Tuesday, July 18, 2006

THE BORACAY TRIP REPORT (JUNE 2006)




Kalibo is on Panay Island, a historic place which when spoken of reminds us of the Pintados, the old settlers whose bodies were painted with amazing patterns and details. Of course many other tribes in the Philippines also practice this art form. Panay is also home to the annual street festival honoring the Señor Sto. Niño (the Christ Child), the Ati-Atihan.


Source: www.filipinoheritage.com and www.wowboracay.com

LEAVING MANILA

All new aircraft for 5J (Cebu Pacific's IATA designation). Refleeting program ends midyear of 2006. By September, it will be an all-A320/319 ensemble for the country's second flag carrier. What will happen to the 12 DC9s and the 3 757s?
This is my first time to fly on an A319!
"Say, any news of our possible fate?"
"Honestly? I don't want to think about it."
An apt reading material on this trip. It's all sea, fish, and seafood from hereon!

SEAir filling up for one of those more exotic destinations
If only a portion of the ceiling didn't collapse last summer, we could have been using this by now
Only 1 runway operational for now so everone has to wait for their turn
KLM, the only last 2 remaining European carriers to fly to Manila (the other is Lufthansa)
South Super Highway
Makati, the Central Business Distict
Portion of Fort Bonifacio Global City

Do not complain. The air fare is already rock bottom cheap. Do not except newspapers, too. Both are products of Universal Robina, a sister company of Cebu Pacific
The Fun Games, the thing that made 5J famous. It's the "Bring me..." routine which was all of 5 minutes. It was hardly fun. I enjoy PAL's Fun Flight gag show on their PTVs more.
This guy didn't seem to come too prepared for this, huh. He was ready to take off his belt and produce a suntan lotion in exchange for that bag prize. Hey, that's already your 2nd chance!
When the crew declined his second attempt to win, he promptly passed on the belt and lotion to his friend on the next aisle. Tuso! Pakyawin talaga dapat lahat ng prizes?!
The plane rolls to the left, giving me a wonderful view of the sea surrounding Panay island. Next time I should ask to be seated on 27/28A to get rid of the wing. BTW, I always sit on the left side on all my flights. Best view of the sunrise on early flights, that's why (works only when you're headed south).
Rice farms near the runway
A loud rush of air as flaps open to put the aircraft to a halt
Wow! The control tower is on a ricefield! It looks very new, too.
A nice surprise. PR's A320. Rain starts to fall.

Welcome to Kalibo!


His Royal Fatness. Hardly the ideal physique to be seen with around these parts.

LUNCH IN KALIBO: RML MANOKAN!

The Visayas, a group of islands in the center of the Philippine archipelago, is known for many things: food, crafts, festivals, beaches. Among the well-loved favorites of the Visayans is inasal ("lechon" in Luzon) or simply said, anything broiled but this usually refers to various chicken parts or am entired pig roasted over open fire. In Kalibo, the best chicken inasal is said to come from here at RML Manokan. Other islands surrounding Panay have their own mean versions of chicken inasal, the most famous being that of Bacolod City, capital of Negros Occidental. It's chicken has sprung many restos that dot the country, from Manila to Davao City in the south.
When in the Visayas - or in the Philippines in general - learn to do one thing: eat with your hands. This is an art form we share with our SEA neighbors, especially those with strong Malay and Muslim influences. Like many restos like RML, there usually is a place where you can wash your hands. Funny enough, the cloth you use to dry them with is for everyone's use so I strongly suggest you bring your own paper towels.
Chicken parts of all shapes and sizes

In the Philippines, except for the feathers (!), no other parts of the chicken go to waste. Everything is edible: paa (feet), pecho (breast), retasu (no idea what this is), pak pak (wings), iwi (what's that?!), leog (neck), atay (liver), baticulon (gizzard) and puso (heart). Interesting, yes?

When in Visayas or Mindanao, never fail to take advantage of the cheapness of seafood. Prawns (although there are bigger ones than these) go for only Php 300 / kilo. In Manila, this may cost your Php 400-500 for the same weight. There are also squids, tuna and other fishes.
The most popular chicken cut: pecho (breast) because it is the meatiest.
Half of the prawns can be cooked in butter and garlic like so...
...or in a sour stew ("sinigang") like this. Heaven on earth!
Now this will definitely make you go to heaven faster: chicken oil! In my stay and travels around these parts, I've never encountered this sinful thing before. You mix this with the soy sauce-lemon dip, or squirt it over your hot rice. Take your pick. Whichever works best. We alsi talked about a high-profile murder in Boracay over lunch. Hmmm... death and eating. There could be a correlation, you know.

