Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas! I just want to say "Thank You" to all of you who've been sharing with me this small space in the world wide web. You are all awesome! May you and your family have a wonderful time today! 

And of course, 2013 is just around the corner! Have a happy new year, too! 


Che Gurrobat l www.backpackingpilipinas.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Apo Reef Series: A DIY Guide to and around Sablayan

I was caught off-guard when my friend told me that we’ll go camping at Apo Reef.  I was unprepared for a tent accommodation since I thought we would just go snorkeling and beach bumming there. Who goes beach camping late November, anyway?  But since I didn't do my own research about our destination, I conceded. The night before our scheduled flight to Occidental Mindoro, I had to crazily leave out some stuff in my backpack that does not qualify as a “camping essential.”

Little did I know that despite joining in a bit unprepared, this trip with my fellow kaladkarins Janet, Ciel, Muy, Lira, Marvs and Angel would rank high among my favorite travels this year.   

Break of dawn at Sablayan Sea Port

The early morning sun was beating down lightly as we arrived at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Since it was just in time for breakfast, we managed to snag a quick fix of good-old coffee and tapsi meals in a carenderia near the terminal. We all know that it was going to be a long day so we had to prepare ourselves up well. After breakfast, we hailed a trike to drive us to the nearest bus terminal going to Sablayan. The bus we got into was Manila-bound but we were told that we would be dropped off at Sablayan. After about an hour waiting for the bus to fill up passengers, we started rolling along the dirt rough road of Occidental Mindoro.  

The bus ride from San Jose to Sablayan was almost agonizingly painful. I find it very appalling to see a major thoroughfare left in such destitute state. I hope the LGU takes an immediate action to make better of the impoverished road system in the province. 

After two hours, we safely made it to Sablayan. We headed straight to the town tourism office to register and pay dues for boat rental and guides. It was decided that the trip to Apo Reef will have to be put off for the next day so that we could prepare and buy all the provisions we would need in the island, and to give some more time to see what this small town has to offer.

The infectious smiles of the children of Mindoro

Monday, December 17, 2012

PHOTO BLOG: Apo Reef is God's Magnificent Underwater Garden

I’m having a serious case of writer’s block today. I'm eternally stuck in the first paragraph that I've been so achingly composing for about an hour now. I want to scold myself because I shouldn't be having this dilemma especially that I’m writing about one of my best and favorite travels this year – trip to Apo Reef.

How could I not write about my first 50 feet dive experience? How could I not weave words to describe how it was to chase sea turtles and a manta ray, or to spot a shark, or to swim alongside colorful and overly cute fishes, or to see a beautiful underwater garden?

Maybe I’m not in the mood to write, but I’m definitely not in the mood to be selfish. :) And because there are some things that are better seen than read, I’ll share here some of the pictures I took while exploring the magnificent Apo Reef. These wealth of still photos are but snap shots of the massive underwater wonder of the entire reef. Believe me, there's a lot more down there! For now, I hope the pictures could somehow suffice your curiosity. 

I’ll share my prose in the coming days!

Special thanks to my friend Muy for allowing me to borrow her camera during my dive and to Angel for capturing some of the most adorable underwater photos. I wish I'm a marine biologist or scientist so I could properly identify -- well at least scientifically -- all the species I saw down under. :)

This school of fish does not follow any traffic rules
Nemo's lair

They get rowdy down there sometimes

Shark spotted!!!

Underwater garden


A sea turtle at Pandan Island
A rare and beautiful capture of a sea turtle swimming with a yellow fish in an almost subliminal way
The manta ray

My first dive documented. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Because change is good... go backpacking Pilipinas!

"Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea." - Y Tu Mamá También

I feel an unbearable lightness these days. Changes are unfolding. Brilliant ideas are pouring in. Backpacking Pilipinas is evolving. 

With the prodding of some of my closest friends, I caved in to giving this blog its own rightful place in the world wide web. From www.backpackingpilipinas.blogspot.com, it's finally www.backpackingpilipinas.com! Yey!

There are also so many exciting ideas brewing on my mind right now. From completing the challenge to travel to 80 provinces before I turn 30 (almost close), to doing more volunteer works (yehey!), to taking some roles that I have yet accepted (yehehey!), to writing more often for this blog (fingers crossed). I can't wait to share these to you all in the coming days. 

I want to thank  you all for dropping by (reading my posts during your lunch break), staying with me (reading my emo and personal entries), and backpacking with me (on the road, under the sea and anywhere!). Thank you!

Special thank you to all those who liked this page at least three times this year! It just hit me that Facebook likes are wiped each time I change my domain. hehe Thank you! :))

Happy Backpacking Pilipinas, everyone! Enjoy your holidays! ;)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zamboanga City: Vintas, Knickerbockers and Fort Pilar

I caught myself gasping for air as the small boat wades through the calm sea. It must have been excitement or nostalgia, I couldn't tell exactly. In front of me, I see patterns of hues fluttering and dancing with the gentle sea breeze. And as the afternoon sunlight slightly touches my skin, the great feeling of riding a vinta never escaped me.

You know that feeling when you come face to face with one of your childhood dreams? You relive the sensation of wanting that to happen? That's how it has been for me since I started traveling around the Philippines. The feeling of excitement never gets old whenever I come close to a scenic spot that I have so raved for and seen straight from the pages of my Sibika and Kultura books back in grade school.

And experiencing the vintas of Zamboanga was definitely not an exception. The sight of the sail with assorted vertical color which is in the center stage of Zamboanga seascape lingered. So in my recent visit to Mindanao, riding one of the vintas was on top of my must-do list.

Aboard one of the vintas

Along with my perpetual travel buddies, Cha and Janet, we arrived in Zamboanga on a humid August afternoon. Upon touchdown, first thing I noticed was the unique design of the airport which deviates from the usual terminal buildings I saw around the country. It's one of the airport terminals where you would want to be photographed in because of the design of the facade.

Zamboanga International Airport Terminal

Zamboanga City is known as Asia's Latin City. Nowhere in the Philippines have the imprints left by Spain after its three-century rule ever more felt. From the local language to unique heritages to its many quaint structures, there's always this Hispanic influence comfortably blending in. As the only city in the Philippines and in Asia that speaks the Spanish-derivative Chavacano (60 percent Espanol and 40 percent native words), this old city is what they call "a place plucked from the very heart of Spain."

Zamboanga City Hall

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...