Ride The Tides

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

”Home, it is nice to be back!”, I pondered to myself as I gazed out the window. The van cruised through concrete roads bordered by old mango trees, green rice paddies and tall coconut trees. Infrequently, the pristine view would be blocked by huge political or advertisement banners, but I was too excited to let the sporadic growth gall over my love for Siargao. Two months since I left the island with a beaten ego after Jing told me that there were no weak surfers.

 

“Jing’s Place!’’, the van driver declared as he handed over my backpack. Jing owned one of the first fully all local homestays in General Luna. Already in his fifties, he was still rocking surfer abs. A surfing legend to most, he was the surfer dad that I never had.

I marched into the homestay, Jojo welcomed me, “You’re home Paula! Let’s go surfing! Uncle Jing is already at Secret Spot.’’ Itching to surf again, I speedily unpacked my bag onto the bed to change. I clutched my favourite 8-foot long board and strapped it to onto the motorbike board rack. I sensed a bit of self-doubt and worry raced in, ”Was it too soon to surf again after a bad reef cut?”, I questioned myself. ”You have booties on Paula.”, I reassured myself as I revved the motorbike engine.

Forty-five minutes until I reached the not-so-secret Secret Spot because of the countless motorbikes parked along the roadside, I wandered 300 meters from the parking before I finally heard the rustling waves.

With a waxed surfboard and a Zinc cream covered face, I got on the board and paddled out. “Nice to see you again Tin!”, jested Jing as he summoned his student over. I felt great to be in the water again after having been partially immobile for a full month after a minor surfing accident.

The first wave arrived, I attempted to seize it but missed then struggled to get back on the board. As the sun rays radiated stronger, so did my impatience. The only reason I signed up for the gym was to surf better. Yet there I was plopping miserably like an absolute amateur.

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

With jelly arms, annoyance grew as I waited for waves. I had to deal with my inner demons called patience and trust. I turned to Jing seeking assurance of which he responded with a smile.

Surfing is definitely not for people who loved full control, there are just too many external factors to this sport. The sense of helplessness slowly crept into my nerves being a person who relished in predictability.

‘’Yew!’’, jeered one local surfer as another set of waves showed up over the horizon. Keep legs together, paddle deeper with clasped hands, wait for the push, stand up with knees bent and look far towards the shore, I told myself.

‘’This one Tin! Paddle now, paddle hard!’’, coaxed Jing. I paddled, I felt the push and the flow got to me.

With a sigh of relief, I finally caught a wave, my first long ride after a long time. The next hours, I rode one wave after the other with much enthusiasm until I could not paddle anymore.

“Good session today! Great to have you back again Tin.”, said Jing as he patted my right shoulder as I looked at him with a stoked face. I felt elated that he was proud of me, but I was just happy to be back and ride the tides again.

A supportive surfing family living on a gorgeous island also struggling to find balance over contentment and growth. ”Progress over perfection, be ready to ride the tides.”, Jing would constantly quip. The Siargaonons and the island not only taught me acceptance over my flaws but also of trusting life despite the unwanted changes.

As I turned the engine off and laid the board on the rack, there was a sense of peace and security, the very essence of home.

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The Problem with TrashTag: Why I Stopped Supporting Clean-up Drives

Do you love joining clean-up drives? Did you join the #trashtag? Here are three ways you can do more to make our planet cleaner.

I recently got attacked by some trolls over Instagram for commenting over a social media influencer’s post. Just because pointed I out how ironic that they sought for plastic-free province yet they used plastic bags to collect the trash but anyhow, this has inspired to come up with this post. Recently, there is a growing trend of clean-ups #trashtag and everyone who is seeking for attention or praise are doing this.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the immediate benefits of picking up the trash, however, at the moment it is just being used by several social media influencers as a publicity stunt to become more popular and gain more likes, not to mention by companies to portray that they care about the environment.There are cons with this movement and you may not agree but I just feel the need to put it out here.

  • Temporary and Unsustainable – Even if we take a good portion of the Philippine population to constantly clean-up, it will not solve the core of the problem which are lack of self-discipline and lack of corporate responsibility. Also, most people do not do it regularly enough to make the effects evident. How many times have people done clean-ups in different places and yet minutes after trash is back again. I know because I have taken part in several Shore it Up drives.

