Sangat Island Dive Resort (Coron, Palawan)

Sangat Island Dive Resort

Sangat Island Dive Resort

The last leg of our Asia Grand View Hotel-sponsored activity was a visit to Sangat Island Dive Resort where Ms. Rhoanne Rose Bolohabo, AGVH Resident Manager, used to work.  From our outrigger boat, Rhoanne, Aylin, Gem, Adora, Joy, Issa, Angelo, Donald and I were picked by the resort’s motor boat while Mike opted to swim the short distance to the shore.  The others decided to stay behind on the boat.

The 300 m. long white sand beach

The 300 m. long white sand beach

Sangat Island Dive Resort, occupying a major portion of the southwestern cusp of postcard-perfect Sangat Island, was opened in 1994.  It has a 300 m. long white sand beach surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and majestic coconut palms.

Bungalow suites

Bungalow suite

The resort has 14 enchanting and quaint, native-styled ecologically “low-impact” guest accommodations with Western-styled bathrooms and ceiling fans, built with locally-available materials such as hand-woven bamboo wall panels, split-bamboo flooring and cogon grass or nipa palm roofing.

Beachfront cottage

Beachfront cottage

They include beachfront and hillside cottages on stilts, a family-friendly bungalow suite complex, the exclusive Hilltop Chalet and the exquisite tri-level, two bedroom Lambingan Villa which has it’s very own private beach. A special one, dubbed the Robinson Crusoe Cottage, is located on an isolated beach off the southwestern coast of the island.

Sangat Island Bar

Sangat Island Bar

Billiard table at Sangat Island Bar

Billiard table at Sangat Island Bar

The resort also has an open-air, beachfront restaurant facility, two full-service bars (the Sangat Island Bar and the open-air, above water Rock Bar), fitness center and souvenir shop. The Sangat Island Bar has a comfortable conversation lounge and a billiard table.

The open-air, above water Rock Bar

The open-air, above water Rock Bar

The author and friends at the boardwalk leading to the Rock Bar

The author and friends at the boardwalk leading to the Rock Bar

The island’s tropical waters, teeming with colorful aquatic life, is also home to 11 historically important World War II ship wrecks. Ten of them are Japanese warships and supply ships sunk by 24 Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bombers and 96 Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter escorts (some carrying bombs) of the U.S. Navy on September 24, 1944.  Eight of these are a scant 5 to 30 min. boat ride from the resort’s beachfront.

The fully-equipped dive shop

The fully-equipped dive shop

Sangat Island Dive Resort has a internationally-renowned, comprehensive on-site water sports (sea kayaking, jetskiing, windsurfing, Hobie Cats, etc.) and scuba diving center dive facility with knowledgeable dive center attendants and licensed on-site PADI and SDI instructors.  They offer a wide range of first-class tanks, wet suits, masks, fins, dive computers, and more, plus an air and Nitrox filling station (powered by dual BAUER K14 compressors) and a brand new LW 280 unit which is combined with a 280 Coltrisub nitrox membrane.

Sea kayaks

Sea kayaks

Jetskis

Jetskis

Sangat Island Dive Resort: Sangat Island, Brgy. Bintuan, 5316 Coron, Palawan. Mobile numbers: (0908) 896-1716 and (0916) 400-8801. Website: www.sangat.com.ph,

How to Get There: Sangat Island is a 45-min. motorized outrigger boat ride from Coron town.

How to Get to Coron: Skyjet Airlines has 4 times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, 10:30 AM) flights from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Coron (Francisco Reyes Airport).  Travel time is 30 mins.   

Asia Grand View Hotel: Governor’s Ave., Jolo, Brgy. 5, Coron, Palawan.  Tel:(+632) 788-3385. Mobile number: (0999) 881-7848. E-mail: gsd@asiagrandview.com. Manila sales office: Unit 504, Richmonde Plaza, 21 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.  Tel: (+632) 695-3078 and 531-8380.  Mobile number: (0917) 550-7373 to 75 Fax: (+632) 695-3078.  E-mail: info@asiagrandview.com. Website: www.asiagrandview.com. 

Skyjet Airlines: Manila Domestic Airport, Parking A, Terminal 4, NAIA Complex, Brgy. 191, Pasay City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 863-1333. E-mail: sales@skyjetair.com. Website: www.skyjetair.com.

Munting Buhangin Beach Camp (Nasugbu, Batangas)

Munting Buhangin Beach

Munting Buhangin Beach

From the very crowded Interlink Beach, we again continued on our quest to find a suitable beach resort for overnight camping.  Canyon Cove was out of the question (PhP800/pax just for a day tour) so we moved on. Then I saw the sign for Munting Buhangin Beach Camp and, remembering my past overnight stay there, decided to check it out.

Munting Buhangin in the evening

Munting Buhangin in the evening

Just past the members only Terrazas de Punta Fuego, we turned left into the gate of the resort and inquired about the rates from the security guards.   From here, it’s a 1-km. and very steep downhill drive.  As it was the peak season, we had to park our car some distance from the resort.  We decided to leave the heavy camping gear inside the car and walk the rest of the way down.  Then we had to go down a very long flight of stairs, with some 100 steps, to get to the reception area.

The long flight of stairs

The long flight of stairs

Reception and information area

Reception and information area

Our total bill for our overnight camping, which we promptly paid, came up to PhP3,400 which included entrance fees, camping fee and breakfast the next day for the 5 of us.  I regretted not bringing our gear with us. Oh well.

