WATCH and let me take you to some of the amazing spots in #SIARGAO #RoamingRoomies #dronescapades.
It was a short last minute summer getaway. I intended it to be a #solotravel to Siargao. Coincidentally, my best buddy Jeff, who I have known more than half of my life and is now based in Paris, also flew all the way to Siargao for a quick visit. The last time I met him was more than a decade ago. Without any travel itineraries and pre-booked tours, we rented our own bikes and explored the island.
The places of interests that we visited were Cloud 9 in General Luna, Taktak Falls in Santa Monica, Magpupungko Rock Pools in Pilar, Naked Island and Daco Island in just 3.5 days. Because it was just a short visit, I was not able to visit other places like Guyam Island, Corregidor Island, Sugba Lagoon and a lot more. I plan to go back soon, perhaps, after the rainy season.
This blog will be updated soon for the back story, some travel guides, photos and tips.
I hope you enjoy watching this short video and do subscribe for more travel videos. Signing out for now. Peace!
Just a heads up. This is a long post. LOL. If you do not have enough time to read, then scroll down for the two-minute-or-so video that I did for Misamis Occidental or click here.
Otherwise, read on…
Mindanao, the second biggest land mass of the Philippine archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, has always fascinated me. Personally, I think that Mindanao has not been given all these years the amount of attention it rightfully deserves. To many, Mindanao still remains a big mystery. Most of the news we got about Mindanao were about insurgency and war-torn places. But those are all in the past I believe.
It is high time that Mindanao be showcased as a tourist destination. With the current administration’s commitment to drive Mindanao’s tourism to new heights, there is no doubt that more people will begin to understand, appreciate and love this gifted land in the South.
Below is a short video that I prepared featuring the beautiful province of Misamis Occidental. Believe me when I say that this video does not give justice to what Misamis Occidental can offer. There is more to explore and discover in Misamis Occidental.
For high definition, watch this youtube post:
The first time I joined the Department of Tourism’s media-familiarization trip was in January when we visited emerging tourist destinations in Malabon, Las Pinas and Paranaque.
Last February, I joined yet again the Department of Tourism and we flew all the way to Mindanao to discover and explore emerging tourist destinations in Misamis Occidental. With me were fellow travel bloggers, Josh Tanador of www.mgalaagnijosh.com and Sonya Sison and Carmela Nery of www.seekertravels.com.
Misamis Occidental is a province in Northern Mindanao. Oroquieta is the capital city. The two other component cities are Ozamiz and Tangub. In this three-day trip, I was able to quickly visit all cities and only four out of the fourteen municipalities, Clarin, Jimenez, Plaridel and Sapang Dalaga. I must say that it was such a short visit. There were so many places to see with so little time.
By Land: Air conditioned buses to and from Dipolog, Pagadian and Cagayan De Oro
By Sea: Regular trips to and from Cebu, Manila, Dipolog, Dumaguete and Tagbiliran
Ozamis City is nestled at the entrance of Pangil Bay. Behind Ozamiz City stands the 7,956 feet Mount Malindang and Mt. Malindang Range National Park, declared as an ASEAN National Park.
On February 27, 2018, we landed in Ozamiz City Airport at six thirty in the morning via Philippine Airlines. We were welcomed by the indefatigable Marketing and Promotions Manager of the Department of Tourism Region 10 Mr. Carlston Barcenella Maglangit.
What made this trip extra special was meeting a good old friend, Bro. Arianwen Lopez. We were on board the same flight to Ozamiz. Bro. Arwee came from Manila to visit his family. He is with the De La Salle Brothers.
After retrieving our checked-in luggage, the group proceeded to the Royal Garden Hotel to check-in and freshen up.
Royal Garden Hotel is located on Burgos Street corner Zamora Street, Ozamiz City. Call +63-88-521-2888 or 2889 for booking and inquiries.
The Department of Tourism Regional Director Ms. May Salvana- Unchuan met us at the hotel. In no time, we were on our way and ready for a fun-filled day of touring Ozamiz City.
We also met the Ozamiz City Tourism Officer, Jaime Tomada. The tourist spots we visited in Ozamiz City were:
Also known as Fuerte de la Concepcion y del Triunfo, the Cotta Fort and Shrine was built by the Spaniards in 1755 to serve as a fortress to protect the region from pirates. It is one of the oldest historical structures in the province.
The Cotta Fort houses the engraved image of the Our Lady of Triumph of the Cross which is visited by devotees from all over the country specially on its feast day, July 16.
Get a glimpse of the city’s rich history at the Ozamiz City Museum situated inside the Cotta Fort.
Michael Fuentes, Tourism Staff of Ozamiz City, gave us a brief history of the city. He also showed the future plans for Cotta Shrine’s renovation.
