Category: Food Trips

Sweet Escape To Siargao

(Published in Manila Bullettin on July 10, 2016 http://www.mb.com.ph/on-cloud-9/ )

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Sugba Lagoon

Sugba Lagoon

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Sugba Lagoon

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Guyam Island

As I clamber over the jagged cliff, my legs shake uncontrollably. The Magpupungko tide pool’s depth and clarity are far from scary, but the thought of a potential injury makes my heart thump like a trapped wild animal, desperate to escape. What if I miscalculate my jump and slam my head on the steep rock wall before plummeting into the water? I watch children before me leap off the rocks effortlessly and splash into the lucent water below. Children! I am in fear of a disaster that has never occurred beyond the realm of my annoyingly creative imagination. “Go on, jump!” a boy with sun-bleached hair prods, trying to stifle his laughter at my awkward position. Don’t you dare be a wimp and embarrass yourself in front of the children, my subconscious berates me. The cool summer breeze feels like needles upon my bare skin. I shut my eyes, gather my breath to murmur a pathetic prayer and plunge into the pool.

Magpupungko Tide Pool

Magpupungko Tide Pool

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Magpupungko Tide Pools

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Magpupungko Tide Pools

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Magpupungko Tida Flats

Kissed by the sun and sculpted by the massive barreling waves of the Pacific Ocean, the small, teardrop-shaped island of Siargao stands brave-faced just off the coast of Surigao Del Norte, a province in the northernmost part of Mindanao. Siargao is considered the surfing Mecca of the country, with waves averaging 7 feet during the last quarter of the year, attracting surfers from all over the world. But there’s more to the island than adrenalin-inducing waves. It is also blessed with postcard-perfect beaches, enchanting lagoons, caves, lush coral reefs, bizarre rock formations and expansive mangrove reserves.

Towards the end of the two-hour boat ride from the town of General Luna, we catch sight of broccoli-shaped limestone hills and gray bluffs sprouting with lush plant life. They sit mirrored amid the stillness of the clear emerald waters. We are at Sugba Lagoon in the town of Del Carmen on the western part of Siargao. I ask the boatman why the place is called Sugba, which means “to barbeque” in Visayan. “This used to be a hideaway of fisher folks. Here, they’d gather to grill their catch and have a few drinks,” he says. Our chatter is interrupted by a startling cry above the forest canopy on the opposite bank. “That’s the resident White-Breasted Eagle!” the boatman blurts out excitedly. The majestic bird circles against the clear blue skies with measured wing flaps before landing on a high branch and, as we watch, it dawns on us that it is building a nest.

A two-story wooden house, which was built by the local government to cater to visitors, rises up from the placid waters. Besides the lady caretaker, whom we ask to grill the meat and fish we bought at the public market earlier, there is no one at the house when we arrive. My friends and I rush to the second floor veranda to admire the gorgeous vista of the lagoon from a higher vantage point. “Can we spend the rest of the day here?” someone in the group asks, completely enamored with the scenery. Without thinking twice, we cancel our plan to visit other islands in the afternoon. I check out the empty hall behind the glass sliding doors. Here, guests can spend the night if they wish to. The hall has large glass windows that extend to the floor, flaunting a view of the lagoon on both sides.

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Sugba Lagoon

Sugba Lagoon

Sugba Lagoon

stingless jellyfish in Sugba Lagoon

stingless jellyfish in Sugba Lagoon

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lunch in Sugba Lagoon

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snorkeling in Sugba Lagoon

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We snorkel to our hearts’ content and swim with the stingless Spotted Jelly, which can only be seen during the summer months. Before sunset, we head back to General Luna, where we rent a motorbike to explore the island’s nightlife. Our grumbling tummies lead us to Mama’s Grill, a rustic and unassuming open-air eatery, which according to locals and tourists has the best barbeque in the island. After an hour of waiting in a long line, we find out what the fuss is about. The impeccable balance of the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth grilled meat and its sweet, spicy sauce is indeed to-die-for. We could’ve driven past the restaurant, but the horde of customers outside, mostly foreign tourists, is impossible to miss.

