Sunday, March 27, 2016

Looking For Treasures: Fortune Island

Fig 1: My friend who taught me Frisbee, Ricky Aurelia Cajefe, enjoying his beer and the view

Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Philippines. I just came home from my Coron Trip and I almost forgot that I have to prepare myself for another adventure again. Yes, you've read it right. I haven't spent an hour inside our home, yet I'm packing my bags to leave again.

So there's this place called Fortune Island, located at Nasugbu, Batangas which has been a "hot spot" for those who like Greek culture, and fans of pictorials. Dolphins are evidently seen in the area. At midnight,  groups of Pawikan (Sea turtles) appear too. Joining the bandwagon, I've decided to go and hopefully, be able to have a glimpse of Greek architecture while relaxing. Sounds like a plan, I've thought. But honestly, I have no idea why it's called as such. Do I go home with money? Treasures? Jewelries? I'm too old for those but this seems to be the real shiznit.

My itinerary:

Day 1 (October 24, 2015)
3:00 AM - Meetup (adjust your time depending where you'll come from)
6:00 AM - Arrival at Nasugbu
                - Buy supplies from the market

7:30 AM - boat ride going to Fortune Island
8:30 AM - camp set up
12:00 PM onwards - lunch time
                - Snorkeling/Swimming
                - look for wood supplies (for bonfire)

6:00 PM onwards - dinner, bonfire
12:00 AM- Pawikan sightseeing

Day 2 (October 25, 2015) 
8:00 AM - breakfast
9:00 AM - Cliff diving/swimming
12:00 PM- boat ride going back to Nasugbu
1:00 PM- lunch
3:00 PM- back to Manila

We were a group of 12, and we had chipped in 1,500 each. We had more than enough food and drinks. Nasugbu has affordable goods and for sure you won't go home without satisfying your appetite. Boat ride fee is about 2,500 or so. 

NOTE: Just in case you are commuting, upon arrival at Nasugbu, you can ask the locals to show you the directions going to the Korean resort where you can pay for the boat rides going to Fortune Island. 

Video: A short summary of our Fortune Island experience

We were able to accomplish everything in our itinerary. It was only an overnight stay, but we had more than enough time to socialize, swim, cliff dive and have some pictorials. I am not a fan of having fancy shots, but I will share to you some of my photos.

Fig 2-3: Along the ruins

Fig 4: After cliff diving!

The run down of events were good. We had enough socializing and bonding even before the water activities have started. I believe that socializing is very important and it establishes foundations.We had a lot of good food and drinks. After getting to know each other, we went up the area (yes, it isn't pure walking dear, you will climb up the area and it isn't a hundred percent safe-the stairs were not finished and you have to take extra measures). The view was breath-taking. Upon arriving, you have a choice of getting down the mini stairs then swim, or jump from the cliff. It was nerve wracking to try cliff diving but our organizer, April Esteban, made sure that the area was clear (yes, beware of water snakes) and safe (she had inflatables as you can see, and the group was full of swimmers too)

All in all, besides having the "Greek ala Batanggena" experience, I didn't only  have the chance of going home with tanned skin, also with a free-spirit. The cliff diving experience was the most liberating. The feeling of doing something you fear makes you feel alive (Always climb, jump and swim at your risks fellas). But, that experience was just a bonus. Why? Did I get money? Jewelries? A pot of gold from unicorn farts? A fortune unraveled bestowed with prosperity? Was it called Fortune Island because you leave with treasures after you conquer it?  NO. But I went home with treasures that no one can steal away from me-a braver version of myself, new memories, and real friends.  ***

Monday, March 21, 2016

Experiencing Coron, Palawan, Philippines!

