Where is 'The Wandering Couple'?

HELLO 2014!

The last blogpost we made was published December 31, 2011. Wow! That's a good 3 years of inactivity! Where has the 'The Wandering Couple' gone?

Well, to summarize:
  • I think we have mentioned that we went back to school to finish a Bachelor's Degree. Both me (Edcel) and Sheena had to endure College all over again
  • Time was mostly juggled on school then work
  •  I finished Bachelor of Science in Computer Science March of 2012
  • Sheena had to take longer as he had more subjects to cover and finished Bachelor of Science in Information Technology March of 2013
  • After graduating, we had to work hard to recuperate all the expenses for College. Yes, education is expensive. It drained my savings account to near-zero, same as Sheena's
  • Don't be mislead though. We did travel from 2012-2014, but we just did not have the time to finish writing about and publish it. We had trips to Davao, Palawan, Baguio, Sagada, Negros & Apo Island and some cancelled trips due to really bad weather and some schedule conflicts to Zambales, El Nido and Surigao. We will make sure we take care of all those first quarter of 2014
  • In 2012, I got the chance to be featured on GMANew TV's POPTALK as one of the reviewers for "Affordable Beach Resorts" in Cebu. Full episode here:
  • In 2013, we got hooked to FREEDIVING. Yes, the art and science of deep diving without tanks and all the shiznit. We dove from sea to sea, island to island together with other Cebu-based travel bloggers who got hooked to the sport as well. Here is a video of our dive in Hilutungan Island in Mactan
  • And some trips within Cebu. Yes, Cebu is that beautiful we don't get  tried traveling within it. So one final video for today is during our trip to Sumilon Island:) Sumilon Island Getaway from Edcel Ceniza on Vimeo.
So it's safe to say that we did not stop traveling, we just got too burned with school, then work, got hooked with new hobbies, then got too lazy to update the blog and updated through social Media instead.

What's in store in 2014? An updated blog, more travel and most specially, OUR FIRST INTERNATIONAL TRIIIIIIPPPPPPP (read with Erich Gonzales voice)

So? SEE YOU ON THE ROAD!

The Year That Was: 2011 in Review

2011 started out really slow for us. If some of you don't know, both of us re-enrolled in College so were caught juggling our time between work, school and squeezing a few weekends and holidays for travels.

We started off with a short stay at Maribago Bluewaters Resort (Mactan, Cebu) in February then a trip to Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte by March to start off the summer of 2011.

During April, we headed to Plantation Bay in Mactan, Cebu to shoot for a photography contest. With my carelessness coupled with a bit of bad luck, my beloved Canon 1000D was swimming in the waters of Plantation Bay right in front of my eyes! 2 weeks after, we headed off to Bantayan Island for the Holy Week but then again bad luck followed us and my 2nd DSLR body, Canon 400D was stolen from our tent! Yeah, April was our month!

By June, we were in the Surfing Capital in the Philippines, SIARGAO! By August, we were enjoying ourselves and eating to our stomach's content in Davao City for the Kadayawan Festival 2011 (series of posts to follow). This was the first time we met other Filipino Travel Bloggers that were not based in Cebu.

October came and we were in "A City in a Forest", Puerto Princesa, Palawan (series of posts to follow) and  checked out one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, The Underground River.

Topping 2011 off is a "one-day 3-municipalities" southbound travel in Cebu together with fellow Filipino Travel Bloggers. It was highlighted with swimming with the Whale Sharks in Cebu then ascending and reaching the highest peak in Cebu, OsmeƱa Peak (post to follow)!

We had more travels and more fun in 2011 (and we ended up with more backlogs) but all the experience that we had and all the people that we met was all worth every penny that we spent, and even more! 2010 was a good year but 2011 was way better!

Here's to hoping the best for 2012! See you on the road! Travel safe and let's have more fun!

Sidetrip: Swimming With the Whale Sharks in Cebu

When the Mighty Creator showered natural wonders to the world, Cebu was surely was not spared.

Tourist, foreign and local, have been flocking Cebu due to it pristine beaches and cultural heritage as one of the top reasons. Lately, Cebu has been a buzzed of sightings of gentle giants in the southern shores of Cebu.

Rumors have been circulating that Whale Sharks in Cebu (Butanding in Tagalog and Tuki in Bisaya), normally only constantly seen in the deep blue seas of Donsol (Sorsogon), have been roaming the shallow sea of Oslob. Upon knowing this, we immediately planned for the trip but did not set a definite date. Sadly, the news broke out mainstream as it was featured on an environmental show on national TV so we had to redo the plan and headed to check out the whale sharks less than a week after the news broke out.


