Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mabua Pebble Beach

Mabua Pebble Beach is the home to the infamous multi-sized pebbles, fresh squids, and delicious ground-rice cakes or bibingka.

Just about a 30 minutes drive westward from the downtown, this pebble beach is the local's favorite place to unwind and is frequented during weekends and holidays by avid picnic-goers.

You can see them seating on the rocks under the shades of the scenic coconut trees located at the mountain top which has the coolest vista...

..grouped on the other edge of the beach bordered by rock formations,

..or simply settled above the huge rocks along the shoreline.

While some groups prefer to be secluded from the crowd and have their moment cherished among them, others want the experience lively with the presence of many beach goers plunging and splashing in the water.

..Others wanted their piece of solitude, too.

But no matter how everyone performs their drama, Mabua Pebble Beach surely is a place for bonding and chilling.

And a perfect site for a dramatic sight of sunset too. Mabua Pebble Beach is the paradise of photographers who are captivated by sunsets.

The shore is laid with cottages made of indigenous materials. But if one prefers a more private space, well equipped accommodations and facilities are readily available with the presence of the Mt. Bagarabon Mountain Resort with its Hajahay Suites located closer and facing the shore.

I did mention about the rice cakes, but sticky rice cones are also available in the nearby.

P.S.: Photos are taken on the afternoon, perfect time to experience the beauty of sundown.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Capalayan Falls

This has been one of my escapes during summer time when i need some place to cool down. Although beach is a good option, i just cant stand the salty feeling of the seas under the sun. Thus, taking refuge in the free-flowing water of the mountains.

Capalayan Falls is located in Barangay Capalayan some 12.75 kilometers off the city of Surigao. A very far estimate if you'll look at the numerical figure of the distance. But once you're on the road traveling the coastal strip with so much vistas along the way, you will just hope you're not any closer for a stop in Capalayan.

Getting to the falls. There were no signs installed as of the moment that provides direction to the location of the falls. An inquiry from some of the locals who will amiably entertain and assist you with the landmark leading to the area will do. And that landmark, a field with a deep cut like the photo below, is not even recognizable by a glance. Again, you can carry one local for a guide.

Taking the trail after this 7 feet cut in the ground will lead you to a drained irrigation canal which you have to follow in proceeding to the falls.

Once you reached the drained mini dam, a cute display of little stages of waterflows channeling in the sediment bedrocks is a sign that you're closer to the spot.

A cross in dam and a little climb in the mountain following the trail will finally lead you to the 20+ feet Capalayan Falls.

...just like what everybody usually do.. a pictorial will follow.

...then the most soothing experience, feeling the rush of the water over you. A wonderful feeling beyond the usual bathe.

Reminder: Bring some light snacks but do not leave the trashes there. No one maintained the place.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surigao's Fiesta Season

Surigao City has one of the week-long festivity in the country that runs for two weeks and starts from the Charter Day Celebration every August 31. From end of August, activities are lined up commencing from the Float Parade participated by the different sectors up to the Alumni Homecoming events that stretches even on the post-fiesta days.

Like what i have listed here...

Simple yet elegant designs of floats add color to the Charter Day celebration of Surigao. In the earlier days, Drum and Lyre Corp competition used to be held during this event. So still hope to witness another drum and lyre competition to be conducted next year when the construction of the multi-million funded oval field and gym is done.

Another activity is the Tilaw sa Pagkaong Surigao (A taste of the Surigaonon Food), a food festival showcasing the talents of local chefs in Cooking Show Competition as well as creativeness of the students in the Table Setting and Skirting and Cocktail Competition for.

A Community Night is also conducted not only for nightly entertainment but to foster solidarity among the different sectors of the city ranging from the civil society organizations, NGOs, up to the mining and banking sector by gathering them in one venue and celebrate the good times. Community Nights are held by sector on the nights before the pre-fiesta.

On the 9th of September, Surigao's pre-fiesta day, the Bonok-Bonok Marajaw Karajaw Festival is usually held showcasing the tribal history through the graceful street dances paired with the colorful costumes of participants. This event is one of the anticipated activities in town.

Then on the fiesta day, September 10, several events are hosted in the Luneta Park Plaza for the pleasure of the visitors that includes balikbayans and some foreigners. The organizers call it Pabibo Sa Pyesta, sponsored by the Barbers clan.

One entertaining event is the Tuhog-tuhog Nan Dagum (Thread and Needle Shooting) Competition for the aged groups. Imagine how hard for them to shoot the thread on the hole of the needle with their blurry vision and shaky hands.

Then the Lumba Inom Tuba (Palm Wine Drinking Contest) participated by the drunkards in town. Look how they managed to consume the 2-galloon of palm wine...

..and how their fellow contenders laughed at each other when they seem to vomit the wine they've overdrunk.

And there was this Jagan Paatras (1 km. Reverse Running Contest) which is quite hard to do.

The last activity for the day was the Pasayan (Shrimp) Festival celebrating the abundance of the shrimps in the locality.

