Coron Day 3-Dipping in hot and cold water

“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”-Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

After the safari adventure in Calauit Island, we stopped by Concepcion town, which is an hour away from Salvacion town. It took us 10-20 minutes before we reached the small but mysterious Concepcion Falls.

The cold water was a refreshing treat after the encounter with the animals on a hot day. And when I say cold, it was really cold! brrr… The temperature was as cool as that of a water stored in the fridge. Nonetheless, I still managed to play and shoot.

We only stayed here for about 30 minutes since it was getting dark and we need to return to Coron Town.

Another hour was spent as we made our way to Maquinit Hotsprings, one of the wonders of Coron Town.

On the way to Maquinit, which means mainit (hot),  I noticed residents playing Bingo (a numbers game).

From the gate, you wouldn’t expect that there’s a hotspring in the area. As I got closer to the hotspring pool, I saw some smoke. Definitely, the water’s hot.

I learned from Kuya Noel, our driver, that the water comes from Mt. Dalara (Cuyonin word for Dalaga- Maiden in English), a dormant volcano. Hence, it explained why the water’s hot. The temperature was about 40 degrees celsius.

There were three pools in the Maquinit Hotspring but only two were original. The bigger pool serves as a catch basin of the two smaller springs.

eeekkk...the water's so hot.

Dipping into hot water felt good. It relaxed the muscles. The locals said that the natural springs have healing powers.

ahhhh...This is Life! Serene.

Maquinit Hotspring shouldn’t be missed when going to Coron. Definitely, a must-see and must-experience place.

Best time to go: 5pm onwards

Operating Hours: 6 am-10pm

Entrance Fee: Php 100/ head

Coron Day 3- Wild and Free in Philippine Safari

“The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans.”- Jim Fowler

Definitely, Fowler! Running in the wild with giraffes and zebras seems to be a dream or a movie scene in Indiana Jones or George in the jungle.

But our Calauit Safari adventure on Nov. 18 was no dream. It was a reality.

The sun was still sleeping when we left Coron Town at 4 am for our first itinerary of the day: Calauit Island, which is located on the northern tip of Busuanga Island, Palawan.

After an hour and 50 minute-ride, our van driver Noel woke us up. It’s breakfast time at Karaenan (Cuyonin word for Kainan or Eating place in English) in Brgy. Salvacion, Busuanga. They served us hot pandesal, rice, hotdog and egg, and hot choco. The breakfast meal for each person costs Php 100.00.

We proceeded with our journey and reached Brgy. Buluang, where our boat to Calauit Island was waiting. It was  a 45-minute ride along the uneven and cemented roads of Busuanga Town.

Going to the boat was challenging. It took us about five minutes to go down to where the boat was and another five minutes to walk on stilts and reach the end of the wooden bridge. You need to take extra care with every step. It was a bit scary. Thank God for the guides who willingly assisted us.

We then sailed in the calm waters of Biniktikan River, which separates Calauit Island from Busuanga Island, for 10 minutes and finally stepped foot on the 3,700-hectare game preserve and wildlife sanctuary.

The tour guide and pier guard Florante Salvacion welcomed us in the island which was surrounded by lush mangrove forest.

Mang Florante, who has been working at Calauit since 1985, began telling us about its history.  In March 1977, eighteen impalas, fifteen giraffes, fifteen zebras, twelve bushbucks, twelve waterbucks, eleven gazelles, eleven elands, and ten topis arrived in Calauit from Kenya, Africa.

Couple: Calamian Deer

The Calauit Game preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary was the response of the then President Ferdinand Marcos to the appeal of the International Union of Conservation of Nature to save endangered animals in Africa.

“We have 32 employees here in the island. At night, we only have the caretaker and security guard living with the animals,” said Mang Florante.

At present, there are 20 giraffes and 40 zebras living with the endemic Calamian deer, according to Mang Florante.

“Lahat sila (giraffes and zebras) island-born na. The original imported animals from Kenya died already,” added Mang Florante, while we were walking to the area where the animals were.

The zebras were a little bit aloof so we were about 10 steps away from them. Mang Florante said that we were lucky since both the zebras and giraffes were present.

Mang Florante then gave us twigs of Maluandit or Bakhawang Gubat, which were the food of the giraffes.

As soon as I extended my hand, a young giraffe named Ted approached me and started munching the leaves. They were very friendly. But Mang Florante warned us: “Don’t go near their backs because they can kick like horses.”

The other giraffes have names too. I asked, “How do you know who’s who?”

