A Home By The Sea: Bantayan, Cebu

Santa Fe, Bantayan Island in Cebu is one of the most peaceful and raw islands I’ve ever experienced. The white-sand beaches are ok, but I really like the kind of serenity (and the sunrise which Bantayan is known for) and vibe especially because of the Afro-Mediterranean inspired Kandugyap House By The Sea where we stayed at. This side-trip definitely was worth it even if we stayed only for a couple of hours.

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We arrived at Santa Fe (which is east of the Bantayan Island) after a 2-hour bus drive and approximately 1-hour ferry trip from Cebu City. It’s quite tiring due to the duration but there’s no traffic so basically I just slept the whole time. The transportation expense is affordable (around P600-700 for a round trip) and there are vans or cabs too if you want smaller capacity of vehicles.

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I have never been on a ferry trip but it was the only way to get to Bantayan from Cebu (Hagnaya Port). There were lots of tourists and locals who were travelling that time (hello summer!) so the ferry was jampacked for the first trip which was at 4am (spell haggard)!!!! But, it was all worth it, especially when I saw what my friend booked for us for our stay at the island: Kandugyap House By The Sea.

I love the place!!! (YES, three exclamation points!) It’s just a 10-15 minute-tricycle trip from the port and really accessible to a lot of the sari-sari stores where you can buy food, drinks and toiletries. There’s no Jollibee or Mang Inasal, but their stores offer a wide range of goods that tourists need.

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The main house is named after the owner, Dolores, a strong woman who stood the test of time and serves more than half her life to the community, changing lives. For Eight (8) years, villa was exclusively used as the family’s vacation home. The villa was built in 2003 using strong construction materials to stand against the strong Southwest Monsoon. Uniquely and exquisitely designed by a local architect, Arch. Ulysses A. Castillo inspired by Afro-Mediterranean designs. The interior has a wooden loft and handrails, sand washed and deep colored walls, molave wood tables and chairs, a king-size bed, a queen bed and a double bead with a wooden headboard. (Photo gallery above courtesy of Kandugyap FB)

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Aside from the interiors and the fact that I sort of own the sea (haha) and I can take lots of pictures hehe, the service is excellent, as well as their food offerings.

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There is a portion of the house that lets you access the beach. Kandugyap House by the Sea is a private resort with 1 villa and 2 bungalow rooms only and is ideal for prenuptial photo shoots (check out the above spot!!), beach weddings and honeymoon. When I posted photos of these on IG, my friends asked me where was that. I felt like I was somewhere else because of the mediterranean feel of the place. 

I highly recommend this resort. We got the villa which can house 6 people for only P6000 a night (not really that bad!!). The villa has a bathroom and toilet with hot and cold shower, air-conditioning unit, digital TV broadcast, refrigerator and a WIFI internet access!!

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After some photo-taking, we immediately left the resort and took a boat to Virgin island which is just a few minutes from Santa Fe. There is no hotel or major activity in this beach but it’s the nicest white beach near Bantayan where you can go picnic, snorkeling and hang out with friends. We played volleyball there just like high school haha!

There’s a portion of the island where we were supposed to be toured at but it was too far and it’s currently under development. We went back to the resort instead to have drinks and to just relax before the sunset.

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Super quick Cebu-Bantayan trip and leaving tonight for #closeupforeversummer ? #Sughhhmmer #garrix

A video posted by M I K K I M I N A J (@mikkigalang) on

There is also not much night life at island except for this bar where we saw lots of tourists and foreigners dining in and drinking. The food is nice and the variety of Filipino and local food is awesome. We went home after some drinks and continued bonding at the resort which was really peaceful at night!

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The other day was about catching the sunrise, taking photos (below are more OOTD’s featuring the nice interiors), and just enjoying my friend’s company after months of not being updated about each other.

Bantayan is definitely one island that I wanna visit when i want to just relax and spend time with my friends or family. I suggest having this trip whenever you’re in Cebu (maybe after Sinulog – which I had been planning for the next year). See you again, Bantayan!

