Dashing Spot: Pass Island, Coron

Dashing Spot: Pass Island, Coron

In Coron, Palawan lies this tiny island with a beach that will stun its visitors, whether one’s staying the night or only stopping by. We highly recommend it if you’re after Coron’s but want total detachment.

Crystal clear waters, stunning surroundings of Pass Island

If you could choose to get washed up on the shores of an island after venturing headlong into a storm, where would you like to end up in? We won’t want that in general but with enough food and water supply, Pass Island, a tiny island hours away from Busuanga Airport, in the middle of Coron, may be an enjoyable choice.

It’s an interesting name for a three-hectare island that’s often thought of as nothing more than a lunch stop for island hopping tours. The name comes from the island being the only island that you’re 100% guaranteed to pass through on your way to towns like El Nido and Culion. The best parts of Pass Island are its crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling and a beach with sand that’s so powdery white you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Boracay. It also has unimpeded views of the sunrise and sunset along with so many places for selfies (get the hammocks!) that you’re bound to run out of storage space on your phone or SD card.

Get there

  • Board a Skyjet Airlines flight to Coron from Manila, which takes about 35 minutes.
  • Once in Coron, take a ride to the Coron Port, roughly 45 minutes to an hour from the airport.
  • Get on a boat to Pass Island for around Php6,000 (you’ll have to rent the whole boat) . You can also book a Reefs and Wrecks tour in town for anywhere between Php1,400-Php2,000 per person. Entry to the island for the day is at Php200 per person.

Stay

Pass Island offers beach huts at Php1,000 per person per night. You can also bring your tent or sleeping bag for Php500, while renting one of their own tents is at Php750. Pass Island Palawan. 

Words and photo: Andrew Del Rosario

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

Some of our favorite holidaymakers Levy Amosin, Carla Araniego, Christian Sangoyo, Celine Murillo, and Darwin Cayetano, pick the most gorgeous resorts they’ve been to that don’t break the bank and are perfect for you and your love.

Urban Sands Resort, Iloilo

Mixing modern urban sophistication and beachside ambience, the Urban Sands Resort at the heart of iloilo brings the sea closer to the city. Levy Amosin of Hugging Horizons describes it as “a paradise within the heart of the city.” Using real sand and pebbles in the landscaping, the focal point is the pool, which, according to Levy, brings a “coastal feel to it.”

From Php3,250 (USD60++); Urbansandsiloilo.com

Loboc River Resort, Bohol

Imagine staying in this room with a view of the Loboc River. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Away from the usual island resorts in Bohol, Carla Araniego of Blissfulguro recommends the Loboc River Resort in Tagbilaran as an alternative place to stay while in the land of the Chocolate Hills. situated right beside the Loboc River, their cottages replicate the feel of traditional nipa houses. “Having coffee on the balcony with a view of Loboc River was the most memorable part of my stay. Away from the beach crowd of Bohol, its seclusion is perfect for those who are looking for tranquility amid the busy goings-on of city life.”

From Php2,500; Lobocriverresort.com

Casa San Miguel, Zambales

A hidden gem in the town of San Antonio in Zambales, Casa San Miguel is a rustic retreat intertwined with art and culture. Besides hosting guests, the casa is actually a local school for music. Carla recalls her stay, “waking up to the charming voices of kids having their weekly voice and violin lessons truly separate this resort from the rest.”

From Php4,000; Facebook.com/casa.sanmiguel.zambales

Crosswinds Resort Suites, Tagaytay

It’s not really a stay in chilly Tagaytay without the sight of pine trees and beautifully-colored houses. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

The Crosswinds Resort combines the feel of charming swiss-inspired chalets with the mildly chilly environs of Tagaytay. Carla says “walking along its winding roads, the scent of pine in the air, and passing colorful chalets, transport you to another place.”

From Php3,700; Crosswindsresortsuites.com

Casa San Pablo, Laguna

It looks old, but we’re willing to bet you’d find more than gold here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Brightly painted walls mixed with vintage furniture and on point accessories are the charm of Casa San Pablo, a bed and breakfast near Sampaloc Lake. Each nook and cranny has a surprise. Somehow, the craziness of the place works with the peaceful ambiance of its location.

