As one travel blogger put it, flying into the northernmost province of the Philippines is like being transported to the English moors and Scottish Highlands. Fields look like a labyrinthine patchwork of green bordered by tall hedgerows of grass, reeds, piled stones and trees which serve as protection from the fierce winds, and typhoons which commonly pass near the islands as well as huge waves that crash into dramatic cliffs and rocks that jut out into the ocean.
What Batanes provides is an idyllic, pristine setting that is a photographer’s delight. It’s a place of quiet calm where time seemingly stopped. It is a place rich in culture, where trust, honesty and community spirit are lived and not just words.
So if you are interested in communing with nature and culture away from the noise and chaos of a city, then Batanes is for you. Batanes Cultural Travel Agency or BCTA (http://www.batanestravel.com) probably offers the most consistent and the most definitive travel arrangements for those planning to head out and visit these beautiful islands.
Mt. Pinatubo is generally associated with a disastrous event, but you should know that our fellow Filipinos have actually transformed the area into a tourist destination. From the foot of the mountain, you are transferred to 4×4’s driven by experienced off-roaders. Part of the fun is traversing this grey landscape, fording streams and bouncing along in these 4×4’s. Expect to get wet. You are driven to the start of the trail where you begin your trek up the mountain on foot. It is recommended that you wear ankle high trek shoes as the sand and pebbles can get in your shoes and get uncomfortable. The colors you see are mostly gray, but if you look closer, you can see beautiful colors of yellow sulfur, red rocks, and green shrubbery. At the end of the trail, you’ll be greeted by the view of the majestic crater lake with its azure waters beckoning. The view itself makes the trek very worthwhile. A boat ride on the lake is offered as well. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a dip.
Trekking at Mt. Pinatubo isn’t for everyone, as the physical demand of the activity might be more than what some can handle. However, if you think you can handle it, Mt. Pinatubo trekking is one of the most rewarding activities that you can do in summer.
A Tent Adventure! While Subic has been one of the more popular summer destinations for years with its myriad of adventure diversions like: Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure, Tree Top Adventure, El Kabayo Equestrian Center and even wreck diving in the bay, something more rustic and pristine waits right around the corner – Nagsasa Cove.
Nagsasa Beach Cove is situated an hour from the center of the town of San Antonio in Zambales off the shores of Pundaquit, Zambales. Getting to San Antonio approximately takes four or five hours from Manila by bus. From there it’s about an hour on pump boat to the cove. Nagsasa remains a largely
untouched white sand beach bounded by cool mountains. It is three times bigger than the more popular Anawangin but it’s more scenic. There is a beautiful shallow river called Wild Horse Creek (named by the Americans who used the mountains at the back of the cove as bombing range when they still had a naval and air force base in Subic andClark), a small Aeta village, and small waterfalls and cascades. The Aetas who travel around will be willing to accompany you if ever you decide to trek the hills and forests behind the cove or nearby mountains. What better place to read a good book under a pine tree in relative solitude or be lulled to sleep in a hammock with the rustling of the pine needles?
Streams and waterfalls run water down from the mountains and will sometimes be a better place to hang out as the water can be cooler compared to the water from the beach. But they dry out during the hot summer and dry seasons.
Nagsasa Cove may not be as homey for campers compared to the development Anawangin Cove has but both share the beauty and pristine silence of nature. There are no facilities here nor is there
any mobile phone signal. Make sure you are referred by a friend or a resort when you hire a boatman to take you to the cove or inform your resort’s caretaker of your itinerary so they are aware of where you are going and time you will be spending out of the resort.
Very few people have seen this place, but those very few will share their experience and will tell you that Nagsasa Cove is worth a visit.
Batangas – Anilao Revisited
At the forefront of the diving industry in the Philippines is Anilao, a town in the friendly city of Batangas. This is the birthplace of Philippine diving, with so many things to see and so many places to go to. These days there is a renewedvitality to Anilao. Where before there was indiscriminate fishing and pollution, there now exists a heightened awareness of the environment and the need to protect it. This has resulted in the re-growth of coral reefs and the return of many fish species including the pelagics. Some have even reported whale shark sightings!