They are cooked in different ways and given to the audience after.

And on the 12th of September, my alma mater called for an Alumni Homecoming which i participated for the first time. Compared to the attendance of every batches that jampacked the venue, we quite gathered a good number.

Here we are... the SNNHS Batch 98.

...marched on the presentation of batches

...settled in a bar thereafter

...and when drunk, danced and enjoyed the night.

For 3 days i have experienced how to live without a phone. And i must say, it was a peaceful one. My phone was pickpocketed while i was busy taking pictures of the Palm-Wine Drinking Contest. Aside from that frustrating happening, it was still a very memorable fiesta celebration for me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

LAGAL[OG] for PBA Bloggers Choice

To those who are avidly patronizing his blog, like me and some travel blog authors supporting him, it's no question at all why lagal[og] is being loved. His blog features posts that are delicately chosen with quality. Its wonderful header of Ha Long Bay shows how wide is his travel experience depicted in every context that is beyond leisure.

I envied every inch of the blog as well as the humility of the author. That's why my vote goes to him for the 2008 Philippine Blog Awards' Bloggers Choice.

Continue inspiring everyone as you make your travels.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bonok-Bonok Festival 2008

It's fiesta season once again in Surigao and every Surigaonon's adrenaline is up. Fiesta, a Spanish word for religious festivities, is one of the activities in the country that brings the hype to the locals. And in Surigao del Norte, we call it Bonok-bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival, a festival of dances, colors, foods and goods in honor of the city's patron saint, Senior San Nicolas de Tolentino.

Sounds complicated? Let me help you picture it out in 4 words:

1. Dance. Similar to mardi gra, an annual street dancing competition is being organized by the City Tourism Office and usually participated in different levels by schools coming from within or outside the province. This street dance depicts the thanksgiving ritual of the Mamanwas to their God "Magbabaya" for giving them a good harvest through the outpouring of rain which in local dialect is translated as bonok. This year, 8 contingents from as far as Misamis Oriental vied for the grand prize.
Bonok-bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival
2. Colors. Banderitas or flaglets of different colors are normally installed zigzagging the street horizons. This is a common feature of the celebration that is of Spanish heritage. Added to this, the delegates of the street dancing competition also wear colorful costumes that adds more color to the event.
Colorful costumes and colorful banderitas on the backdrop
3. Foods. As this is a celebration of thanksgiving, every household, although not all, prepared some foods for their visitors. Among the foods in the table include bam-i, menudo, afritada, sinugba, kinilaw but the most popular are humba and lechon.
Grabbed from http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/blog/
4. Goods. As locals and visitors alike flock in the city during the season, traders also take advantage of the market. With this, the local authorities organize and assign places in the city for bargains. Goods on sale and display ranges from kitchen wares to shirts and souvenirs. During this time, goods are usually priced cheap.
Trade Exhibit at the side street of Luneta Park.

The annual fiesta is held every 9-10 September, that is when you have the foods overflowing the tables and the day-long dances entertaining your eyeballs. The Bonok-Bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival, that is when you have the colors and the goods normally lasts 5-7 days after.

Some more colors for you...
Festival Queens always carry the statue of San Nicolas del Tolentino

Contingents from Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.

Contingent from St. Jude Thaddeus Institute of Technology, Surigao City.

Contingents from Siargao Island bagged the 2nd place.

Contingents from Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
Contingents from Butuan City

Contingents from Jabonga, Agusan del Norte won the 2nd place.

More about the history of Bonok-bonok can be found here: Bonok-Bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival

Monday, September 8, 2008

Surigao, My City!

Aerial views of my beloved home, Surigao City.

I was a bit hesitant to post these photos for copyright reasons, but since the city government is doing the promotions using these photos, i thought of selling Surigao too to the rest of the world. The credit goes to the owner of these photos which i think is my boss.

So here it is...
Welcome to the City of Island Adventures and the gateway to Mindanao, Surigao City!

The newly reclaimed portion of the Surigao City port which expansion is intended to cater more logistics and cargo vessels

As you might have guessed it, Surigao City is a coastal place just like any of the cities in the country. Perhaps attributed to the settlement history of the first inhabitants where fishing is the common way of living

Cleanliness is something that the Surigaonons are proud of the city. The past government administrations deserved an applause successfully institutionalizing an ordinance that look after the sanitation and garbage collection of the city.

As of the moment, there are only two high-rise buildings in the city: The Yuipco-Lim Building and Hotel Tavern Surigao. Both piloting the use of elevators in the city.

I can say aerial viewing of the city is a privilege --a privilege you can have when you ride any Cebu Pacific or Airphil flights to city. Not only because of the refreshing sight of the emerald waters bordering the lush mountains but because you are viewing the northeastern tip of Mindanao, which happens to be its gateway to the rest of the island.

Sounds good?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dipolog City

Another coast to coast travel. From the northeasternmost coast of Surigao City to the western coast of Dipolog City.

