I was like a tourist guide to my colleague who hasn’t travel wide and I felt the urge to show him around even if I had been to Zamboanga only once in the 1990s. I don’t even have a recollection of that trip. My companion was a bit apprehensive about this trip given the reputation of the place. Let’s see. There were the Basilan siege carried out by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 2013 and the bloody Lamitan siege when members of the Abu Sayyaf took over a church and a hospital and held priests, medical staff and patients hostage and using them as human shield to escape the government forces surrounding the rebels in 2001. These and other skirmishes of various Muslim rebel groups would be forever etched in our minds. I am not surprised about my colleague’s reaction.
However, we came to Zamboanga on business and there was no choice but to conduct our business. It was a short trip, just a day. We arrived in the evening of October 7 and would be leaving the following day. Be that as it may, I would not let a trip pass by without creating memories. It helped that one knows some people from the place and I do.
As soon as we arrived, I got a text message from a new friend I met in my assessment work. I told her I am meeting her after we checked in at Garden Orchid Hotel, a stone throw away from the airport. It’s only advantage. More in my review in Use it or Ditch it.
That was one quite stressful trip to the bustling presidential city on a midweek in the last week of September 2016…. been to Davao many times, mostly on business, I lost count. It is one packed schedule as my event has been moved a number of times and we were lucky that we decided to leave early morning of Wednesday as the event was finally scheduled in the afternoon. Originally it was set on Thursday. I am heading home Thursday evening.
My departure for Davao was scheduled at 6:40 am alone was a big back story. I asked the taxi driver I contacted to fetch me at 4:30 am. I woke out around 3:35 am to check time and go back to sleep to wake up at 4:00 am. We checked in online and we just need to be in the airport an hour prior to the flight. As I turned to sleep, I was alerted by a text message from the taxi driver saying he was in front of our house… and everything turned topsy turvy. I called him to ask why so early and he said it’s really like that. So I awoke finally and begrudgingly prepared to go. In less than 30 minutes, I was ready and called our helper to let me out. I was so early in the airport with a big headache.
We arrived in Davao, went straight to our hotel, settled down a bit and went to Park Inn by Radisson where the event was held. After the event, we went back to our hotel and decided to have dinner.
I revisited the iconic Luz Kinilaw resto which got a facelift as it was razed by a fire. My companion has not eaten there so I asked a friend from Davao to bring us there. We had the usual grilled panga, grilled squid, bihod (fish eggs), kinilaw na tuna and their rice is not your usual white rice. It’s rice that is not well-milled so it should be healthier. Just realized, we didn’t even have soupy dish and eating all grilled food can be too satiating.
The best way to spend a grand time with friends we haven’t seen for a looong time is a staycation.
a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.
That’s what a couple of friends and I did when a friend for life, S, came home in July 2015 after a life-altering stay in the US where she is now based. Like most Filipinos based abroad, there is hardly time to do everything on those times that they visit. In the case of S, this is her first visit after, maybe, 15 years. One can imagine the number of friends and family members who’d like to catch up with her.
Like the earlier trip, choosing our island for this trip went through a process after I booked the flight to Cebu.
The choice boiled down to Camotes, Malapascua and Bantayan. I would pit one with another when looking at the most recent reviews I can find (learning from the last trip). All things considered, I settled on Bantayan….. and this early, I will spoil the fun of discovering for yourself why you should too and tell straight out it was a heck of an island hop. Bantayan is a soft breeze that lifts listless souls and tames frayed nerves…..
I am not exactly a late bloomer in the island adventure department as I have been to a number of islands. Lately, I find myself browsing articles and bucket lists on nice places, beaches, islands to go but kept my island fantasies tucked in my mind. I ticked off in my mental list the places I would like to go to but it remained just that, an imagined picture of me in rash guard rushing towards the waves….. until the wanderlust in me can no longer be silenced…..
Some of my references are:
In a rare show of my adventurous side, I shared the post on the best islands to visit with an open invite to friends who might want to join my adventure. Some got excited but few responded. We began making plans, choosing the place, fixing the date and budgeting. As I was organizing the travel, my potential travel buddies began losing steam… budget, uncertain if they can deal with the lack of amenities, got busy … with life 🙂
Then, the family began thinking about our annual summer outing and I tried to squeeze in my island plan. There were oppositions and same misgivings… too far, budget, time… I got fed up and decided to go on my own bringing only willing adventurers.
Originally, I wanted to try some nearby island and Cagbalete fitted the requirement. I began my research as soon as the cast was complete…. that would be me, MD, OS and my nephew (MN). On the dates we chose, accommodation was not available for chosen resorts. Then, the thought of Calaguas came over me and I pondered over the 8 to 9 hour land trip, the 2 hour boat ride, staying in a tent, non-flush toilets. My thought was interrupted by the lure of sugary white sand, azure water, unspoilt beauty…. and soon I sent an email to Hullabaloo. A couple of email exchanges more and we were booked for our first island adventure.
Another category I am adding…. I have to catch up on this as I had island hopped in the past and hope to post here some of these interesting places. I have been to a number of islands and beaches: Pagudpud, Mactan, Boracay, Camiguin, Puerto Galera, Paradise Island in Davao, Batanes and recently Calaguas which will be the subject of another post (It is easier to write about this because I can still picture the experience)…. and many provinces too for pleasure or business or both.
Past posts about these places were FB postings of mostly pictures. When social media was not yet the norm, we had real pictures now kept in cabinets hardly touched except when the need arises, like a frantic search for baby pics as requirement in school or alumni homecomings.
Most of these places are too beautiful to simply just bury in the deep recesses of the mind. Without writing something about the experience, it will become a memory that will be hard to piece together. Written words have a way of reminding us about the good vibes brought about by the experience. I wouldn’t want to be wasting all those soothing experiences, nice sceneries and good company.
The time and platform are ideal….. there is enough motivation…. the interest is growing when before I simply wanted to be in these places for fun and to frolic. I am more an ocean bum but I would like to explore mountain destinations too when the right opportunity and circumstance allow….. It’s more fun in the Philippines, right;) Imagine, 7,107 options, more with low tide (as immortalized by Miss Philippines Charlene Gonzales during the Q & A portion of the 1994 Miss Universe Pageant held in Manila).