Anilao is very close to Metro Manila, which makes it very popular to diving and snorkeling enthusiasts to get their weekend water adventure fix. There are 24 diving sites in Anilao, so you would never run out of options once you’re there.
Diving resorts are all over the coast, offering visitors diving lessons and opportunities. The clear waters of Anilao allow you to see the beautiful corals and fish underwater – something that novice and professional divers alike will truly appreciate. Some resorts even have their own resident sea turtles that make their homes right off their frontage. For something unique, why don’t you try swimming with the sharks of Anilao?
Camarines Sur – Wake Ripping
For extreme watersports, Camarines Sur should be your destination of choice. Watersports enthusiasts go to the CamSur Watersports Complex to get their fix of water-induced adrenaline rushes.
Wakeboarding is the most popular watersport at the complex, with inter-national wakeboarding competitions being held here because of the perfect waves for the sport. However, there are other watersports available such as cable wakeboarding, waterskiing and wakeskating. There are even game rooms and swimming pools, so the whole complex is a sportsman’s dream vacation spot.
Guests come from all parts of the country, and from various regions in the world. Wakeboarding in Camarines Sur has truly captured the hearts of extreme athletes.
Caramoan – The Next Boracay?
Caramoan Island, found in the province of Camarines Sur, is composed of 45 coves and islets, each with different charms. Gota Beach, the jump-off point to other islands, is just one of the captivating destinations in the Caramoan Peninsula.
Offering varied attractions like diving, snorkeling and spelunking, other islands on the Caramoan Peninsula such as Lahuy, Lahus, Matukad, Hunongan, Cotivas, Pitogo, Sabitang Laya, Tinago and Tayak have long been favorite haunts of seasoned backpackers.
More recently, the Island has gained in popularity for hosting the long running reality-tv show, Survivor, not once not twice but four times (French, Bulgarian and Israeli versions)!
Caramoan beaches are famous for their picturesque view of the sunset, long shorelines, powdery white sands, limestone rock formations, crystal clear water, and abundant reefs. So beautiful is this paradise that it has been dubbed, the next Boracay.
Getting to Caramoan is fairly easy as one can fly to Naga, and then take a van or jeep from the Naga Central Terminal to Sabang/Talisay Port. From there it’s a boat ride to the Caramoan port and a jeep ride to Centro. Be advised though that motorboats to Caramoan only travel during the daytime with regular trips scheduled every 6:00 am, 8:00 am and 11:00 am. If you miss the regular schedule, special trips are available at an additional cost. If you have a private vehicle, it is advisable that you look for a barangay official in Sabang or Talisay port for your safe car parking.
Marinduque –Luxury has a New Name The city of Santorini, Greece is known for its picturesque buildings and breathtaking views. If you don’t have the time and budget to fly all the way to Greece, you’d probably be surprised that you can find something similar here in the Philippines.
In Marinduque, the Bellarocca Resort and Spa offers a scenic vacation spot with a similar aura as Santorini. An immaculate beach, statuesque structures, and a tranquil environment make it a perfect spot for rest and relaxation.
Taking up one whole island, Bellarocca also offers various wellness activities so that you can make the most out of your vacation with a total physical renewal. This is the perfect definition of a getaway.
Room rates start at USD 420 for a Deluxe Room to USD 1320 for a 2-bedroom Villa.
Cebu – A New Kind of Water
Adventure Known as the Queen City of the South, Cebu is a melting pot of various Philippine and foreign cultures. Aside from the food and festivities most often associated with Cebu, you might want to visit it for other, more adventurous vacation spots.
Rising from the aquamarine waters just off the Olango bird sanctuary, are four rather large huts sitting on stilts. This is Kaw-oy. It’s not some fancy resort. In fact, for the small fishing community that resides in the area, it is one of the few means of livelihood. Kaw-oy is a group of unique floating restaurants. Once you disembark from your boat and step into the hut, you are greeted by an enormous dining room with around ten long tables and benches. Rustic, as rustic can be, the tables are covered by plastic tablecloths.
