Archive of ‘Travel’ category

El Nido Island Adventure: Tour C

matinloc shrine

On our second day in El Nido, we opted for Tour C. After breakfast we headed off to the beach to start our second round of island hopping!

Tour C

  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Hidden Beach
  • Star Beach
  • Helicopter Island
  • Secret Beach

el nido island tour

el nido island tour

el nido island tour

Matinloc Shrine

Matinloc comes from the word “Matinlo” – a word in El Nido’s local dialect which means “beautiful”. And true enough, the island was beautiful. Matinloc Shrine is located in Matinloc Island, a small island surrounded by crystal clear blue water. Aside from the shrine lies an abandoned mansion that used to be owned by one of the locals of El Nido who married a German. As to why it was abandoned, no one really knows. They say that the couple got into a fight and split up. Others say that they only bought the island because they found hidden treasure beneath. No one really knows the truth. But what I know for sure is that, El Nido certainly has a lot of secrets!

matinloc shrinePhoto from palawantoursandadventure.com

matinloc shrine el nido tour

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matinloc shrine + el nido island tour 2

matinloc shrine el nido tourThe view from the 2nd floor of the abandoned mansion

matinloc shrine + el nido island tour 2

matinloc shrine + el nido island tour 2Matinloc Island view point

Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach is named as such because the beach itself is hidden by towering karst cliffs that surround it. As our boat could not dock directly on the beach itself, we had to swim a few meters to find paradise. We spent about 30 minutes snorkeling at Hidden Beach before heading to our next destination.

clear-waters

el nido island tour 3

el nido island tour

Star Beach

This, by far, was my favorite stop of the day. Why? One word. Food! ^_^ After visiting two islands, we headed here for a lunch break. While waiting for the food to be prepared, we had a great time playing around. Being at the beach just brings out the kid in me! 😛

star beach el nido

el nido island tour 8 star beach el nido 2 star beach el nido 4

 Stef, busily building a sandman

el nido island tour 9Hello Olaf! (Asian version)

Secret Beach

Another secret of El Nido was unveiled as we swam through this small opening to enter another beautiful version of paradise. I so regretted not buying an GoPro at this point. A lot of tourists were carrying one. Plus its water proof so you can take as many underwater photos as you want.

secret-lagoon-beach

Photo from tripadvisor.co.uk

secret beach el nidoPhoto from http://www.trover.com

Helicopter Island

From afar, Helicopter Island really does look like a helicopter. But once you get here, you’ll see that it has pristine white sand beaches that stretch on for miles and a variety of marine life – perfect for those who love diving. We had a fun time snorkeling as well. I had no idea that fish could be so territorial.

helicopter islandPhoto from leftmyheartinpalawan.com

helicopter island palawanPhoto from spinkyworldtour.travellerspoint.com

All in all, it was another great day! This concludes my Palawan vacation. I can’t wait to go on my next vacation! :)


-Alex

El Nido Island Adventure: Tour A

El Nido, Spanish for “the nest”, is a small island 238 km northeast of Puerto Princesa. It boasts of majestic limestone cliffs, lush vegetation, white sand beaches and turquoise green waters with a wide array of marine life. It truly is the epitome of paradise. <3

From Puerto, we took a tourist van to El Nido. Travel time was around 6 hours. We left Puerto Princess at 9:30am and arrived at El Nido at around 4pm. After checking in, we decided to tour the island.

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El Nido is very laid back. It reminds me of the old Boracay. It doesn’t even have an ATM machine so be sure to bring cash.

The hotels  and pension houses are affordable, P800 – 1,500 per night. The food was a bit pricey. We ended up spending around 300php per meal.

There are 4 types of tours in El Nido, each ranging from 900-1,500php inclusive of lunch.

Tour A

  • Small Lagoon
  • Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Shimizu Island
  • 7 Commando Island

Tour B

  • Snake Island
  • Pinagbuyutan Beach
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Cathedral Cave
  • Entalula Beach

Tour C

  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Hidden Beach
  • Star Beach
  • Helicopter Island
  • Secret Beach

Tour D

  • Bukal Beach
  • Pasandigan Beach
  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Paradise Beach
  • Natnat Beach

el nido beachAt night, the beach side restaurants gets filled with tourists – most of them Hispanics and Europeans. In fact, there were more foreigners than Filipino tourists.

el nido tour + palawan

This is the coastline of El Nido – the pick up point for island tours.

el nido tour + palawan

For our first day, we picked Tour A. Tour A is centered mainly on Miniloc Island. First stop is two lagoons, then a scrumptious lunch on the beach, then next is the hidden lagoon and then finally 7 Commando Island for some refreshing halo-halo. Don’t forget your sun block! The islands may be beautiful but the sun is as fierce as ever. We had to reapply after every stop to avoid getting burned to a crisp.

