Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Day in Davao – Exploring the downtown

Davao City is the largest City in the country in terms of land area. It is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. Davao is also known as the "Durian Capital" of the Philippines and the crown Jewel of Mindanao.

I don't have an exact itinerary when I went here except for the fact that I want to roam around downtown area, meet couple of friends, and eat a lot. After the three hours butt-numbing van ride from General Santos City, I finally arrived in Davao City. Next thing to do is find an accommodation for me to stay overnight. I got one at Green Windows Dormitel. Best value for money, near food establishments and transportation is not a problem.

I dropped by bag, rest for a a bit, freshen up and head to People’s Park, the nearest one in my place.  Hailed as one of the cleanest and greenest public parks in the country. This sprawling recreational area is well-known for its life-size sculptures of indigenous people by Mindanaoan artist Kublai Millan. Take a leisurely walk at a maze of paved walkways hemmed in by lush vegetation. It is believed to house over one thousand species of plants and trees from Africa, Australia, Madagascar, South America, and Southeast Asia. Enter the durian-inspired visitor’s center and be amazed by a vast collection of bamboo species. At night, locals flock to People’s Park to watch the dazzling dancing fountain.




Tired from endless walking and of course my famous hobby, people watching I head to San Pedro Cathedral to attend a Sunday Mass. Right across the church is the OsmeƱa Park






After attending mass, I took a multicab ride to Abreeza to meet with my friends. We’re going out for dinner. We found ourselves at Jack Ridge’s. If you’re craving for a real satisfying meal, Jack’s Ridge main restaurant is just where you should be. With a wide array of delectable dishes, Taklobo Restaurant will surely make you come back again.

The land on which Jack's Ridge now stand once formed part of the headquarter of the retreating Japanese forces towards the end of the World War II. The Americans had landed in Davao on May 1, 1945, forcing the Japanese to beat a path to Matina Hills where they had a commanding view of the Davao Gulf where the American ships were anchored. Fierce fighting soon erupted between the two forces, and as history shown us, the Japanese lost. 

There is also talk that hidden somewhere in the caved are gold bullions and other treasure that the Japanese had taken from other countries and brought to Davao.

Whatever the truth is about the treasure, Jack's Ridge maintains the feature that made it an important outpost for the retreating Japanese forces, a commanding view of Davao City and the Gulf, the same view within the premises is also refreshing, since the owner has made its mission to preserve the natural beauty of the place.





After feasting ourselves with the sumptuous dinner we had at Jack’s Ridge we headed to MT Square where I tasted Durian Cheesecake paired with a Durian Coffee.  It’s not that bad as I thought it should be, the taste of Durian indeed complemented the roasted smell of the coffee.  The cheesecake tasted like the regular cheesecake with a little bite of durian. Tolerable! :)


The durian tasting doesn't end there, now, it’s my turn to get the feel, smell and taste of a fresh durian. Aja! I called it a day with a happy smile catching up with friends and of course feeling proud that I have managed to eat a fresh durian.

Goodnight Davao City! Tomorrow would be more fun. I will be exploring Samal Island :)

Day 3 Expenses



Taxi – SM to GWD Php      80.00
Green Window Dorm (2N @ 188/N) Php    376.00
Jeepney Rides (P8/trip) Php      16.00
Jack’s Ridge Dinner Php    500.00
MTS Coffee and Cake (thanks Erwin ^_^) Free
Taxi – Back to GWD Php     70.00



Visited Province Rank: #43
Date: August 25, 2014

Map of Davao City and the province of Davao del Sur

Monday, August 25, 2014

Magandang GenSan- A Short and Fishy Stay

General Santos is the southernmost city in the Philippines. It is part of the SOCCSKSARGEN region, and geographically in the province of South Cotabato but administered independent of it. The city has two world-famous prized possessions—yellow fin tuna and the world’s most famous boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Their marks are everywhere, from the local eatery serving fresh tuna kinilaw(ceviche) to the tourist spot and home of Manny Pacquiao dubbed as Mansion II. It’s easy to get around in General Santos, just hop on a tricycle.

I only have 2 places in mind when i think of GenSan. The Fish Port and Saranggani Highlands. Though there are other places to see, I just wanted to make sure that this 2 will be on top of my list.

Dubbed as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, General Santos City houses the most modern, the biggest and the cleanest fish port complex in the whole of the Philippines.
I had the chance to chat with one staff in the fishport and according to him it opened its doors in 1999 and is managed by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA).

I started my day so early so I will be able to catch this gigantic tuna right where they are being docked. Indeed, they are huge and looks super fresh. Aside from Tuna, you can also buy fishes and other seafoods. I caught some locals trying to haggle for the prices. If you want to get good value for money when it comes to seafoods, I think you need to be headed here.

This is where I witness the process of checking each catch; from the weighing to the checking of its quality up until it’s ready to be delivered either locally or for export.






