Monthly Archives: September 2014

Aklan: Bakhawan Eco-Park

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Bakhawan is our dialect for mangrove so this eco-park is all about mangroves.  Though this has been a popular tourist site since the early 2000’s, I have never been here because it’s quite far from my hometown.

And so when I went home last month and my favorite cousin asked me where we should meet, I decided to forego meeting in her office or in our usual restaurant or coffee shop and told her I want to see Bakhawan.

We went here on August 24.  My cousin is actually the tourism officer of Kalibo so she became my resident tour guide for free.  Te he.

Entrance fee is at Php 50.  Since I am an Akeanon, she paid just Php 30 for my entrance fee.  Here’s a collage of all applicable fees and reminders at the park:

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Note that tamilok demo should be pre-arranged.

According to my cousin, this project started in 1990.  The non-profit organization Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association (KASAMA), the local government unit of Kalibo and the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) spearheaded the project of mangrove reforestation to address the community’s problems on flooding and to provide livelihood for the locals.

Originally, they started with only 50 hectares of reclaimed land, but now, it has become a 220-hectare mangrove forest.

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The project was such a success that it has reaped local and international awards and is dubbed the country’s most successful mangrove reforestation project.

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I’ve been to a couple of mangrove tours before, but I’ve never been to one as big or as beautifully developed as this one.  It’s way better than my mangrove tour in Puerto Princesa, or Camiguin.

This is my favorite part of the park.

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Too bad it had been raining the past days so the water was murky and the weather’s still dreary during my visit.  We also agreed to meet here at 4 PM so it was not sunny.

Here are more sights and sites from our almost 30-minute walk.

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These locals are harvesting either Tamilok, clams, or crabs.  This is how this project benefits its members.  They can get these for free and sell them to tourists or at the market.

The walk was tiring but the views made it worthwhile.

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Originally, the floors were made of bamboo, but they changed it to wood to make it more resilient.  It’s more beautiful to look at too.

There’s actually a part of the walkway that was still made of bamboo.  This is on the last few meters leading to the park’s edge.  It was already being replaced with wood, though, when we were there.

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Though my cousin has been here countless of times, she and her family were so nice to accompany me to the edge of the park.  Here, there is a viewdeck where one can see Aklan River.

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Here’s a collage of more sights at the park’s edge.

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Aren’t the crablets cute?

Afterwards, we decided to rest in one of their cottages.

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My cousin’s husband also decided to treat us to freshly grilled clams.

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In our dialect, we call this tuway and it’s a popular ingredient for clam soup.  This was actually my first time to eat it grilled.  I liked it.  It tasted like oysters and because it’s so fresh, it was delicious.  And all for just Php 30 a kilo.  So cheap, considering that according to my sister, she saw Korean guides in Boracay  selling this at Php 400 a kilo.  Wow!  Talk about highway robbery.

After our pit stop, we decided to head home since dusk was starting to settle.  Too bad there’s nowhere in the park where sunset can be seen, though the sky did have faint streaks of yellow.

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Bakhawan Eco-Park is located in New Buswang, which is about 20 minutes from our province’s main municipality of Kalibo.

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Getting here: From Kalibo, ride a tricycle going to Kalibo Public Market , which we locals refer to as “Tindahan.”  Fare is Php 8.  Ask to be directed to the tricycle stop of New Buswang-bound tricycles and tell the driver to drop you off at Bakhawan.  Fare is again Php 8.  You can also rent the whole tricycle for Php 40-50 per way.

Today’s Sunset, September 10, 2014

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This view greeted me when I logged out.  And I feel so blessed that I am surrounded with so much beauty every day.  My workplace is a paradise, is why.

At the same time, I give thanks to God for blessing me with the capacity to see and capture beauty in my every day life.

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Today’s weather was actually erratic.  When we had lunch this afternoon, it was so hot, but at 4 PM, it rained heavily.  Then the sun shone again and went off with a bang courtesy of this stunning sunset.


This brings me to another grateful thought: No matter how uncertain life gets, there will always be pleasant surprises to tide us over.  As the cliché goes, there’s sunshine after the rain.

Photos taken using my Samsung Note 2.

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Cebu to Kalibo, August 2014

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I slung my backpack over my right shoulder as my flight number was announced.  I was very excited to go home.  I was in such a good mood that seeing someone else sitting on my assigned seat did not faze me one bit, though I did ask him to move.  I specifically chose a window seat for my late afternoon flight to catch the sunset and no one’s going to deny me this wish.