Small Lagoon

The best thing about the small lagoon – kayaking! You can discover the surrounding areas in your kayak while basking in the sun.

el nido tour + palawan

small lagoon el nido tour

Big Lagoon

big lagoon el nido

big lagoon el nido tour

big lagoon palawanSecret Lagoon

This tiny hole is what you have to go through to be able to get inside the Secret Lagoon. It reminds me of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s like a secret slice of paradise contained within these limestone walls.

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el nido tour + palawan This is what the Secret Lagoon looks like on the inside.

el nido tour + palawan

secret lagoon el nido

Shimizu Island

This  where we dropped anchor to have lunch. Shimizu Island is one of the best areas to go snorkeling in as they have a wide array of marine life. It’s like Discovery Channel in here. Just be careful of the occasional jelly fish >.<

shimizu island palawanPhoto from Pinterest.com

el nido tour + palawan

el nido lunch tour APhoto from pamobieta.wordpress.com

I wasn’t able to take a photo of the delicious lunch prepared for us since I dived right in, but it looked something like this ^__^

7 Commando Island

7 Commando Island was our last stop for the day. We lounged around for about 30 minutes while eating halo-halo before heading back to main land.

1480594_10153293543369931_980794434502952055_n 7 commando island palawan

All in all, it was a fantastic day! The Philippines is truly a beautiful country. We have so much to be proud of. Even the Canadian tourists we were with kept on saying that although they have travelled around the world, the beaches in Palawan are among the best they have ever been to.

It’s more fun in the Philippines!

Go live a Truly Wealthy life!

-Alex

 

 

 

 

 

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto-Princesa-Underground-River-–-Palawan-Philippines

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a protected area of the Philippines that’s situated on the north of Puerto Princesa. It’s also known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and is found in the Saint Paul Mountain Range. It’s just a short boat ride from the town of Sabang. You’ll be filled with wonder at the majestic rock formations, seemingly endless river channels, numerous caves, marine creatures and bats inside the Underground River. In fact, as of 2011, the Puerto Princesa Underground River has been named as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature – along with the Amazon (South America), Ha Long Bay (Vietnam), Iguazu Falls (Argentina), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo (Indonesia) and Table Mountain (South Africa).

palawan underground river tour

palawan underground river tour

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palawan underground river

palawan underground river tourTourists are discouraged to bring food to the Underground River because there are snatchers here – monkey snatchers to be exact. The monkeys here have learned to open plastic wrappers and drink juice in tetra packs. So according to our tour guide – dont bring any food. During our tour there was one victim. And you can see the monkey enjoying the snack here >.<

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underground cave palawanPhoto from puerto-undergroundriver.com

Puerto-Princesa-Underground-River-–-Palawan-PhilippinesPhoto from newsnish.com

underground cave palawanPhoto from placesfortour.com

-Alex

Puerto Princesa, Palawan – City Tour

bakers-hill-puerto-princesa-palawan

The Toastmasters Discon was only two and a half days but Stef and I  decided to extend for another week to tour Palawan. On the last day of the District Convention, a city tour was scheduled for the participants who opted tour after the conference. (Some participants chose to take the tour before the convention started.) We were all loaded in one huge bus (all toastmasters!) and our city tour began.

First stop, LRC 908 Market Mall.

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LRC 908 Market Mall is located along Puerto Princesa, North Road. It does not look like your usual mall but rather like a cluster of stalls selling various kinds of pasalubong items such as tamarind candy, cashew nuts, cookies, Palawan T-shirts, bags and of course, pearls. Pearls are a lot cheaper in Palawan. They have 2 kinds: South Sea and Fresh Water Pearls. South Sea Pearls are more expensive. You can buy either those that have been set already or lose pearls.

Second stop, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puerto Princesa. 

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puerto Princesa 5

Photo by Ed FabonanImmaculate Conception Cathedral, Puerto Princesa

Photo from Ed Fabonan

This century-old cathedral in various hues of blue is located at Barangay Liwanag along Rizal Avenue.It was built during the 1800’s and was a spiritual refuge to many during the war.

Third stop, Plaza Cuartel.

plazacuartel palawan

Photo from palawantoursandadventure.com

Plaza Cuartel is located just right across Immaculate Conception Cathedral . It looks like an ordinary park but it is actually the restored ruins of an old garrison. At the middle is a triangular marker that symbolizes the 143 American prisoners that were burned alive by Japanese soldiers inside a tunnel during World War 2

Third stop, Crocodile Farm (Palawan Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Center).Crocodile farming is the industry of raising and harvesting crocodiles to create commercial products like leather and meat. Here in the Crocodile Farm, two species of Philippines crocodiles are bred: the Philippine saltwater and freshwater crocodile. Aside from crocodiles they also have a mini-zoo and souvenir shop.

palawan city tour crocodile farm 3

Photo by Ed Fabonan

palawan city tour crocodile farm

Photo by Ed Fabonan

crocodile farm palawan

Fourth stop, Mitra’s House. 

