Monday, March 29, 2010

Wow Surfing in Siargao

A long overdue post.

Along with my travel buddies and new recruits, we finally set foot in Siargao in November 2009, more than two years after "siargao daw".

A series of typhoon came a week before our trip.  Luckily when the day came, the skies began to clear up.  Thank God for sunny days.

With a charm of its own, Siargao has remained rustic and provincial inspite of the increasing number of tourist coming in.  Probably, the influx is still not enough, peak surfing season does not last longer than three months and there seemed to be no other sustainable development in the area.

Day 1:  Arriving in Siargao

We opted to take the flight from Mactan, Cebu to Sayak Airport, Siargao on Cebu Pacific, booking way ahead to avail of promo fares.  Cebu Pacific closes it's check-in counter exactly 45 minutes before flight schedule, but we arrived a little late.  Good thing, we had companions who arrived ahead and checked-in ahead on our behalf.  It was a forty-minute flight, further shorten by the in-flight games.  We arrived Sayak Airport on a bright sunny day.  The airport is quite small with no frills.  Turn around flight has left even before we could claim our check-in luggage.

Transportation at the airport is limited to habal-habal (motorcycle) or when you're lucky, there are vans on standby.  We were met by Cherinicole Resort where we will be checking-in for three nights on board a multi-cab.  We were all surprised to see the multicab, it was an open trunk mini truck, we were expecting a jeepney-like one.  Who would want to ride that under the blazing sun after the typhoon?  In a flash, everyone pulled out their spf 70+ sunblock.  Later, we were able to negotiate to rent the van parked next to it instead.  That would have roast us on our first hour in Siargao.

Half way from Sayak Airport to Dapa, Siargao, we had lunch at MEMS, the so called classiest restaurant in Dapa, Siargao.  The food was average.  After buying enough supply of drinking water, we checked-in in Cherinicole Resort.  The cottage rooms were spacious with basic amenities.

In the afternoon, we went island hopping at Naked Island and spent the rest of the time in Daku Island while waiting for the sunset.  Barbecue dinner at Arnaldo's was great, I lost count how many pork barbecue sticks I consumed.  Before dozing off, we went to Nine Bar for a drink... mango shake again!

Day 2:  Surfing

We were awakened with Brooke's (the caretaker named Ronnie aka Brooke Shields) morning call... if only I could appropriately mimic and describe how he/she says "knock-knock".  Complimentary breakfast was bread, egg and coffee.  It's definitely not enough to pull us through a surfing day.  So we stuffed ourselves with a hearty breakfast on tocino and corned beef with rice.  Eating canned goods have become a luxury to a person whose household is banned from buying preserved goods.  Every vacation is a good opportunity for me to indulge on those so called bad food.

We booked surfing instructors through the resort staff.  For P500/hr, it includes surfing board rental and one on one surfing lessons.  Aboard the habal-habal, we went for a 15 minute ride to Cloud 9 enroute unpaved road.  A wooden walkway from the shore  leads you to the world famous surf breaks of Cloud 9.  International Surfing competition is held here, the grandest held every August where the amihan wind is just perfect.

Just a few meters from Cloud 9, beginners like us, were led to Jacking Horse, where wave jacks up and hits the reef with a fair bit of vengeance.  We had a short briefing on shore, teaching us the right footwork  how to stand up on the board.  That was it and we're off to sea.  For the next hour, I was struggling to get myself up on my wobbly board.  I almost gave up after exerting too much effort than usual, resulting to cramps on the abs and foot.  Nevertheless surfing was fun with great company.  All it took was to swap boards, weeee!  Bigger boards made surfing so easy, I was effortlessly standing on the board over and over again.  By the way, the instructor did all the paddling for me, that saved a lot of energy! One companion remained the ultimate sports fan and opted to stay on shore, in fairness, she did a good job on sports photography with a zoom lens.

After surfing, we went back to the resort for lunch.  We had them cook crabs bought from the market.  Siargao/Surigao is famous for their sweet jumbo crabs.  The rest of the day was spent beach bumming at Guyam Island until the sun set.

Dinner at Patrick's on the Beach was great.  It was the boys' turn to order for the group, they did a pretty good job.  The chicken mango curry was a hit and so was the grilled fish fillet and yohoho mango rum. Us girls doze off early, while the guys went Wild wild west at Nine Bar for booze.

Day 3:  Bucas Grande (Socorro) Island

Our companions went on an early morning mass cramping on a small bench with the locals.   The resort representatives later explained that locals sat in church by barrio, so each has a designated seat to sit on.  No wonder the locals kept cramping on that bench even there are other vacant ones, they sat on their permanent seats!

It was a 2-hour long boat ride to Socorro Island on rough open sea.  Upon reaching the island, one would get off at the tourist center and pay Sohoton tour fees:
  • P25/pax Entrance fee
  • P25/pax Environmental fee
  • P100 docking fee
  • P100 table charge (for lunch)
  • P500 pumpboat rental within the island
  • P300 for 2 guides
  • P100 for each paddler to jelly fish lake

We jumped off Magkukuob cave.  It was the worst landing I ever had, ouch!!!  Too bad, it was not stingless jellyfish season, contrary to our advance inquiry.  We saw the lone survivor of the stingless jellyfish on our way back to the tourist center.  I was quite upset since it didn't meet my expectation, reviews are just fantastic, maybe it was not such a good season to visit.  Weather is crucial when cruising to Socorro, the sea could be really rough,  the waves were even big on a bright sunny day.  It was another 2-hour long ride back to General Luna, Siargao.  The boatman lost his patience with his so called demanding guests, oops! 