Melissa and Almira inside our Coleman tent

Melissa and daughter Almira inside the Coleman tent

Jandy and Albert

My son Jandy and Albert

Anyway, my son Jandy and Melissa’s children Almira and Albert volunteered to return with all our stuff, making the arduous climb up the stairs and the steep driveway to get to the car and then return, this time heavily laden, with all the heavy camping gear, backpacks and provisions.  Thank God for children.

Kainan sa Beach Camp

Kainan sa Beach Camp

The convenience store

The convenience store

The 24-hectare Munting Buhangin Beach Camp is backpacker and camper-friendly and just perfect as I brought along my 5-pax Coleman tent.  This we pitched under a shady tree and beside a convenient long table with benches, all monobloc.  Kainan sa Beach Camp, its restaurant, as well as the information and reception area (with its all-important convenience store where we bought our bottled water, ice cream and snacks) and a common grilling area were nearby.

Airconditioned concrete cottages

Airconditioned concrete cottages

Airconditioned bamboo cottages

Airconditioned bamboo cottages

A treehouse

A treehouse

The resort also has a variety of accommodation choices, from airconditioned cottages, 2 and 4-pax family rooms, the always popular 10-pax treehouses to tents for rent.  They also have conference rooms for seminars and team building activities. Their comfort rooms and shower areas, quite a long walk away, were not well-maintained, with sand all over the floor.

Comfort room and shower area

Comfort room and shower area

We didn’t sleep much inside our tents as our noisy neighbors were up all night and into the wee hours of the morning.  With no sea breeze, it was also uncomfortably hot that night.  Our packed breakfast the next day, ordered the night before, wasn’t much – scrambled egg and a cup of steamed rice with a choice of either tocino, beef tapa or longanisa.

Bamboo and nipa picnic huts

Bamboo and nipa picnic huts

Monobloc picnic table and benches

Monobloc picnic table and benches

A plus for the resort is their clean and wide beach front, on a captivating cove, which has clear and shallow water (not so during the rainy season though) with fine, light brown sand (no shells or sharp rocks) and not much waves, just right for giving lessons to a city dweller like Melissa on how to float. In spite of it being Holy Week and summer, the beach wasn’t overflowing with bodies.  They also offer beach volleyball, tug-of-war, high rope, watersports (kayaking, banana boats, jetskis, aqua glide, speedboats, etc.).

Beach volleyball action

Beach volleyball action

Melissa (third from right) joining the tug-of-war

Melissa (third from right) joining the tug-of-war

The High Rope

The High Rope

There is nothing super special about this resort.  However, if you’re just a backpacker, camper or simply a typical traveler just looking for some relaxation, a nice beach and a family picnic (you can bring your own food) under some shady trees while watching a beautiful sunset, then this is a good choice.

Dusk at Munting Buhangin

Dusk at Munting Buhangin

The author with Almira

The author with Almira

Munting Buhangin Beach Camp: Brgy. Natiunan, Nasugbu, Batangas.  Metro Manila booking office: 7/F Makati Executive Center. 114 L.P. Leviste cor. V.A. Rufino Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City.  Tel: 818-1975, 818-4798, 812-5448 and 818-2083 local 122. Fax: (632) 892-3649.  Mobile number: (0922) 887-4131.  E-mail: muntingbuhangin@gmail.com and muntingbuhangin@yahoo.com. Website: www.muntingbuhangin.ph.

Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa (Puerto Princesa City, Palawan)

We arrived at the resort by 9 AM and we all offered a relaxing cold face towel and a welcome drink made with fresh cucumber and pineapple.  The very professional, very visible and thoughtful Mike Villegas, the Resident Manager, was on hand to see to it that the needs of guests like us were attended to.

Sheridan Beach Resort

Sheridan Beach Resort and its signature swimming pool

The 95-room Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa, the only luxury resort in the Sabang area on the west coast of Palawan, was built in 2010 and was developed and operated by Jeco Development Corp.  President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III stayed here last February 9, 2011.

Front Desk

Front Desk

This “green” resort is among the seven honored for promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy at the recently concluded Energy Smart Forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP).

Wind turbines

Wind turbines

Wind turbines cover about 70 to 80% of Sheridan’s electricity requirements. During rainy days or when the solar plant cannot produce or when there is scarce wind to power the wind turbines, the resort has back-up generators.

Solar panels

Solar panels

The resort also has a catch basin for rainwater and a water recycling system in place. They also use LED lighting and their airconditioners use inverters. They also have green landscape features and architecture, so they don’t use air-conditioning in our hallways.

De Luxe Room

De Luxe Pool View Room

We were assigned to spacious and modern De Luxe Pool View rooms located at the second floor.  With an area of 30 sq. m., Minimalist-style our guestrooms were tastefully furnished and decorated in a contemporary Asian style with a touch of local culture.

De Luxe Suite (2)

All have split-type airconditioners, comfortable beds, soft, fluffy pillows, a spacious private ensuite bathroom with hot and cold shower, flat screen cable TV with a DVD player, well-stocked minibar, hair dryer, in-room safe, tea and coffee making facility plus rubber slippers, bathrobes, complimentary bottled water and a large umbrella for the use of guests.  The very nice balcony, from which we enjoyed a panoramic view of the large swimming pool, has a retractable aluminum clothes rack where you can hang your wet clothes and towels.

Sabang Room

Sabang Room

Sabang Room Bath

Sabang Room Bath

There are also 30 sq.m. Superior and De Luxe Mountain View Rooms, the 46 sq. m. Palawan and Sabang Rooms and the 76 sq. m. Junior Suite and Sheridan Suite.  The suites and the Palawan and Sabang Rooms have bathtubs.  For groups and families, there are 13 connecting rooms in the De Luxe category.