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Bisan Unsang Orasa, Cebu

I told myself that when an opportunity comes to visit Cebu again, i would definitely go because the people are so warm and friendly, and the places are peaceful and pretty. I went there for the first time around 7 years ago with my cousins and friends who toured us to the top destinations in the city and until now, I couldn’t forget the moments. Below are photo diaries of my 2 trips to Cebu: one in 2009, while the other which is just a 5 months ago!

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My first visit in Cebu was memorable because our family friend toured us to these destinations that are famous in the city. They also accommodated us in their house and met a few more friends and batchmates that we have bonded with in resorts, clubs (I like the night life there!), and beaches. I love Cebuanos’ hospitality. Sometimes people would just greet me “hi” and it’s so nice to hear that coming from a city where everyone is just busy haha

So when high school friends invited me for a short trip in Cebu City and nearby island, I immediately said Yes even if I have a booked event on the 3rd day. We arrived at Cebu City in the afternoon and we visited the clean and green Ayala Mall which I first saw 7 years ago.

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We then went to eat at this famous locally grown restaurant and I just can’t help to Instagram and devour these!

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I didn’t have the chance to visit some cultural places back then so we were on tourist mode for a couple hours and it’s nice to be refreshed with some history lessons!

We ended the short day at Tops which had become really developed after a few years with more restaurants and food offerings. Our good friend Jed and Maricris brought us here and it was such romantic place!

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Thanks to friends for making this trip possible! We tried going to a bar after but we realized that it was a Thursday haha. Will definitely be back and hoping I can experience Sinulog too!

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#Laboracay2015 II

I will admit that longer hours are spent at night whenever I am in Boracay. But through the years, I noticed events and brands bringing in different musical acts – local, international, House, Electronic, reggae – the variety of which I really like. I think that when Moony came to the island a few years ago, I got really jealous because I’m such a fan of her!

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A Sunset party

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#Laboracay2015 crew!

I also learned this year how to spend some nights just by the beach by myself, or hanging around with my friends aside from going to the famous bars like Epic and event places like Sur. Below is my photo diary:

We also got to watch some musical performances and my favorite was Rebecca & Fiona, which is a Swedish duo from Stockholm, known as a support act for my idol Robyn. Aside from them being beautiful and stylish, they bring good music (and they drink Pale Pilsen! wohoo!!)

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This is my favorite song of them when I watched them in the first Forever Summer music festival!

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Below are other acts we watched during our stay through photos and snaps (yes I started using that during my stay haha)

 

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Knife Party

From Snaps to Grams part I: motorcycle that plays good music, knife party and #smartliveallout! #laboracay2015 #sunday

A video posted by M I K K I M I N A J (@mikkigalang) on

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#SmartLiveAllOut

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#SWSunKissed, Hi Victor Pring!!

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#SmartSummer

 

From Snaps to Grams part 4: with them girls wearing colorful hats! #galactic #universe #laboracay2015 #thursday A video posted by M I K K I M I N A J (@mikkigalang) on


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Definitely going to be back in 2016 and more adventures definitely!!

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#Laboracay2015

Believe it or not, despite me being in Boracay always in the Summer because of our annual family vacation at Astoria, it was only my second #Laboracay experience, but probably the best. The island is very known for its great escapes – parties left and right, amusements and shows, the good food and just the beautiful tropics, but it seemed more exciting to me through time especially because of new friends and people that I meet every time, and bonding with family that grows bigger and bigger.

I skipped Boracay last year due to Pattaya and Singapore but I sort of sticked again with my set-up in 2012, where I stayed in the island for around 14-16 days, 1 week apart from family. It was long for sure, but I had some really great adventures. See my photo diary below:

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Arrived at the port at midnight due to work. It was hard because one has to wait for a group for a boat to sail.

