Monday, March 26, 2012

Discovering the Island of Camotes

Little have I known of the islands of Camotes not until I have read it being featured in one of Cebu Pacific's in-flight magazine, Smile.
It is a group of islands (part of Cebu province) located east of Cebu Island, southwest of Leyte Island, and north of Bohol Island. So me together with two friends (Vinz from Cebu and Efren from The Land Down Under, who had his vacation in Bacolod) set March 17 and 18 for our trip to Camotes. It was only an overnight stay but we made the most out of it. Me and Efren left Bacolod via plane to Cebu City 8:40AM and arrived approximately 30 minutes after in Cebu, where we met Vinz in SM City. We rode a V-hire (fare 50Php) to Danao City, approximately an hour and a half. We almost didn't make it to our boat to Camotes which leaves at 12nn since we arrive 15 minutes before departure time. Good thing Vinz was there to negotiate. We had a two hour RoRo boat ride to Camotes thereafter. The fare is Php180. We arrive past 2 in the afternoon and went straight to our reserve place to stay for the night.

Our place to stay for the night

The Santiago Bay overlooking our room in the resort


The place was awesome, for our room's exterior provides a scenic view of the ocean. We also have easy access with the pool, but decided to do night swimming instead since we decided to go to the town of San Francisco. We also met three backpackers (Rein, Marx and Layla from Manila) who joined us in our tour, thus cutting our budget to half :) After a sumptuous lunch/dinner (we ate around 5pm), we decided to rent a jeep going to the town of San Francisco.

Santiago White Beach from left: Vinz, Rein, Efren, me, Marx

San Francisco Baywalk


It took us abou
t 45 mins to arrive in the town proper. We visited the municipal hall, then San Francisco Baywalk and their plaza. We actually arrived just in time for their Soli Soli Festival, the town fiesta in honor of St. Joseph, their patron saint (Soli Soli is a local term for weaving). After we return to our resort, we decided to have a night swim and had one bottle of beer each. We planned for the next days activity which will be an island tour.

The next day started with a br
eakfast at Santiago Resort's bar overlooking the magnificent Santiago Bay. Manang Merlyn, our tour guide, fetched us from the resort at around 7AM for us to start our travel. We checked out of the resort and carried our things since we decided to go straight to the port and return to Cebu City on the afternoon. Our first stop was Mangodlong Rock Resort.


The very first resort we went to is the one closes to where we stayed in for the night. It is one of the most famous resorts in the island as what Manang Merlyn said. And it indeed the place is beautiful. They have cottages on top of rocks. We went to inside the resorts building and found a scribble wall. I'm not exactly sure of the term but this is a wall where you sign and leave comments. After a short picture taking session, we proceeded to the port to reserve our tickets for the 2PM Roro ride back to Danao City. We passed by the town of San Francisco and continued our travel to the island of Poro, to visit another resort and a cave (the one featured in Smile Magazine).


A garden resort found on top of a rock formation, this is the place for daredevils especially on cliff jumping and diving. I never ceased the moment and had my share of jumps (thrice) from one of the cliffs around 15-20 ft high. The sea was very calm so I was not afraid to try jumping off the cliff. There was also a cliff jump of around 30ft but I decide not to jump from there. It was too high for me. There was also a water slide to the sea but unfortunately it was not available at that moment. There is also a staircase going down at sea level where you can wade on the sea waters and walk your way into a mini cave formation under the cliff.

The 15 (or 20 ft) jump off the cliff in Buho Rock Resort

Bukilat Cave used to be the shelter for the people living in the island from the Japanese invaders during World War II


This is the cave that I am pertaining to, the one I saw in an in-flight magazine. As expected, the cave has a magnificent view. The cave, although it has a man made stairway going to the spring, preserves its natural beauty, with chalk-white stalactites and stalagmites. The water is cool and very clean. Manang Merlyn told us it was low tide by the time we arrived so that's the reason why we are not able to bath on the shallow spring waters. We stayed there for about 20 minutes and decided to leave for our next destination. The entrance was 20Php only.

Enjoying the clear and cold spring water inside the cave


We had a small argument while on our way to Lake Danao if we are going to visit this cave since we might not make it for our afternoon boat back to Danao City. But Manang Merlyn encouraged us that this is a place which we should not get rid of our list, and assured us we still have ample time before we go back to the port before our boat leaves. And she was right. We could have regretted not going there. By the exterior look, the cave looks simple, with a small entrance underground (where you need to duck in order to enter), but what's beneath it is a magnificent spring. The water is very clean, clear and cool. There were lots of tourists swimming (especially Koreans, we thought we are in Korea hahaha) but that did not stop us to have a plunge in the clear waters. If time would permit we could have stayed there longer but eventually went out of the cave and decided to go to Lake Danao.