"Beware of the Killer oil!"

Special thanks to Carmelo (of the landed Tirol family of Kalibo) for the lunch.


WESTMINT VAN TERMINAL, N.ROLDAN Street, KALIBO


This van terminal brings you to Caticlan. It's about Php 85 / person. If you take the van from the airport, it will cost you Php 150. But the tricycle fare from the airport to this terminal is around Php 60. BTW, there's a Mercury Drug outlet near here. Buy your meds there for your trip (i.e. Bonamine for motion sickness, something else to delay bowel movement, etc.) Try not to drink too much water. The van won't stop just so that you can pee.

Best of luck to you, my friends. Be happy you're not in HK or Japan where the latrines are on the floor.
The unusual tricycles of Kalibo (seats 7 including the driver). I have seen around 6 different versions of this mode of transport in many parts of the country
June to September is rainy season in the Philippines but don't let it stop you from travelling.
Just sit back and let the greenery pass you by...
Who'd have thought that the waiting shed can be a shout-out board?
Travel light. That's my only luggage (No, my emotional baggage doesn't count).

HOT TIP
: Just use one compact bag to bring all your stuff in. If you feel you might be buying something on your way back, bring an extra bag which you can fold and keep inside your carry-on bag. No need to check it in at the airport, too!


THE CATICLAN JETTY PORT

Nice and clean terminal. You'd hardly stay ten minutes in it.

A new fee for 2006. Supposedly to fund clean-up drives in Boracay as brought about by the huge influx of tourists. If tourists are reminded to bring home their garbage or dispose of them properly, there'd be no need for this.

Senior citizens find new life in entertaining visitors with local music



Pay your Php 50 environmental fee here and get maps and brochures, too. What's with all those huge faces of local politicians? Bah!


I can't help. I just had to check.

Sacks of oysters bound for Boracay

That's the boat...

...not this!


Leaving Caticlan now.
A cool 15 minutes after, Station 1 of Boracay comes into view


Station 2






And finally, Station 3 where we got off

G.G.G. has landed! Everything written about this island's sand is true: powdery white (it looked beige to me), the finest i've ever seen. I can't seem to recall Bohol's at the moment but i'm sure it comes close to this. Geez, what horrible dirty feet! Is this sand good enough for foot scrubbing?!
As far as the eyes can see... The blue skies, the white sand, the trees, the beach strollers - all cliche-ish images of Boracay but what to do? It's all for real!


A must-have, if only to complete the island get-up (haggle, haggle!)
Fine screens are put up to prevent sand from being blown by the hanging habagat into buildings and restos. It's that time of the year when the wind's really, really strong.

Welcome to Boracay!

THE DAY I DIED (WELL, ALMOST).

On our 2nd day, we decided to bike to the spot where The Mango Farm bought land on which a sister resort will be built soon. I didn't realize how hilly Boracay's terrain was and when was the last I did a routine like this in Cebu? 8, 10 years ago? I almost died. I was breathless to the end. Palpitations. Wheezing. I'm way too fat for this sport!
Thank God for sari-sari stores like this one... Lovely Hibiscus species in the foreground, too. You hardly see those these days.
ATVs (all terrain vehicle) are now the hottest thing on the island, the business of which is mostly propelled by the Koreans. My source said this can be rented at Php 1,500 / hour (rought US$ 29.4 / hour). How frightening.
...and for ice-cold Royal (un)true Orange.

We went down this rough road on the last leg of our trip.
At the end of the bike trip, here's the reward...
The placid waters of Boracay's other side, shielded from the hanging habagat (monsoon winds?) which is battering the coast on the other side. Isn't this beautiful? Look at how those clouds in the distance form rolling layers!

Oh...my...God... *gush*

Boracay is a paradise for many different people. For the beach addicts, for those who seek to forget, escape, get lost, for those who want to get a different kick or a take a new look on their life ahead (and the one they left behind).

For me, it's simply a chance to look at things and people on a different light: through the lens. Comments are welcome (Note: Photos were sharpened for those with dim monitors).