The trip to Oslob, Cebu takes 3 hours from the Cebu South Bus Terminal. It's a dizzying ride through the winding road in Southern Cebu but it is all worth it once you see the gentle giants.

I (Edcel) have visited and swam with the Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu twice, Sheena once, and every experience is still mind-blowing and breathtaking. The first time I was there (Sheena did not come because of work. Yes, work sucks!), I was so excited I immediately undressed, boarded the small boat, wore the snorkel and flippers and swam right away only to find out afterwards that I forgot to take off my cheap ass non-waterproof wristwatch!


Only a few meters from the shoreline, you will immediately see silhouettes of the giants. Seeing silhouettes then a glimpse of the dorsal fin makes you want to make a drop right away and swim. These giants are hand-fed by the local fishermen (this is maybe good as this makes sure that the whale sharks will stay in the vicinity but this could also be a bad practice as this deviates the whale sharks from their natural hunting and eating habit which could result to them being too dependent to the fishermen), so if you want a really good view of the whale sharks, it is best to stay near the boatmen feeding them.

This Whale Shark was banging on our boat. I was thinking it begging to be fed and throwing tantrums. 
Non-swimmers like Sheena, will end up hanging on the outrigger boat but they will still be able to get a good view of the Whale Sharks but it will not be as good as the view if you are able to take short dive and swim along with the Whale Sharks.
Sheena clinging like a monkey to the boat. Non-swimmers == LOSERS!
Fellow Travel Blogger  Andrew enjoying his first sight of the Tuki. He panic-booked a flight from Manila-Cebu upon knowing our planned trip. Andrew did say that it was worth all the money spent on the airline ticket though.
Rules have been implemented, though not too strict, to protect the whale sharks in the shore of Oslob so it will be best to follow them. I was inches away from the whale shark but I did not bother touching it as it was part of the rules. You have to fight your urge as it is discipline on our side that will keep the Whale Sharks to stay in the same place and not feel threatened by the presence of humans swimming with them. While snorkeling, always be weary of other whale sharks in the vicinity. You may hit or bump into one while viewing another. Again, It will always be best to stay away from their path for them to feel more secure even with all the attention they are getting. The first time I was there, there were 3 whale sharks in the vicinity, while there were 5-6 the second time I got there and we were lucky enough to get a view and swim with the 27ft long Whale shark.

149 PHP - Cebu-Oslob Bus fare
149 PHP - Oslob-Cebu Bus fare
100 PHP - Resort fee
200 PHP - Boatman fee
100 PHP - snorkeling gear rental
-----
698 PHP - total expenses
Here is one of the observation that I have that the locals have to look into to protect the Whale Sharks in Cebu. Whale Sharks have a tendency to bump into the small boat you are in expecting to be fed, hurting themselves in the process. Also, as the spot becomes crowded, most of the Whale Sharks roaming around looking for food get hit by other boats unintentionally. Though I also noticed that the boatmen are always alert if whale sharks are on their way and they shout at each other to avoid the whale sharks or maneuver the boat to avoid hitting them and I have to applaud them for that. The second time I was there, I saw one whale shark with a broken tail fin and the broken end was flailing around like a flag. I asked the boatman whether they know the real reason behind that but they could not identify what caused that. Experts must look into that to check whether the break was caused by other predators or it was an injury inflicted by unintentionally scraping into boats.

Let me point this out again. It is discipline on our side that will keep the Whale Sharks to stay in the same place and not feel threatened by the presence of humans swimming with them. So, follow the rules set and do what you think is best for the Whale Sharks in Cebu. If you see anybody disobeying the rules, it will be best to report them to whoever is in charged for them to be reprimanded and dealt with accordingly. The locals have done a good job in protecting the whale sharks and it is active involvement on our part (as visitors) to also do our part in protecting them.

Cheap Siargao Resort: Ocean 101 Beach Resort

After the long journey, we finally reached Siargao.

Our first plan was to stay in Wave Cave Surfer's Lodge and Beach Bar. When we told the habal-habal driver where we were checking in, he immediately discouraged us as it was almost 2 miles away from the surf spot. We didn't really listen and told him to just bring us there so that we can see for ourselves. The place was actually really neat and cozy, but Manong driver was right. It was far from the surf spot and going to and fro places could be a problem. We were looking for cheap resorts in Siargao but we also had to consider the resorts proximity to places. Manong driver then gave us a sales pitch which we willingly listened to so he drove us to Ocean 101 Beach Resort.



Upon entering the resort, I thought we were up for some pricey rooms but this time, our thought failed us luckily. We got a fan room (good for 2) for 750PHP per night. There was a much cheaper room but it will be have a common toilet and bath but Sheena normally prefers private toilet and bath so as not to disturb her uberly long showers (Yes, girls in general!). There are more resorts lined up in the shores of General Luna, so pick whichever fits your preferences. 