Remember, you aren’t here for the 5-star ambience, what you are here for is the food; fresh seafood to be exact. And it doesn’t come much fresher. You are given a choice of fish. Make your choice and off a diver goes through a hole in the floor into the sea. Seconds later he emerges with your fish. Now how fresh is that? Of course it’s a bit easier than it seems.
Underneath the huts the stilts are surrounded by a net and thus you have an aquarium of sorts from which the restaurant derives its catch of the day.There are also a variety of shellfish and crustaceans that are caught daily. The cooking is basic, but with food this fresh, who would want fancy flavours to mess things up. Best of all, prices are not your usual tourist trap cost.
Not far away from Talima, which is better known as a dive spot, is an exciting new adventure attraction; Talima Adventure and Water Park.
The first of its kind in Cebu, it features family-friendly, action and adventure activities.
The Park’s main water-based attractions are the Spintaculars, the Zip N’ Splash, the Tarzan climb and Funflatables, a circuit of water-based inflatable slides, trampolines and climbing challenges.
On land, guests may enjoy riding on four-wheeled ATVs and mountain bikes over a very challenging trail on their own or via guided tours.
Suitable also for family picnics, team-building, children’s parties and other special events, with rentable cottages and food stalls, the Park is very affordable, with an introductory entrance fee of Php100 only and access to activities also for as low as Php100 per person.
Located on Olango Island, Talima Adventure and Water Park is easily accessible, as a boat from Punta Engaño’s Hilton Wharf, where a banca docks, takes only 10 minutes to get there. This scheduled service is available daily from 8am to 4pm except on Wednesdays when the park closes.
Bohol – Dance of the Fireflies
Most everyone has heard of the famous Loboc River tour. Now it’s time to take the tour with a twist – at night! The evening tour begins with a gourmet organic dinner at the Bee Farm
Restaurant in Panglao Island. After dinner, proceed to the Loboc River, either in Loay town or at the Loboc jetty, to board a pump boat that will take you downriver at a slow, leisurely pace. Along the riverbanks, trees are festooned with the myriad lights of fireflies, some covering the entire foliage of the trees. This natural phenomenon has long been a local sight but organized tours did not come about until 2005 when it was recognized as a unique, wondrous spectacle, especially for city dwellers. During the migration season, you can even catch a glimpse of birds sleeping among the branches of the mangrove trees that line the river. Truly an awesome experience as only Mother Nature can present. If you are more adventurous, you can even opt to kayak down the river at night. You’ll have to turn off your lights though to be able to see the fireflies.
Photographs don’t do them justice; you have to see it with your own eyes. Fireflies don’t really pick just any tree—they prefer a certain tree where they probably get their food, that’s why at night you don’t see them distributed in all trees and instead clumped in only a few.
Siargao is known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. An island that is part of Surigao Del Norte, Siargao is considered as one of the top surfing destinations in the whole world.
Surfers from all over the world flock to Siargao to battle the intense waves off shore, which rival those of Hawaii and Australia. International surfing competitions are already being held in the waves of Siargao. The popularity of the island has prompted direct flights from Manila to Siargao. There are also options to go to Siargao from Surigao City.
If you’re not a surfer, or at least not planning to learn, Siargao offers other water activities such as kayaking, diving, and island hopping. The adventures never end in Siargao.
Cagayan De Oro – Hit the Rapids!
White water rafting is an adventure of a lifetime, and there’s no better place toexperience this than in the roaring waters of the Cagayan De Oro River.
The river provides you with a rich view of the surrounding untouched vegetation and rocky river banks – a calming moment right before the twists and turns of the rapids. With 10 to 15 minute intervals between the rapids, the action will keep you at the height of your senses.
According to Cagayan De Oro White Water Rafting Adventure, you have be at least a group of four to go on this adventure, and it will cost you P1,200 or P2,000 each depending on the part of the river that you want to raft on.
Your safety is first priority, of course, so all the proper equipment and training will be provided. If you’re the type of person that would try anything at least once, white water rafting should be on your list of things-to-do.
Palawan – The Beauty Beneath
You can’t mention Palawan without including the world-famous Underground River. The river is more than five miles worth of natural beauty, with a multitude of wildlife species living at the river’s mouth.