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My friend during the trip? Instax films and the Instax Share which prints photos from camera to films. I like it better than the normal polaroid camera because I can edit and darken the photos, and i have less room for photo mistakes. Especially because the films are expensive! I appreciated printing photos than just storing photos digitally just few months ago.

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an OOTD at Astoria Hotel which has great service and amenities

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My sister usually celebrates her birthday here and we watched a fire dancing show. There are lots of groups there performing in different hotels and resto’s but this one is the best that I’ve seen so far

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And not just because they’re a group of gays and transgenders (their group is called “Boracay frost”. They’re really talented: their moves sync with the songs and they have skits and presentations that are children can also watch

123!!!! Best fire dancers called “Boracay Frost” #chandelier #boracay

A video posted by M I K K I M I N A J (@mikkigalang) on

It’s probably one of those shows where I saw my family not minding they’re gay or transgenders. It was all raw talent and skill.

This trip also allowed me to explore more restaurants and food options in the island because of the friends that I met. We usually budget our food and we sort of end up eating the same meals (you’ll see that below haha) but this time I got to try the famous barbeque ribs (Backyard) in the island, going to the talipapa and having a fresh seafood feast,  and trying the famous and truly authentic and iconic Real Coffee shop. Processed with VSCOcam with c8 preset

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It was also the time of Manny Pacquiao’s big fight with MayWeather and there I saw how really important and big boxing is for Filipinos. When he lost, the whole island got sad really!!

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Andy, who blogs his grand adventures here, and Aldwin

The rest of the days without my family, I spent exploring the island with friends. I love that they toured me to places I haven’t been like the Spider House which had an amazing panoramic view of the island, and to Bolabog Beach where Andy stayed at. It was a peaceful beach in the island contrary to the energetic and noisy main beach. It’s 30-40 minutes from D’Mall and it felt like a private resort!  

From Snaps to Grams part 6: waiting, borderline. @andyuki #laboracay2015 #tuesday #mikkigalangtravel A video posted by M I K K I M I N A J (@mikkigalang) on

 More photos of places we visited here:

I also attended some events!

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Skyscanner

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Part 2 is my night diary, here.

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Bed Peace @ Bolabog Beach

Sail Out basically means being free. Go with the wind… you know.. like a sail boat. And I think that’s really important when it comes to peace… inner pece specially. You can’t help anyone else if you don’t have it together for yoursel.” – Jhene Aiko

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When I was in Boracay, my good friend/cousin introduced me to Jhene Aiko and her albums which I love since then, because her lyrics and her “slow down movement” which she talks about in the below video, speaks so much about a lot of intangible things and her personality too. and she talked about peace in her Bed Peace single with THE Childish Gambino. I know that it doesn’t speak so much about what she said above, but since I heard her music and songs, i’ve really thought about the kind of peace that I wanted.

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Sunset at Bolabog Beach, Boracay

Rightfully, I was really able to slow down during this trip. We all know Boracay to be a bit chaotic, crowded and noisy, but there’s this secret hotel and beach in the island that allowed me to think about a lot of things other than the bikini and outfit I’ll be wearing on a night out, or the waterproof makeup that I have to prepare.

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Palassa Private Residences

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A friend that I met in Boracay, Andy,  allowed us to hang around outside his hotel room, where there were beds and pillows and all. i stayed there for quite a while, watched the sun rise which was an amazing view after a night of rave. My room at Manila is closed (I don’t have windows LOL) so this was such a great feeling.

 

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I got that sense and thinking of what really matters to me, settling with that, but pushing for it despite the so many things and battles in my mind. I’ll sail for sure, but I need to have peace.

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wearing Mikka’s Closet

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5 Years of Summer at Boracay

I’ve been spending 5 summer vacations at Boracay and below are my photo diaries featuring the my best photographs! Enjoy!