Chaise lounges by the pool

Chaise lounges by the pool

Its big, 340 ft. (104 m.) long, architecturally interesting infinity swimming pool, said to be the largest in Palawan, is located tight smacked in the center of the entire establishment.  Open 9 AM to 9 PM, it has a constant depth of 4 ft. throughout its length and is separated into two distinct sections.

Childrens pool

Childrens pool

Here, you can play water basketball. Chaise lounges are actually partly submerged at the pool. The swim up Sip n’ Dip Bar (open till 12 midnight) is located in the middle while 3 jacuzzis are located on the sides.

Jacuzzis

Jacuzzis

There are plenty of dedicated lifeguards on duty here (and the beach) as well as pool attendants. A small but excellent outdoor workout gym, with great, state-of-the-art Sports Art Fitness equipment and weights, overlooks the pool.

Outdoor gym

Outdoor gym

The resort also has a 24-hour, beachfront restaurant (South Sea Restaurant), coffee shop, a bar/lounge by the beach (Blue Bar), kiddie swimming pool, 24-hour front desk, convention center, smoking area, shared lounge/TV area, children’s playground, sauna, a sports bar with darts, billiards, table tennis and a giant chess board game, outdoor sports (Segway, beach bikes, ATV rides), barbecue facilities, library near the lobby, game room, watersport facilities (surfboards, wakeboards, kayaks, body board, etc.) and business center. The first-rate, service-oriented staff, who spoke very good English, were really helpful, very nice and extremely polite and friendly.

Convention Center

Convention Center

Sports bar

Sports bar

The gorgeous, well maintained, gradually sloping, relatively quiet, palm-fringed and sugary fine but not so white Sabang Beach has shallow, crystal clear water but is not ideal for snorkeling or diving. Beware of the undertow at the 6-ft. deep level.

Beach Area

Beach Area

The lifeguards use their whistles or bullhorns to call your attention if you venture beyond the safe zone. Facing the beach are benches, sundeck chairs, small tables and cozy, woven reed hammocks under shady coconut trees where we can sit or lie down, nap, read or listen to the waves crashing around you.

The author relaxing by the beach

The author relaxing by the beach

The resort also offers 24-hour room service, laundry service, shuttle, safety deposit boxes, luggage area, car rental, airport transfer, tours, bicycle rental, babysitting, currency exchange, island hopping and express check-in/check-out.  Wi-fi is offered in public areas (lobby and restaurant) but some rooms, mine included, was within reach of wi-fi.

Nature Spa Village

Nature Spa Village

Come evening of my second day at the resort, after a hectic day of island hopping, snorkelling and ziplining,I availed of the signature Sheridan hilot massage at the intimate Sheridan Nature Spa Village.  Truly healing and relaxing.

Nature Spa Village - Interior

Nature Spa Village – Interior

This resort is just s a stone’s throw away (10-min. walk) from the wharf where boats take you to the Subterranean Underground River. Also nearby is the 800 m. long Sabang X zipline (PhP550/pax) where you zip over the sea.  About 15-20 mins away from the resort is Ugong Rock and the mangroves. It’s also an 1.5 hr drive to Honda Bay. Sabang Waterfalls is about a 2-hour roundtrip trek through a very rocky beach.

All Terrain Vehicles

All Terrain Vehicles

A pair of Xibeihu Amphibious Motorboats

A pair of Xibeihu Amphibious Motorboats

The physical beauty and magnificent sweeping vistas of the surrounding, lush green and uniquely shaped mountains, which serves as the resort’s beautiful backdrop, truly made me feel like I was in paradise. Truly, a a mystical, beautiful vacation hideaway in Palawan where heaven and earth meet …..

Sunset at Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa

Sunset at Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa

Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa: Sabang Beach, Sitio Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan. Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Palawan Sales Office: Jeco Bldg., Rizal Ave. Extn., Puerto Princesa City.  Tel (+63 48) 434 1448 to 49 and 723 7278. Mobile Numbers (+63 917) 308-3245 and (+ 63 917) 308-3245. Cebu Sales Office: Sheridan Bldg., Ouano Ave., NRA, Mandaue City.  Tel: (+63 32) 236-1001. Fax: (+63 32) 345-1000. Mobile number: (+63 917) 306-6984. Manila Sales Office: tel: (+63 2) 939-8888. Mobile number: (+63 917) 726-5224. E-mail: reservations@sheridanbeachresort.com.  Website:www.sheridanbeachresort.com.
Instagram: @sheridanresorts
Instagram official tag: #SheridanPalawan
Twitter: @sheridanresorts
Facebook: facebook.com/sheridanbeachresortandspa

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort (Oslob, Cebu)

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort

I again got an invitation, from Mr. Pete Dacuycuy, to join a media familiarization tour of another Bluewater resort (the first one we visited was the Panglao Bluewater Resort in Bohol), this time to Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.  Joining me was fellow Panglao visitor Ms. Ma. Joy Elaine C. Felizardo (www.gastronomybyjoy.com) and Ms. Lara Louise Gabrielle L. Antonio (Editorial assistant at Mabuhay Magazine) plus Mr. Jimbo Owen B. Gulle (Editor-in-chief of Powerplay Magazine); Ms. Ma. Katrina Camille Cabanos (ZALORA Philippines); Ms. Liana Kathleen Smith-Bautista (www.liveloveblog.com); and Ms. Risa Halaguena and Ms. Rachelle Elaine Mapa (Account Manager), both from Essential Philippines Magazine.

