Category Archives: WANDERLUST

photo essays

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DANAO, playground of Olympians

banner photo credit: Reil Cenabre

You savor the cool soft breeze slowly caressing your cheek. The world is still dark and everyone is fast asleep. Your mind ticks off the million and one things you need to do but you swiftly brush them aside as you silently wait for the light on the horizon.

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Breaking dawn. Below you a sea of clouds over hills and abodes, slowly dissipating as the warm rays of the rising sun shines through.

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This must be how the gods of Olympus watched the sun god Apollo race across the horizon to herald the dawn of each new day. And so it goes most mornings in the Municipality of Danao, Bohol.

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Located 72 kms. northeast of Tagbilaran City, the town which used to be a barangay of Talibon was inaugurated on July 9, 1961 as a separate municipality.

The Diccionario Español-Bisaya (1866) defines danao as freshet, large reservoir, arable land, and field. A freshet is either a sudden rise or overflow of a stream or river, or freshwater stream emptying into the sea. In reality, the Isumod River flowing near the town center of Danao may suddenly overflow and inundate a large portion of the town. The river joins the Wahig River and empties into the sea. This could be one scientific explanation for the phenomenon of the sea of clouds. Contrary to the normal occurrence of a sea of clouds needing high altitudes such as that of Mt. Pulag in Luzon, Danao’s sea of clouds may be viewed from a viewing deck on top of Laguna Hill in Barangay Concepcion, just approximately 20 minutes away from the town center.

Danao has the Danao Adventure Park (DAP), an ecotourism concept that is LGU initiated and now run with the support and for the benefit of several People’s Organizations. First opened to the public sometime in 2006, it abides by the acronym E.A.T. – Eco-cultural, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tour.

8 The town’s Municipal Mayor Natividad Gonzaga was on hand to join the media group of bloggers for breakfast right after we enjoyed watching Danao’s sea of clouds.

She recalled that it was her son Luis Thomas Gonzaga who pushed for the creation of DAP. As an extreme sports enthusiast, he had a vision of turning Danao’s hills, caves, rivers and mountains into a theme park. Armed with the desire to make tourism a viable livelihood for the people of Danao, he applied for a loan from a bank to raise the needed capital to build the facilities. He was able to realize his dream because he was the municipal mayor for three terms.

So as not to abandon ongoing programs which were already bearing good results for Danao’s tourism sector, Mrs. Gonzaga, his mother agreed to run for mayor to replace Luis and she won. She made organic farming and raising native chickens one of her priority programs during her term. DAP served organically grown vegetables and native chicken in their menu.

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photo credit: Marco Sumargo of @whatsupmarky

She was all set to step down and hand back the mayoralty to her son in 2016 when fate intervened. Luis died a few days before election and only a person with the same family name could take his place according to COMELEC ruling.

To honor her son, Mrs. Gonzaga again ran for mayor and won. This then is her family’s legacy to the people of Danao.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Sky ride (cable car). The “safest” among the high altitude activities, it takes 10 to 15 minutes for the cable car to cross the gorge and back.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Sui-slide (zipline). The Philippines’ longest and tallest zip line, it traverses around half a kilometer from one mountain to another, taking you to a one-minute exhilirating ride. Sui-slide because it is the closest you can get to a suicide experience.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Plunge. Get ready to be suspended by the waist from 200 meters above the canyon floor for a free-for-all swing like Spiderman. If you survive this, you can pretty much go through the other challenges.

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15photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

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Balijo Cave. Highly recommended for the physically fit who have no fear of enclosed spaces, get ready to climb, crawl and rappel your way through mud, guano (bat poop) and water for approximately four hours. Only for medium and small body types as some of the wormholes you have to crawl through are challenging.

17c181921 Root Climb with 15 meter rappel. Be Jack-and-the-beanstalk and climb up the side of a huge boulder using intertwining roots of a Balete Tree as footholds to hoist yourself up. Once you reach the top, rappel down the other side to get back to the trail.

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photo credit: EAT Danao Tourism

River Kayaking. Located upstream from the Root Climb site, get ready for a leisurely cruise down the river and then back up again to the starting point. Current is placid.