The fish port alone was erected at a whooping cost of US$28M with help from Japan, the city’s major tuna export partner and sits on an 11- hectare property.From a huge tuna- based fishing fleet off the Bay and nearby fishing grounds, the port is unloading more or less 300 metric tons of fish per day. I got lucky that day that I was able to see those huge tuna of course with my white boots :)

Several meters away, I found the sign leading to Saranggani Highlands so I decided to have breakfast there.The site boasts a panoramic view of the Sarangani Bay, beautifully carved bonsai plants and other vibrant ornamental. Tuna Longganisa is a must try!






It was a short but sweet memories of Gensan. I am definitely going back here for more adventures. And yeah, I have a very memorable experience here going back to the City proper but it’s better not to be told in details. ^_^

Day 2 Expenses

Particulars Cost

Tricycle to Fishport

Php 50.00

Boots Rental

Php 50.00

Entrance /Breakfast in Saranggani Highlands

Php 175.00

Habal-habal back to Junction

Php 50.00

Motorela Rides

Php 10.00

Van back to Davao

Php 210.00


Php 545.00

Visited Province Rank: #42
Date: August 24, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Just when time stood still at Glan Saranggani

I've been idle for several weeks due to some work schedule conflicts; work comes first above anything else so I am looking forward to making the most out of my week time off from administrative stuff in the office. This trip should originally be in Davao regions only bas I have spared 3 days for my Mindanao Vacation before heading back home. Instead of going to Mati in Davao Oriental I decided to give Southern Cotabato and it’s neighboring province a shot.

The feeling is always awesome every time I go on solo traveling. Maybe because I felt am totally free from everything. I don't have someone to care for every time I make spur of the moment decisions. Like what happened now. It's like I am riding in vans, jeepneys and buses without any knowledge as to where I am heading. What's important is my feet are moving. That being said, it gives more flexibility.

I was so prep weeks ahead because I am too excited what this region has to offer me. As what I've been doing in most of my trips, I always considered beaches on top of my list so I decided to go to Glan Saranggani to check out their white sand beaches.

Thanks to Cebu Pacific's generous staff, I was over baggage for 1 kilo and they considered it for hand carry. Also, I am lucky enough that there was no delay whatsoever in my flight as I have a very tight schedule.  Just when you talk about luck, I had to be boarded on the A330 airbus! Whoa! It's big, spacious and very comfortable. I just cant help but smile :)
Welcoming me to Davao City is fair weather for traveling. Upon reaching the arrival area I approached a Tourism  officer and ask directions how can I get to the terminal bound to GenSan. I have done my research ahead of time, but it's always best to ask the experts ^_* so i took a multi cab ride to the bus stop outside the airport, waited for another bus to take me to the terminal. It was quite a long ride from the airport to the terminal of buses plying for GenSan. One passenger even brought durian with her, hell yeah...welcome to Davao! It was past 8 in the morning when I finally found myself boarded on an AC Bus bound for GenSan. It's another 3-hr bus ride to endure. 

When I saw the sign that I am entering General Santos City, I smiled, finally I'm here. To add to that, I was amazed with the great choice of color for their motorela; it’s blue.  I can definitely live here.

When I reached the terminal, I took a motorela ride to Residencia Heneral. This will be my home here in General Santos city. The place is located in Pioneer Avenue, it’s in the heart of GenSan City. Malls, restaurants, church etc are quite accessible. After I freshen up, I unload some of my stuff and prepared for another roadtrip to Glan, Saranggani where the white sand beaches are located. There were quite a number of spots to see in GenSan, but on top of my list is to go to Gumasa Beach.

Sarangani is a province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region. Glan is a first class municipality in the province of Sarangani (wiki) 

I headed to KCC Mall, where the vans routed for Glan is located. Took more than an hour for me to reach the place. When I got down from the Van, I took a habal-habal ride going to Gumasa Beach. I don’t know exactly where to go to so I asked the driver to take me to a not so crowded, cheaper and safe resort to spend the afternoon. He is a native of Gumasa so he knows exactly where to take me. Since the transportation is a bit scarce, I asked the driver to fetch me after few hours.  I was brought to Rosal Beach Resort.  By the way, they wont allow you to stay here without getting a cottage at least Php 350.00 but because the driver knows some of the staff, we were able to negotiate that I will pay extra for the entrance and not get a cottage anymore because I am just alone.