Sumilon Island

Sumilon Island

We all arrived at Sibulan Airport (Negros Oriental) by 3:30 PM via a PAL Express flight. Upon exiting the terminal, we were whisked, via two airconditioned vans, to Sibulan Port where a big 50-pax outrigger boat (Jeffrey) was waiting to bring us to the island.  Normally, to get to the island, visitors usually make a 20-min. land trip to Tampi port, then ride a fast craft going to Oslob on Cebu Island.

Sibulan Port

Sibulan Port

From Oslob (a 3-hour drive from Cebu City), they then make a 10-min. land trip to Bancogon Pavilion, where the private ferry port going to  Sumilon Bluewater Island is located. The free 2-way transfers between the the pavilion and Sumilon Island are scheduled at 1.5 hr. intervals with the first trip at 7 AM and the last at 4:30 PM. We were to forego this tedious land-sea transfer and, instead, directly get to the island via a 1-hr. boat trip.

Arrival at Sumilon Island Wharf

Arrival at Sumilon Island Wharf

We arrived at the island by 4:50 PM and were assigned our respective de luxe rooms in duplex villas.  Jimbo and I stayed at the newly renovated Villa 14-A. Our spacious, tastefully and comfortably decorated airconditioned room had a high ceiling and impressive interiors with 2 very comfortable queen-size beds with many fluffy pillows, a big private bathroom with hot/cold shower and a skylighted ceiling, cable TV with DVD player, a work desk, coffee/tea making facility, sitting area, minibar and a private veranda with lounge chairs.  Glasses of the most refreshing lemongrass-calamansi iced tea and a platter of assorted fruits welcomed us inside our room.

Villa 14-A

Villa 14-A

Sitting area and writing desk

Sitting area and writing desk

Wooden sliding louver doors leading to the bathroom

Wooden sliding louver doors leading to the bathroom

Wi-fi is available in our rooms and public areas (pavilion, the pools, some parts of the beach and the lounge areas along the coastline).  Lounge areas, with seats and hammocks, are located along the seaside and wooden stairs lead guests to a pocket beach. I’ve nothing but praises for the friendly, courteous and efficiently pro-active staff’s hospitality and their earnest desire to fulfill every request.

Al fresco dining at the sandbar

Al fresco dining at the sandbar (photo: Joy Elaine C. Felizardo)

The island's signature shifting sandbar

The island’s signature shifting sandbar

Dinner was prepared, al fresco, along the island’s signature shifting sandbar. After this refreshing repast, we made an ocular tour, using an electric tram, of the resort’s  1 and 2-bedroom villas.

The electric tram

The electric tram

These villas feature, aside from the aforementioned de luxe room amenities, a sitting area, a dipping pool and a free-standing bathtub (also a feature in Panglao Bluewater Resort) for the 2-bedroom villa.

2-Bedroom Villa

2-Bedroom Villa

Interior of 2-Bedroom Villa

Interior of 2-Bedroom Villa

Dipping pool at 1-Bedroom Villa

Dipping pool at 1-Bedroom Villa

Come morning, we had our buffet breakfast at its quiet and lovely, octagonal Island Pavilion restaurant.  It offers assorted breads with orange marmalade, strawberry jam and butter spreads; juice (orange or four seasons); fresh milk; hot chocolate, coffee, hash brown potatoes, crispy bacon, omelet, tocino, noodles, etc.

Pavilion Restaurant

Pavilion Restaurant

Beside the pavilion is an inviting outdoor infinity swimming pool, overlooking Oslob, with loungers and a breathtaking view of the beach.  Just nearby is the resort’s well-stocked bar.

Infinity swimming pool

Infinity swimming pool

Poolside bar

Poolside bar

Up ahead was a full day of resort-sponsored activities at Oslob, starting with a 10 min. boat ride to the mainland where we bonded with butanding (whale sharks) and  frolicked at Tumalog Waterfalls.

The author (left) bonding with a whale shark

The author (left) bonding with a butanding (photo: Ma. Joy C. Felizardo)

The author at Tumalog Falls

The author at Tumalog Falls

We also reminisced the town’s historical past at the poblacion where we visited  the Spanish-era Church of the Immaculate Conception, Cuartel (barracks), baluarte (watchtower), gates and walls.  We returned to the resort via a 15-min. boat ride from Bancogon Pavilion and Wharf.

Bancogon Pavilion

Bancogon Pavilion

Bancogon Wharf

Bancogon Wharf

In the afternoon, we all explored the island via a nicely laid out hiking trail, through lush forests, making stopovers at the lighthouse, a Spanish-era baluarte, Yamashita’s Cave and  Our Lady of Fatima grotto.  Come evening, to refresh their tired bodies, some of the ladies also tried out an outdoor massage at the resort’s Anuma Spa.

Hiking around the island

Hiking around the island

Anuma Spa

Anuma Spa

On our last day at the resort, Joy and I checked out their 3 glamping tents.  Glamping is short for “glamorous camping.” It basically means going camping while trying to make yourself feel that you’re not camping.  The tent has all the other features of a regular room such as 2 single beds, carpeted floor, cabinets, lamps, electric fans and a cooler filled with assorted drinks (beer, soda, juice) and chips, all for free.  The campsite is located near the beach and the natural lagoon and a bathroom and shower room is close by.

A furnished glamping tent

A furnished glamping tent

The natural lagoon

The natural lagoon

The resort also has a children’s playground, library, dive shop (Aquamania Dive Shop), game room and a souvenir shop.   They also offer, airport transfers, 24-hour room service, , kayaking, fish feeding and fishing at the lagoon, Hobie Cat sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing, paddle boating and scuba diving.  In the evening, you can join fishermen as they catch krill to feed the butanding the next day.