From Php2,900; Casasanpablo.com

Moon Garden, Tagaytay

Remember what we said about colorful settings in Tagaytay? Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Best for a romantic weekend in Tagaytay. situated on the quieter side of the city, its rustic stone casitas are overgrown with vines and has open hut lounges surrounded by ponds. Overall, the place has the vibe of a secret garden and forgotten places.

From Php2,600; Facebook.com/Moongardentagaytay

Coco Grove Beach Resort, Siquijor

Imagine having a drink or dining here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

With almost a kilometer-long shoreline, three swimming pools, three restaurants, and garden and pool bars, Coco Grove Beach Resort is one of the bang-for-the-buck luxury places in Siquijor.

From Php3,500; Cocogrovebeachresort.com

Luljetta’s Place Garden Suites, Antipolo City

A scenic eight-hectare property is carved along the ridges of a cliff and overlooks Antipolo, Laguna de Bay, and Metro Manila with a very relaxing infinity pool with views.

From Php4,000; Luljettas.com

Sophia’s Garden Resort, Coron, Palawan

Celine Murillo of Celenism.com recommends the Spanish-style villas of Sophia’s Garden Resort, an actual garden with a wonderful El Comidor restaurant that looks like it’s straight out of historic novel Noli Me Tangere.

From Php3,300; Facebook.com/sophiasgardenresort
SkyJet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron

Sand and Stars Beach Resort, Baler, Aurora

See the sand and stars at night, enjoy the beach in the day. Photo by Darwin Cayetano

For convenient beach camping, Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure says Baler’s sand and stars Resort has huge tents. “Other than the convenience of having actual beds, the floor is carpeted􀈀 it has a sitting area􀈀 and every corner is Instagramable,” adds Darwin.

From Php2,500; Facebook.com/sandandstarsdinadiawan

Our Dash Sources

Words by Christian Sangoyo

Where do you wanna go in 2019?

Where do you wanna go in 2019?

#fitnessgoals, #careergoals, #lifegoals. How about #travelgoals for a change? We’ve asked professional travelers on places they’d like to visit in the Year of the Earth Pig.

If you’ve been looking for paths less traveled, hidden gems, unexplored trails, and untouched destinations, take inspiration from this list we got from some of the country’s top travel bloggers. Their choices could very well be on your wishlist for the year too.

Traveler Elal Lasola
Less is more

If you ask award-winning photographer Elal Lasola, less is definitely more for underrated destinations. Places like the Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao, El Nido’s twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and Bontoc, Mountain Province are some of her go-tos.

These places have less in terms of crowds in contrast to others [destinations], which means there are more opportunities for you to enjoy more.

Traveler Mervin Marasigan
For intrepid travelers only: Biri, Nothern Samar from

Man pointing upwards with Biri rock formations in the background
“To the skies!” A beautiful shot of the rock formations in Biri, Northern Samar. Photo by Larry Quinao

Mervin Marasigan, the man behind Pinoy Adventurista, calls it one of the most underrated destinations in the country. “An off-the-beaten destination that only the most intrepid travelers dare to visit. Don’t miss its stunning rock formations battered by strong waves. They are truly amazing! Every spot is definitely Instagram-worthy!”

Get there
Brace for a 17-hour journey by bus from Manila to Catarman, Northern Samar, a 1.5-hour bus ride from Catarman to Lavezares port, and a one-hour ferry ride to Biri Island.

Traveler Melo Villareal
The elusive Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro

The Sandbar at Aslom
Hard to find a better sandbar than this. Photo by Leo Castillo of Shoestring Travelers

Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog liken for Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro to its namesake (bulalakaw is the Filipino term for shooting star) because of how beautiful yet fleeting it is. “Although it is overshadowed by nearby destinations like Puerto Galera and Mount Malasimbo, Bulalacao is without a doubt a place we can truly call paradise.”

Bulalacao has beaches and sights you’ll never see in Metro Manila and has temperatures that make it a year-round destination; quite rare for a beach if you ask us.