  • It Does Not Empower the Local Community – If locals get used to some other people cleaning up for them, they will never feel the responsibility over the mess they are making. I always see how a lot of Filipinos have this sense of entitlement when they are in fastfood or restaurant chains, you barely see anyone responsibly throwing their trash. Same goes for all those fun runs, like some Earth run organised before where hundreds of water cups were just left out on the road. Currently, DENR has organised several River and beach clean-ups but I am not sure of the percentage of participants that live in the venue. Those countless areas where dwellers just continue to trash their surroundings will just grow accustomed to the idea that there will always be someone else cleaning up after them.

  • No Accountability Post Clean-up – I have seen several clean-ups and photos taken after the event but no one really shows where the trash collected goes. In one vlog, several social media influencers took several bags of trash and they got praised for what they did, however, it surfaced couple of days after that they just left the trash in the same area so did it really change things?

You might think, if you know better, what do you propose we do instead of just picking up the litter? Great if you think like this! Here are better ways to help the growing plastic problem:

  • Put a price on plastic. – Companies should be charged more for the use of plastic given the numerous bad effects it has over our environment and health and we consumers should push for legislations for this. We should also make use of plastic bags in grocery stores more expensive instead of charging people to buy an eco bag.

  • Force companies to create sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. – Recent news showed that there is a growing pressure from consumers nationwide for better packaging. Couple of months ago, Loop announced it will be working with several known companies for reusable packaging.

  • Shift to a zero-waste lifestyle.- In the end, it all starts with us, the consumers. If we produce less waste then there would be less trash in our planet. You opting for an alternative packaging or plastic-free products already has more impact over a one day clean-up. It is not easy but it is far from impossible. There are a lot of resources and tips online for you to shift to this lifestyle. Besides, our predecessors already lived like this before. Our grandparents used banana leaves and reused mason jars, why not go back to how it used to be.

I am not stopping you from joining the next clean-up drive, if it makes you feel good and you feel it is making a real difference. I just want to remind people that the problem will not be solved completely if we do not zoom out to look at the bigger problem and put our focus on the root cause of the issue. It is like covering a hole in a damaged boat with barehands, sure it delays the sinking but it does not really stop it.

Next time you buy something, think about how you are contributing to the trash problem. Choose to consume without waste.

Why I Gave Up Shopping for New Clothes and Why You Should Too: The Problem with Fast Fashion

These days everyone is proudly flaunting their metal straws and those reusable spoons & forks but there is another bunch of products that could have more impact in the pollution problem if most of us gave it up. This is why at the start of 2019, I made this as my top resolution and here is why you should include it in yours too!

Why You Should Quit Shopping for New Clothes

These days everyone is proudly flaunting their metal straws and those reusable spoons & forks but there is another bunch of products that could have more impact in the pollution problem if most of us gave it up.

What is it you ask? Give up shopping fast fashion products!

What is fast fashion?

It is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

In A Nutshell

In early 2018, the fashion giant H&M reported sitting on a huge pile of unsold clothes — $4.3 billion worth of inventory. They also incinerated 15 tons in 2017, which they claimed were clothes not safe to use. This shows the major problem the fast fashion industry has. Imagine if each one of the 7.5 billion people on Earth owned only one pair of pants and one shirt, that would make 15 billion items of clothing but of course we have more. In fact our consumption for fast fashion is growing at a crazy pace and it must stop. For over two decades, I have always been a fan of buying second hand clothes, in my country, we call it ukay-ukay. However, it was only this 2019 that I decided to completely avoid purchasing any new clothing for the entire year.

Here are the reasons why I decided to stop:

More than 50% of fast fashion produced is disposed in under one year.

150 billion garments per year are produced in the global fashion industry, which means about 20 items per person.

30% of clothes is never sold.

460 billion dollarsis how much the global economy misses out on each year because people are throwing away clothes they could continue to wear.

Less than three years is the lifetime of an apparel item in developed countries.