Aquamania Dive Shop

Aquamania Dive Shop

This highly recommendable resort, an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the chaos and stresses of the mind and body, is truly a good place for reflection, prayer, rest, relaxation and romance.

The author at Sumilon Island

The author at Sumilon Island

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort: Brgy. Bancogon, Sumilon Island, Oslob, 6025 Cebu.  Tel: (032) 382-0008 and (032) 318-9098. Mobile numbers: (0917) 631-7514 and (0917) 631-7512.  Email: info.sumilon@bluewater.com.ph.

Cebu City booking office: CRM Bldg., Escario cor. Molave Sts., Lahug, 6000 Cebu City. Tel:  (032) 412-2436. Mobile numbers (0917) 631-7508 and (0998) 962-8263. E-mail: sales.sumilon@bluewater.co.ph.

Manila Office: Rm. 1120, Cityland/Herrera Towers, 98 Herrera cor. Valero St. Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348. Fax: (632) 893-5391.  E-mail: sumilon@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewatersumilon.com.ph.

Bohol Bee Farm (Dauis, Bohol)

Bohol Bee Farm

Bohol Bee Farm

After breakfast, a dip at the lagoon pool and an ocular inspection, with Rooms Division manager Mr. Leo P. Go,  of the resort’s Honeymoon Villas, it was now time to check out of  Panglao Bluewater Resort.  After thanking our gracious host, Mr. Pete Dacuycuy (who left for Manila ahead of us), we again boarded our airconditioned coach which was to bring us to the next town of Dauis.  Here, we were to have lunch at the homey and relaxing Bohol Bee Farm.

Potted herbs and vegetables

Potted herbs and vegetables

This self-sustaining, nature-themed and eco-friendly resort  is filled with rustic wooden furniture and a unique lush, green environment.  Alugbati vines grow on the trellises while the frontage is filled with small plots of various organic herbs (oregano, dill, fennel, basil, spearmint, pandan, magic rose, thyme, chives, lemon grass, peppermint, parsley, aloe vera, stevia, coriander, rosemary and tarragon) and vegetables (romaine lettuce, celery, eggplant, mustard, etc.), all used as ornamental plants and lining the walkways.

The cliff with the sun deck and swimming area below it

The cliff with the sun deck and swimming area below it

This agricultural haven, situated on top of a cliff that drops dramatically into the sea (the swimming area below it is accessible by a flight of wooden stairs), was once dedicated to bee cultivation but the bees perished and the farm was moved to Inabanga.

The 2wo-tiered swimming pool

The 2-tiered indoor swimming pool

The farm promotes healthy eating and we were here to sample a delicious and unique buffet lunch, which uses organically-grown vegetables, at its restaurant overlooking the sea.  On our way to the restaurant, we passed the resort’s lounge area and two-tiered, indoor swimming pool.

The restaurant

The restaurant

Too bad, resort owner and chef Victoria “Vicky” Wallace-Sandidge, a Bohol-born and New York-based nurse-turned-farmer, wasn’t around to entertain us.  Married to African- American Thomas Edward Wallace, she had two children (Mellanie and Abdul) with him but was widowed in 1988.  In 1991, she bought a 4.8-hectare property and established the Bee Farm two years later. Here, she promotes organic farming which doesn’t use expensive conventional fertilizers and harmful pesticides for the farm’s crops. Vicky sits as an active member of the Bohol Initiatives for Sustainable Agriculture and Development (BIFAD).

Organic garden salad

Organic garden salad. Notice the edible flowers? They say that any flower being sucked by bees is not poisonous and, therefore, is edible

Cabcab with pesto & green tomatoes

Cabcab with pesto & green tomatoes

We started our lunch buffet (reasonably priced at PhP600/pax), amidst the cool sea breeze and stunning ocean view, with glasses of fresh lemongrass juice; a very spicy, colorful and tasty organic garden salad (romaine lettuce, turnips, mustard greens and indigenous flowers topped with honey mustard dressing); an appetizer of light, crisp cabcab (mashed cassava pulp dried and deep fried into thin wafers or crackers) with a dip of pesto & green tomato; and a bowl of seafood soup.

Grilled fish

Grilled marlin

Honey-glazed chicken

Honey-glazed chicken

Spare ribs

Spare ribs

The main dishes consisted of grilled marlin, honey-glazed chicken and spare ribs plus seafood lasagna, organic red rice with camote, and squash bread with homemade spreads. Dessert was healthy and very delicious, homemade ube and malunggay (moringa) ice cream.

Seafood lasagna

Seafood lasagna

Squash bread with homemade spreads

Squash bread with homemade spreads

After lunch, we proceeded to the Buzz Shop, their gift and souvenir shop up front which sells all sorts of organic products.  On sale are various vegetable breads and muffins (squash muffins, carrot muffins, camote bread, honeyed muffins, etc.); fruit and vegetable chips (cassava, banana, etc.); spreads (honey, mango, pesto, choco, etc.); a variety of teas, both in leaf and powdered form (including the very  popular honeyed ginger tea); black berry wine; native vinegar; kape mais (coffee made from roasted corn and wild berries); and dried cabcab.

An array of food products

An array of food products

They also sell wild honey from the farm; bee propolis, pure honeybee pollen, honeyed tableya, honeyed garlic; honeyed mustard salad dressing and honeyed hot sauce.   You can also buy soap (milk, papaya, lemongrass, etc.); buri and raffia woven products; beewax lip balm; virgin coconut oil; and honey or pollen-based shampoos and lotions.