This house is owned by the late Senator Ramon Mitra and family and is located on top of a hill. The view is spectacular.

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Photo by Ed Fabonan

mitra house palawan 2

Photo by Ed Fabonan

mitra house palawan 3

Photo by Ed Fabonan

mitra house palawan 2

mitra house 2 palawan

Fifth stop, Baker’s Hill.

20816_10153289273334931_7080767615446027609_nNow This is my favorite stop because Bakers Hill is where all sorts of yummy goodies are made.They have all kinds of breads, pastries and cakes.

bakers-hill-puerto-princesa-palawanPhoto from whatisspontaneous.wordpress.com

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bakers hill palawan

bakers hill palawan 2

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Photo from girlslittlehub.com

Bakers-Hill-Hopia-Ube

Photo from outoftownblog.com

Their special is the Palawan Hopia which comes in 3 flavors – ube, mongo and pork. On top of that the place is just picture perfect! I had to stop and take pictures of every corner. They have well-manicured gardens, life-sized statues, playgrounds,cafe’s and peacocks.

This was defnitely a great way to end our Toastmasters Conference!

-Alex

Toastmasters District Convention 2015 – Puerto Princesa, Palawan

district conference palawan division F

If there is one thing I love to do – it’s to travel. And if I can travel and still learn at the same time, that’s even better. That’s why when I learned that the 34th Toastmasters District 75 Conference was going to be in Palawan, I immediately registered. First, I’ve never been to Palawan. Second, I wanted to go to Palawan! <3 Besides, Toastmaster Discons are always fun. And since I was going, I decided to compete in the Table Topics Contest. Talk about “sulit”.

district conference toastmasters venue aziza

34th Toastmasters District 75 Conference Venue at Aziza, Puerto Princessa, Palawan

(Photo by Ed Fabonan)

district conference toastmasters

Photo by Ed Fabonan

For those who are not familiar with Toastmasters, it’s an international organization that helps develop your communication and leadership skills. There are different clubs all over the Philippines. A group of clubs form an area, a group of areas form a division. We have 11 Divisions in the Philippines and they form one District – District 75.

We have 2 conferences a year. The District Conference in April and the Midyear Conference in October. The highlight of these conferences are the speech contests.

There are 4 Speech Contest Categories in Toastmasters:

  • International Prepared
  • Humorous
  • Evaluation
  • Table Topics (Impromptu Speaking)

district conference palawan division F

Division F Toastmasters with our new banner from District 75

For this Discon, the 2 contests were International Prepared and Table Topics Speech Contest. The Humorous and Evaluation Contests are scheduled in the Midyear Conference. If you win the International Prepared Speech Contest, you get to attend the Toastmasters International Conference held annually every August for free. This year it’s going to be in Las Vegas, USA.

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 Toastmasters from Division F

district 75 toastmasters conference palawan

district conference palawan ed tate

It’s basically two and a half days of learning sessions plus the speech contests plus FUN! We were so lucky to be able to listen to Ed Tate – the 2000 World Speech Champion share about his experiences and how we can be better influencers. We also had a host of other speakers including two of my good friends Sha Nacino and Coen Tan.

district 75 toastmasters conference palawan + coen tan

ed tate district conference toastmasters

Edward Tate 2000 World Speech Champion (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

District 75 officers

Lt Gov for Educ Boy Archie, Chief Ambassador Johnny Uy, District Gov Dotty Du, Lt Gov for Marketing Dulce Rañosa (left to right)

The Big 3 – District 75 Officers and our REP Chief Ambassador Johnny Uy

Here’s a summary of the learning sessions during the District Conference:

  • Keynote 1: Influence and Lead without Authority by Edward Tate, DTM – 2000 World Speech Champion, Trainer, Author

district conference palawan coen tanCoen Tan, DTM – Trainer Communications Coach

  • Plenary Session 1: How to Capitalize on your Speaking Skills to Turbocharge your Career by Coen Tan, DTM

district conference toastmasters REPJohnny Uy, DTM – Chief Ambassador, PIP (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

  • Plenary Session 2: Revitalized Education Program by Johnny Uy, DTM

REP ambassadors + toastmasters

 The REP Ambassadors of District 75 with our Chief Ambassador Johnny Uy

I was outside the room when the REP ambassadors got called on stage that’s why I’m just on the screen in the back. lol

DTM patrick district 75 district conferencePatrick Oie, DTM  (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