Customers are using large amounts of clothing for a shorter time:An average American buys 70 apparel items a year which translates to a new piece of clothing every four to five days.

The average closet of a UK citizen contains 152 items. More than half gather dust. There are $45 billion of unworn clothes in the United Kingdom alone.

What if you just cannot cut down just as much as I can? Here are some suggestions:

  • Support eco-friendly brands that support long-term conservation projects.
  • Shift to eco-fabrics and support the development of agricultural residues like leftover straw as sustainable alternative for fabric manufacturing.
  • Buy clothes that last and reduce & recycle fabric to optimise the use of the product. Try doing Project 333 and be surprised how little you need for 3 months.

At a digital age, it is not an excuse to not know of sustainable alternatives. It is good though that for most Filipinos, ukay-ukay is popular but it is not really stopping the production of new ones which eventually end up in thrift stores. We have also become home to huge stores of fast fashion brands. The next time you shop, think about it. Is it really necessary?

If you want to know more about the growing problem of fast fashion, check out these resources:

Pulse of the Fashion Industry by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group

The State of Fashion by Business of Fashion and McKinsey Company

A new of textile economy by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Fashion at the crossroads by Greenpeace

The True Cost documentary

Burning deadstock? Sadly, ‘Waste is nothing new in fashion’

Seven Sustainable Priorities for Fashion Industry Leaders by Global Fashion Agenda

The Sexy Off-Price Sector Has a Big Problem by eMarketer Retail

Takeaways From Future of Fashion Sustainability Panel

Overproduction: Taboo in Fashion

Oxfam Research

The Taming of the Fox: Thoughts About Being Single, Dating and Relationships

Why are you single? Where is your boyfriend? Are you married? These questions I hear often and it is getting worse the older I get. I am not an AFAM hunter and nor am I desperate. I am just a fox that needs taming!

One only understands the things that one tames….Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Why are you single? Where is your boyfriend? Are you married? These questions I hear often and it is getting worse the older I get. I am certain it will only get much worse by December because my younger sister is getting married! Living in a country where most women are expected to marry by 24, I am far beyond the deadline. At one point in time, I did say I would get married by 26. Well, deadlines are flexible so now I have moved it to 35. While on a casual chat with my German friend Yasha about love life and men, he told me that I was just a fox waiting to be tamed. It then hit me, perhaps he is right.

I thought that it would be fitting to write about my relationship status and dating while we are still in the Love month even it is technically the last day of it. I had my first attempt at a relationship when I was 17 years old and it did not end well, in fact, it gave me a period of post-traumatic stress disorder but I will leave this story in the air as I do not think it can be good for me or the ones reading my blog and I know, now you want to know about it.

Anyhow, I dated a couple of men and for the past five years, I have been more inclined to dating foreign ones. Do not get me wrong, I am not one of those for lack of a better word ”AFAM hunters”. Now back to the fox. What about the fox? Well, anyone who has heard of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is also one of my favourite books of all time, would know much about the fox. Although the fox was just one of the characters in the story, he played an important role. He reminded the prince about what is essential and about responsibilities in relationships.

When Looks Get In The Way

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This is quite relatable as for me, I have gotten a lot of interests from men based on how I look. I cannot count the times I have been told how my skin colour looks nice, how pretty or cute I am and how nice it is that I am tall. Sure, I am not a hypocrite, I do agree that one of the first things we notice is how good a person looks like but it should not be what they are only about. I find this quite frustrating when meeting men as most of them, in my opinion, are only motivated to get in my pants. Having a past in pageantry and modelling does not make things easier. Often than not, people can easily like someone based on their physical traits. I find this too common with most travellers I meet and of course, I do understand them, the whole idea of a taller tanned Asian girl is something just not to be missed thanks to the whole exoticism concept. This is quite evident when you try out Tinder, Bumble and all the other dating apps. I did a social experiment where I put out my modelling photo as the main profile photo and without a doubt, men are visual creatures but I also found out that I found more interesting people with the Darth Vader photo.

The exact profile photo I had over Tinder before they banned me from pissing off many men.

