining popularity among adrenaline junkies and to ordinary individuals wanting to experience a new adventure.

The upstream canyoneering activity will start at Kawasan Falls. From the highway, Kawasan falls is approximately 1.5 kilometers. Then we climbed up to the third waterfalls which is the jump-off point for this activity. The first challenge is to cross to the other side of the river and that is by swimming. Aside from the swimming part, I am really more concern of getting some muscle cramps because of the coldness of the water. This is the exact reason why everyone must wear a life jacket. Soon afterward, the trail gets down to a deeper ravine. We trek steep trails which even require us using rope, then steep downhill slope, until we reached a small segment of Kanlaob river where some locals were having fun doing the laundry and kids just playing around.

Before the actual jump, the guide will brief you about where and how to jump off the falls. So its critical to listen attentively to your guides. Then here comes our first jump! We were piling in a single queue, waiting for our turn to stand at the edge of the rock. The first jump is about 15 feet high. Once you've done the first jump, you generally have no choice but to complete the remaining jumps. There is really no turning back after the first jump. I should say that this is the most nerve-wracking part of this activity. I don't really have fear of heights, but once you're there, it seems that all horror things that happened in your life flashed back in front of you. With knees and hand shaking, I just closed my eyes and jump into the blue-green water of Matutinao river. The highest jump in this activity is approximately 30 feet and this is the finale jump. Although, this is optional, I highly suggest if you have the guts, to try this finale jump.




A FEW HELPFUL TIPS:
1. For safety reasons, all participants must wear life jacket/helmet regardless of your swimming skill.
2. Get a guide who is expert about this activity. They will be the one who will be giving you instructions on what to do and what not to do. Listen to your guide at all times. Highly recommend Albert 09359254769. Don't forget to mention my name, you might get a discount. Haha.
3. Be careful with your footing. Trails and rocks are very slippery.
4. Start early. Nobody wants to be in the middle of the canyons when the darkness comes.
5. Wear proper gear/clothing (rashguard, boardshorts, aqua shoes, durable sandals). This is to avoid any injuries.
6. Hydrate. Drink water as often as possible to avoid dehydration.
7. Buddy system, especially there is one in the group who is not a swimmer. Watch out for each other's safety.
7. LEAVE NO TRACE! Leave nothing but footprints take nothing but pictures kill nothing but time.

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