Mama's Grill has the best barbecues i have ever tasted :)

Mama’s Grill has the best barbecues i have ever tasted 🙂

Siargao Island’s motto is pretty simple and straightforward: Eat, Surf, Sleep, Repeat. Travelers from all over the world come here to surf, only to be smitten with the island’s charm. Many have decided to stay indefinitely when they discovered that there’s more to Siargao than enormous waves. Among them is Pal Martenson, a Swedish man who owns Villa Solaria, the lovely 2000 sq. meter resort where we are staying. Pal recalls how he fell in love with the island and its people when he visited two and a half years ago. “The people here are friendly and beautiful and they take care of each other,” he says fondly. When the property was offered to him two years ago, he knew he’d regret for the rest of his life if he passed it up.

Welcoming guests in a lush garden setting, Villa Solaria is a three-minute motorcycle ride to Cloud 9, the island’s primary surfing spot. It is perfect for solo backpackers, couples and big groups. Here, Php 300 a night can get you a cozy bunk bed and vibrant, sun-worshipping globetrotters for neighbors. Those who come in large groups can choose among the six two-story thatched bungalows that could fit up to 5 people, the most expensive priced at only Php 2,000 per night. Not bad at all! To keep his guests entertained, Pal regularly organizes island hopping, diving, running and fishing activities. He also offers all-inclusive surf packages for both amateurs and professionals.

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bunk beds in Villa Solaria

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Villa Solaria cottages

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Villa Solaria cottages

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Pal Martenson, owner of Villa Solaria

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Lit by the orange glow of sunrise, a gorgeous speck of land in the middle of the sea catches our attention. We are standing against the bobbing of the boat as we approach Naked Island. Fittingly, the islet is devoid of any structures or trees, save for a few patches of grass that have pretty purple flowers. We have the islet to ourselves when we arrive, and the rare solitude and freedom in a popular destination bring out the audacious adventurer in us. “Let’s go skinny dipping!” somebody in the group suggests. “Seriously?” another asks. “Yes!” I have always wondered how it felt to swim au naturel. I think this would make a hilarious Instagram post- Naked in Naked Island! Kicking cool sand along the way, we run to the other side of the islet where we are partially concealed by an elevated mound of sand, pull off our clothes and dive into the clear turquoise water.

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Naked Island

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Naked Island

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Naked Island

Naked Island

Naked Island

As the sun drags itself above the horizon, we move to the nearby Guyam Island, a privately owned shape-shifting islet that is less than a hundred meters in length. Aptly, guyam means “small” in Visayan. It is quite stunning from afar: gorgeous white sand, sparkling waters, swaying coconut and Talisay trees, a handful of wooden cottages and razor-sharp rock formations on one side. Quiet and uninhabited, Guyam Island seems like the perfect place to pitch a tent and sleep under the stars.

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Guyam Island

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Guyam Island

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Guyam Island

yoga in Guyam Island

yoga in Guyam Island

There is sand all over our hair and the skin on our back have grown red and taut. We are catching our breath in heavy sighs after several failed attempts to do acroyoga in thesweltering heat. I may have mastered the art of blissfully contorting and doing #YogaEveryDamnDay poses against stunning beaches and sunsets, but the simplest acroyoga pose is not as easy as it looks. Daku Island would’ve made a perfect backdrop for one, making our Instagram friends drool with envy. The largest among the three islands, Daku Island is home to a small fishing community living contentedly in the absence of materialistic distractions and pollutants. Nestled under sweeping coconut trees, a cluster of wooden cottages invites us to bask in the gorgeous view of the sea and the nearby islands. We decide to drop our ambitious acroyoga “photo shoot” and soon, we are gulping down ice-cold soda and brushing Cheetos dust from our fingers. Our next challenge is to stay awake. It is difficult to when all we hear are the soothing cadence of the crashing waves, the rustling of the palms and the birdsong.

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

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Daku Island

It is noon and a slow hour at Cloud 9 when we arrive. A few surfers walk lazily along the shore. The waves are small and the tide is low, treacherously exposing razor-sharp corals and sunbaked rocks on the seabed. Feeling lethargic after finishing a pan of three-layer pizza at Aventino’s, we decide to languish by the viewing deck at the end of the long wooden ramp. Cloud 9 is the most popular break in the island, and this is where the action usually happens. Several international surfing competitions are held here during the months of August until November, attracting surfers all the way from the United States, Europe, Australia and Indonesia.