Souvenir shop

Souvenir shop

We have already sampled the homemade ube and malunggay ice cream but we still visited the small Buzzz ice cream shop to check out their other very exotic offerings (PhP40 for 1 scoop and PhP80 for 2 scoops) – chocolate, durian, avocado, pandan, tomato, mango, guyabano, spicy ginger and buko (young coconut). Their ice cream is the star of their very unique and interesting halo-halo.

Buzzz Ice Cream

Buzzz Ice Cream

After our pasalubong shopping and prior to leaving, Mr. Ariel B. Logrono, a staff member of the farm took us on a 30-min. guided tour. He first gave us a lecture on different organic farming methods.  The resort practices vermiculture, mostly using their waste products mixed with animal manure for vermicompost.   After 6 months, it is then used as fertilizer.

Listening to Ariel's lecture on organic farming

Listening to Ariel’s lecture on organic farming

They  also practice the concept of companion planting, a form of polyculture wherein different crops are planted in close proximity to each other.  The theory is that these plants assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control, pollination, and other factors necessary for increasing crop productivity.

Companion planting.

Companion planting at work. Grasshoppers feeding on their favorite leaves but leaving the nearby herbs intact

We were also given a highly educational tour of the Crafts and Livelihood section of the resort, our guide demonstrating and giving inputs on the process involved in each activity. Here, the Bohol Bee Farm staff are encouraged to do livelihood activities such as raffia making, basket making and sewing,  enabling them to give a little back to the community.

Crafts and Livelihood Section

Crafts and Livelihood Section

Seasonal basket and raffia decors

Seasonal basket and raffia decors

At the center, we observed members of the cooperative operating looms and sewing machines as they turned raffia and buri palm leaves into fabric sheets, bags, place mats, purses, slippers, curtains, seasonal decors, table runners, tissue holders, hats and other merchandise.  The loom weavers made it look so easy, their shuttles zipping back and forth without hardly any effort. A 10-foot long sheet of raffia fabric usually takes 3 to 4 days to complete.

Observing loom weaving

Observing loom weaving

Bohol Bee Farm: Brgy. Dao, Dauis, Panglao Island, 6339 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 502 2288 and (038) 510-1821 to 22. Mobile number: (0917) 710-1062, (0939) 904-6796 and (0917) 304-1491.  E-mail: vickywallace@boholbeefarm.com.   Website: www.boholbeefarm.com.

Arrival in Panglao (Bohol)

Panglao Bluewater Resort

Panglao Bluewater Resort

Come evening, after the end of our Bohol Countryside Tour, it was now time for us to check in at the 5.5-hectare, extremely quiet and refreshing Panglao Bluewater Resort.

Check out “Bohol Media Familiarization Tour

Mr. Pete Dacuycuy (in white shirt) with the media group

Mr. Pete Dacuycuy (in white shirt) with the media group

Our home for the three days and two nights we were to stay in Bohol, all 7 members of the media team, plus 3 Department of Tourism personnel and our tour operator and ground handler Ms. Edna M. Faustino, were to stay in some of the 54 elegantly appointed, spacious, very Zen and modern airconditioned guestrooms.

Check out “Resort Review: Panglao Bluewater Resort

The Premier De Luxe Room I stayed in (118)

The Premier De Luxe Room I stayed in (118)

On arrival, we were welcomed by Rooms Division manager Mr. Leo P. Go and resort consultant Mr. Pete Dacuycuy and offered welcome lemon grass drinks and cold towels while waiting for our Premier De Luxe rooms to be ready. The ladies all stayed at the ground-level Poolside Wing while the guys all stayed at first-floor Poolview rooms. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner was at its full-service Aplaya Restaurant

Check out “Restaurant Review: Aplaya Restaurant

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd, Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Boquete Island (Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental)

Of course, any visit to to Puerto Galera is never complete without trying out some of the town’s 13 superb beaches and a number of its offshore islands.  Come morning of the last caravan day, after breakfast at Marivelles Restaurant at the top floor of Marco Vincent Dive Resort, we were driven to the town’s seaside tourism information office.

Boquete Island

Boquete Island

Here, big outrigger boats were docked to take us to the small yet charming and beautiful Boquete Island (also called Paniquian Island), one of the islands that dot Muelle Bay.  Technically, it is a peninsula as it is connected to the mainland by a 50 m. long, scenic white sand sandbar, but it does become an island during high tide. Elizabeth’s Hideaway Resort & Restaurant, formerly Sandbar Boquete Beach Club, is located nearby.

Puerto Galera Tourist Information Center

Puerto Galera Tourist Information Center

Windsurfing is done off the sandbar which is perfect for speed trials as its sheltered waters are generally flat.  Wind speeds here can reach 20 knots at times although, generally, the wind speeds are consistent during the daytime at between 10 and 15 knots..  The sandbar is a regular venue for the second leg of the Philippine National Windsurfing Championship circuit.

Boarding our boat

Boarding our boat

Ms. Susan E. Cruz (Tourism Operations Assistant) and Ms. Sienna May R. Manongsong, both of the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Tourism Office joined us.  The boat trip took a little over 30 mins. and we made landfall at the white sand beach fronting the unfinished Friday Boquete Resort.  Here, we were to have lunch at one of its picnic sheds.

On our way

On our way

The beach is nice and secluded, with clear blue waters, and is away from the maddening crowd and the loud sounds of bars, restaurants and party places of White Beach.  However, sea urchins are present a short distance from the shore.  East of the island are the waters of Muelle Bay while to the west is Balatero Cove.