Currently the world’s second largest subterranean river, Palawan’s Underground River features beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations, scattered all over the river’s length. Beautiful cave formations add to the grandeur of the river, with tourists being brought along by local tour guides in canoes. You can avail of the tour packages being offered, which usually already come with hotel or resort accommodations.
The beauty of nature is at its finest in Palawan’s Underground River. The ride across the river is a truly unique experience that shows the delicate strength of Mother Nature.
Busuanga Island – Wreck Diving
One of the most popular wreck diving destinations in the country can be found in Busuanga Island – the municipality of Coron. To go there, you can take a direct flight from Manila to Coron.
Coron is at the northern tip of Palawan, and several Japanese shipwrecks from the World War II days can be found here. Sea Dive Resort is just one of the many dive shops in Coron, but is the only one that’s PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) authorized.
The calm waters are perfect for divers and snorkelers. Underwater visibility is also at a maximum because of this, so you will be able to see the shipwrecks clearly if you choose to dive to them. Shipwrecks can be found in depths as shallow as 10-30 feet, and as deep as 120-140 feet.
Sports divers flock to Coron to see the history of the shipwrecks, but casual divers and tourists still go to this beautiful island for its tranquil beaches.
Will you make the most out of summer?
Summer is the time to live! Fun and excitement, rest and relaxation – all part of the joyous spirit of summer.
Make the most out of it by going to places you‘ve never gone to before, doing things you’ve never thought of doing. The Philippines is blessed with so many awesome vacation spots, so it’s time to book your tickets and pack your bags.
It was the final run of Rent the musical in RCBC Plaza, Makati City on March 6, and many were pleasantly surprised at the talent displayed by Ciara Sotto who played the role of Mimi, one of the play’s lead roles.
The long-time TV star-turned-theater actress added a new twist to the daring, sexy character who was a prostitute with AIDS as she did pole dancing in some of the scenes, singing impressively while hanging from a pole. As most people know, pole dancing is also another place where Ciara has been making a name for herself in recent months.
Rent is Ciara’s second musical play, next to Magsimula Ka. Critics however saw that her performance in Rent fared far better and revealed a very different side of herself one wouldn’t know was in her, compared to how she acted in her first theater role.
“This has got to be my favorite role. I am in love with theater and being cast in Rent is another milestone in my career as a performer,” Ciara says in a recent interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal.
The actress added, “I had to imbibe the character well so I watched the movie and the Broadway play on DVD. I also watched movies focused on people with AIDS.”
Ever-controversial personality Kris Aquino recently declared to the press that she is now ready to openly accept any woman who becomes involved with James Yap, her ex-husband and father of her son Baby James “Bimby” Yap, on one condition. “Ako, isa lang ang criteria: mahalin si Bimby [Baby James]. Kung mamahalin si Bimby, anybody na mamahalin si James—I mean yung sincere, ha, huwag lang magpaka-wicked stepmother—pwede kong i-best friend,” Kris wittingly said.
The statement was one of Kris’ reactions to reports linking her ex-husband James Yap to actress Isabel Oli.
Kris recalled, “Sabi ko sa kanya, hinihingan nila ako ng comment. Sinabi ko sa kanya, ‘Ako, I respect your privacy.’ Tapos sinabi niya sa akin, ‘Anong respect my privacy, e, sa iyo nga nanggaling ‘yon? Ikaw ang nauna!’
“Sabi ko, ‘Hindi, ha!’ Sabi ko, ‘Kung ayaw n’yong pinag-uusapan, huwag kang labas nang labas kung saan-saan.’ Sabi niya sa akin, ‘Alam mo, ikaw, di ka pa rin nagbabago.’ Sabi ko, ‘Kung nagbago ako, hindi na ako si Kris!’”
Kris however refrained from giving comments about Isabel when asked about her opinion on the actress. “You know, in the same way that I would hate for James to have an opinion about anybody who comes into my life in the future, I have no opinion whatsoever, out of respect. Because ayaw ko na pakikialaman nila ako sa buhay ko later on. So, ayaw kong makialam sa life nila ngayon,” Kris concluded.
