For some, once is enough. But not for me. Batanes is always worth visiting. Batanes has become more than a dream destination. It made me fall in love— a love that transcends meaning. It’s a love for nature, culture, and its people.
The heart was jumping in joy as soon as the plane passed by the Balintang Channel and the Babuyan Group of Islands. My camera clicked all the way as if it was my first time.
The Road to Mahatao
Sit on the window seat (right side) of the plane to capture the subject.
Set your camera to manual mode with ISO 400.
Or if you’re a newbie, then just set it to P or program.
Don’t use flash as the window will reflect on the picture.
If you love snorkeling, then fly to El Nido. It’s the place to be! Snorkeling in El Nido seemed endless.
After eating lunch at Talisay Beach, we were off to Cadlao Lagoon to burn the calories. Originally, we should have gone to Secret Beach as part of the El Nido Tour C. However, the Habagat/ Southwest Monsoon prevented us from doing so.
Niel of Servant Tours told us that it would be unsafe if we pursue the Secret Beach (oh well. till next time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return by summer). The boat docked at a small beach. Our boatman told us that this was the only place where they could dock. Hence, we needed to swim to Cadlao Lagoon from there. It was about five meters away from the boat.
Cadlao Lagoon was underwhelming for me. Nonetheless, I jumped out of the boat and started snorkeling. On the other hand, our French companions were so excited to swim in the lagoon.
While snorkeling in the beach area, I found this. Okay, forgive me, I cannot name this fish specie.
But then, this one really freaked me out. Wah. Banded sea krait again? Why do I always see one? wah. And you know what happened next, I swam fast as I could to the lagoon.
I was tired. My legs were tired. There’s nothing to see underneath the water of the Cadlao Lagoon but depth to the unknown. I felt the water temperature changing from cold to warm. I lie on my back and stared on the sky. I didn’t notice that I’ve rested for sometime and it was time to return to the boat.
We bade Cadlao farewell as we moved to our last destination for Tour C, which is Dilumacad Island, popularly known as Helicopter Island.
Helicopter Island was named as such because of its shape which resembled that of the helicopter. Our boat docked at the long stretch of beige sand of the Helicopter Island along with other tour boats.
Janet, J and I wasted no time and plunged into the waters of Helicopter Island. And wow, the marine life was amazing! Watch this video:
Among all of the islands that we’ve visited in El Nido, Helicopter Island was the best snorkeling site. The corals were still alive and healthy unlike the others.
Another day has ended but our adventure in El Nido has just began.
As much as my body wanted to stay warm in bed, I forced myself to get up to capture the sunrise in the Cai Rang River.
But more than the sunrise what caught my attention the most were the locals walking and biking on the rocky and rough road outside Minh’s home.
It was a Saturday and yet, kids were going to school in bikes. Minh offered to show me the local market and the school. Both were just a few meters away from their home.
He pointed the bike which I can use but then I hesitated. It’s been decades since I rode a bike. My fear of falling and getting bruised prevented me from riding the bike. I politely declined. He then hopped on his motorbike and offered the ride.
I felt so lucky to be guided by a local of Cai Rang. About 10 minutes away from his home, I saw how the Vietnamese in Cai Rang spent their Saturday.
Kids clad in their uniform and slippers were running and roaming around their school. It did not look like a regular school day but more of a clean-up day.
After a few minutes, my feet brought me out of the school and into the local market. I started shooting and noticed the exotic goods that they were selling. One lady was selling a slimy gliding creature, which looked like a snake but later on, Minh told me that they were eels.
The Public Market of Cai Rang was no stranger to floods like what some places in the Philippines experience.
There were so many stories in the local market. It gave me a preview of the locals’ lives. Indeed, I was enjoying every moment of it.
Minh introduced his friend who has a cute chubby baby named Thiem but his nickname was Schumong because he’s big and heavy. They allowed me to hold the baby and have my photo taken with him.
I checked my watch. It’s time to return to his house for breakfast. My parents and I said our farewells to Minh’s family aboard their motor boat and off we go to the boat station in Can Tho City.
When you want to unwind and commune with nature, head to Lake Pandin in Brgy. Sto. Anghel, San Pablo, Laguna. Lake Pandin is one of the seven lakes of San Pablo. Locals regard Lake Pandin as the cleanest and most beautiful among the seven lakes.
Watch this video of a weekend spent in Lake Pandin: (Note: Load the video first before watching.)
While waiting for the RORO Bus at the San Jose Terminal of Puerto Princesa, I wandered and saw scenes worth capturing. Let the pictures tell the stories.
If you fail to buy food/baon for your trip, then you can buy at the San Jose Terminal. Vendors sell different kinds of products here. There’s even a kiosk in case your watch is broken.
Life may have become a routine for him. He was selling one of the desserts that can make anyone smile. But the vendor himself was not smiling.
If you want to ride a public transportation on your way to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, then you should ride the jeepney bound for Sabang. Sabang Beach is where you’ll ride a boat to the famous wonder of Palawan. You can even ride on top of the jeepney if you’re a thrill seeker.
The San Jose Terminal was not boring at all. Where can you find a vehicle that carries a 25-seater boat? I was surprised and entertained as well. It showed that Filipinos are really skillful and talented.
Waiting for your ride entails a lot of patience. Kill the boredom and read just like this old man.
The San Jose Terminal is not just a place where people come and go. It is also a place which teaches patience.