As the plane hovered over Cebu, I smiled wistfully and wished I didn’t need to leave my hometown for the big city.

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You see, I was the little girl with big dreams.  I left Aklan at sixteen to study in the big city and when I graduated, was hoping to land a good job at home, but since my province is not yet a city, salary rates are way lower than what I would have earned somewhere else.  And so I opted to work in Manila and five years ago, relocated in Cebu.

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The sun’s imminent setting broke my reverie.  I looked out my window and watched as the cottony white clouds gradually turn yellow.

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I also zoomed in some shots of the setting sun.  I loved seeing warm shades of yellow and orange and tints of white in the sky.

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Over time, the sky became more colorful.  Reddish hues and periwinkle blue were thrown in into the mix of yellow-orange colors.

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By the time the captain announced that we were on our final descent, the setting sun was reflecting beautifully on Aklan River.  This, and the darker hues of clouds made the sight more visually arresting.

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I zoomed in a shot and came up with this shot.

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I loved how the sun’s rays are so clear on this photo.  

When we landed in Kalibo International Airport, I marveled at how colorful the skyline was.  Seeing it and the vast ricefields that were my playground as a child made me realize that indeed, I was home.

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Camiguin: Secret Cove Beach Resort

While researching about Camiguin, I also considered staying at this resort but was put off by the resort owner’s rude replies on TripAdvisor (I’m fine with an owner setting the record straight, but not with one insulting a reviewer).  Nevertheless, I decided to give its restaurant a try since it’s supposed to be one of the best in the island.

I came here for lunch.  I made an effort of going here because on my 2 days at Action Geckos, I did not like the food I had for my dinner and breakfast as mentioned on my review of Action Geckos’ restaurant.

Secret Cove’s restaurant is on its main building.  It is right by the beach.

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Though the restaurant was small, its bar is well-stocked and they claimed on their website that they have the best-stocked bar in the whole province.

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I was the only diner when I came here, though I did meet some Caucasian guests on their way to dive when I arrived.

Here’s what I ordered:

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Php 290
Date Square Php 70
Bottled Water Php 35

The staff asked me if I was willing to wait since cooking time for the Chicken Cordon Bleu is an hour.  I said yes.

Despite the one hour wait, I found it undercooked.  Well, the chicken was already cooked but when I cut it up, the center was very cold.  It obviously came straight from the freezer and was not thawed properly.  Too bad as it tasted good.  Good thing the potatoes were well-seasoned and cooked just right.

On Secret Cove’s website, they proudly shared an Inflight Magazine writer’s praise for their triple decker mango cheesecake.  I ordered this upon arrival but when it was time to serve the food, the staff told me that it wasn’t available.  She recommended their Date Squares, which was good but not extraordinary.

For those interested in checking in here, here’s how its accommodations look like (lower left photo in the following collage).  This is to the right of the main building/restaurant.  It looked freshly painted and with new roofing, but it still looked bleak to me.

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In front of the main buildings are bamboo cottages, hammocks, and plastic chairs.  Though the loungers and chairs looked new, the hammocks, bamboos, and the cottages’ thatched roofs were in dire need of an upgrade.

Like Action Geckos’ beachfront, Secret Cove’s also has black sand.  Too bad it was such a cloudy day when I was there.

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Secret Cove Beach Resort is in Yumbing, Mambajao, Camiguin.  Visit their official website for more information.

Camiguin: My Favorite Sunset Photos Taken at Action Geckos

I mentioned in my previous post that I spent almost a quarter of an hour watching the sun set at Action Geckos’ beachfront.  I was so into the moment that I had over 50 photos from this experience.  In this post are my favorites.

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the sun’s metamorphosis

I started camping out by the beachfront when I started seeing the skyline turn yellow orange.

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IMG_3034I watched in amazement as little by little, the once blue and yellow orange/orange skyline turned red orange.

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It was that dramatic shade of red orange that from where I sat, it looked like the horizon was afire.  

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As I looked at the beauty of the setting sun before me, I thought of how no matter how many sunrises or sunsets I see, I never get tired of looking at either as I find them so beautiful!

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At some points, I stopped taking photos and just enjoyed the stunning views while the crashing waves tempted to lull me to sleep.

Moments like this make me recall the lyrics to a Snow Patrol song.  It says, “If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

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Being a witness to views like this sure made me forget the world I left behind.  For a time, I wasn’t a career woman with a never-ending to-do-list to accomplish.  I was just the wide-eyed wanderer with no care in the world.    

Eventually, the skyline turned red and the sun hid itself among the now-deep purple clouds.

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