Rodriguez Ancestral House
One of the ancestral houses located in Ozamiz City is the Rodriguez Residence, believed to have been visited by Dr. Jose Rizal, the National Hero of the Philippines, during his exile in Dapitan. We were welcomed by the house’s caretaker, Ms. Darsila Hoyohoy.
We then had a quick refreshing stop at Mon’s Grill to taste their version of Halo-Halo (Mix-mix) dubbed as the World’s Best Halo-Halo. Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert made of shaved ice, evaporated milk and a variety of ingredients such as sweet beans, coconut, jelly, banana, sago pearls, sweet camote sometimes best topped with a scoop of ice cream and a spoonful of leche flan.
Tangub City, formerly known us Regidor, is the Christmas Symbols Capital of the Philippines. Last February 28, the city celebrated its 50th charter anniversary. Indeed, it was the perfect time for us to visit.
Tangub City is an hour-drive from Ozamiz City. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the Tourism Officer Ms. Baby Paller with a welcome lei and a passport to the Christmas Symbols Festival.
Before visiting the Christmas Symbols Festival, we went to the Belvedere (French for view deck) in Fertig Hills of Mt. Malindang. Situated at an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, we got a 360-degree view of the virgin forests of Mt. Malindang and the whole Panguil Bay.
The Presidential Spokesperson, the Honorable Secretary Harry Roque, was also at the Belvedere when we visited. Roque was invited to be Tangub’s Honored Golden Anniversary Guest Speaker during the Stadium Lights Show happening that night.
Christmas Symbols Festival
After spending a chill afternoon at the Belvedere, we headed back to the city proper for a quick visit to the Christmas Symbols Festival. Annually, Tangubanons take pride in showing off their creativity through the various Christmas Symbols that light up the plaza starting in the first week of December until the last week of January the following year. Although it was already February, most of the Christmas Symbols were still lit up.
Stadium Lights Parade Festival
After dinner, we headed to the Tangub City Stadium to witness The Stadium Lights Parade Festival. This festival is a show that is participated in by schools and local and national government agencies all over Tangub City in celebration of the city’s charter anniversary celebration. When we arrived, the stadium was jam-packed. I was told that there must be about 50,000 people crowding the stadium. I also felt the excitement and high energy in the air. Of course, I came prepared. I brought my drone and got a go-signal from the organizers and the Department of Tourism to take some aerial footage.
I will update this blog as soon as I finish some quick edits on the aerial footage of some of the performances.
The Lights Festival and Parade was a total feast for the eyes. The people’s effort and passion to participate in this annual event is truly admirable. Kudos to Tangub City and Happy 50th Anniversary!
We got back to the hotel close to midnight. What a fun-filled day for Day One. Oh, haven’t I told you? This was only Day One! LOL.
Other Festivals in Tangub City:
SobreMesa Summer Fair Festival- from 2nd week of April until end of May
Dalit Festival aka mother of festivals in Mindanao- September 29
I hope to be back in Tangub City when these places of interest open:
Panguil Bay Bridge- longest bridge in the Philippines after its completion
Migcanaway River Esplanade- longest river walk (5 km) in the country after its completion
Gardens of the World- only world-class garden in the Philippines within Mt. Malindang Range National Park, declared as an ASEAN National Park, will be opened by 2019.
For accommodation and reservations, contact the Tangub City Tourism Office at +63-88-545-0141.
We started Day Two by having breakfast in Clarin. Clarin is a municipality just above Ozamiz City.
Clarin House of Suman
Ms. Novie Grace Reponte, the Tourism Officer of Clarin, brought us to Clarin House of Suman for breakfast and to know more about Clarin’s specialty, i.e., Suman.
Suman, a popular Filipino delicacy, is rice cake wrapped in banana leaves.
The Clarin House of Suman produces and sells thirteen (13) varieties:
The Clarin House of Suman is a popular stop-over for pasalubong (gift or souvenir). It is located along the highway, hard to miss with its green exterior and a giant suman as a front pillar.
The Suman Production House is located just across the street. According to Ms. Rita Cajeta, Local Government Unit (LGU) Coordinator, they produce and sell an average of 2500 pieces of suman per day.
Now that was a lot of suman for me!
For orders, you may contact +63-946-9658222 or +63-917-440-7615.
After breakfast, we were back on the road for a thirty-minute drive to the municipality of Jimenez to visit the Church of St. John the Baptist, a National Cultural Treasure.
St. John The Baptist Church
The St. John The Baptist Church was declared a Natural Cultural Treasure of the Philippines in 2001. It is located at the Brgy. Poblacion, Jimenez, Misamis Occidental.
The church was completed in the late 1880s. It has a Baroque architecture, and built mostly from coral stone.
St. John the Baptist Church in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental also has a pipe organ.