Ocean 101 Beach Resort just a few meters walk to the famous surf spot in Siargao, Cloud 9. Marking that surf spot is a wooden walkway and a watchtower. We hurriedly prepared ourselves for the beach and headed to the spot to check out the waves and the surfers in sight. There were a number of surfers that were there (locals and foreigners) taking turns at the swells and I was just in awe watching them maneuver their big boards through the waves.



 We have arrived in GL a little late so we opted not to try surfing as we will not be able to maximize the rental time of the surfboard. So we just watched some more and surveyed the scene. Here is one thing that I realized; the spot in Cloud 9 is not for sissies. Sharp rock formations occupy the shorelines of Cloud 9 and this could spell disaster to some people who haven't tried surfing, but the local surf instructors know best, so if they say that they can still teach you and you can still surf with all those sharp rocks, then so be it.


 We wasted time by just enjoying the sound of the waves and waiting for the setting sun. By sunset, we headed outside the resort to eat dinner (resort food are a bit pricey sometimes) but we didn't miss trying Siargao's famous Mango Rum that we bought inside the resort. After consuming one glass, we called it the night as we were headed for island hopping the next day.

Ocean 101 Beach Resort
Cloud 9, Gen. Luna, Siargao Island
Surigao del Norte, Philippines
Mobile: (63) 910 8480893 / (63) 919 8268837

Sidetrip: Magpupungko Beach Lagoon (Siargao)

Magpupungko Beach is located in Pilar. It took us an hour to travel from General Luna (were we had tip-off point for our island hopping in Siargao) through a habal-habal.

This was named as Magpupungko because of a rock formation wherein a huge rock is seated perfectly into a smaller rock. This is surrounded by limestone and granite sculptures and is facing the Pacific Ocean.

When we did our research for Siargao, one place that was overly-raped and mentioned on articles was the Magpupungko Beach and Natural Pool. Looking at pictures alone, we were right away sold to the idea that we must drop by Magpupungko.


Before we headed for Magpupungko, our habal-habal driver told us that he would pass by a welding shop to have the broken canopy from his habal-habal be welded as this will serve as protection from the heat during the long trip. This canopies on the habal-habals in Siargao makes them one of the most unique habal-habals I have seen so far. It makes them look more like a tricycle than a habal-habal.
Magpupungko Rock (see the big rock sitting on the smaller one?)
The trip to Magpupungko from General Luna was butt-numbing to say the least. It starts off with a smooth ride in General Luna but upon entering the non-concrete curve to Magpupungko, the agony begins. The road is laid with shades from trees along the road helping the habal-habal canopy do its work. Cool breeze kisses your cheeks through out the trip, but another bump on the road makes just wakes you up to the reality that the agony ain't over yet. Steep ascends causes you to hold tight to anywhere you can get your hands to while steep descends will result to all of you getting squished to the front looking really odd if all of you are big muscled guys all cramped to the driver's end.

Bumps, wide curves, steep ascend and descend on non-concrete road summarizes the whole trip. In my mind you just hope that the whole trip be worth it once you get to Magpupungko. On my very rough estimate, 70% of the road to Magpupungko is not concrete but we saw a number of big machines doing roadwork along the road which could mean that you may not experience the same butt-numbing experience that we had when you get the chance to visit.

Upon seeing the Natural Pool, don't get overly excited to dive in. Make sure your valuables are safe and in a high place as the tide may go up while you are enjoying the natural pool. First order of business upon arriving was to take pictures then after it was all done, we hurriedly undressed and swam our to our heart content.

After almost 1 hour and a half of bumps and curves, we finally reached Magpupungko Beach. Always keep in mind that it is best to visit Magpupungko when the tide is low. Why? Because Magpupungko Beach boasts their natural pool and this will not be visible when the tide is high. Also, Magpupungko has rocky shores and waves are rough so I'm pretty sure it will not be as pleasing to take a dip here.

 

It will be best to bring a snorkeling gear or goggles to fully enjoy the view down low. An underwater camera will also help. Good thing Nelson brought a goggle which he didn't hesitate to lend us.

We were all laughs and talks while enjoying the cool waters in the natural pool but I just can't seem to stop the urge to climb the tall rock and take a dive. So I prepped myself, asked permission from Sheena and gave her my last will and testament before taking the dive.

 Here is the video of my very awkward looking jump and dive.






Is Magpupungko Beach a must-visit? Yes definitely. So if you get the chance to visit Siargao, visit Magpupungko Beach.

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