Seasoned TV and film actress Lorna Tolentino revealed that some twists in the story of the new soap opera she stars in at ABS-CBN, Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, showed much semblance to what actually happens in real life.
She said that in fact, some scenes had to be rewritten because they were eerily similar to the subject of ongoing congressional hearings on corruption in the military.
While Lorna T. finds this a reason to feel stressed or anxious, having gone through bouts of overcoming depression herself, she is glad that she gets to play a “complicated” woman in the show (a soldier’s wife and a general’s daughter). “I don’t want to be a martyr forever,” Lorna said. “Great thing is, my character is not the usual kontrabida.”
The actress also said she finds it a delight to play alongside good friend Amy Austria on the set, and make her “suffer” in the story. Lorna shared, “I’m at ease because Amy is a generous co-star. I’m sure she will give me the right emotions to bounce off in our scenes together.”
An advocate of wellness and spa getaways, Lorna also shared she has had to skip Bikram yoga sessions due to the marathon taping schedule of Minsan. To “keep her sanity,” the actress escapes to a farm in Cavite.
“It was originally a poultry and pineapple farm,” Lorna said in an interview with the Inquirer during her 11th anniversary bash as endorser of Crystal Clear purified drinking water. “But my partners and I are studying the possibility of planting organic vegetables, herbs and spices.”
Lorna also added that she herself dreams of turning the farms into a spa, and also opening her own water-refilling station in Tagaytay. Revealing the fearless business woman side of herself, she told the press, “I’ve always wanted to go into business. I first met with the owners of Crystal Clear after finishing my entrepreneurship course in UP in 1999.”
Another of LT’s new ventures today is her job as co-manager to sons Ralph and Renz. “I consult with my friends who are also talent managers, like ’Nay Lolit [Solis] and Tita Annabelle [Rama], when I have questions,” she said. “That’s a labor of love, Lorna explained. “I don’t get a commission ha? But the boys promised to buy a house and a car for me in the future!”
I am referring to the much-beloved Azkals – the Philippine National Football team. They are a merry bunch of grizzled home-grown veterans, new talented players from abroad, good looks, charisma, and testosterone. The Filipinos just love them, and for the first time in its history, the Philippines loves the beautiful game.
The day after the Azkals won over Mongolia, 2-0 in the first leg of their AFF Challenge Cup qualifier, I found my school swarming with students all chasing a soccer ball down and kicking it. Kick and chase. Kick and chase. I have yet to teach them anything about football, but I can see that they already love the sport. I spent the next few days schooling them on the rudiments of the game, and a week after they had already invited students from other schools to come to our field for a friendly game.
The Filipino fans’ affection and love towards the Azkals is now being translated into the love of the game. This is good for a nation who has tried and failed to master a sport where height is might. Learning footy during my early teens was the best thing that happened to me, and I know that if the present generation of kids would turn to football, I am sure they would learn some invaluable lessons as well.
Love is all fine and dandy, but personally I don’t think that is enough to see the real progress of the Azkals and of Philippine football in general. Marcus Cicero himself once said “The sinews of war is infinite money.” If our modern-day soldiers are going to more wars in the future, then they have to have infinite money, or something close to it.
Good news. Smart Communications just offered the Azkals an 80 million peso-deal. The funds are supposed to help the Azkals train for their future campaigns, and for the organization of the Philippines’ own premier league. This is on top of the 1 million pesos Manny V. Pangilinan donated to the team after the Azkals reached the semis of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 for the first time after defeating Vietnam and eventually topping their group in the group stages.
Money, as long as it is in good hands, can only mean that the Azkals will get better as a team. Consider this: Chelsea FC’s and Manchester City FC were dwindling in the doldrums of the English Premier League, not until
Roman Abramovich and Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought them. Today, both teams are contenders in the EPL. Let us just hope that all that money should be used the right way–with the former president allegedly paralyzing the whole Philippine football program with corruption and misuse of funds, it’s not hard to wish for those funds to be in the right hands. Should the PFF accept the funds from Smart, it will add to the PFF’s growing treasure chest. Did you know that since December, the PFF has already been boosted by financial aid from different groups totaling to P61.75 million. Now that’s a lot of money.