The St. John the Baptist Church has a clock and bell tower. I am glad I went up the tower to see the bells up close and personal. The bells have inscriptions in Spanish! I was standing before objects of historical significance!
We then went to the Jimenez Municipal Hall, adjacent to the church, to have snacks.
We were served Jimenez’s version of Suman Luya or Suman flavored with ginger (see photos below from Cindy LaRosa). Yummy!
The Mayor’s office and Tourism Officer Mr. Bong Abelidas, also had a surprise birthday cake for RD (Regional Director) May Salvana-Unchuan who celebrated her birthday on February 26, 2018.
The heritage Municipality of Jimenez is also one of the best preserved colonial towns in the entire Philippines. That is why the local government is pushing it to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List just like the historic city of Vigan.
We were able to visit one of the ancestral houses, the Aldren Tac-An Nacion Residence, built in 1914. The ground floor used to be the Bacarro Printing Press where the emergency money or Mickey Mouse money was printed during the Japanese Occupation.
Standing on the bank of the Jimenez River is what the town folks call the Enchanted Camel Tree. The people of Jimenez say that this tree bears different fruits depending on the season. There is a lot more going around town about this superstitious tree such as people hearing voices emanating from it. It is also believed that beautiful fair-skinned people live inside it.
Not far from the Camel Tree is the ancestral Jimenez Catholic Cemetery. This cemetery gave me the creeps when we visited. It has a stonewall partially covered with moss and other wild plants. Moreover, towering in the middle of this graveyard is a huge Balete Tree.
From Jimenez, we drove for an hour and a half to the Municipality of Plaridel to visit Bawbawon (The Hidden Island).
To get to the island, we rode a boat for about ten (10) minutes from a dock that was near the legislative building of Plaridel… I think… I can’t remember… I was sleepwalking. I fell asleep during the road trip. LOL. I just found myself in the boat. LOL.
Anyway, it was a scenic route getting to Bawbawon Beach. So I took out my camera and started clicking away. It was the first time for me to see mangrove growing on white sand! Well, I am saying on white sand because how can mangrove grow in sand? I guess it must be growing in regular soil underneath all that white sand, right? Anyway, I hope you got my point. LOL. Just the same… How cool is that? I was totally mesmerized by the island’s raw and pure beauty. I got a lot of footage so I might just post a vlog soon about Bawbawon Beach– one of my favorite places in the Philippines.
Bawbawon Beach is a protected area and is currently closed as they prepare the island for its grand opening soon. I hope I get to visit the island again when it opens.
After a sumptuous lunch in Bawbawon Beach, we headed back to the mainland to catch the sunset and have dinner in Sapang Dalaga. Thanks to Mercy Rentuza, the Tourism Officer of Plaridel for making sure we had a grand time on the island.
After thirty minutes, we arrived at the foot of the Caluya Shrine. We were welcomed by the Tourism Officer of Sapang Dalaga, Ms Melchoniza “Chin” Calago.
We rushed to catch the sunset. We climbed 198 steps more or less. Let me know when you visit how many steps it really is. LOL. When I got to the top, I was almost out of breath. Whew… me with my mini-production house on my back. But all the climbing was worth it. The view was breathtaking and the 45-foot-tall statue on a 10-foot-high pedestal with its open arms seemed to welcome me. The Caluya Shrine is a replica of Rio De Janeiro’s Christ The Redeemer. It stunningly stands on top of a hill at an elevation of 120 meters above sea level overlooking the Murcielagos Bay, Naputhas Island, Mount Malindang and Dioyo River.
Every second mattered. I prepared my drone for take-off while there was still daylight. The colors in this place was simply majestic!
We had dinner in one of the floating cottages in the middle of Murcielagos Bay. No electricity and all but we had rechargeable lamps, cellphone flashlights, great food and company.
For bookings and reservations, contact the Sapang Dalaga Municipal Tourism Office at +63-938-295-8093 or their Facebook Page here.
Php 500.00 – good for 15-20 persons
Php 1,000.00 – good for 50 persons
Php 2,000.00 – good for 75 persons
Pump boat fare (back and forth) with life vests- Php 30.00 per person
Lifeguard fee- Php 100.00
Garbage bag- Php 20.00 with a deposit fee of Php 180.00
You may bring your own trash bags. Be responsible of your food wastes and trash.
Cooking in the cottage is not allowed.
I hope to be back soon to see the 60-ft high Sapang Dalaga Falls. I also want to experience the Dioyo River Cruise.
We spent our last night in Misamis Occidental in Costa Del Sol in Oroquieta City.
We did not have time to go around Oroquieta anymore. We were set to depart early morning the next day for Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte to visit Ma. Cristina Falls and have lunch the Pagana Maranao way before catching our flight back to Manila via Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan De Oro, Misamis Oriental. I will be publishing another article soon about our quick but memorable trip to Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte.