Exploring the beautiful Philippines with kids

Our neighbor has moved and took all the fighting cocks somewhere else, so there were no more crowing roosters nearby as I woke up at 3h30 and started preparing coffee while making sure we have our passports and tickets. At 4h,it was Carlo’s turn and then the girls . Half and hour later, everyone was ready to go.

At 5h in the morning as the village began to rouse we were at the bus station in Bayan, had a quick stop at 7-11 then off we went. We arrived at PITX around 7h30, then we took a taxi to the airport. After checking in our luggage, we went out and had some snack at the kiosk in front of the airport. We had a lot of time, our plane would leave at 12h55. Yes, we were so early. I told my husband that it would be better to leave early than be stuck in the traffic and it could be bad in Imus. We arrived in Cebu by 14h30 and queued for the white taxi.

OUR ITINERARY:

CaviteMactan(Cebu) -Tagbilaran, Calape, Jagna (Bohol) – Camiguin – Panglao (Bohol) – Siquijor – Oslob (Cebu)Cavite
black line-ferry except the plane from Manila to Cebu, blue line-by car or public transport

BEWARE OF SCAM

Week 1 We arrived in Mactan International Airport at 14h20 and took a taxi to go to our hotel. After various attempts of contacting the number which was given to Carlo we went straight to supposedly hotel which turned out not existing. He talked to a guard and found out that some people had the same fate that day. We resolved to go to a café and used their wifi. It was a bit late when we were able to book another accommodation which was far from the center and looked bizarre. To make the story short, this one was not ready yet and we decided to leave and took a taxi to look for another one. We ended up in Amethyst which we thought we all deserve after an afternoon of adventure.

The following day, we checked out from the hotel at 12h and went to the pier. Our boat was at 13h. More info here:

In Tagbilaran port, drivers approached us, asking about our destination. After some drinks and pansit, we called the one who gave us his calling card and headed to Calape. Once in our hotel, he insisted on being paid more than our agreed fare. Saying our destination was after the market, etc, but we didn’t pay more. The price was what the staff of our inn has told us.

We stayed for just a night in the Inn , a picturesque place in Calape town and the following day, headed to Jagna by taxi (₱3000). But along the way, our driver took us to the Sanctuary.

For my husband and I, this was our second visit to the Sactuary, having traveled in Bohol in 2005. Afterwards we had lunch in Loboc and tasted some carabao meat. In Jagna, we stayed in Partner’s Inn where we received some welcome cookies and hot chocolates. The inn can be found along the highway and our room has our basic needs. Plus the staff were kind and accommodating. Carlo bought our tickets for 13h ferry early in the morning and we did our check out at midday. The trip to Camiguin would be 4 hours.

Once in Mambajao, we were met by Alex. He is the brother of Ivan, whom Carlo met in Romblon.

Week 2 We stayed in Nautilus Cottages owned by Alex & Jenny,a swiss/Filipina couple.

THINGS TO DO IN CAMIGUIN with KIDS

HOT SPRING – Our host, Alex drove us to the spring. The weather was just right and though the water was not that warm compared to the other springs we have visited, it was good to be surrounded by greens. We chatted with a Pinoy/german and his french girlfriend who live in Spain. It was drizzling when we were about to leave so we stopped by the food stall and we had some grilled banana and bbq before walking back to our cottage.

BEACH – We walked along the rocky beach lined with coconut trees and met a few stray dogs along the way. Nonetheless, found a nice spot and later it rained. We took another route and walked by the rice field.

SUNKEN CEMETERY & SNORKELING – A must in Camiguin.

A tricycle brought us to Barrio Bonbon in Catarman and we registered to snorkel around the sunken cemetery. Guide: ₱150, Fee: ₱300 Materials: ₱50.

MANTIGUE ISLAND– From Hubangon, a boat (₱600 for 6 persons) took us to the island for a 4 hr stay. Cottages in the island cost ₱150 or you can just find a shady spot or sunbathe though it would get really hot. Bring a hat and sun screen though husband had his shirt on while snorkeling without any sun protection.

FALLS – We went to Katibawasan falls and had kiping for the first time. It’s a snack made of cassava with latik ( syrup made from muscovado and coco milk ). The water was a bit cold but refreshing. It’s best to come early and enjoy the quiet surrounding.

FOOD TRIP – Had dinner in Luna Café and tried their pizza.