Aventino's three-layer pizza

Aventino’s three-layer pizza

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Cloud 9

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Cloud 9

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Cloud 9

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Surfing in Cloud 9

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The waves haven’t picked up and after a long lull, our surfing coach takes us to the nearby Rock Island, named after a massive outcrop of rock rising up from the swirling waters. It is the surfers’ playground at low tide. After a quick lesson on standing up and balancing on the surfboard, we paddle into the current. Soon, our coach signals us to pop up and ride the incoming wave. Keep your weight centered on the board, my coach’s instruction reverberates in my head. In one quick motion I jump up in a crouch, arms stretched and feet wide, only to be tipped over as the wave’s peak begins to crash. The waves knock me over countless times. God! Surfing is not as easy as it looks. Standing centered on the board was so much easier on the sand earlier. My friends, on the other hand, are doing much better. They appear effortless as they glide along the crest of the wave. On my final attempt, I manage to stay upright on the board until the wave dissipates. I scream and wave my arms up and down excitedly as if I have just won the Surfing Cup. This must be how it feels to be “stoked”.

surfing in Rock Island

surfing in Rock Island

Surfer or not, anyone who visits Siargao won’t run out of things to relish. Inarguably, the friendly faces everywhere and the charming, relaxed atmosphere of surf living and beach bumming have made this tiny and sun-drenched island irresistible for so long.

 

Getting There:

1.)  By Plane– Cebu Pacific flies directly to Siargao (Sayak Airport) from Cebu.

2.)   By Ferry- Go to the main pier of Surigao City and ride a Roll-on-Roll-off vessel to Dapa Port in Siargao Island. The earliest boat departs at 6 am and the latest at 12 noon. Travel time is 3.5 hours

 

Where To Stay:

Villa Solaria

Tuazon Point, Brgy. Catangnan,

8419 General Luna, Siargao Island

Surigao Del Norte

http://www.villasolaria.surf/

Email: villa_solaria@yahoo.com

09204077730

 

Happy Tummy in Tacloban City (Part 1)

If being passionate about anything that pleasures the tongue is a mortal sin, then God save me for I might have reserved a spot for myself in the vast ocean of fire.
I am a lover of good food. I’d rummage for distinct flavors and delicacies whenever I travel. Buffet restaurants are like temples that I make pilgrimage to and venerate whenever I go to a new place.
My quaint city, Tacloban, may be small and quiet but has a wide variety of flavors to its recesses. Amid stress, I’d often find solace in a corner of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, feasting on a plate of Nachos.
Let me share with you a compulsive list of my favorite food spots in the city and their comfort foods that somehow appease my insatiable stomach.
1.) Ocho Seafood and Grill
Senator Enage St., Tacloban City
+6353-325-4171
Deciding where to dine in the city with a visitor is a no-brainer. Ocho is always on top of the list. Arguably the finest seafood restaurant in the city, Ocho serves freshly cooked dishes, which you can pick the ingredients of at its counter.
Their famous Porbidang Kangkong has become a staple dish every time I visit. There’s nothing really fancy about this dish- just the finely chopped lowly kangkong as its main ingredient. But who would’ve thought it would taste so good when simmered in coconut cream then sprinkled with fried garlic? Spoon it on top of a steaming cup of rice and you have just aroused your taste buds.
The famous Porbidang Kangkong (Php 70/order)

The famous Porbidang Kangkong (Php 70/order)

Who could ever forget the unforgettable Spicy Sarad? Sarad is a variety of shellfish. Shellfish makes my face swell, but this one is so irresistible that I don’t mind rushing to the nearest pharmacy after, only to make the same mistake on my next visit. The sarad is cooked adobo-style, only sweeter and has explicit hints of onion, garlic, ginger and chili.

Spicy Sarad (Php 35/ 100g)

Spicy Sarad (Php 35/ 100g)

 

2.) Canto Fresco
Burgos St., Tacloban City
+6353 523-9085
 

DSC_0069Small dinners with friends I haven’t seen in a long time usually happen in Canto Fresco, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves a fusion of Italian and Filipino dishes.
There is something distinct about their bestseller, the Pesto Chops, that makes me crave for it strangely often. The pesto sauce’s salty, sour, sweet and garlicky herbal flavors share the same spoon without conflict and go perfectly well with the subtle pan-grilled chops, which are quite hefty for its price. This masterpiece is served with fresh vegetables and a cup of rice.
Pesto Chops (Php 130)

Pesto Chops (Php 130)

I also find their pizza really good. It is delicately flavored, not greasy and has a light and chewy crust. The pizza does not need a full array of condiments, just a few drops of their herbed olive oil and its perfect.