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As the Municipality of Danao celebrates its Foundation Day on July 9, it honors Francisco Dagohoy who staged the longest revolution against the Spaniards lasting 85 years, with Brgy. Magtangtang, the site of the DAP as his revolutionary headquarters. He started the revolt at the age of 20 and was believed to have died in 1800 when he was 76 years old.

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Little is known of Francisco Dagohoy’s lifestyle before the rebellion, or even his early life. The only information known is that his real name was Francisco Sendrijas and he was born in 1724, and that he was a native of Brgy. Cambitoon, Inabanga, Bohol. He was also cabeza de barangay, or one of the barangay captains of the town.

His name derives from an amulet (“dagon” in Cebuano) he wore, which people believed gave him the charm of a gentle wind or “hoyohoy” (or huyuhoy) and the power to jump from hill to hill or across rivers. He was believed to have clear vision inside dark caves and be invisible whenever and wherever he wanted. The name Dagohoy is a concatenation of the Visayan phrase dagon sa huyuhoy or “talisman of the breeze” in English.

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The Dagohoy Marker located in Barangay Magtangtang was installed by the Philippine Historical Commission to honor the heroic deeds of Dagohoy. Hundreds of Dagohoy’s followers preferred death inside the cave rather than surrender to the Spaniards. Their skeletons still remain onsite.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Danao Municipal Mayor Natividad Gonzaga, Municipal Tourism Officer Mitzi Pena Galvez , Mrs. Hermosila Logrono and the accommodating staff of Danao Adventure Park who facilitated our media coverage of Danao.

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ALICIA unfolds highland adventure

Unless one is health conscious, the best form of exercise an urbanite gets is when he goes walking in malls or rides up and down the escalators and elevators in offices and buildings in the metropolis. Two to four hours sitting in rush hour traffic along EDSA every day does not help anyone’s health either.

It is therefore not a surprise that the average urbanite’s counterpart who lives in the province and is used to walking and hiking rugged terrains far outlives him by a number of years.

The Municipality of Alicia in Bohol is described as an interior town whose topography is mostly elevated. Located 103 kilometers from the capital of Tagbilaran City, it has an abundance of rolling hills and mountains.

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The Alicia Panoramic Park, better known as Binabaje Hills among the locals, located in Brgy. Cambaol recently hosted the 2nd Mountain Bike Fest in February 11-12, 2017.

23 photo credit: www.iboholana.com/alicia unfolds

According to Ms. Godelia Lumugdang, Alicia’s Municipal Tourism and Information Officer, the uphill and downhill trails of Binabaje Hills in Alicia pose a rather masculine test of fire for the mountain bikers such that they (organizers) have put up a liability waiver and race agreement that indicate the participants’ full understanding that the race is hazardous and that being physically and mentally fit as well as being adequately trained are required before a registrant can join the race.

The mountain bike race had several categories: beginners, open, elite category and for age group 45 and above.

After going through the challenging trails, successful bikers were able to enjoy the panoramic hilltop view of Alicia and the surrounding towns.

Mahayag Hill, an undeveloped eco-tourism site in Alicia, has the potential for outdoor adventure activities.

4 From the barangay hall, you can hike up a rugged mountain trail for an hour until you reach the threshold of Batong Puti Cliff which offers a view of the 150-foot sheer drop. Rock climbing on the cliff wall is still being explored as tests have yet to be conducted if the wall is sturdy enough to hold the weight of rock climbers.

618492725_736546673183481_1569421131_nphoto credit: Marco Sumargo @whatsupmarky

An area on the hilltop has been designated for camping. There are plans to purchase several All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as there is an access road from the town center to the campsite.

7aBoho or Inahagan Cave & Spring in Brgy. La Hacienda, 15 minutes away from the town center, is already a popular destination for locals especially during the hot summer months. Inahagan Cave is a wet cave and the source of the spring that flows into the pool.

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According to Ms. Lumugdang, a team of four that included a cave expert and herself had once tried to go into the cave to trace the source of the spring. They donned wet suits as some of the inner chambers were partially submerged and spent a couple of hours inside until they reached a dead end where you have to fully submerge in the water to look for an opening. As they were not equipped for that, they came back out.