Week 3

someone learned his lesson 😉

Checked out from the cottage and took a ferry to Tagbilaran, then another one for a 45 min boat ride to Panglao and stayed in Panglao Island Inn for the night. We took the girls for a swim and had dinner in a greek restaurant which was really good.

The following morning, we took a ferry boat to Siquijor.

We stayed for 4 nights in Casitas Siquijor . We were later joined by Sophie, my husband’s friend in Geneva and her girls. Their family now lives overseas.

S I Q U I J O R W I T H K I D S

There are beaches and some places we have visited.

SAN JUAN BEACH a beautiful white beach where we swam and had our mango smoothies.

LUGNASON FALLS there was a bit of dry spell and the falls was not full nevertheless the kids jumped and swam.

As we were heading up to leave the falls, a man told us to go left where we’d find another area with more water. 😉

OLD ENCHANTED BALETE TREE never knew about this particular tree, to be honest though growing up, I heard that Siquijor is an island of sorcery which made me not want to go and there I was with my family and friends sitting by the balete tree while letting the fish took over our feet.

CAMBUGAHAY FALLS some steep steps will lead to a beautiful body of water.The kids and my husband did quite a few rope swing jumps. But be wary of your personal belongings.

captured by Sophie

SALAGDOONG BEACH this was our last stop in our day tour. The restaurant could get busy at lunch time. The slide was under repair so the kids and Carlo just jumped off the cliff. We, moms were patiently waiting for our bunch to jump. We shrieked with joy and triumph every time one of the girls made it beside us.

OFF TO SEE THE WHALE SHARK

Along with Sophie and her girls we ferried to Oslob and arrived late at night. We took a tricycle to our hotel and the following day we left early to see the whale shark. But we were not the only one to see them. Our group was registered by the hotel staff who organized our tour.

by Sophie

Before leaving Oslob, we had lunch at Le Bistrot with Sophie and her girls. We said our goodbyes then hailed our bus which would take us to Cebu after 5 hrs or so ride.

The next day, our flight was more than 5 hours late and so we arrived late in Manila. Others have flight that night in Europe and were hoping to catch their plane on time. In PITX there was no more bus for Cavite.

We then tried to find a hotel nearby for the night which would not cost too much. Tired, we slept as soon as we arrived in the hotel.

In the morning, after the free breakfast, we took a taxi to the PITX, hoping that our Alfonso buses would still pass by the terminal. Unfortunately, we had to take 2 buses and arrived early afternoon in Alfonso.

It was a indeed a great trip and made special because of meeting special friends from abroad. Hope to see you again,les filles!

TAAL VOLCANO Day Tour with kids

Taal Volcano which is in Talisay, Batangas is visible from Tagaytay that is few minutes away from my town. We always take this route going to Mendez or up north. Unless we want to avoid the traffic and take the Indang road. But I have never been there so it was a good opportunity to take the girls and their little cousins for a little day tour.

IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE LEARNED

1.Only six people are allowed in the boat. We ended up taking two boats.

2.Negotiate the price. Though every operator have fixed their price we were able to lower down the cost of our 2 boats.

Once in the Tourist Reception Center, students who have their IDs do not need to pay the fee. Only one of my nieces has her number memorized.

3.Bring a towel and some extra clothes. There might be some strong waves and though they provide a tarp to keep you dry it would not be the case all time. I was worried for the children but immediately lighten up because getting wet became part of the adventure and we had fun. Just leave your stuff in the car.

Once you get back to your car after the tour and you’re soaking wet, you’ll be thankful to have some dry clothes going back home. Specially, when you and your family decided to eat in Jollibee.

4. Good walking shoes. It would get dusty and slippery at times, so to avoid slipping and falling down you need one.

5. Hike. There were horses for rent but it was more interesting to walk and enjoy the view. The girls ran,sang and chided each other all the way to the top. There might be few occasions of frustrations of not being able to ride a horse. But seeing its state with the guide and the client riding together (most of the time), I was glad we just hiked, besides during some stops we were able to chat with some tourists.

It was a lovely, sunny day.

contemplating the view

6. Bring your own water/drinks. Because the cost of everything usually tripled and when you have 5 children with you, wow, that would hurt the budget.

Though some slid and ended on their bottom, we came down safe and sound. It was a fun a day which culminated of course in Jolibee, where else?