More good news. The Azkals will apparently now have a permanent home stadium. According to reports, the president of the PFF, Mariano Araneta and Bro. Mike Velarde (yes the El Shaddai leader!) have agreed in principle that the latter will donate around 4.5 hectares of prime land in one of his subdivisions in Parañaque City. This will be used to construct a football pitch using a FIFA grant. This was good news for me, as I happen to live in that subdivision, but that pitch is to be exclusively for Azkals’ use only. Too bad.
FIFA’s Goal Project 2 will be the lifeblood of the construction of this pitch, giving the PFF around $500,000 in funds (about P21.7 million). According to Araneta, it will only take six months to finish the construction of the field, and noted that FIFA will have the last say as to the design of the pitch. Unfortunately the pitch won’t be ready for the Azkals to use for their preparations for the second leg of their qualifying match against Mongolia in the freezing capital, Ulan Bator on March 15.
The future looks bright for the Azkals and Philippine Football!
Refresh and earn cool cash this summer.
As we all know the Philippines is located near the equator, thus making our country experience the warmth of tropical temperatures almost throughout the year. The only seasons we have are summer and the rainy spell, and when summer rolls around; you know that the beads of saline water from your sweat glands will start raining down again.
That’s why Pinoys have cooked up a myriad of ways to beat the heat gastronomically. A quick stroll outside your street on a summer day could most likely result in you enjoying a cool treat — take your pick from ice cream (the branded ones and oh yes, the supposedly “dirty” but heavenly variety), a bevy of ice drop flavors that’re almost always sold along pinipig, ice candy, the sunny staple halo-halo, and even ice tubig. There are dozens and dozens of delicious treats that one can enjoy to cool himself down on a frying day.
And whenever there’s demand, there’s always a rewarding opportunity to be productive. That’s why we’re giving you a couple of surefire ways to make your business the coolest place in your area not only this summer but all year round. Read more
As if the sites of the country’s 7,107 islands aren’t enough to keep a tourist busy and in awe of the beauty of the Philippines, try looking UNDER them! And continue to be amazed at the richness of a whole new life that rivals if not bests the most exotic destinations around the world.
Dive Instructor TANTAN ROSAL takes us on a storytelling tour of the Philippine underwater paradise. This diving authority has been diving for over 20 years; and has made it his life. Tan packed up his Manila life shortly after graduating from BS Economics at the University of the Philippines and a brief (but award-winning) stint in advertising; and exchanged it all for the white sands and clear waters of Boracay – where he anchored and built his life to this day. He set up Bite Club, one of the first establishments at D’Mall – that continues to serve the yummiest burgers in the island; and, of course, a dive shop with some friends. Today, he also owns a dive shop at the Amorita resort in Bohol, and is working on some more locations around the country.
Q: So how has island life been treating you?
A: Very well! Every morning, when I know that all my friends in Manila are stuck in traffic somewhere in EDSA, I wake up to the sight of the white beach and blue sea and that’s where I work. I can’t ask for anything more.
Q: You’ve been diving for a little over half of your life already. Tell us about how it is to be a diver in the Philippines.
A: I have been underwater around the Philippines; and have taken lots of foreign guests with me as well. They all confirm my own beliefs. When you’re diving in the Philippines, there’s no need for you to go outside the country to experience something that we don’t have. The Philippines offers the most diverse diving experience in the world. Some divers go to the Micronesia for wreck diving or Sipadan for wall diving. Here, we have everything – a diverse marine life, wrecks, corals – name it, and the Philippines offers it.
Q: Where would you commonly go to dive in the Philippines?
A: There are a number of sites that divers usually go to, like Anilao in Batangas, Boracay, of course, Puerto Galera, Balicasag in Bohol, Apo Island, even Malapascua in Cebu.
Anilao has changed so much since we began diving there 20 years ago. Today, SHARK sightings are becoming more and more common there; and it’s so easy to experience it because it’s nearest to Manila.