My last travel there, that was 2006 in Dakak Resort, Dapitan City, took me more than 12 hours so i needed to cut the trip and took an overnight rest in Cagayan de Oro.

This time we are onboard a private car but since we departed from Surigao at 3 in the afternoon of August 27, we also took an overnight stop in CDO for the next day's tiring journey. Fortunate we are, we managed to book a hotel beside being crowded for the CDO's fiesta activity or the Kagay-an Festival on the 28th. We settled at the Casa Crystalla which is just one block away from the central park where the Night Cafe every Friday was held.

Upon arriving, we took the opportunity to experience the vibrant celebration of Cagayan de Oro's fiesta. So we stroll around the park, from its tip facing Ateneo de Cagayan/Xavier University to the south end, and here is what we got...

..the mixed martial arts exhibition competition where the barakos flocked. The fight was very entertaining at the same time amusing because of the somehow kengkoy scenarios made by the contenders. Most out of breath and sometime used foolish stunt to outplay their opponent.

..the fence of Xavier University full of promotional materials of the different personality's performances in celebration of CDO's fiesta.

On the dawn of the 28th, we departed Cagayan de Oro for Dipolog taking this billboard-packed highway..

Sorry for the messy photos. I took it inside the car.

A welcome arch greeting visitors a warm welcome to Iligan City.

In contrast with the thoughts and reservations i had regarding the recent happenings in the northern part of Lanao, Iligan City remains peaceful and unshaken in spite the presence of the military checkpoints and outposts and maybe even with the presence of helicopters around. I did not feel any fear but rather thrilled.

And my most anticipated sight... the burnt school and houses along Kauswagan and Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte.

Im so ashamed to admit that i reacted OA about this trip as caused by the military encounters with the MILF and posted here in my blog asking for everyone's prayer. On the contrary, those places remained the same except for the extensive presence of checkpoints which are unmanned. So I concluded it was an isolated case widened by the media. It was even foolish of me to ask for some bullets to show up as we go along our way so that i could fell the hype of hiding. Hehe.

Anyway, i would like to thank the people who prayed for our safe travel. We successfully hurdled it.

And as the battlecry of the conference we attended, "Business as usual in Mindanao!"

To continue with our journey, one of most enjoyable experiences of the trip was the crossing aboard the barge from Mukas Port in Lanao del Norte to Ozamis Sea Port. The site was awesome!

..the queue of vehicles going to Ozamis Port as a shortcut to the rest of Misamis Occidental areas. This sea cruise is not going to another island but rather a shortcut for a shorter trip taking 20 minutes only.

..the Mukas Port

..the ferry cruise with the sole rising mountain in Ozamis on the background. I was geologically wond'ring why only one mountain cares to rise in that area.

..the abodes near the Ozamis Sea Port.

After traversing Ozamis, Oroquieta City also a city under the Misamis Occidental Province is the urban city.

And after hurdling the serpentine road to Zamboanga del Norte, here we finally arrived in Dipolog. Dapitan City is just a 15-minute and a crossroad away from Dipolog.

This monument called as Estaka on the rotonda serves as Dipolog's landmark. As quoted from their website, "The Estaka – Turno Y Junction Fountain is a cast fiberglass monument that depicts the diverse cultures of the people of Mindanao brought together by a unified goal: to attain peace, development and prosperity for Dipolog City. This landmark is a glorious example of the fusion of modernism and conservatism. It mirrors the quality of life in the city in which there is acceptance of modernization while still keeping intact the traditional values and cultural heritage of its land and people. The cascading waters from the bowl symbolize the city’s abundant blessings while the fruits and flowers etched on the bowl symbolize the bountiful harvest that Dipolog is blessed with."

We were billeted at the Top Plaza Hotel and from the 4th floor can be seen the view of the boulevard..

..and the Dipolog Center Mall.

On our first night, guests and participants were entertained with a fashion showcasing the crafts of local designers and the lovely models daring to show off some skin.

..the Dipolog Shopping Center.

In every places i went to, i noticed each of them have different taste of tricycle design. And this is Dipolog's distinct design of tricycle..

After the following day's affair, we managed to escape from the official tight sked and chilled out in the boulevard devouring on their type of balut.

..and some photo ops

Then went on to the sponsored dinner where Sen. Bong Revilla was the guest of honor. Heck! He was on the center stage giving his unsubstantial speech. Discussing on his accomplishments and reiterating the potential of Mindanao which of course we already know. My blood pressure was heightened by his presence.

Fortunately the organizers produced an entertaining show of the best of Mindanao arts and costume. It was a sentimental show for me reminding how i should be proud being a Mindanaoan! Hehe.

And im sorry to say that i wasnt able to invade the tourist spots of Dipolog City. The schedule was so tight that it does not permit me to go anywhere far. And according to some locals that i have talked with, there's nothing much in Dipolog for a tourist attraction. Most of them are in Dapitan City which i have already gone to.