It is not just with dating that looks get in the way even in work. There are several times I wished that people would take me seriously but because of the whole beauty queen branding they do not take you seriously or worse they do not think you have a brain. Beyond the face, people should seek more what is in the soul. I wished that people saw me as more than just a face or a taller Filipina.

Just A Different Mindset

One only understands the things that one tames…. Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I do not have preference over foreign men, however, I found that they understand my Western mind far easier than most Filipinos. I did date a couple of Filipinos but I found them stuck in the patriarchal and not so ambitious mindset. Again, perhaps it is just me. I remember dating one who was from an almost traditional Filipino-Chinese family and I did my best to adapt to his lifestyle but in the end. it almost drove me nuts as well and when we were in our third year into the relationship, I decided to move to Manila to pursue my interest in business and startups. I think some men are bothered by the whole independent thinking that I have. I still do try to let them pull the chair, open the door and pay for the bill for me at times but again I prefer not to always.

I do not share the typical ideal most Filipinos are accustomed to, the whole get a good degree, find a good job, get married and have kids. Though do not take it differently I do still want to have kids but I think the whole concept of what most Filipinos think of marriage is too overrated.

I do not need much formality or lavish celebrations to celebrate love and the relationship. Heck, if I got married, I would save the money more for decent flat and more flights to see the world. When it comes to who has more say in the relationship, I am all for equality but in the Philippines or in the world in general, more emphasis has been put on letting men have the final say which is unfair because to me relationships mean both have equal rights. The problem is that some men never bother to understand my mindset and I also may be guilty of the same thing.

Complexity Can Kill Interest


To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you….But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered;…because it is she that I have listened to when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I have dated a couple of men who thought my life was too random and unstructured but for a late bloomer like me, I am just in the phase of getting to know which interests pursue and a part of me believes in multipotentiality. So yeah perhaps I am too complex for some who have their whole lives too planned out. I just think that there is a huge world out there beyond the typical work and desk jobs. It also does not help now that I am a digital nomad, having the freedom to be anywhere requires that I should also date someone with the same flexibility. I could be surfing in Siargao on one day and be in the jungles the next week that it would kill people who thrive with structure and predictability.

Again, I am not opposed to having structure, I do work in the field of project management so I know why it is necessary, however, I do think that in order to grow, you need new experiences and challenges. If you have never tried something and just keep it like that for the rest of your life, perhaps you are missing out on something that you could be great at. It is human nature to seek security and go for things that can be controlled, however, this does not necessarily help you grow as much. It is in unfamiliarity that one learns and discovers. Some people love reading adventures while I prefer to be the one writing about it. No one is wrong in this, just different strokes for different folks.

Again with the taming part, I am open to working with people who are not as crazy as I am with multiple interests but first I just need to know if it is worth giving up certain freedoms. I have done this before, I can adapt to another person but again it has to be equal otherwise, it will just feel like a fox having her tail or a foot cut-off.

So What Now Fox?


You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.

I do not worry that no one has tamed me despite my family and friends worry that I will waste good genes and join the crazy cat lady organisation even though cats are cute (I love dogs more.). My aunt tried to set me up with a guy in the US and this was with my mom’s approval. In fact, she even suggested that I should perhaps consider. Just recently the trip in Siargao where I ran into a former colleague who also ended up thinking which guy friend would fit me. Again, I do not have problems meeting people, I organise events, travel places and use dating apps. I am just not focused on the whole romanticism of finding the one. I am currently busy loving life and improving myself or at least that is what I think I am doing but it could also be escapism and having the Peter Pan complex. I do not worry much even if I end up as a single cougar. I already have arranged sperm donations from men I have met along the way who seemed to have good genes so I could have a baby if I still do not meet someone who is worth marrying or getting serious by the time I hit 35. Kidding!

I can always adopt too, there are a lot of forsaken kids that need all the love in the world. Lastly, I am still in the process of loving myself more. Coming from some life-changing relationships, I know the responsibility and time you need to be committed. Maybe I just need to find the right fit or it is just not the right time. Maybe I will be single forever or maybe I will settle down. Either way, I am not closing myself off to possibilities but I am also not in a rush and just enjoying the single life. So just let me be! But I appreciate that my family and friends worry, despite that a part of my plan is to make my marriage a surprise, I will invite you when the time comes and I will post in social media to make it official.



It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Most Eco-Friendly Whaleshark Interaction in the Philippines: Pintuyan, Southern Leyte

Planning to go to Oslob? Visit Pintuyan instead! The most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the Philippines.

When it comes to whale shark watching in the Philippines, Oslob comes first in the mind of most Filipinos and foreigners but people should stop supporting this exploitation!

It is really not surprising with all the Instagram and Facebook posts about it getting crazy popular if not viral, it has been the known circus. I one article it has been said that during the tourist season, more than 1,500 sightseers descend each day on Oslob, a town of 30,000 on the island of Cebu. If you want to watch real whale sharks and not puppies being fed, your best option in the Philippines is found in a lesser known site called Pintuyan.
Pintuyan is a fifth class municipality in Southern Leyte province is home to the most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the country.

Why Choose Pintuyan over Oslob?

The difference between Oslob and Pintuyan is quite huge in several aspects.

  1. Less Crowd. Far from them park feeling you get when in Oslob, Pintuyan is a remote place that is not frequently visited by countless of Korean and Chinese tourists. Compared to hundreds in Oslob, in Pintuyan, you will probably have 20 other people the most.
  2. Longer Interaction for Lesser Cost. In Oslob, you only get to be in the water for 45 minutes and pay more while in Pintuyan, it will be for a three-hour long sea-based adventure. Since they do not feed the whale sharks, you will have to wait it out for a bit and have several chances in interacting with them.
  3. Directly Supporting Local Community. In Pintuyan, when you pay the fees, you are paying a small portion to the local government while directly supporting the local fishermen who are advocates of conservation, for a disadvantaged community this is helping them a lot unlike in Oslob where the government is earning millions per month without full transparency where the money is going.
  4. See Raw Nature and Real Local Life. Oslob has already gotten touristy while Pintuyan has remained simple and raw. You can sit back and watch the sunset from their port and enjoy local priced food and drinks in town.
  5. Taking An Ethical Stand Against Animal Exploitation. As travelers, it is easy to not think of our impacts when we support local destinations and activities. Saying No to Oslob is changes the perspective of tourism to a more sustainable approach and it is empowering communities that are opting to be more eco-friendly in their approach.

Getting to Pintuyan:

Traveling to Pintuyan involves several transfers but the scenery is worth it. Southern Leyte being a less frequented place has a lot to offer. I would suggest leaving Cebu at night and arriving early in the morning in either Hilongos or Maasin.

From Cebu:

To reach Pintuyan, you can either go on a fast craft or overnight boat to Hilongos or Maasin (closer) which can take 3-6 hours. Check out Roble Shipping Lines, Gabisan Shipping Lines or Weesam Express. You can then take a van or bus to Sogod where you can take another ride to Pintuyan. From Hilongos to Pintuyan takes about 3 hours and costs around 180PHP. You can also fly to Tacloban and then take a bus to Southern Leyte, however, this will cost a lot more money.

From Bohol:

You can take a local boat called Leopard Shipping Lines from Ubay to Maasin and from there to take a van or bus to go to Sogod Bus Terminal and then catch a van or bus to Pintuyan.

How Much Will The Whale Shark Interaction Cost?

Before you could swim with the sharks, all tourists must undergo briefing before given trip tickets to engage in whale shark interaction. Then you’ll need spotters and tour guides and KASAKA will provide that.

Charges are collected from persons engaging in Whale Shark Watching and Interaction. Interactions can be done from morning until early afternoon.

Whaleshark Interaction Fees:

Conservation Fee: Php250.00 per person

Boat Rental (Good for 3 people): Php700.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of Pintuyan Proper.

Php800.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of San Ricardo.

Tour / Naturalist Guide: Php350.00

Shark Spotter: Php300.00

For more questions:
Mr. Virgilio Plazon Flores
KASAKA Collector and also one of the P.O.’s Tour Guides
Mobile Number: 09359296626

Whale Shark Interaction Guidelines:

Make sure to strictly follow the guidelines before and after entering the interaction area.

guidelines

Also important to remember that you SHOULD NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN as these chemicals can affect the whale sharks.