9e10 Climbing up the slopes to the right of Inahagan Cave around 10 minutes away is a large dry cave chamber. It is home to a number of bats.

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As the entry point requires a bit of hiking where you have to pass through vegetation and foliage, the cave is relatively unspoiled and in pristine condition.

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To the left of Inahagan Cave after a shorter amount of hiking is the Twin Window Cave. You have to do a bit of wall climbing though as the cave entrance is on the wall of a hillside. Huge roots of a tree serve as footholds. Once inside the cave, the chambers become smaller as you crawl your way towards another opening that shows a view of the vegetation below.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Alicia Municipal Mayor Marnilou S. Ayuban, Municipal Tourism Officer Godelia Lumugdang, and the barangay captains who facilitated our media coverage of Alicia.

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1Cadapdapan rice terraces Candijay

discover CANDIJAY, from ridges to reef

Before he was mayor of the municipality of Candijay in Bohol, Christopher B. Tutor was first an engineer and a family man who dreamt of building his own beach resort. That dream came to fruition in January 2012 when East Coast White Sand Resort (www.eastcoastwhitesand.com) opened its doors to the public in Anda, an adjacent town which is about 30 minutes away from Candijay.

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The resort has modern family cottages, a restaurant, three swimming pools, a freshwater cave pool, and its own private beach that boasts of pristine white sand. For a minimum of 25 guests, it is also possible to book the entire resort for your private function.

Now that he is a municipal mayor on his second term, Mayor Tutor has made an arrangement with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Anda to promote Anda’s accommodation establishments in Candijay. In exchange, the LGU of Anda has agreed to promote Candijay’s day tour packages in Anda, an arrangement that benefits the tourism sector of both municipalities.

For tourists and guests who prefer to spend the night in Candijay, they can check in at BISU (Bohol Island State University) Hometel, Cogtong, Candijay, Tel. No. 526-0118 (http://www.bisu.edu.ph/bisu-telephone-directory/), a campus-based accommodation where tourism or HRM  students earn their training hours on the job.

The Municipality of Candijay is approximately 2 hours away from Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. It boasts of sustainable agriculture and prime eco-cultural tourism destinations as sources of livelihood for the local community.

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Luzon holds no monopoly on rice terraces. Start your tour at the Cadapdapan Rice Terraces located in the uplands approximately 30 minutes away from the poblacion or town center. Cadapdapan has several farm owners who have converted the mountainsides and hillsides into rice farms, bursting with verdant green color during planting season and turning into gold every fourth month or so during the harvest season.

One of the most photographed locations is the farm belonging to the Eleuterios who registered their property as Eleuterio’s Can-umantad Falls & Rice Terraces Resort Inc. in 2015. For a minimal entrance fee, you get to saunter around the fields for some souvenir shots.

According to the owner, they are able to harvest an average of 300 sacks of rice every cycle. It is common to see locals hard at work during harvest.

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Since no modern farm machinery can plow the sloping terrain, it is also common to see farm animals such as carabaos (water buffaloes) wallowing in the mud after a hard day’s work, with a few endemic birds as audience.

4Can-umantad waterfalls Candijay

Can-umantad Falls is the highest waterfalls in Bohol at 60 feet (hence its name can-uman or 60). If you are up to hiking, you can follow a trail from the rice terraces down to the falls, or you may opt to ride a car or motorcycle through an access road down to the site.

The clean, cool waters are ideal for bathing during the hot summer months. You can go directly to where the water falls and let the pressure of the water cascading down massage your back.

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Do not miss the Canawa Cold Spring which is also 30 minutes away from the town center. The spring got its name from the shape of its core (cawa or vat-shaped), and no one has ever fathomed its depths. During summer months, it is a clear blue-green color which turns muddy brown during the rainy season because of siltation. Ropes have been strung across the spring to enable non-swimmers to enjoy bathing in it. Run-offs from the spring are channeled into a pool which is also used to irrigate the farms downhill.