Lake Danao of Pacijan Island is considered the largest lake of Visayas


The serene lake was our last stop before going to the port. The water was so calm, and the place was so peaceful. We opt not to ride the boat to tour the lake since it was high noon and it was hot so we only had a few picture-taking sessions and decided to go back to the port for our trip back to Danao. The whole island tour costs us Php2000 (divided by 6, you do the math.. hehe) which I believe is a reasonable price. Manang Merlyn even showed us much hospitality by giving us food (suman!) to eat on our trip back to mainland Cebu.

Although the beaches are awesome as well as the peaceful ambiance of the island, one thing bothers me the most. The limited access to telecommunication signals especially in remote areas is one issue. Since we are in a remote resort, we cannot call, text or even connect to 3G to update our Facebook and Twitter status. Nonetheless, these are things we can live without (just in a day!) I definitely would like to go back to the place. The island is so laid back that I want to stay there for some more quality time. There are still two places we haven't went to (Tulang Diot Island and Kalbaryo). Although we only had an overnight stay in Camotes, we made the most out of it. It's definitely one place I wanna go back someday, in the near future.

Soli-soli kid dancers had a pose with us during their practice at the plaza

Efren, me and Vinz decided to get a the same design for our henna tattoo

Manang Merlyn (our tour guide) and Vinz, on our way to Bukilat Cave
A bottle of beer to end the night from left: Marx, Leyla, Rein, Me, Efren, and Vinz

Jammin 2gether: The Adobe 2nd Year Anniversary

It's quite amazing how time flies really fast. I remember it was only then when we started as customer service representatives to technical support on the said account and boom! it's two years already. Last March 24, 2012, my beloved account at work celebrated two years of excellence. It was a great night of fun, music and dance as we cheered for another new year to come. Me? I danced with my crew for two numbers, one from my colleagues at the same account and another with Teleperformance Dance Crew. I believe photos speaks louder than words so here are some shots from the event.

Photobooth with friends before the party

Solemn prayer lead by Jacklord

1st Dance of the night with Adobe Dance Crew

Christine and Mamra serenading love songs during dinner

The band composed of fellow employees

2nd dance number for the night with TP Dance Crew

Charisma and Marky's first time to do stand up comedy/hosting

Cheers for two years!

Me with my team, Team Proto

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

From Underdogs to Dark Horses: The Azkals in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup

It all started February of 2011 here in Bacolod City. I was able to witness with my own eyes how our Philippine National Football team, popularly known as the Azkals, won against the Mongolian Blue Wolves in a 2-nil game in Pana-ad Park and Stadium (just a 10-minute walk from home) in the Qualifying Playoffs for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. The Philippine team pave its way to the qualifying stage beating Mongolia by an aggregate score of 3-2, in favor of the Azkals.

The fairy tale run continued as the team made it to the qualifying group stage held in Myanmar. The match against Myanmar and Palestine all ended in a draw. However, it was the game between the team and Bangladesh which ended in 3-0 that qualified them for the Final tournament. They were the runners up for Group A, where Palestine lead the pack.

The Final Tournament for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup is composed of 8 teams, all winners and runners up for the qualifying group stage. The tournament was held in Kathmandu, Nepal last March 8-19 2012. It was a great challenge for the Philippine team since the group where they belong for the initial tournament was a pool of former winners for the said cup: North Korea (2010), Tajikistan (2006) and India (2008). The first game was against North Korea where the Azkals loss into a 2-nil score in favor of the North Koreans. But this did not stop the team and they fought back on their way to the final 4, beating former champions India and Tajikistan.

The greatest upset most probably for all Pinoy football fans was when the Azkals battled for the spot for the Knockout stage or the Final round. The first 80th minute of the game against Turkmenistan had them on the lead by 1 point but backfires on the last 10 minutes when the opponent was able to surpass them with a score of 2-1 in favor of Turks. So it was then a battle for the third place where they have to face again a former opponent, Palestine.

Philippines beats Palestine for 3rd place in 2012 AFC Challenge Cup
(photo courtesy of AFC official website)

The battle for the Third place was a very thrilling game I may say. The game ended 4-3 in favor of the Philippine team. This is the first time that the Azkals made it this far in the said competition and also the only Southeast Asian country for this year's Challenge Cup. The Golden Boot Award (highest scorer of the competition) also was given to Phil Younghusband, having 6 goals throughout the competition. The 2012 AFC challenge Cup champions was North Korea, followed by Turkmenistan, then the Philippines and in fourth place, Palestine.

Phil Younghusband bagged the Golden Boot Award after garnering 6 points in the whole competition
(photo courtesy of Neil Etheridge via Twitter)

This is definitely gonna be written in Philippine football history. It has been years since the Philippine team made it in the international scene and this year was a new beginning for the sport to be recognized in our country. Despite the issues about Moy and Guirado's sexual harassment (verbal) incident with former President Fidel Ramos's daughter Christy, and the racist remarks (in my own opinion) of GMA 7's Arnold Clavio on the ethnicity of half Pinoys (he said they are "mapagpanggap na kayumanggi" at "hindi tunay na Pinoy" against half-Filipino athletes of the team), the Azkals proved to themselves and the country that they are but one great team that cannot pulled down by such issues. I believe it was also a fuel for them to work harder on the said competition, a drive that helped the team prove they're worth to be called as a national team. I feel saddened however that despite their achievements, many are still putting them down, worst is they are fellow Filipinos. But still this is one of the greatest achievements that we had for Philippine football.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dance for Passion: The TPDC Bacolod Dance Class for a Cause 2012

Following the initiative of Teleperformance Dance Crew Manila Chapter to perform dance classes in Manila last November to December 2011 in support for TP Citizen of the World, our very own chapter started our own dance classes here in the TP Bacolod site last February 11, 18, 25 and March 3.