  • Plenary Session 3: Taking the Leadership Challenge by Patrick Oie, DTM

DTM ed tate district 75 district conference

Edward Tate 2000 World Speech Champion (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

  • Plenary Session 4: Story Finder: A Workshop on How to Create New Stories in Minutes by Edward Tate, DTM – 2000 World Speech Champion

district conference palawan sha nacinoSha Nacino, ACS, CL – Inspirational Speaker, Author

  • Breakout Session: How to Write and Publish a Book by Sha Nacino, ACS, CL
  • Keynote 2: Manage Things, Lead People by Edward Tate, DTM – 2000 World Speech Champion, Trainer, Author

Of course a Discon wont be complete without the speech contests. Here are the 2015 winners for the Table Topics and International Prepared Speech Category.

table topics 2015 contestants

Table Topics 2015 Contestants (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

TABLE TOPICS CONTEST

table topics winners 2015

Desiree Balota, Alessandra Zeta, Adrian Baloyo (left to right)

Photo by Ed Fabonan

Table Topics Winners

  • Champion: Alessandra Victoria D. Zeta (Iligan TMC – Division F)
  • 1st Runner Up: Desiree L. Balota (Queen City TMC – Division C)
  • 2nd Runner Up: Adrian Carlo P. Baloyo (Health Care Circle TMC – Division D)

INTERNATIONAL PREPARED SPEECH CONTEST

district conference 2015 prepared speech champion

Hyacinth Jade V. Malaca, Vincent C. Juan, Nedo L. Sasing (left to right)

International Prepared Speech Winners

  • Champion: Vincent C. Juan (Bench and Bar TMC – Division E)
  • 1st Runner Up: Nedo L. Sasing (BAVI TMC – Division L)
  • 2nd Runner Up: Hyacinth Jade V. Malaca (Cebu TMC – Division C)

Partying is also something that we at District 75 are good at. And it’s all in the name of good clean fun :) The Fellowship Night was scheduled on the first night and the Governors Ball was scheduled on the second.

fellowship night district conference toastmasters

Fellowship Night (photo by Ed Fabonan)

For the fellowship night, we had to wear something neon. There was a lot of food, great music and exemplary company. Although the table topics contest was set at 8am the following day I could not resist staying till the very end.

district conference 2015 governors ball

Governors Ball (With Toastmaster friends from different Divisions)

toastmasters discon 2015 palawan

The whole conference was a success! There was group of toastmasters who came all the way from Singapore to join the Discon and they kept on saying our Discon was so much fun! What can I say? It’s really more fun in the Philippines!

Kudos to Sucit, the Discon chair, and to the entire team for a successful conference. The next conference is going to be in Cebu and I’m definitely joining!

Discon 2016 Rates:

  • 4,500 php – early bird rate (1st 53)
  • 5,500 php – regular rate
  • 6,500 php – onsite registration

See you all next Discon!

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.

-Alex

 

Monastery of the Transfiguration Retreat

bukidnon + monastery of transfiguration 3

For the Holy Week, I decided to go on a retreat with my partners from Truly Wealthy Realty – Stef and Chastine, at the Benedictine Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. I am, by nature, an extrovert. I love being with people. The nature of my job requires me to be accessible so that’s why I’m always online. But for this retreat, I decided to “unplug” myself – at least during the day. I switched my phone to flight mode – no facebook, instagram, calls or texts. It was a challenge to be sure but a refreshing experience.

The monastery is run by Benedictine monks and is famous for their pyramid shaped church and delicious Monks Blend coffee.

Cost: 850php/night

Inclusive of:

  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals (buffet style)
  • snacks
  • unlimited Monks Blend coffee

For reservations, contact Dom Paco at 0929-586-0649.

bukidnon + monastery of transfiguration 6Dining Area

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Kitchen

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Prayer Room

The whole place is so quiet and peaceful. It’s the perfect place to go soul searching or write a book . I spent two days reading, writing, reflecting and praying.

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What I gained from my retreat was:

  1. Time with God. I was able to spend time with God without any distractions (my cellphone is my biggest distraction). This time I got to worship and pray without getting distracted.
  2. Time alone. Even though I’m a very sociable person, I have found that it’s still important to take time to just be alone. I took this time to pray about my direction in life, reflect on the lessons I’ve learned and strategize about how I can improve.
  3. Peace. It’s not that I wasn’t at peace before the retreat, but going on one allowed me to come to terms with what I couldn’t change and do something about the things I could change. Also, it gave my aching muscles time to recover. Ever since I started CrossFit, my muscles seem to be permanently sore.

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What about you? When was the last time you went on a retreat? In this fast paced world of ours, it’s great to take time to be alone with God. It’s like diving in a pool of cool water in the middle of a scorching hot day. You’ll come out feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world again!

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.

-Alex

 

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