Malapascua in Northern Cebu, on the other hand, is the only dive site in the world where one can see the THRESHER SHARK, among other marine life inclusive of Mantas, Hammerhead Sharks and even World War II Wrecks. Until very recently, it was thought that the Thresher Shark was only found in the deep waters. But some divers in Malapascua saw these sharks that come into this area of the Philippines to clean their bodies before going back into their native ecosystem. Thresher sharks and mantas can now be seen here consistently throughout the year. Hammerheads are most visible from December to April.
Q: Now, can you let us in on some off the beaten track dive sites in the country?
A: BICOL used to be known for the whale sharks that can be seen in Donsol. The whale sharks here can be seen even through snorkelling during the months of December to May. What was discovered recently is that because whale sharks consume plankton which is present in the Bicol waters – we actually found Manta Rays also in a particular area there called the Manta Bowl in the Ticao Resort. Manta Rays are big, flowy creatures that are beautiful to watch in the water.
Q: How about diving in PALAWAN?
A: Palawan is very rich in dive sites. In CORON, we can find a secluded lagoon of brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt water) called Barracuda Lake, named so due to the discovery of a large barracuda skeleton within its waters. It is said that Barracuda are still present in these waters; and is also considered the craziest dive site in the Philippines. This site is unique because divers have to go through a short hike / climb before reaching it. This is a very unusual adventure combination that is once again rarely found in the world. Also in CORON is an interesting site for World War II wreck diving.
Q: What would you consider to be the BEST DIVE SPOT IN THE PHILIPPINES?
A: That can be found also in Palawan. TUBBATAHA REEF is rated as one of the best dive spots in the world. I have spoken to many international professional underwater photographers; and they all agree. A lot of them say that it’s even better than the Great Barrier Reef! The abundance of marine life there together with the beautiful corals is just awesome. All in one area, you can find a total of a thousand different species of sharks, whale sharks, mantas, really big and really small fish, turtles, birds and of course, corals.
If only one has the time to spend in a diving safari, this is the place to go to. From the end of March to the beginning of June, both Filipino and foreign divers alike will fall in love with the Philippines after visiting Tubbataha. The safari is a one week trip where you travel eight hours from Puerto Princesa and take a yacht to the middle of the Sulu Sea. You then stay there and dive into the different islets, called Atolls (North and South) and a smaller, 100,000 hectares of marine ecosystem including the Jessie Beezley Reef .
As a diver, I am so proud of the Philippines because of Tubbataha Reef! To all other Filipino divers out there – I encourage all of you to make Tubbataha a MUST dive destination. I guarantee that it will make you very proud to be Filipino!
Q: So do we get a lot of diver tourists in the country?
A: Unfortunately, we don’t get enough of them. The challenge among dive spots is the lack of infrastructure to support the level of tourism that our dive sites could potentially attract. In the past 20 years, the diving industry has grown very slowly because of this. The Philippines is undermarketed as a diving destination. You would think that because of the abundance of dive spots here, we would have dive tour agents doing business for diver tourists; but there’s no such thing. The best of our dive spots are very difficult to go to; and rarely have good hotels to accommodate the tourists.
Q: But isn’t that a good thing too because it prevents the abuse of our nature and wildlife?
A: Well, it’s a good and a bad thing. The good thing, of course, is that our dive sites remain exotic, because very little has changed over the years. The places are not overcrowded like all the other dive spots in the world. So our underwater sights are pretty much virgin.
Q: And so we go back to you. How is your life making a living out of diving?
A: Diving won’t make me rich. But it’s stress-free. I have the most beautiful workplace –what I see around me during my workday is priceless! I meet a lot of people from different cultures and I learn a lot from them. I get my satisfaction when they find the Philippines beautiful; and they say that they would rather dive here than anywhere else. In addition to our amazing dive sites, they commend the hospitality of the Filipino people, our good English, our easy going nature. They compare this to, say, Thailand, but they would still prefer the Philippines. It’s heartwarming and pride-boosting for a Pinoy!