Accommodations in Pintuyan:

You might want to go a day before the whale shark interaction to have enough time to rest before the interaction as it will be an action filled interaction involving a lot of swimming. Whale sharks seem like they swim slow but trust me they can swim fast! Pintuyan has only three options for you should you choose to stay for the night:

Pintuyan Dive Resort :  

They have twin rooms at around P5,000+ You can use my code to get a 10% discount in Booking.com:

D&D’s Lodge:

Located near the parish church of Pintuyan
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Emmylou Banol
Contact Number: 09069372486

La Guerta Lodge I and II:

I would suggest staying at Lodge I as it is closer to the local food places, more spacious and Municipal Hall where you pay the conservation fee. A room there costs P 600, it has aircon and an own toilet but no hot shower. You can share one room with two other people though it is quite a tight space and one has to sleep on the floor with a mattress while the two has to share a double bed.

La Guerta Lodge I
(In front of the Municipal Hall)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, Pintuyan, Southern Leyte

La Guerta Lodge II
(In front of the Pintuyan District Hospital – P.D.H.)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.

Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Lynrie B. Guias (for La Guerta Lodges I and II)
Contact Number: 09261426986

6A’s Resort

6As’s Owner: Amy Tandayag – 09173211024

Staying in the Town:

  1. Palawan Pawnshop
  2. Reymart Bakeshop
  3. Mosqueda-Tandayag Building
  4. Basketball Court
  5. Michael Pharmacy
  6. CM Bakery
  7. Ayen Sari-sari Store
  8. Chapel
  9. Lucky Seven Trading
  10. Miq’s Haus
  11. Eatery
  12. Roselyn’s Sari-sari Store and Lotto Outlet
  13. Venus Sari-sari Store – BBQ, Vegetables and Fruit Stand
  14. Rucat’s Sari-sari Store
  15. Alice Store Sari-sari Store
  16. Water Market
  17. Pinoy ATM
  18. Cade’s Sari-Sari Store – Meat and Vegetables
  19. Richard’s Snackhouse
  20. Cebuana Lhuiller Express
  21. Surigao Sari-sari Grocery
  22. Ramos’ Store – Photocopy/clothes/house supplies
  23. Chapel
  24. Lelot Store – Fruits and Vegetables
  25. San Juan “Ubos” Barangay Hall
  26. Ariane Jee Lechon Manok
  27. Lhuiller Pawnshop
  28. La Guerta Lodging House
  29. Rowena’s Store
  30. Basketball Court Gym
  31. Municipal Hall
  32. Bakery
  33. Pintuyan Central School
  34. D&D Lodge
  35. Pintuyan National Highschool
  36. DJ BA Pharmacy
  37. La Guerta Lodge II
  38. Pintuyan District Hospital
  39. Ginell’s JenielJunJames Gen. Merchandise and Eatery
  40. Karaoke Bar

Another tip is to catch the sunset from the port, grab your beer and just chill. When sunset comes, you will be able to see the local fishermen head out to the sea. It is like seeing the boat version of Bagan’s air balloons. It is quite a sight to see. Also, remember that everything closes early in this place so make sure to buy dinner by 7:00PM as all stores pretty much close after. You can also use the dirty kitchen in La Guerta and cook, you can borrow the pans from the caretakers they are very helpful.

Other Activities You Can Do When in Pintuyan:

Hike Son-ok Peak

Located within the Panaon Point of Barangay Son-ok near Pintuyan Ecotourism Park, you will get a bird’s eye view of the bay.

Explore Pintuyan Ecotourism Park which has an area of 22,729 sq. meters, home to the Philippine long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis philippensis.)

Chase Waterfalls

A series of five waterfalls that stretch along 4.5 kilometers of river flows of Barangay Catbawan seven kms. Northeast of the town proper.