 Figure 1: I whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery in Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan, Philippines. Almost every Juan and Juana dream of reaching this place. Oftentimes, if you are surrounded by groups of travelers in your family, school, or even workplace, you will get to hear this place. Since I've been stressed with a lot of circumstances in life during this time (yes, attempted rape and attending court trials), I've decided to take a step further and challenge myself-beat my thoughts and engage myself to more fun and healthy relationships. Well, who knows where my feet can take me? I already have wounds anyway, what's else to lose?

Since I am not in a "stable" state of mind, being traumatized and overwhelmed with things going on with my life, I said "YES" to a certain person I met online looking for joiners for their Coron trip. We were in the same travel groups on Facebook, and as I looked at her profile, she seemed legit. This was the only "foundation" I held on to and I was that crazy at the moment to entrust my first joiner and backpacking trip to her. Her name was Mench Berondo, a mountaineer, and she was nice enough to cover my round trip ticket (First joiner travel, free ticket?! Hurrrraaaah!). She made necessary sacrifices just to keep up with the group's quotation for accommodation. 

So here I am, clueless of what's the itinerary, things to bring, and the list goes on. Yes, I was this clueless and risky that time. But, life's too short, why not sin a little?

I have a copy of the itinerary and believe me, I wish I've read this. You'll know later why. Here it goes:

Day 1 (October 20, 2015)
Siete Pecados
Kayangan Lake
Twin Lagoon
Skeleton Wrench
Beach 91

Day 2 (October 21, 2015)
Banana island
Bulog Dos Island
Malcapuya island

Day 3 (October 22, 2015)
Lualhati Souvenir SHop
Mt. Tapyas
Cashew Factory
Maquinit Hot Spring

Travel and Tours: CALAMIAN ISLANDS 
Smart: 0908-913-2313
Globe: 0927-498-3309

  • Air-conditioned Van Transfers
  • Tourist Boats
  • Kayaks
  • Life Vests
  • Buffet picnic lunch and snacks
  • Breakfast
  • Cottage Rentals
  • Tour Guide Fee
  • Government Taxes
We got the CORON ISLAND TOUR which was 1700/pax. They have other packages such as ISLANDS ESCAPADE TOUR (1950/pax), REEFS AND WRECKS TOUR, (1850/pax) and CALAUIT SAFARI WITH REEFS AND WRECKS TOUR (2500/pax). For more info, please contact the travel group.

Going back to our story-telling, the only downside I had during this trip was the weather. It was very rainy when we came here. Living in a tropical country, always expect the unexpected. But still, that doesn't mean you won't rely on weather check. The Weather Channel and apps related are still a big help!

Not reading the itinerary has its cons too. It just so happened I was "lucky" enough that I have magic in my hands and I was able to pack my whole house in a sassy backpack (I was not using a travel backpack before). I brought my GoPro and its accessories, clothes, groom kit and medicine pouch (yes my dear people, always bring a medicine kit! meds for allergies, alcohol, wet wipes and even bandaids might be needed anytime).  My tip: ALWAYS READ your itinerary-you might forget something that you need along the trip.

The whole trip was intense and jam-packed -we went island hopping, kayaking, looking for pearls and discovering corals, trekking, motorycling (when at the back of my mind I thought I will just go to Coron for relaxation. SO please, again, always read your itineraries haha)-there was never a dull moment. We had good tour guides that really KNOW the history of the places and not just "doing" business. We were able to do everything in our bucket list provided in the package we chose and they gave us infinite memories to look back.  

Since dinner is not covered in our package, we had to go out and explore the place. Coron is small and not overwhelming. You can rent a motorcycle and see for yourself. As far as I remember, it costs 500 php. Also, for those who can't bring a cam, a lot of rent-a-GoPro stores are in the area. 

Sharing some photos! For the whole album feel free to visit: Coron 2015

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

All in all, I really enjoyed Coron. I was blessed enough to be with people that are honest (which I really think is important if you are a traveler), practical and have sense of humor. This trip made me realize that though I may have lost my self-esteem and had trust issues, traveling CAN heal wounds. There may be scars, but they will JUST be scars after all.