Is their future beyond this island, too?
"To the bat cove, Robin!"
An island lass.

She's everywhere (literally and figuratively)



Nami Resort, really a "hideaway"






And we need Php 50 to clean up all this trash?
The bayanihan spirit lives on in a different form...


This is an English Editor's nightmare.

The obligatory shot at FRIDAY's

Asian Spirit on approach to Caticlan











Classic shot...

BUT WAIT, WHAT'S THIS?!


I'm sounding the alarm bells on this one: sewage water that goes straight out...

..to sea?! What the hell were they thinking?!

Come to think of it, where else would it go? *Sigh*


Now, going back to regular programming...


Mongolian BBQ dinner for our 1st night in Bora! Put things together in a bowl and hand it to the cook.

WHAT I MADE: The problem with eating Mongolian is that using the wrong sauce will always result in a disaster. You can never go wrong with pineapple when there's chicken and veggies available. Try using sesame oil, hoisin sauce (or a little soy sauce) and top with ground peanuts and chili for that little familiar taste and kick.

That's dinner even if it doesn't look like it from here!
Nice ambience. Very island-y, for the lack of a better word.
Young Koreans are everywhere - in the Philippines, that is. My country is host to the largest Korean community in the whole of Souteast Asia. They learn English here, study and have fun, too! I think they're boosting the tourism industry, with the Japanese coming in second.


AFTER: Verdict? It was very good! (I am very biased). The trick is to trust your kitchen instincts (or whatever is left of it). At Php 218 / person, you can eat all you can. Stiff, 'no?

SHOPS AND FOOD CHOICES IN d*MALL

This is Station 3's mall. There are other mall-like places along this side of the island but this one appears to be the best (I believe it's owned by the Zobels but I may be mistaken).
There's a wet market behind the main mall where veggies, fresh meat and fish can be bought. Also, there's a small section shops selling super cheap clothes. It's like Manila's Divisoria!





After a long day of walking around in the heat, I got attracted to this signboard which promised to serve the BIGGEST BURGERS on the island. I got a quarter pounder with roasted garlic and cheese gravy. For Php 105, it's ot bad but could be better. The patty is grilled, by the way. Sorry but I can't recall the name of the store (bad, bad!).




Was finishing this burger to the beat of "California Dreaming" and "Can't Buy Me Love" from the nearby lemon/cafe, one of the most stylish cafes on these parts. I didn't go because it's too embarrassing to eat there alone.

This is d*Mall at night. It's an avenue of shops and restos in Station 3. It's just like being in a quaint place in Manila except that the ground you walk on is part white sand, part concrete.
My favorite shop is NAUTILUS (below) by PJ Arañador. The use of seashells is extensive, from lamps to the sliding doors. Very stylish pieces that you'd love to have in your city homes for conversation pieces. The only setback in buying in Boracay is that several pieces are not Philippine products (most of the foreign Asian items are either Thai, Indonesian or Indian).





A Budget Mart for your daily needs. Airline ticket offices and bank ATMs are nearby.


Flooded portion of d*Mall

Hot choco and a rich slice of decadence in paradise... That's a choco-marble cheesecake (Php 110) good for sharing. It's too rich to eat alone. In fact, I finished it all up. The rain took so long to stop kasi.
Strong winds and rain made Italian resto Aria shutter early




Hey, I eventually found one shop to solve my dilemma over buying non-Philippine products as gifts! This is USWAG (a Visayan word for "move" or "develop"), a foundation based in Aklan. I don't know the group's thrust and who they are supposed to benefit but I know Philippine when I see it. There are even nice, nice, nice Sarimanok hanging accents on the entrance! They're for sale at Php 100 / per. I resisted getting one. Dagdag basura lang sa bahay. I only got the smallest items on sale, the purses and sling bags. Very nice and colorful. The girls would love them, methinks.






If you miss the city, these shops will definitely make you feel at home!


You can rent bikes if you finally get bored walking and taking the tricycles. You can rent them for Php 75 / hour. Over and above 4 hours, you are charged a flat rate of Php 400, good for the entire day. Not bad!


Malate's Hobbit House is here, too!


This is the Lonely Planet shop. Cigars, anyone? The saleladies were the first and only people I heard speak in Cebuano in my entire stay here. It pays to know several local dialects (ehem!)
Stylicized reproduction art and orientalia make for a heady mix of color!

