Escape to Coron

A five-letter paradise in the Calamianes Group of Islands, northeast of Palawan, Coron is a beautiful island cluster at the eastern half of Busuanga. Its breathtaking landscape and seascape is included in the natural category tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Coron is now heavily dependent on tourism and fishing. The archipelago is blessed with amazing islands, white sand beaches and dive sites. It has several established tour companies for visitors, providing ease in choosing which tour package to get. They offer almost the same tour package but the prices are not uniform. Coron can also be explored by DIY-style.

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Kalanggaman Island and Sand Bar

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Sunrise at Cordova, Cebu

The sun was already up as we waited for the boat to arrive at the RORO (roll-on roll-off) port in Cordova, Cebu. It would be the boat’s maiden voyage from Cebu to Palompon’s Kalanggaman Island. We booked ourselves for this epic trip. Epic may not be the correct word to describe our journey (it was more of a disappointment actually) but in the course of telling you about my Kalanggaman experience, I rather not include the story of how the boat’s maiden voyage consumed most of that one fine Sunday of April 2016.

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Epic journey with this boat

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A Walk to Lakawon Island

Imagine yourself lying down at the edge of an anchored boat with the sun above your head, drinking your complimentary drink as you set your eyes on the white sandy shores of Lakawon Island. The cool music being played sets a relaxing tone on board the Tawhai boat as you let the time pass you by.

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It is a pure easing moment. This is what to expect in Lakawon Island Resort and Spa – an exciting new travel destination north of Bacolod City. It is a lovely island with white sand beach, blue waters, a long boardwalk and a huge floating bar anchored just a few hundred meters from its shore.

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Manjuyod Sandbar: The Shallows

Off the coast of Negros Oriental, some 67 kilometers north of Dumaguete City, there is an amazing natural beauty that is constantly drawing visitors and sandbar chasers all throughout the year. Most people call these shallow parts of Manjuyod as the Maldives of the Philippines. The Shallows on a low tide, unveil an area of white sand, more like a naked island in the middle of Tañon Strait.

It is an emerging tourist destination in this part of Negros Island. Tour operators generally offer a side trip to the Manjuyod Sandbar in their Bais dolphin-watching package. The Shallows are nearer to Bais City than the town proper of Manjuyod.

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Cottage on shallow waters

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Islas de Gigantes: Cabugao Gamay (Antonia Island)

I will never forget this cluster of islands in the northeastern corner of Panay. It was by far, the most thrilling journey that I got myself into. To say that it was scary or ‘buhis-buhay’ is an understatement. Never mind that one of our companions in this trip to the Islas de Gigantes almost peed in her pants in sheer fright and excitement as we crossed the super rough seas on a rainy Friday afternoon.

Islas de Gigantes. Beautiful group of islands off the coast of Carles, Iloilo.

How to get there?

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La Isla Fortuna de Batangas (Fortune Island)

It is quite a challenge to explain how this island got its name, considering that what remains to feed the traveler’s eyes here are the misfortune of a resort who folded up, and the feel of an eerie past that spelled loneliness and bad luck.

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Acropolis at Fortune Island

Fortune Island lies about 14 km off the coast of Nasugbu, Batangas. It is an island surrounded by reefs, shipwrecks and points offering varied views of the island, the sea and the horizon. It used to be an exclusive island resort, when the former Batangas governor (Antonio Leviste) acquired it from Laurentina Pestano. The Fortune Island Resort Club was opened in 1995 which featured a museum dedicated to the San Diego, which was a sunken Spanish warship, found near the island.

There were controversies that hounded the resort because it sat in an area which was classified as a marine reserve. The area of the island did not also meet the requirement under the Revised Forestry Code, thus the subdivision of Fortune Island into 7 various parts and selling it to the present owners, did not conform to the code and was deemed entirely wrong.

As to what happened to resort that led to its demise, I could not say much about it except that now, the island is managed by a Korean company.

How to get there?

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Volcanic Biliran

Biliran is one of those provinces which started off as part of a bigger province. Relatively new as a province, tourism has just started to roll at this side of Eastern Visayas. In no time, this island province would be a welcome option for those who would like to visit places other than Boracay, Palawan among others.

Biliran is my 60th province to visit.

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This province is very much accessible either from Tacloban or Ormoc, if you come from Manila or Cebu. Travel time could be from 3-6 hours. From Cebu, hop in a fast craft to Ormoc City. If you take the 6:30am trip, you’ll reach Ormoc by 9am. Just across Ormoc City Pier is the integrated bus-van terminal. You can either take the bus or the air conditioned shuttle van, just look for “Naval” sign board.

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G is for Guimaras

I could not count anymore the times that I’ve visited Iloilo City. But some of my friends were quite surprised that I haven’t visited Guimaras at all, not even once. This island province is very much visible from the city port. I knew of many weekend warriors that include a visit to Guimaras each time they’re in Iloilo and their stories somehow drew interest to me since it is just near and very much accessible.

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Guimaras is my 59th province to be visited and I would like to share my overnight experience on this island.

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Siquijor: La isla de Fuego

A very interesting island off the southern tip of Cebu and Negros is the mysterious Siquijor. This island paradise has long been known to be the home of healers, locally called as mangkukulam, which are often mistaken as wizards or witches. Even up to this day, a handful of healers can be tapped in the mountainous parts of the island, specially during the holy week or around halloween.

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Siquijor Church

Mysterious it may seem, but the island is slowly developing its tourism footprint. Siquijor is accessible through Dumaguete (Negros Oriental), Cebu City, Plaridel (Misamis Occidental) and Iligan City in Mindanao. The popular mode of transport is a fastcraft from Dumaguete City. There is no airport in the island, so travelers must have to get to the island via sea.

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L is for Leyte

Resilient Leyte. That province which was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and was put into the limelight and gained the sympathy and the hearts of people all over the world, is slowly picking up itself and painfully rising from the horrors of it all. Leyte, the anchor province of Eastern Visayas, is rebuilding itself.

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Leyte Provincial Capitol

Even before the tragedy that was Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda), Leyte has been on-track for progress and development. The province’s major cities – Tacloban and Ormoc had seen the rise of economic activities with businesses opening up, malls, hospitals, hotels and restaurants.

Just before Typhoon Haiyan, Tacloban was elevated to an HUA (highly urbanized area) status which made it an independent from the provincial government. Tacloban hosted several regional offices for decades until they were transferred to the adjacent town of Palo. Tacloban serves as the transportation and tourism hub.

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