Capped the day with belly aching laughs at Jabines Payag Cafe. We had to go back to Patrick's at the Beach for another round of Yohoho Mango Rum, after two long necks, we tricked the boys to order breakfast for everyone, for a change.

Day 4:  Leaving Siargao

The ladies woke up with breakfast ready.  Yey, the boys didn't fail us.  We soon found out that they left a note in the evening to prepare breakfast for everyone, nevertheless, they woke up early to check on it. Now we know how to get them up early.  LOL

Off we went to the airport for a 45 minute ride from General Luna, Siargao to Sayak Airport in comfort with our aircon van this time. ;)

Siargao is finally off my wish list, now that leaves El Nido, Palawan on the list.  Til our next adventure,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Not Again

It's not a joy to be visiting four different clinics the past week.  While chatting with my BFF who is a physical therapist based in the USA, I was stretching/folding my wrist, when I suddenly felt a sharp pain over the collar bone.  This is the second time it happened.  The first one was last January while playing badminton.  My chiropractor said I partially dislocated my collar bone.  My therapist said I need an x-ray.  The orthopedic doctor in Manila said I did not stretch enough.  Browsing through the internet for possible impingement syndrome is driving me nuts.  For some peace of mind, I had to visit my orthopedic doctor today.

The diagnosis was a thining cartilage in between the collar bone that led to a bone spur due to repetitive action of the arm.

I am again under medication with arcoxia 120mg for ten days and glucosamine sulfate 1500mg for three months.  I'm not so fond of taking meds or vitamins, but I guess with the numerous injuries I had, this time I have to religiously take them.  Glucosamine is a food supplement for the cartilage.  They are available over the counter but my orthopedic doctor insisted that it should contain 1500mg Glucosamine Sulfate and not Hydrocloride as most popular brands contain.  Chondroitin and MSM are not necessary.

There I go again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Diving in Palau with Space Travel Ent or Catherine Tonog a Hoax - Don't be a Victim of Fraud

(My story of Diving in Palau and Peleiu with Maml Divers here. )

I'm excited at the same time anxious for our trip to Palau next week.  Ten of us will be diving for 5 days in various dive sites namely German Channel, Blue Corner, Blue Hole, Big drop Off, New Drop Off, Virgin Hole, Pelelieu Cut, Pelelieu Express & Yellow Wall.  Aside from diving, we will also swim with the stingless jellyfish at the Jelly fish lake, tour the giant clam city, mud spa at milky way and snorkel with the sharks at shark point.

Before I get too excited with the sharks, a different kind of shark attacked us. Five months before our scheduled trip, we paid $500 for our tickets on Continental Airlines for Koror Palau with Space Travel Ent. In fact, we were asked to pay in full citing that tickets are on promo for a limited time. They gave us an e-ticket confirmation booking online via virtuallythere.  However, two weeks before our scheduled departure, our booking can no longer be found.  I called the airlines to inquire.  Then I found out that the ticket has not been issued since it wasn't paid for by the agent.  No wonder the booking number does not appear when I checked through Continental Airline's website.  So I called the attention of our group leader.  That is when we found out that they deliberately did not purchase our tickets and was kiting our payment and signified intention to purchase the ticket a day before our trip.  That is silly, there was intention to defraud us from the very start since the reason they asked for payment was because they will avail of early booking promo. We also found out that we were not the only victims, there is another group of divers victimized and i'm not sure if they can still purchase new tickets since the flight is full.

We are left with no better option but to purchase our own ticket with the hope of recovering the amount with Space Travel Ent.  How?  I don't know if it's possible with the justice system in the Philippines. 

My aunt and her group of friends, around twenty of them had a similar experience two years ago with Adam's Travel and Tours in Cebu.  Considering they are a reputable agency, they also gave unconfirmed e-ticket booking numbers.  Not until they got to the check-in counters that they were told that their reservation was not paid.  They were seated on a another airline at the end of the day.  On first class, charged to the agency, but they had to go enroute another country with 8 hours layover.

Save yourself from being a victim of fraud, never book with Space Travel Ent.

Catherine O. Tonog Print
General Manager
9418 Urma Drive, Airport Village
Paranaque City

Telephone: (632) 8510080 or 6643754
Fax: (632) 8510080

Information: Mobile Landline: (632)2153024 and 4093536 Cellphone (Globe) 0917-493-9738 or 0917-8059687 (Sun) 0922-8559690 Email: /


With the age of e-tickets, it is now difficult to tell if it is real or fake.  It is always wise to reconfirm directly with the airlines (online or otherwise) the bookings made through agents.  If you can't find it online on the airline's website, it means your ticket has not been issued because it has not been paid.

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