The site boast of its unique features thru different shapes of waterfalls.
The 212 hours of river trekking along the stretch is worth an adventure as one will hurdle each falls using roots and hanging “Bagon” leaving behind memories of hard knock efforts while enjoying what nature can offer. S

Snorkel or Dive

Pintuyan has several Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that boast beautiful coral coverage and an abundance of reef fishes: Dan-an, Manglit, Son-ok, and Balong-Balong. But there are also interesting spots just along the coast like right in front of the Brgy. Sta. Cruz Pier or the sandy area in Brgy. Punod for muck diving.
Before you swim or indulge in any water activities, especially in the MPAs, please contact or visit the Tourism Office first to settle conservation fees, suggestions on where you can rent gear (mask, snorkel, fins) if you do not have any, and instructions on if and where inside these areas is allowed for recreation.

Now that you have a better option than Oslob, please spread the word and help promote Pintuyan, a hidden gem in Southern Leyte.

Survival Guide: 10 Tips for An Epic Sinulog Experience

Are you ready for the 2019 Sinulog Festival? Here are my tips to prepare you for the grandest celebration in Cebu.

Cebu is one of the most known city in the Philippines. Although it is generally laid back, the city transforms from quiet to crazy every third weekend of January. The Queen City of the South becomes remarkably vibrant celebrating the arrival Child Jesus locally called as Señor Santo Niño in the shores of Cebu. It is a commemoration of start of Christianity in the country. Despite the religious nature of the celebration, it includes various higlights such as Miss Cebu, Festival Queen Competition, Sinulog Idol, Photo and Film Competition, Fluvial and Solemn Procession, Grand Parade and Street Dancing and Grand Finale Fireworks display, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.

Roland Pascua.jpg
Photo by Roland Pascua

Sinulog Festival is the grandest festival in the Philippines bringing in about 1 million visitors. As the weekend draws near, here are some tips to prepare you for the mother of all celebrations.

1. Plan your events well.

Here is a map of the Solemn Procession

If you are more on religious events and plan on going to the Basilica to see the image of the Child Jesus, make sure to be there as early as 5 a.m. because the queue is really long.

Check out the list of activities!

Map for Sinulog 2019 Festival Grand Parade Route Map

If you are more for dancing and parties, here are just some of the parties happening over the weekend.

2. Bring Cash.

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Avoid long queues to the ATM or worse running out of money when you need drink. Make sure you have enough cash on hand. It would be wise to keep them in different places, some could be hidden inside your bra (my mother’s advice). If you want to make the most out of your dollars, I recommend you head to Alco Credit and Foreign Exchange, Inc. they offer the best rates within the city, you can find them at Raintree Mall.

3. Prepare you Sinulog OOTD

Jover Alforque

You can buy cheap Sinulog shirts that you can cut and redesign. Opt for cotton and avoid wearing clothes with thick material. I discourage you from wearing jean pants, it can get heavy once it gets wet. You have endless options for accessories from feather to wooden beads. It is a great time to get your henna tattoo, you can easily find an artist along the street.The weather can get really hot and humid so do not be afraid to bare more skin. Unless you plan to go to the Basilica then you have to be covered. Do not wear expensive jewelries too unless you want to make friends with robbers. Also make sure that the bag you bring is always close to your body and waterproof.

4. Practice the Sinulog dance steps.

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Photo by Victor Kintanar

It would not be an authentic Sinulog celebration if you do not learn the steps. It is not that complicated, it is close to the basic one two step. All you have to do is move one foot forward and take two steps backward.

5. Think of Sinulog as a Marathon.

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I am not saying you have to wear your running shoes but it would be a good idea to wear your most comfortable footwear since the main streets in Cebu are closed specially on Sunday since parade starts as early as 6:00 a.m. People are forced to be more fit and you will not notice that you have been walking for hours because of the loud music, smiling dancers and happy people you meet in the road.

6. Embrace Extraversion.

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Photo by Erick John Cuevas

If you have problems with personal space, then you should forget about it for this weekend. Cebuanos are extra friendly during the festivities. You will get hugs, greetings and drinks from random strangers on the road. You will be a dot in a sea of humans. The massive crowd walking with you will test you on this too.

7. Bring Your Squad.

Any celebration would not be fun if you do it alone. Bring your awesome friends except for the one who always complains which I call as Negatron (no one wants a kill joy).