A resort we passed during our trip

A resort we passed during our trip

This 3.8 hectare property, located on a powdery white & pink sand beach inside the lagoons of UNESCO-protected Muelle Bay, is a sister resort of the 5-star Friday’s Boracay Beach Resort in Aklan and both are owned by the publicly listed Boulevard Holdings, Inc. (BHI).

Making landfall at Boquete Island

Making landfall at Boquete Island

When operational, it would have 62 luxurious native cottage styled rooms, a restaurant (that can be converted into an events are), beach grill, lobby lounge and bar, a huge outdoor ,free flow swimming pool and deck, art/shop boutique; dive training pool; full-scale dive shop, a spa treatment pavilion, and gymnasium.

Fridays Boquete Beach Resort

Fridays Boquete Beach Resort

As lunch was still hours away, we still had time to do banana boating (PhP350/pax) or avail of a package tour to San Antonio Island consisting  of a visit to an underwater cave and snorkeling the spots around the Coral Garden, looking for a meter long giant clam underneath —all for PhP300.

Banana boat ride

Banana boat ride

Of those who availed of the banana boating, half opted for its milder form (no overturning) while  Eva, Cel, Mike, Sheena, Gabby and yours truly went extreme and were rewarded with three dunkings, the last one when we were returning to shore.

Getting ready for our extreme banana boat ride

Getting ready for our extreme banana boat ride

Automobile Association Philippines (AAP): 28 EDSA, Greenhills, San Juan City.  Tel: (632) 655-5889.  Fax: (632) 655-1878.  E-mail: info@aap.org.ph. Website: www.aap.org.ph.
AAP Travel: G/F, Sea Tower Bldg., 2332 Roxas Blvd. cor. Arnaiz Ave., Pasay City. Tel: (632) 551-0025.  Fax: (632) 551-0014. E-mail: info@aaptravel.com.  Website:www.aaptravel.com.ph.
Provincial Tourism Office: Provincial Capitol, Calapan City, Mindoro Oriental.  Tel: (043) 286-7046 and (043) 441-0306.

Cortijo de Palsabangon Farm Park and Restaurant (Pagbilao, Quezon)

From Ouan’s The Farm Resort in Lucena City, we proceeded to the next destination in Appsline Travel-sponsored tour, this time traveling to the next town of Pagbilao where we were to have lunch at the 5.1-hectare Cortijo de Palsabangon Farm Park and Restaurant.  As we neared the restaurant, we passed by its organic farm planted to fruit trees and pesticide-free vegetables.

The native-style restaurant

The native-style restaurant

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by owner Ms. Ayrin Llorin at the native-style restaurant. The place looked very relaxing, with its lush greenery and backdrop of mountain scenery. Built with bamboo, hardwood and sawali, the restaurant is furnished with tables and chairs made with bamboo or hardwood and accented with large and small cart wheels.  Within is a billiard table and a bar stocked with regular wines and spirits.

The dining area

The dining area

Cart wheels provide a nice touch

Cart wheels provide a nice touch

The well-stocked bar

The well-stocked bar

Ms. Ayrin prepared for us Filipino dishes that included  pork sisig and baked tahong (mussels baked with cheese), both popular appetizers, and seafood kare-kare (using shrimp instead of stewed beef or pork and cooked with some of their organically grown vegetables), all served with steamed rice, plus pancit canton.

Shrimp kare-kare

Shrimp kare-kare

Pancit canton

Pancit canton

Pork sisig and baked tahong

Pork sisig and baked tahong

After this very filling and delicious meal, we also tried out the local, coconut-based lambanog (the Philippine version of vodka) spiked with liputi, a local wild blackberry which adds a slightly sweet, tangy taste. Lambanog’s other flavors include grapefruit, bubble gum, pineapple, prunes among others. Though fiery tasting, it is said not to produce a hangover.

Trying out the local liputi lambanog

Trying out the local liputi lambanog

Near the restaurant are 3 native-style bamboo cottages named after vegetables – singkamas (jicama root), sigarilyas (winged bean) and talong (eggplant).  They each have their own dining and sleeping area and is rented out for PhP500 for an overnight stay. Aside from the restaurant, customers can dine al fresco or in a picnic cottage.Come Friday evening, a local band provides a night life party. Cold nights are warmed with a bonfire.

L-R: Melissa, Lurhen, Ayrin, Rannie and the author

L-R: Melissa, Lurhen, Ayrin, Rannie and the author

Diners here can also play billiards or sing their hearts out with their videoke.   The place is ideal for camping; team building; agricultural and organic farming tours (you pick and pay for the fresh fruits and vegetables which they cook); and horse and pony riding.  Come November to January, a rainbow usually appears during the day.

Cottages for overnight stays

Cottages for overnight stays

Cortijo de Palsabangon Farm Park and Restaurant: Brgy. Ibabang Palsabangon, Pagbilao, Quezon. Mobile number: (0999) 513-4730 (Ms. Ayrin Llorin), (0923) 517-7001 (Ms. Ayrin Llorin) and (0917) 719-5184 (Ms. Noriko Usui).  E-mail:cortijodepalsabangon@yahoo.com.ph.

Appsline Travel Services and Consultancy: Phase 2, Krisanta Village, Brgy. Bukal, Maharlika Village, Pagbilao, Quezon.  Tel: (042) 716-0067.  Mobile number: (0922) 633-0363 (Ms. Lurhen T. Cortes). E-mail: yvette_24@yahoo.com andappsline0305@gmail.com.