I look for some shades to spend the afternoon just listening to my fave songs and enjoying the breeze.  My ideal way of spending “ME” time is to sit on the sand and enjoy the winds.
Locals have aptly nicknamed this crescent-shaped stretch the "Small Boracay of the South". This is what Boracay might have looked like before all the commercial development: slow paced, quiet except for the sound of the waves and small cottages and thatched nipa huts make do for shelter.In this idyllic place I found a treasure in the serenity one longingly craves for in the face of a hectic, stressful, working life. There's nothing like a soft, sea breeze to whet your appetite! I took a stroll along the shore and enjoyed the feel of that soft, powdery sand on my feet. This is where I let time stand still.
Day 1 Expenses
Airport to Highway (Multicab) Php   10.00
Bus to Terminal Php   15.00
Bus from Davao to GenSan Php  192.00
Motorela Rides (P10.00/trip) Php   65.00
Residencia Heneral Solo FR Php   350.00
Lunch Php   120.00
Snacks Php    80.00
Dinner (Tuna Steak) Php    80.00
Van to Glan (P100.00/trip) Php   200.00
Habal-Habal (P100.00/trip) Php   200.00
Rosal Resort Entrance Php    50.00
Souvenir Shirts and Keychains Php   300.00
Php 1,662.00

Visited Province Rank: #41
Date: August 23, 2014

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Letter to my Future Husband

To my Dearest Future Husband,

After watching another romantic comedy film 'She's Dating the Gangster' my faith towards destined love resurfaced. Not that I have lost it, but i set it aside for quite sometime. There are a lot of things I realized in the past few months that made look back on what's my perception and definition of love.  I thought I don't want one anymore, maybe not now, but I realized it's always great to grow old with someone and share a new day watching the sunrise and holding his hands while it sets down.

But, let's just be honest here — I always thought that if I hadn’t found you by now, I’d be totally bummed out and depressed. I thought I’d be a nervous, incomplete wreck, writing this letter as I sat on a couch crying salty tears into a liter of cheap wine or beer.  After all, I mean, hello, I’m almost thirty! I am almost on the brim of my ideal age of settling down. To my old self, i thought i'd have a diamond rock on my let hand and two charming model-looking kids and living in suburbs with a pool and an SUV.

My 29-year-old-self would wonder, with a confused half-frown on her face and a cocktail in her hand, why it seems as if I’ve been focusing on everything but finding love and a house in the suburbs.

After all, I used to have All The Things I was “supposed” to have, and yet I gave them all up.

And the man? I gave him up to a more well-suited woman.

I may not have all the luxury of things in life.

But the truth is, I’m happier now than I ever was before. 

I drastically downsized, began living off my savings, and poured all my heart and energy and focus into: Living my life

And in the process of doing All The Things, I gave up the search to find love.

Now, dear future husband, don’t take this the wrong way — it’s not that I’ve given up on finding you.

But see, if my 29-year-old self were to ask me why in the hell I gave up the search, I’d sit her down and I’d tell her this:

“Cheryl, there’s something you must know about love, and it’s much different than what you’ve been taught: Real love — real fulfillment — isn’t the way it looks in the movies, where you’re destined to be desperately incomplete and unhappy until the One Perfect Person comes into your life and magically makes your life whole.

Love, salvation, wholeness, completeness, happiness — these things don’t come to you solely through one magical person or through securing the life you’re ‘supposed’ to live.

In fact, Real Love cannot come to you at all, because it is already right here and right now, ready to be experienced in everything and everyone around you

It is not just contained in some romantic version of flowers and wine — treally love is to love the mountain fresh air as you breathe in and breathe out. It is to love and appreciate the dexterity of your fingers on the keyboard and the sharpness of your mind as you build a complex Excel spreadsheet. (Yes, I just used ‘love’ and ‘Excel’ in the same sentence. What can I say; it’s the accountant in me.) To love is to see — to really see and to really greet — each person you meet. To love is all this and more.

To fully live, I think, is to fully love.

And the truth is, in the process of learning to really live — to experience each moment deeply, fully, completely — I may not have found the right man yet, but that’s not to say that I haven’t found love.

In fact, I’ve fallen deeply in love — not with one man, but with life. With myself. In every places I see, new sets of eyes were born and new set of life's perspective were unfolded. I’ve found love and contentment in the smallest, simplest things. 

So, yes, you could say I’ve fallen madly in love.

It’s not just about finding the guy who will sweep you off your feet and bring you to your knees; it’s also about loving life, appreciating each moment, and learning to give without any expectation of reward beyond the joy of the act itself.

And dare I say that until you’ve experienced real love — ‘big L,’ Universal Love, you cannot truly experience the realest kind of romantic love with that fabul-awesome guy who will one day — when the time is just right — step into your life.”

And so.

To The Man Who Will One Day Become My Soul-Mate in Crime,

I am no longer looking for love. Not in any place and any corners. I am no longer looking for love because I already am love. I already have love.

Yes; I’ve already found love in my life, and it is right here and right now.

Now all I’m waiting on — patiently, deliberately, and full of faith — is you.

I cannot wait — as in, I'm like ready to jump all the way from the sky and swim the deepest oceans and climb the highest mountain — to meet you. And I’m just gonna go ahead and put this out there: Whenever the time is right for our paths to cross — should it be in 5 days, 5 years, or 5 lifetimes — I think I’m finally ready.