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A Beautiful Busuanga

Vacationing at this city was really being away from the busy Manila life and it was a rare and life-changing moment for me. Imagine how I was able to reset my 10-15-year-old body clock after the trip because I had no choice but to wake up early (7am!!) for the 3-day tours. I was really worried spending time alone while others are enjoying the sea! Also, imagine how I could sleep really early (8am!!!) because I got so tired from the tours and also, the night life was not so bright.

I kind of liked it anyways because I really loved Busuanga and Coron Island. All these wouldn’t be possible without my my friend Oman, who’s a real traveller (and i realized how amateur I am haha). He’s just so prepared for everything – waterproof cases, mini toiletries, researches of the best food and places. Our total trip didn’t cost above P8000 (inclusive of tours estimated at 2000+, accommodation of around 500-800 per day, etc) due to the Cebu pacific promo  and his expertise at budgeted travelling which i really liked! Below is a visual diary of my trip to this city!

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View of Coron

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Wet Market near the dock. This is their primary market and lots to be found here!

We arrived at a super-friendly budget backpacker hotel (which dominates this part of Coron) at around 2pm and we immediately left to explore the town, Coron which is located at Busuanga Island. We asked what we can visit given our time and the family suggested the Mt. Tapyas and The Maquinit Hot Springs, both accessible through a tricycle.

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Mt. Tapyas is a destination for everyone in the town where you can see a beautiful panoramic view of Coron Islands. We didn’t take a rest after the plane trip and we climbed 700 steps to get to this place but it’s definitely worth it. I felt so accomplished because this is prolly the first mountain I climbed (but I guess this tourist-friendly climb doesn’t count because one doesn’t have to hike hehe)

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We went back to town after and explored restaurants . Below are all food photos of everything we ate at our 3-day trip at Busuanga. The most unique I’ve tried are the fishes. What I’ve learned from one restaurant: Balinsasayaw, which is basically a spanish term used to describe Palawan (a bird’s nest) and a local delicacy, the bird’s nest soup – though I didn’t tried this hehe.

We also went to La Sirenetta which is probably the most busy and active bar & resto in the town where you can find foreigners and travellers alike. I like their pinacolada’s!

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Night life in Coron is pretty much dull because the tours are very early and we all go to Coron for that right? hehe On our first day, we also went to Maquinit Hot Springs, which is a 30-minute haggard tricycle trip (the roads going there are really rough). But again, all worth it: the saltwater hot spring + surrounding beach and mangrove forest + warm water said to be heated by a volcano + the starry sky. It’s as if they’re all meeting all the same time at night.

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I had little time exploring the town and I will definitely be back for more adventures!

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Adventures at Coron Island, Palawan

Coron Island is my favorite island so far and while I cannot compare it to El Nido because i have only gone to one private island, my ultimate traveller friend says that he finds the latter more beautiful even under the sea, but it’s so easy to fall-in-love with former’s pristine beaches, seven mountain lakes, it’s quiet and simple environment, and of course, its history.

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On our second day at Bunsuanga, i woke up at 7am to prepare for the tours and we chose Tour A, which includes a trip to 3 greatest beaches that are accessible after  2-3 hours of boat trip . And my god, the beaches are really white and the waters???  crystal clear!!!!

We arrived at Malcapuya Island at noon which for me is the most beautiful island I have ever seen. They say it’s very much like Boracay but I don’t really think so. It is known as a an ultimate virgin beach with a long stretch and rich marine life ( we even saw whale sharks!!), it’s blue-colored candy in my eyes the whole time. Spell PARADISE.

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There’s nothing much to do (well snorkeling but the waters are quite shallow) but that’s not possible for my camera’s haha! I had to capture everything and store it in my digital devices because it’s just pretty and dreamy. Our tourist guide said that it was just recently acquired by a resort company and they’re planning to place a 5-star resort which makes me lucky. I don’t wanna be charged 6-digits for a visit there (but well, maybe?? let’s see! haha)

After having lunch, we went to a nearby privately-owned island which is the Banana island, called as such due to its shape. This is where the snorkeling happened which I haven’t done for a long time so I had to refresh my skills – thanks to our tour guide. The beach isn’t as nice but my friend who loves to go under water (really deep!!) said that it was nice (relatively Ok, compared to El Nido).