He said, “Just by looking at their spots.”

They also have a hospital for injured animals but there’s no in-house veterinarian. The vet is on call. During our visit, there was one injured giraffe in the hospital. Mang Florante said that the wounds were caused by the branches of trees.

Aside from the zebras and the giraffes, the island is also home to the alamid, porcupine, monkeys and the Philippine crocodile. Don’t worry, the crocs are in a cage.

If you want to spend the night in the wild, there’s a guest house and a gazebo in the island, which you can rent for Php 200/night.

There’s an entrance fee of Php 250.00 for Filipino Adults and Php 350.00 for Foreigners.

Run wild and free! It was nice seeing the animals as free as they are. But I do hope that their population would still grow. We must protect them for the future generation.

Contact Numbers for Calauit Island:

Telephone Numbers: +63-2-4337532; +63-2-9282101; +63-2-9295671; +63-2-9941145;

Mobile Phone Number: +63-921-6553672

Coron Day 1: Sail to Paradise

“Dreams do come true. We just have to believe and have faith.”

Thanks to impulsiveness! Five months ago, I was able to book AirphilExpress’ roundtrip airfare to Busuanga for  1,137.00.

Today, I began my journey in one of my must-see-destination list—Coron in Busuanga Island, Palawan. As usual, I took the window seat and took aerial shots of the islands. Though sleepy, I chose to shoot and the view from above was worth it!

The flight from Manila to Busuanga took 40 minutes, faster than what the boarding pass indicated: 1 hour and 5 minutes.  First thing that I noticed when we landed at the Francisco Reyes Airport was the cellular signal. No Globe signal.

Since I have arranged the trip with DIY Coron, we didn’t have a hard time finding a ride. DIY Coron’s van driver,  Jayjay, welcomed us. I gazed at the surroundings as we made our way to Coron town. Everything’s green and blue! The hills blended well amidst the deep blue sky. Goats grazed in the grass. Picture perfect! Just what I would like to see—the simple and quiet life in an island.  The thirty-minute ride from Busuanga Airport to Coron town cost us Php 450 (Php 150/head).

It was 12 noon when we arrived at Coron Village Lodge. We didn’t have a definite itinerary for the day since the tours with DIY would start on the 17th. But there’s this one island which I wanted to visit—Malcapuya Island. The pictures on Flickr inspired me.

From Village Lodge, we hailed a six-seater tricycle. Fare costs Php 8.00 each but the driver, Charlie offered to wait for us while we ate lunch at Kawayanan Grille. He just said, “Kayo na ho bahala kung magkano.”

We ordered seafood sisig and ensaladang seaweed grass. Both dishes were tasty but were pricey.  Prices of the viands were similar to that of Manila restaurants ( Php 150- Php 350/viand).

At around 1pm, Charlie dropped us at the Gateway Port, where the boats were lined up. When I saw the price list of the boats, I had second thoughts. Trip to Malcapuya/Malaroyroy/Banana Island would cost me Php 3,500. The boatmen were telling me that we should have arrived earlier. I replied that as much as we want to, Airphilexpress changed the flight schedule. Originally, the flight to Busuanga is scheduled at 8:00 am.

I tried to bargain and the boatman Nestor agreed to Php 3,000. Yes, another slash in my pocket but then again, experience is more valuable than money. So, off we go to Malcapuya. We were warned that it would be a long ride, 1.5 hours-2 hours. They also warned us about the big waves.

Indeed, the trip was long.  Papa was already complaining to me. “Anak, ano bang makikita natin dun?” I just said, “Wait and see.”  I knew he was nervous of the waves.

Truly, the waves were huge. I just told my folks to relax, trust in God, and nothing bad will happen. Nestor, the boatman, was skilled enough to navigate through the waves.  He then pointed at the island in front of us, “’Yan na yung Malcapuya.”

I saw paradise…crystal clear blue green waters, stretch of white sand. The worried looks on my parents’ faces faded. I smiled and told them, “See. <laughs>”

Papa said, “Ikaw talaga, ‘yung mga trip mo mala-Survivor Philippines.”

Mama and I just laughed. We jumped into the water and began our “photoshoot.”

It was fun! fun! fun!

Before we left the island, we quenched our thirsts with fresh buco juice (Php 20).

No matter how long, scary, the journey was….at the end of the fuzzy waves was Paradise!

Other details on Malcapuya:

Entrance Fee – Php 200.00

Overnight Stay- Php 700.00 (electric fan)/ Php 1,000.00/head (aircon)

Boatman: Nestor-09182077207