T-shirts for sale! The most expensive ones (Php 400-700) are handpainted or airbrushed. You can have them personalized like having your name painted on the front.

FAREWELL, BORA! 'TILL NEXT TIME!

Our 4th day in Bora. I took photos of the beach at 6AM. Very windy. I will miss this place.


The sun tries to shine through the trees...
"Magandang umaga po, Mamang driver! Gising na!"
Typical Boracay hut.

Languid mornings.... a normal scene you can see anywhere you go in Las Islas Filipinas!
Porters having their pan de sal and hot coffee



"Be brave, little one..."



Goodbye, Boracay!

TO CATICLAN

Hello, Caticlan!








KALIBO AIRPORT

Just in time! We only had 40 minutes before check-in!




A massage anyone?
PR arrives from Manila
What a beautiful bird *sigh*

5J arrives a few minutes after
All that oranges spells "fun"!
Front seat to the best (and noisiest) show on earth!
Green, green, green...
PAL arrived first, but we left first. PAL Always Lazy... (Peace, Captain Baban! Friends naman tayo, eh!)



Heavily silted river in Kalibo

MANILA, MY MANILA


A braided kid's hair; a sweet reminder of beach days

5J FA selling 5J paraphernalia (nice wallets sell at php 80 / per). Wait, I have to voice this out. 5J's flight attendants seem to have lost that "fun character" which they used to have when they were still using the DC9s. They now seem arrogant and airy and are given to small talk even when at work. Stiff smiles, trying very hard to get things over with so they can retire to the galley. Why, they didn't even stand at the exits to say goodbye when passengers deplaned! They were, in fact, looking for their replacement shoes. Does this have anything to do with the new planes (because they are now using better machines than the leading carried PAL? I don't want to think about it that way). SMILE, ladies!

The majestic Taal Volcano

The coast of Cavite enters my visual field

How is that piece of land able to support that many residents?!

The other airfield civilians never use: the Sangley Point Naval Base, a military facility
Houses of fishermen dot the sea surrounding Manila and Cavite

Clumps of mangrove trees: a good sign but for how long?

Parañaque City up close


PR's Centennial Terminal

The old NAIA full of Asian carriers (Note the 2 CX 744s from HK)

Manila is home to classic aircraft like this Constellation, designed by Howard Hughes himself...

...and several DC3s in one place!
"O, ano na? Dito na lang ba tayo forever?"
"Kakasawa na nga mga mukna nyo, eh!"

The tarmac of the old domestic

If you have friends or relatives waiting for you, chances are they are here.

Welcome back to Manila - where you are left to fend for yourself.

Only the old domestic terminal has a taxi stand. Always remind the drivers to use the meter. It's not a bad idea to tip them a minimum of Php 20.00 over the standard fare.

Otherwise, you can always get coupon taxis but they charge 400% more than the usual fare.

Thanks, Lord, for the chance to travel again.

Special thanks to Mike Santos and The Mango Farm for making this trip possible.

6 comments:

BC said...

hullo!

you transferred this pala. uhm, nagdoble siya.

touchness. :-)

BC

Jesy said...

well, well, well... dylan's back to travelling.... haaaay. when will i get the chance?????

=D

GENIUS IS JUST ANOTHER MOUSE! said...

Kaya mo yan, hehe! Dapat kasi fight, fight, fight for the right to go on a break!

duke said...

this is a blow by blow account of your bora trip. hahaha! good pictures.

GENIUS IS JUST ANOTHER MOUSE! said...

Blow by blow talaga! Frustrated tour guide kasi ako, ha ha! How's the practise in the US, Doc?

Hanna Salta said...

Hi!

Good afternoon!

We at WVH Asia Inc. are presently working on the reconstruction of our website Oh! Philippines (www.oh-philippines.com) that is set to be launched some time in August.

We have a new section in the website where we shall feature top travel destinations in the Philippines and provide users with travel guides (accommodations, restaurants, etc) about these specific locations.

In line with this, may we seek your permission to copy several photos of the RML Manokan Haus which is featured in our website? We shall be posting these photos in the Oh! Philippine website. Rest assured that all photos we shall be getting will be used for official Oh! Philippines use only.

I am anticipating your preferential response on our request. You may email me at hanna.salta@wvh-asia.com

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,


Hanna Salta
Project Secretary
WVH Asia Inc.