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Then we went to Bulog Dos Island for a short time only because we had to go back to Coron island before the sun sets. It’s adjacent the Two Seasons resort but the other side is still free for all. I like the sand bar (perfect for pictures because you know, you can face the sun and take a nice photo haha!). It is said that there’s a pretty marine life there but we didn’t get the chance to really explore due to time.

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Tour mates!

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Lunch

We had to call it a day and going back, I loved how i got to know people and travellers in this tour as well through the games and activities we had in the boat. 2 hours was long but it didn’t feel like it.

The second day was supposed to be really for my friend who graduated Biology and just loves marine life, and have already travelled a lot of local destinations in the Philippines. Tour C consists of the top tourist destinations in Coron, including historical ones, and the kind where skills in swimming is really required (ughh).

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The first destination is just a few hours away, but we struggled inside the boat (we all got wet due to the strong winds and waves and I just kept praying the whole time). But when we arrived at the Twin Laggoon, it was all worth it. I have heard of this from friends and it’s truly magical because the temperatures and visions vary due to the meeting of cold fresh water and hot salt water.

Then we stopped by the infamous Kayungan Lake where we found lots of tourists experiencing the emerald water and the vision of beautiful limestone formations. But also, where I nearly drowned!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t know it was so deep ( the look of the water can be decieving)  so i left my life vest and I really struggled going back (hello weak lungs and 20 ft.!!!). I had to rest and catch my breath while waiting for my friend who swam into the cave chamber and when I saw his pictures underwater, pretty lights and rock formations can be seen.

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There’s also a nice view at the top of the lake..

We took lunch and shortly went to a public beach called the CYC beach which is a public one. It’s not as pretty and clean as the beaches I visited the other day but it had nice marine life according to my friend.

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We ended the tour after and the 2 days were very tiring for me but I also challenged myself to avail of the other tours (more hard core ones) – probably after I learn how to swim again and maybe when i’m secure that I wouldn’t be easily killed by stonefishes etc .

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I am super thankful for my friend, Oman Santos, for bringing me to this island and to the tours – it was magical and dreamy really and while I got so busy taking photos, he always reminded me to relax and just stare the this beauty. I learned so much about Coron and its people (the Tagbanwa’s) too through the tour guides, and I am hoping that they will be able to preserve its beauty and tourism despite the private resorts coming in.

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Pre-Laboracay 2015

Below is my a photo diary of my 3-day break before my 2-week Boracay adventure. I got the chance to bond with my cousins who grew up in different countries – Australia and New Jersey . I haven’t seen them for a long time and it’s really nice exchanging experiences, learning things and touring them to Manila, especially Boracay, and its infamous night life. Got the chance to get out with my blogger friends Plump Pinay and cousin-in-law The Misty Mom too! Fun way to jumpstart my summer with hawaiian barbeques, DIY pinacoladas, Pinoy sunsets, snapchat stories and a lot more!

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Baguio Forever

Ever since I was a kid, every summer, we would always go to Baguio. It was really like the summer destination of my family and relatives until recently, Boracay! Anyway, my recent trip was definitely one for the books. While every single visit is different (or it is just me and my dramatic self in a cold weather haha), we went out of the box this time and went to the new, iconic and picture-worthy places like the former Ayuyang Bar, Oh My Gulay, Spade Club (which replaced Purple Bar that we visited 2 years ago), Cafe by the ruins (ugh, best coffee ever!!), Choco-late de Batirol, and this really nice drinking place called “Sala” (literally). Of course, old places spark new experiences and felt like #throwbackthursday every time: Camp John Hay, Manor, Mines View Park, Green Valley and a lot more.

View my photo diary below:

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