The amazing beauty of the ins and outs (“aboves” and “UNDERS”) of the Philippines awaits foreigners, balikbayans and local tourists! ‘Pinas is a diver’s haven! So take up your gear and re-discover the Philippines’ hidden enchantments. Not yet a diver? Time to include an intro dive in your schedule very soon!
Our creative director Rick was endlessly drawing big circles on the white board at the conference room and I wasn’t listening to a word he said. I was doodling on my notebook amid the sound of voices trying to pitch in ideas for the latest campaign we were doing. Hah.
Everyone was jumpy but I already had an art pitch in mind. Maybe I’ll tell them later when they’re all exhausted motor-mouthing and outdoing each other’s concepts.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I’m just bored as hell I guess. Or maybe it’s the adverse opposite, maybe I’m really looking for something I can’t place my finger on. A hot girlfriend, maybe? Nah, I get girls all the time and the commitment-phobic ones, they’re the shiznit! Read more
Resorts World in Pasay City opened just a few months ago with a bang, and what better way to start everything than to begin with a world-class playAt the heart of Resorts World in Pasay is the Newport Performing Arts Theater. It is not easy to describe it, let alone do justice to such grandeur. It is definitely huge, definitely built to exude majesty, but the artistry and attention to details is also something to marvel at. I especially liked it that there were giant screens on both sides of the proscenium, so I don’t have to strain my eyes just to see what’s happening on the stage. At the same time, you have got that movie-like advantage where you can focus on the actors’ faces to give more depth to the scene.
This being a worthy venue for world-class performances, it is home to Kaos, the spectacular musical that has become the talk of the town ever since it captured the hearts and the imagination of its Filipino and foreign audience a few months ago.
The story of Kaos is itself very easy to understand: A medieval prince, oozing with youthful vigor and passion, seeks true love. The simplicity, and some might straightforwardly say, the cliche, says nothing, however, of the ride you are about to take, because that is simply what this musical is – a ride towards the spectacular and the magical.
In order to satisfy the wishes of the prince, the royal Advisor summons all the fair princesses in the land near and far, and they all try to win the prince’s heart with lavish dance numbers, lovely musical displays, and magic. But the prince is not lovestruck nor the least impressed – until he chances upon a magical mirror, takes a peep inside it, and sees the woman of his dreams. This beautiful maiden, however, is in the future, and so begins a love story that transcends time and limitations. Did I tell you that he gets to go to the future and experience for himself the dazzle and wonder of his beloved’s generation?
Love, conflict, and generation gap – even Fernando Poe Jr. and Sharon Cuneta would have been proud!
Filipino pride Gian Magdangal is lead for this musical, playing Prince Walter. Those accustomed to seeing him on stage says that this role is perfect for him as the big floor area of the stage is suited for the stylized performer that he is. Martha Joy, who is half-pinay and is no stranger to the performing scene due to her stint in Canadian Idol, plays the role of our lovely heroine, while veteran thespian Joel Trinidad gives a powerful performance as the scheming adviser. The music comes from the Manila Symphony Orchestra itself.
Now, where did the title come from anyway? I was wondering about that myself, until I was told that the title came from the name of one of the lead characters, a white lion. My sources tell me that Kaos is something of a rarity; as rare as white lions are, you don’t get to see performing white lions everyday either. There are also some other wild animals in the play, like Sito, the white tiger, and Betty, the yellow tiger. These animals provide the vegas spectacle of the show, although I couldn’t help but think at the back of my head, what if those wild animals go berserk? Let’s hope not. Knock on wood!
In this show, there is singing, there is dancing (props to hip-hop champions Philippine All-Stars for their energizing dance numbers!), there are chinese acrobats along with the “Power Duo” with breath-taking stunts, motorcycle stunt actors, the famous “Wheel of Death” from Columbia, the South American performers “The Human Time Machine” showing us the extremes of balance and synchronicity. Moreover, the show has touches of Arabian Nights, Greek Mythology, and some other Eastern Influences in it, and combines the classic and the post-modern in one huge Musical play that every Flipino will be proud.
Simply put, Kaos is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of musical that should never be missed. There is nothing quite like it; it is refreshing and new, and I bet that the people new to musicals and theater lovers will surely find this a remarkable play for the ages.