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photo credit: mustachioventures.blogspot.com

From the mountains, you can go to the coastal barangays for some fresh seafood.

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The Municipal Tourism Port in Pangpang Panas, Candijay can take orders in advance so that the seafood is ready when guests arrive. Take your pick from the fresh catch of the day, from fish to shrimps, crabs or clams and shells.

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At the Cogtong Bay, you will be able to see some fish pens (mostly milk fish or bangus) and seaweed farms which are part of the community’s livelihood.

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Marine seaweeds are a good source of colloidal materials which are used as gelling agents, emulsifiers, and stabilizers in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products.

7Seaweed Farm Candijay

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The seaweeds are dark in color when freshly harvested and turn to light brown when sun-dried. They have buyers from Cebu who buy in batches.

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Further out in Cogtong Bay is the Kawasihan Sandbar which is surrounded by a marine reserve on its fringes. Snorkeling is highly recommended to enjoy the underwater view. Boats may be rented from the fishermen for a 15-minute ride to the site.

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Several cottages are currently being constructed onsite for the ease and convenience of picnickers. Sunset at the bay is a sight to behold.

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Cap off your day with dinner at the Candijay del Rio Floating Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candijay-Del-Rio-Floating-Restaurant/306207569730120) in Lungsodaan, Candijay. The ambiance is built around organic lightweight materials. They serve an assortment of grilled food, sizzlers, and a la carte entrees in their menu, as well as group meals.

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The location of the floating restaurant is also the jump-off point for Candijay’s Firefly Watching tour which is the latest addition to their tour packages. First organized in August 2016, the tour traverses the nooks and crannies of the Lungsodaan River for about an hour for a spectacular view of fireflies lighting up various trees along the waterway.  The river is part of the Carood Watershed. It is where waters from the basin of six municipalities congregate to finally exit at the Cogtong Bay where a mangrove forest protects the coast.

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photo credit: Marco Sumargo of @whatsupmarky

Do not wonder if you happen to pass by the newly built Candijay public market at dusk. They have a huge LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen which takes the place of billboards for important community announcements and tourism promotional videos highlighting Candijay’s tourism assets.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Candijay Municipal Mayor Christopher Tutor, Municipal Tourism Officer TJ Tutor Janiola, the barangay captains and Bantay Dagat staff who facilitated our media coverage of Candijay.

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Behold Palawan’s underground river!

Counted among the seven Wonders of Nature which include Vietnam’s Halong Bay, South Africa’s Table Mountain, South America’s Amazon River, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, South Korea’s Jeju Island, and Indonesia’s Komodo Island is the Philippines’ Underground River found in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1999, the park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife.

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En route to Sabang where the Underground River is located, enjoy a panoramic view of Ulugan Bay where Vietnamese refugees landed to escape the war. They later on established Viet Ville in the area which exists to this day.

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The pier in Sabang is around 2 hours away from Puerto Princesa City by van, jump off point to the beach where the Underground River may be found. You have to get your permits and travel ticket here before taking a 30 minute boat ride.

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Docking station is a beach. As soon as you alight from the boat, you have to register, and then take a brief 10 minute walk through a forest inhabited by monkeys before coming to the start of the Underground River boat ride.

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As only one flashlight per boat is allowed to keep to a minimum the disturbance on cave dwellers (bats & snakes), tour guides are adept in entertaining visitors with a run through of the rock formations and trivia pertaining to the site. The entire length of the river is pegged at 8 kilometers with a dead end, although only a portion of it is part of the regular tour. You need a special permit if you want to traverse the whole 8 kilometers.

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The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is also home to monitor lizards and the Palawan Peacock aside from the monkeys.

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This coverage was made possible as a part of USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project which seeks to increase competitiveness of economic growth areas including Palawan, in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Province of Palawan. 

Special thanks to Air Asia Zest Airlines for sponsoring our roundtrip airfare from Manila to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

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(left to right) Mr. Stephen Yee of the Palawan Tourism Council, Mr. Oliver Quingco II of DiscoverthePhilippines.com, Mr. Alexis Romero of The Philippine Star and Mr. Merwin Rey Ledesma from the Office of the Governor.

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