February 11, 2011 - Vogue by Mark Rainier Agapito

The first dance class took place just a week after my Davao Adventures. The main facilitator and choreographer for the said class is my Adobe colleague Mark (we often call him Marky). The song used was "Can't Nobody" by 2NE1. The choreography was based from Kaba Modern's dance in Kallusive's EnKore 2010 and made a simple modification on it.

** Vogue or Voguing a style of dance characterized by model-like poses integrated with angular, linear, and rigid arm, leg, and body movements. Vogue fFmme is fluidity at its most extreme with exaggerated feminine movements

February 18, 2012 - Basic Latin by Mark Ramiro Lavaro

The following Saturday, one of our ballroom dancers, Marc, focused on basics of Chachacha and Samba in the beat of "Papi" by Jennifer Lopez. Base on my experience, it was one of the routine to perfect. I may know how to dance Latin but I do it incorrectly especially the hips part. But nonetheless, we took the challenge and happily ended the session with some basic knowledge of the dance

** Samba is a Brazilian dance while Cha-cha-cha is Cuban in origin.

February 25, 2012 - Lyrical Hiphop by Joeluz Gato

I wasn't able to attend this class due to our teambuilding in Lakawon Island in Cadiz. However, the class was done by Joeluz, one of our new members and best choreographers in the group. The song used was "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction. Good thing we were taught with the routine by our colleagues the next Saturday.

**Lyrical hip-hop is a style developed by So You Think You Can Dance in-house choregraphers Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. The term was first coined by Adam Shankman after the Nappytabs routine of Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis in the season 4 of the said show.

March 3, 2012 - Pop by John Earl de Juan

I handled the last class for the said event where I taught choreography to one of my favorite disco-pop song "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera. The routine I used was the same routine me and Yza created for a dance routine by Metrobank employees whom we choreographed last December for their Chrsitmas Party. The said class closed the four Saturdays for our TPDC Dance class for a Cause

** Pop Dance is an up-tempo, upbeat type of dance intended for clubs and has a strong emphasis on beats and grooves. It is basically a dance to a popular song.

It was a mere beginning of the many projects in store for Teleperformance Dance Crew Bacolod. We are hoping for more dance classes soon for us to learn more genres in dance.

Lakawon Island: Team Proto and Revel Unite

February 25, 2012. After my team (Team Proto under TL Angel) and TL Bhang's team (Team Revel) received incentives from team performances at work, both teams decided to take the days-off to the beach. It was a two hour drive north of Bacolod until we reached the port of Cadiz Viejo (a small port for motorboats).

It was a short 15 to 20 minutes ride when we reach small island of Lakawon. It is just a small banana shape island with a family-owned resort. The white sand beach resembles that of Boracay Island. It is still uncommercialized though, which has it's pros and cons.

The beach front, facing the mainland Negros

Since it is not yet fully developed, the place could be a great spot for rest and relaxation. The beach has clear waters although some parts are filled with vegetations. The beach is full of corals as well as starfishes. The problem, however, is that dried seaweeds as well as small litters that scatter by the shoreline. This is more likely because of a small community residing at the far end of the island. The back part of the island facing Concepcion, Iloilo and the Visayan Sea is bringing strong but cool breeze. The sand bars are awesome so we immediately took advantage of this by taking our small pictorial sessions. We also played volleyball by the beach front to enjoy ourselves.

Me doing a cartwheel

The accommodation is not that impressive in my opinion. There is no electricity during the day. A generator only provides power at night, starts at dusk and is turned off at daybreak. Since the area is near the mainland, cellphone signals are still strong. The cottages and huts are small. If you intend to have an overnight stay, make sure to bring blankets or mosquito nets. There is no phone system so you have to go to the small restaurant if you have request to the resort crews. The food is also expensive and bringing of food also has a corkage of 50/head.

Edz, me, Amci and Julz doing the jump shot
taken at the back part of the island facing Concepcion, Iloilo

As an overall review, commercialization of the island would be a very good move to be able to provide excellent service and accommodation for tourists. But there is no question when it comes to the relaxing ambiance that the white sand and clear water beach Lakawon has to offer. Once these are implemented in the future, I'm pretty sure Lakawon would also rise into fame same as it's rivals Boracay, El Nido, Guimaras, Siquijor and Puerto Gallera to name a few. We went home to Bacolod the next day, and as for me, maybe a future family outing would do, but we will only have a day trip for it.

The team before going back to Bacolod City