Chicken and Mushroom Pizza

Chicken and Mushroom Pizza (price ranges from Php 200+ to Php 500+ depending on the size)

Their Green Apple Iced Tea is lightly sweetened, refreshing and complements with any item on the menu.

3.) Na.Ning Sports Bar
Club 6500, Leyte Park Resort Hotel
Magsaysay Blvd., Tacloban City
+6353 341-3536

Na.Ning Sports Bar and Lounge sits in the chic party district of Leyte Park Resort Hotel.
A temple of booze, Na.Ning boasts a wide selection which ranges from the demure but deadly Caipiroska to the in-your-face fatal Slammer. The latter is a concoction of 7 spirits, not for the weak-kneed. They also have imported beers like Stella Artois and Hoegaarden.
But I go to Na.Ning not to lose my sanity. There are two things that keep me coming back: the MVP wings and the Polar Beer. I remember, MVP Wings was love at first bite. The most sinful chicken parts are deep fried and tossed in their spicy secret sauce. It actually reminds me of BonChon but Na.Ning’s has a more intense flavor, and the Polar Beer is inarguably its perfect quencher. Just imagine the smoothest and “almost frozen but not” San Mig Light gliding down your throat after a huge bite of that spicy chicken.

MVP Wings (Php 180/0rder) photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/pages/Na-Ning/163610540335018

4.) Miyara Cake Patisserie
Burgos St., Tacloban City
+6353 321-7846
I worked in Manila and Cebu for 5 years, scoured for the perfect chocolate cake, only to find it in an unassuming patisserie in Tacloban City. I had my first bite at my aunt’s house during the town fiesta, and boy, did I forget my name?! The cake is rich, moist and heavy and melts as soon as it crumbles in your mouth. It is bliss on a plate!
I always thought that no cupcake could ever taste as heavenly as the popular and extravagant Sonja’s in Serendra, until I had some of Miyara’s last Christmas. I must say, the latter tastes richer and fuller, and three times cheaper. My favorite variants are Chocolate-Ganache, Red Velvet and Choco-Banana.
Choco-Banana, Red Velvet and Chocolate Ganache. (Php 45/piece)

Choco-Banana, Red Velvet and Chocolate Ganache. (Php 45/piece)

 TO BE CONTINUED…

I hated the beach. I despised the sun, the rosy tan that would later turn into dirty brown, the icky feeling of the saltwater on my skin and the viscid sunblock on my face.
All these changed in 2008, when I first set foot in Boracay. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t take my eyes off the kaleidoscopic sunset, which enveloped the colorful sailboats on the tranquil sea. Cathartic. My feet found home in the soft and very fine white sand. That moment I vowed to come back every year. And I make sure I do, no matter what.

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The majestic Boracay Island is located in Aklan, Western Visayas. White Beach, the main tourism beach in the island, is about four kilometers long and has many resorts, bars, restaurants, and shops. One can easily enjoy the best things in life: good food, beer or some cocktails after taking a dip in the clear turquoise water. Any vacationer can’t help but fall madly in love with the breezy lifestyle.
www.togiexplorer.com

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In July 2012, Travel+Leisure has named Boracay as The Best Overall Island during its 17th World’s Best Awards. Tripadvisor, on the other hand, ranked it the second best beach in the world.

Things To Do in Boracay:

1.) Nothing
When I’m in Boracay, I could just sit all day and admire the breathtaking panorama from the beach lounge. I can let hours pass by, and not fret about it.

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With no care in the world, I’d forget about my daily stressors and come to this paradise once or twice each year so I could lie on the white and oh so powdery sand, bask under the sun, read a good book, laugh with my friends about the most senseless things, take a dip on the crystalline waters and watch the breathtaking sunset with a happy hour cocktail or an ice-cold San Mig Light in hand.

www.togiexplorer.com

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2.) Eat

One might easily think that Boracay has ultraexpensive food and accommodation since the island is a top tourist destination in the country, but you’d be surprised to know that there are plenty of affordable resorts and restaurants.

And please! For goodness sake, drop the diet and enjoy a gastronomic vacation. You stressed yourself for months to have those chiseled abs. Now its time to relax and taste the delectable food the island has to offer. Many travelers from all over the world have come to Boracay, were mesmerized by the island’s beauty, settled and opened resorts and restaurants featuring their respective cuisines. This explains the wide range of flavors that would please any discriminating palate.

