All posts tagged: beach

Bohol: Back on the Travel Map

The small island province of Bohol in Central Visayas is exactly how James Bond likes his martini—shaken, not stirred. Barely a year after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the province, killing more than 200 people and rendering thousands homeless, Bohol is taking back its spot on the tourist map. Its attractions—beaches, churches, beautiful people—may have suffered significant damages in the shaking but they have maintained their character. While recovery efforts are still underway and may take years to complete, fresh waves of travelers are already abandoning their fear of another disaster and heading back to one of the Philippines’ premier destinations. “I’ve been to places that were devastated like Bali and Phuket. Tourism is not only the fastest-growing industry, it is also the most resilient,” Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto told visiting media during the Sandugo Festival in July. The USAID, through its project COMPETE, is helping Bohol position itself in the tourism market to aid in its rebuilding and development. Because of its heritage sites and island setting, Bohol is a natural destination for eco-cultural …

Sleeping Beauty

For years, the sleepy town of Anda in Bohol, 100 km from the capital city of Tagbilaran, has been dubbed as “the NEXT BIG THING.” A well-known, well-travelled Filipino weatherman and scion of a political clan in Manila even declared Anda as one of the two most surprising gems he found in the Philippines—a country that does not lack for island jewels—and expressed his intention to someday retire there. Anda has all the ingredients for a premier travel destination: long stretches of fine, white-sand beaches, clear, turquoise waters, year-round diving weather, friendly locals, and comfortable, family-run resorts. Add to that a sprinkling of caves that tell a rich history and voila, you have a tourist favorite. So why isn’t it Boracay by now? My quest for an answer to that question was the only thing that roused me from the king-size bed in our tastefully designed 60-square-meter suite at the new wing of Amorita Resort—my new favorite place in Panglao—where life consisted of perfect little moments and beautiful mornings with hot chocolate. It was SO tempting to …

A speck of white, a sea of blue

The big boat dodged the big waves, the rest it just rode out. It’s been almost an hour of rough seas, and my companions were turning green, trying hard to keep from grumbling. I, however, was lost in my memories. Our big, bouncy boat was taking us to my favorite secret place of all, and no seasickness can bring me down (besides, I am the granddaughter of a fisherman—I dig waves). The grumbling stopped before the boat’s engine did. Isla Arena’s white sand glinted from afar. Everyone forgot the dicey trip and focused on the best color of bikinis for this immaculate backdrop. “Welcome back!” bellowed no less than the owner, Roland Rodriguez, who everyone calls Mr. Fuji (his features are Japanese but his burnt brown skin is undeniably Filipino—he enjoys confusing people on his nationality). My husband and I were his first media guests on the island two years ago. To our companions, he said: “Please treat this as your private island for the next three days. It’s all yours.” That sent the boys …

The Search for Soul

They said it was a place where witches still practiced, a land that cast spells. As a child, I quivered at stories of Siquijor’s black magic. Three decades later, jaded and approaching pre-midlife crisis, I needed magic–of any sort. I headed for the Island of Fire. “Be nice,” my mother reminded me, knowing my penchant for returning cold food and not-so-well-done meat in restaurants. “You don’t know what those people can do.” I packed my most pleasing personality–and my husband, who is niceness personified–and flew to Dumaguete. Siquijor is an hour by ferry from Dumaguete City, the gateway to visitors from Manila. Being the Philippines’ third smallest province (it used to be part of Negros Oriental) with only around 91,000 inhabitants, Siquijor does not have its own airport. Except on Holy Week, when the media and tourists descend on the island for its curiosities, human traffic could not justify building one. At the pier, visitors are welcomed by a sign that immediately tries to douse the quest for whatever dark mystery the tourists came for: “Siquijor is just perfect for relaxing and recuperating. …

Boracay: There and Back Again

Boracay is the toast of the town now, bagging international awards here and there. But there was a time–and we saw it then, on a family vacation in the early ’90s–when the island was less crowded and the beachfront was bigger and cleaner. It has changed a lot today, but the best things have stayed the same: the sand is still super fine, the sunset can still silence anyone, and the waters still gleam turquoise in the sun.   ==================== If Boracay were an ex-boyfriend, he’s the kind you’ll come back to no matter how many times you think you’ve found a better guy. You could wander, hopping from island to island–which is tempting in a country with 7,107 of them– but in the end, you’ll find yourself back in Boracay’s arms, knowing in your heart, it’s The One. Unfortunately, when the summer fever hits, you’ll find that you’re not the only one who has come to that conclusion; fortunately, love would teach you to live with the fact that you have to share the …

Time and Tide, and Other Pieces of Pamilacan

“They’re usually this big,” Dadong says in Tagalog, tapping the boat he’s perched on. ”When we’re hungry, we would just go out to sea and catch some dolphins. It was just like catching chickens,” he adds so matter-of-factly that I could only stare at him and nod, half-fascinated, half-disturbed.By the time he compared the texture of whales and dolphins when cooked, I was speechless. He had me at adobo. It was a sunny Saturday when my husband and I landed on Pamilacan, whose waters are renowned in the Visayas as the “playground of dolphins.” The Boholanos weren’t kidding. During the 45-minute boat trip from Baclayon to Pamilacan, we were escorted by at least 20 spinner dolphins at any one time. They were so cute and friendly and… alive, it didn’t occur to me what they’d look like in a frying pan. Then again, we were merely visitors to the island, strangers to a culture whose children, at age 10, were taught that cetaceans are food. Now in their 40s, they are learning differently and struggling to survive the consequences of doing …