If you are a solo traveler, do not hesitate to talk to people, there l always be some group ready to adopt you. If you are a member of Couchsurfing like me, search for Sinulog events in the website.

Also remember that signals will be down on the following days so make sure to plan where to meet ahead.

Here is the schedule:

8. Must Haves for Sunday’s Grand Parade

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Celebrating Sinulog is like hitting the beach for summer. You must bring the following essentials: Water or any form of portable liquid for hydration, sunscreen, favorite pair of sunnies, fan to keep cool , small snacks for energy, camera for endless selfies/groufies, powerbank and extra shirt!

9. Eat. Party. Sleep. Repeat

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When I celebrated Sinulog 2018, I hanged out with a bunch of crazy guys so I ended up partying from Wednesday until Sunday. Make sure you get rest and nourishment in between. While you want to maximize your partying or events, make sure you will be okay on Monday and not in a hospital. There was a year when I missed out on the partying because I did not have enough sleep, my body gave in on Sunday. Also, remember to drink in moderation. It is easy to get carried away but you have to be responsible enough or at least be with a responsible friend. The past Sinulog parties have caused a major uproar from the conservative people as photos of teenagers sleeping unconscious along the streets went viral in social media sites. You do not want to leave traces of your partying in someone else’s Facebook account.

10. Be Ready For Everything and Anything.

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Photo by Restie Derigay

Make sure to agree on a meeting place with your friends. During the festival, the mobile networks normally suffer lags and some messages arrive hours later. While the weather reports say the weather will be fair, make sure that you are ready to embrace the rain as well as random showers of water, beer, alcohol and even paint. These tips should give you an idea on what to expect but nothing can be completely planned in life. Do not let this unpredictability stop you, this will make your Sinulog experience more memorable.

With all that said and done, I wish you the best for Sinulog 2019! May the force be with you as you brave the streets of Cebu! Prititit!!! Pit Señor!

Reginald James Lorico
Photo by: Reginald James Lorico

Why Failing is Fine this 2019

Dancing to Bebot, I had the entire crowds attention when the candle on my head dropped. Read more on how I failed infront of a huge crowd.

When you hear the word “Failure”, do you cringe?

I am quite proud about my failures enough to regularly post it here and you might enjoy or be boggled why?

I know normal people usually do their best to hide everything (#filter) to give others the best picture of them. Well, failure has played a crucial part in my life.

Okay, I used to try my best to avoid it but I realised that it is what boring people do and I do not want to be like them. Kidding aside, what struck me is that after I failed, I learned and found my way up or at least be a bit better than where I was before the failure. I know all of us have failed at one point in our lives so why do we try to hide it when it is part of human nature?

One of the biggest failure I had was during Binibining Pilipinas. I failed in the talent show in front of a big crowd at a mall in Quezon City! See, I came up with a modern take of the Pandango sa Ilaw and I am no professional dancer. I thought that fake it til I make it would be enough and for a moment it did. During the preliminary selection, I convinced the judges that I knew what I was doing.

Day came for the presentation, it seemed to go quite well until the candle on my head fell. It was a split second when everyone pause and you could hear the crowd gasp.

Ooops!! Dropped the candle…

There are points in our life when you get all the attention and usually it’s for two things: winning and failing. Luckily, I have a quick mind and have always managed to find redemption for each failure.

What did I do? Picked up the candle and did the hush gesture with my finger and continued.

What I learned from this epic fail moment is that the whole time I thought failure would kill me, I realised that it is not as bad as our minds picture it out to be. Did anyone die from me dropping the candle? No, just had a bit of my ego bruised but that’s okay. What happened after was, the crowd were amused at how I dealt with it, even one beauty pageant blogger and former Miss Philippines Universe mentioned this in her recap.

What did I get out of this failure?

I learned to practice more, recognise my limitations and came up with a different routine which I used as talent in Miss SCUBA International 2013 which made me part of the top 5 for talent.

Failure is part of growth and realising weaknesses. It is not that bad as long as you learn and get better. As the cliché says, “There are no failures, just lessons.”

So stand up 2018 might have been a bad year but it is time to gather those lessons learned, dust off the bruised hearts and egos because the show goes on this 2019!