I’d always look forward to the nightly beachfront buffets, oblivious of my calorie-intake which I am always wary about prior to a trip. After a long day of swimming, snorkeling and island hopping, who wouldn’t want to dine like an aristocrat? Most resorts offer reasonably priced buffets for as low as Php 250 and have plenty of freshly-cooked dishes to choose from.

One good buffet I had was in La Carmela de Boracay. The mouthwatering menu includes grilled seafoods, chicken and pork barbeque, beef dishes, desserts and a Mongolian section, for only Php 270++, inclusive of the refillable iced tea. The candlelit setup by the beach is perfect for the sumptuous meal. The food attendants are also pleasant. Satisfactory.
If you don’t mind spending a few extra hundreds for a more upscale buffet experience, you may want to try Astoria. The items on the table include a wide variety of salads, pasta, bread and pastries, kebabs, pork and chicken barbeque, grilled seafoods and refillable drinks. I particularly loved the barbeque. It is grilled right before your eyes so you can sink your teeth on a smoking piece of flavorful meat. Whether devouring the scrumptious meal or chilling over a few bottles of beer, diners can always enjoy the live band and the astounding firedance performances. The meal is around Php500++, not bad considering the better ambience and wider selection of food.

If you’ve had enough of the nightly buffets, try heading to D’Talipapa. “Talipapa” means small wet market. There, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, seafoods and meat and have the restaurants in the marketplace cook them for you at a minimal charge.

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If you are carnivorous like me, then you’ll be delighted at the beer-and-ribs-all-you-can every Friday at Nigi Nigi Noo Noo for only Php 680. Not bad! A slab of ribs ala carte would cost the same in other restaurants, or even more. The ice-cold beer is just perfect to wash down the tender, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, which are basted with sweet barbeque sauce. The distinctive aroma of these ribs is enough to make you go ravenous, so wear something dark, because it can get messy.

The fresh and wood fire brick-oven pizza in Don Vito Ristorante Italiano would make a superb lunch. Unlike the popular fastfood pizzas, theirs has a subtle taste, has evidently high quality ingredients, is less oily and yummy. The pastas are comforting and friendly to a Filipino tongue. On a hot day, their gelato would make a grand finale to a hearty meal. So if you’re up for some carbo-loading, you now know where to go.

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Many vacationers say that you haven’t truly experienced Boracay unless you have tried Jonah’s Fruitshakes, the best shakes in the island. Their bestseller and my favorite is the Choco-Banana-Peanut Shake. It is thick, rich and creamy. It’s just so good you’ll come back for more. No wonder the place is always packed.

3.) Party All Night

Gastronomy and revelry in paradise. Seriously, what else is better than this? At night, the tranquil beach metamorphoses into one big party. Colorful. Vibrant. Everything just lights up with amazing vibes. The good thing about this, you can dance all night barefoot and half-naked, with no care in the world.

Boracay has plenty of bars, pubs and dance clubs that would suit your partying mood. The parties can start as early as 5 in the afternoon, when you can enjoy happy hour cocktails in the beach lounges and pool bars. After sunset, prepare to be enthralled by the firedancer’s performances.
Reggae is synonymous with the beach, and you can enjoy some at the Bom Bom and Pat’s Creek over a few bottles of beer. What a perfect way to chillax. Ahhh, life! And if you’re in the mood for Rn’B and electronic music, some serious dancing and hobnobbing, then Juice Bar is your place. For me, they serve the perfect frozen margaritas. Sweet, innocent but can be quite deadly after a few glasses. If you’re up for some sophisticated unwinding, you can sip wine at Cork. I love the cozy ambience of this place, a perfect hangout for friends who take pleasure in a bottle or two of good wine and meaningful conversations.

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You can also enjoy vibrant live music on the beach and on special occasions, fireworks. No matter what kind of music or unwinding you prefer, there’s always a great place for you to chill out.

On the 19th of May 2012, my friends and I experienced the best party of our lives. It was Blue Leaf Events Pavilion’s 4th anniversary sunset party dubbed as SOAKED. Not one of the hundreds of party animals left dry. True to its theme, everyone was showered, sprinkled and drenched with beer and champagne. Drinks were lavish and people were insanely dancing. Wet, wild and crazy, exactly my definition of a party. The party gods must have led us there since we were already heading back to our hotel when we passed by the shindig, so we decided to crash. Now, my friends and I are always looking forward to this hopefully annual event.

photo by Ike Gube

photo by Ike Gube

And did you know that Boracay has just eclipsed Ibiza in Spain and South Beach in Miami, Florida in a list of top party beaches? That’s right, it just did, according to the travel website Cheapflights.com and this was published on Huffington Post in August.