Ouan’s The Farm Resort (Lucena City, Quezon)

After checking out at the Quezon Premier Hotel, Mel, Rannie, Angela, Maichel and I drove out to Ouan’s The Farm Resort, , a popular  choice of visitors to Lucena City, whether for business or pleasure, exploring or just passing through.  Here, the thrills of a complete family resort are combined with the simple, laid back life on the farm, with its butterfly haven, fish pond, goats, chickens, fruit-bearing trees, lush vegetation and fresh air.

Ouan's The Farm Resort

Ouan’s The Farm Resort

Upon arrival at the reception area, we were welcomed by resort Gen. Manager Ma. Louchiel S. Labay who prepared for us a breakfast of pancit habhab, chicken empanada, fresh buco and pandan juice.  Also on hand was travel/tourism consultant Ms. Lurhen T. Cortes, Gen. Manager of Appsline Travel Services & Consultancy, who was to tour us around Pagbilao town.

Olympic size swimming pool

Olympic size swimming pool

Pancit Habhab

Pancit habhab

After breakfast, Lurhen and some of the resort staff toured us around the grounds.  The resort has overnight accommodations (standard rooms, suites, dorms) and a number of swimming pools ranging from Olympic size, to free form and kiddie pools.  It also has a coffee shop (Grandma’s Kitchen); cozy and spacious conference rooms and function halls; a firing range; tennis court; basketball/volleyball court, camp site; sauna and football field.

Angela scales the climbing wall

Angela scales the climbing wall

Of particular interest to us was their wall climbing, rappelling and zipline facility and everybody proceeded there.  My four companions decided to try out all 3 activities while I, with my bum knees, just watched from the sidelines. Louchiel’s daughter also joined them on the single pulley zipline.  Once on the other side, they then climbed another tower and zipped back to the starting point.  Maichel and Angela also successfully climbed up and rappelled down the climbing wall.  Mel only did the latter while Rannie tried and failed on the former.

Maichel tries ziplining

Maichel tries ziplining

Back at the reception area and prior to leaving, Louchiel also introduced to us their new product – milkfish (bangus) sardines.  These fish are cooked in a pressure cooker so that the bones become so tender they can be eaten.

Ouan's signature bangus sardines

Ouan’s signature bangus sardines

Louchiel also introduced us to her father, retired PNP Chief (during the Ramos administration) Dir.-Gen. Recaredo A. Sarmiento II (PMA Class 1966), who is from Buenavista in Marinduque.  His father and namesake was Buenavista’s longest serving mayor.  A proponent of modern farming, he was once a provincial agriculture program consultant in Marinduque.  Back at the farm, he tends to his tree plantation, notably his duku and longkong lanzones trees.

L-R: Maichel, Lurhen, Gen. Sarmiento, Mel, Rannie, Angela and the author

L-R: Maichel, Lurhen, Louchiel, Gen. Sarmiento, Mel, Rannie, Angela and the author

Ouan’s The Farm Resort: Km 133 Diversion Road, Kanlurang Mayao, Lucena City 4301, Quezon. Tel: (042) 710-4552 and (042) 373-4728. Mobile numbers: (0923) 744-4181 and (0923) 749-4333. E-mail: ouansfarm@yahoo.com. Website: www.ouansthefarmresort.com.

Appsline Travel Services and Consultancy: Phase 2, Krisanta Village, Brgy. Bukal, Maharlika Village, Pagbilao, Quezon.  Tel: (042) 716-0067.  Mobile number: (0922) 633-0363 (Ms. Lurhen T. Cortes). E-mail: yvette_24@yahoo.com andappsline0305@gmail.com.

 

 

Dinner at Ucoy Beach Resort (Libertad, Antique)

After watching the sunset at Pucio Point, we boarded the big motorized outrigger boat bound for the 45-min. trip to the charming, 3-star Ucoy Beach Resort, along Libertad Bay.  Our boat landed at the beige sand Sulu Beach in front of the resort. At a picnic shed along this beach, the LGU of Libertad treated us to a dinner of tinolang manok, beef steak tagalog, grilled talakitok with vignarette and chicken afritada.

Dinner by the beach

Dinner by the beach

The resort is a popular choice amongst business travelers and tourists in Antique, whether they’re exploring or just passing through.  Its patio has views of Libertad Bay, the garden, swimming pool or lake.

The fire hoop performance

The fire hoop performance

After dinner, we were treated to a fire performance show, a very dangerous but popular fire-oriented performance art that involves manipulation of objects on fire.  Avic Magsipoc and Joon Dejuan Alonsagay, both performers at Boracay’s West Cove, regaled us with the fire hoop, swinging flaming tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns.

Watching the performance up close

Bravely watching the performance dangerously up close

Its performance in the dark, choreographed to music, produced a dramatic effect that enthralled us, as well as the Libertadnon crowd and resort guests present.  Clelia and I, as well as some resort guests, even watched it performed up close, with the flaming hoops just inches from our faces. They also did fakir skills such as body burning and fire breathing.  After this performance, we said goodbye to and thanked our Libertadnon hosts, boarded our van and returned to Pandan Beach Resort for a well-deserved rest.

Members of media with resort owner

Members of media with resort owner Ms. Lucia D. Schotz

Ucoy Beach Resort: Brgy. Union, Libertad 5710, Antique.  Tel: (036) 278-1681. Mobile number: (0907) 640-2418 and (0919) 594-9451. E-mail: info@ucoybeachresort.com. Website: www.ucoybeachresort.com.  It is located 19.5-kms. (a 1 hr. drive) from Brgy. Caticlan (Malay), and 52.8 kms. (a 2-hr. drive) from Kalibo, both in Aklan.