4.) Paraw Sail. Parasail. Go Island Hopping. Snorkle.

Sail on a Paraw or the native outrigger sailboat and enjoy the tranquility of the sea under the breathtaking sunset. Catharsis. It is poetry brought to life. A very special experience. I tell you, your Boracay vacation wouldn’t be complete without this.

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If you don’t mind spending a few thousands for the cruise packages, then go ahead. Just imagine having the best view of the splendid sunset on a cruise ship while enjoying some wine and tapas or refillable beer. The experience is priceless.

Boracay is more than just a beach destination. There’s so much more around the island for your eyes and soul to feast on. Your resort can arrange a scenic and relaxing tour for you to discover some secluded beaches, coves and snorkel sites where you can go fish feeding. There are 12 beaches in Boracay. I haven’t been to all of them yet, but one that marked a spot in my soul is the Puka Shell Beach. This is an undeveloped, serene and beautiful white-sand beach in the northern part of White Beach. Just you, the sun, the azure water, the sound of the gentle waves and the puka shells on the sand. You won’t find resorts and establishments here. No water sports as well. Simplicity, peace and exquisite bliss.

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Another activity that I have tried as well is the parasailing. If your knees easily tremble when you’re on top of a tall building, then this is a good challenge for you. I did this back in 2009. First I was harnessed to a parachute, then lifted to the air while being pulled by a speedboat. The first few seconds were just terrifying I almost peed in my pants, but once I was above the deep blue sea, I felt good, liberated, detached from all the worries in the world.  Like what a friend always tells me, “Life is short, conquer your fears“.

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5.) Shop

Have you forgotten your thong at home? Did you not bring an extra swimwear so you’d have a variety of swimming attire in your hundreds of photos? Worry not, my camwhore friend! You’d find everything in D’Mall, a one-stop shopping place for anything you need. Clothes, vacation essentials, fastfood, travel agencies, optical and dental clinic, ATM, spa…everything.

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When you are in Boracay, don’t forget to shop for souvenirs for your family and friends back home. There are plenty of vendors peddling pearls, miniature boats and sculptures. Some items are unbelievably cheap, especially if you shop at D’Talipapa. You can buy Boracay shirts on a buy one take one bargain. Refrigerator magnets and keychains can go as low as php 100 for 7 pieces. There are plenty of souvenir items to choose from, just go around and you’d find something nice to take home.

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6.) Get a massage by the beach

What better way to conclude your grand vacation than a soothing beachside massage, while listening to the gentle waves slapping the white sandy shore. There are many licensed masseuses who would offer their services right on the sand for as low as Php 300. You’ll see plenty of massage tables lining the beach under the coconut trees so it is not hard to find these ladies. Make sure to approach only those who have their official badges.

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7.) Respect this masterpiece of nature

Shame on you if you kill and bury your cigarette butts in the fine white sand, you do not have a place in this tropical paradise. Shame on you if you cant walk to the nearest trash bin, which can be located practically everywhere, to dispose your food wrappers. It is very frustrating to sometimes step on a soda can, a plastic bag or even a beer bottle in the crystalline waters. Good thing the local government has now a strict campaign that prohibits littering and smoking on the beaches of the island. There are still plenty of offenders though, especially when the authorities aren’t watching.

Sadly, Boracay has been experiencing few other environmental problems as well, like the fast deterioration of the coral reefs. I witnessed this when I had my fun dive in 2010. There were plenty of dull and lifeless corals on the seabed. Recently, the government has come up with a Php 60million artificial reef project to rehabilitate the island’s reefs.

According to locals, Boracay now is just half the beauty it was years ago, no thanks to the blatant extraction of the white sand in the island. The local government has implemented an ordinance, which bans visitors from collecting white sand, corals and pebbles from the island’s beaches. They have now imposed stricter penalties: Php 2500 or imprisonment for three months, or both for first time offenders, and three to six months of imprisonment for second-time offenders. Violators would also have to return the sand and pebbles to the beaches where they were taken.

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