Get there
Fly from Manila to Caticlan then take a three-hour boat ride from Caticlan jetty to Bulalacao.

Traveler Estan Cabigas
The largely uncharted: Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi

Sitangkai woman with 'borak' on her face

A Sitangkai woman with ‘borak’ on her face. Photo by Estan Cabigas

Known as the southernmost place in the country, it’s a place that Estan Cabigas of Langyaw.com and Ten Zero Four describes as a “surreal place that is quite different from what we are used to in the country.”

“To go around the island, walk on elevated wooden pathways, swim, ride a tempel (motorized wooden boat), and swim at the still shallow water.” He’s also heard mosques calling the locals to prayer in near-unison, an experience he describes as unforgettable.

Get there
Fly to Zamboanga City and transfer to a flight headed for Tawi Tawi. Once there, you’ll have to take a ferry from Bongao Port to Sitangkai.

Our Dash Sources:

Eat the city with love

Eat the city with love

If you are looking for a unique date night, why not try resto-hopping and taste these 10 recommended bites from foodies JJ Yulo and Mark Del Rosario? The adventure may just stir something up!

Oyster Sisig from Locavore

The restaurant is known for putting a twist on classic Filipino dishes, and while they are known for their famous Sizzling Sinigang, their Oyster Sisig is an underrated must-try. At Locavore, it comes in two versions: the fried Oyster Sisig (Php370), which is exactly what the name suggests, and the Lechon Oyster Sisig (Php380), which is the same thing, except with crunchy lechon bits.

Locavore.ph

Bibingka & Puto Bumbong from Via Mare

Something sticky and good for sharing like the bibingka of Via Mare, for sure, is a winner to dating couples. Photo by Jocas See

Filipinos love rice so much, they put it in every dish, including desserts. The bibingka and puto bumbong (Php80) are rice cakes that are particularly favored no matter what time of the year. At Via Mare, they are available all year round, and are best eaten as a snack. The bibingka comes in three versions: one with Laguna cheese and salted duck egg (Php130), one with Laguna cheese and edam cheese (Php160), and the last one made out of cassava (Php100).

Viamare.com.ph

Ube dirty ice cream from your friendly neighborhood ice cream man

It’s delicious, it’s cheap, and you can find them everywhere in Manila. Photo by Jocas See

It is not uncommon to see an ice cream vendor wheeling around a colorful ice cream cart on the streets of the metro. If you happen to encounter one, there is your golden opportunity to try the delicious cool purple treat flavored by purple yam and coconut milk. Most days, a scoop or two of ube ice cream is all you’ll need to cool down on a humid day. Don’t worry; it’s not really dirty.

Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, Makati

Halo-halo at Milky Way Cafe

It may still be cold, but you’ll be wishing for one of these soon enough. By Jocas See

Described by food writer JJ Yulo as “Manila in a bowl,” this dish is a hodgepodge of shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, tapioca pearls, coconut slices, flan—and yes, ube ice cream again. Many restaurants serve this dish, but the one at Milky Way Cafe is considered by many to be the best.

Cafe.milkywayrestaurant.com

Buko pie by Little Flour

The Filipino version of apple pie, Little Flour’s buko or coconut pie (Php220/slice), with its perfectly flaky crust, is a cult favorite.

Wildflour.com.ph/littleflour

Boneless Crispy Pata by Pamana

Sharing stories over ice-cold beer paired with the right food is distinctly Filipino. In most cases, it’s crispy pata–deep-fried pork knuckles served with soy sauce and vinegar. The one served at Pamana (Php650) is a favorite because it’s boneless and oh-so-tender.

Pamanarestaurant.com

Watermelon & beef short rib sinigang by Manam

Manam has managed to find a new way of giving this staple Filipino dish its signature sour flavor. This warm bowl is perfect to be shared by a loved up couple.

If you really want to get a handle on Filipino cuisine, sinigang is a dish you just have to try. To make the experience more memorable, try Manam’s unconventional take on the beloved Pinoy sour soup (Php245/small serving).

Facebook.com/ManamPh

Isaw by Sarsa Kitchen

Yes, those are chicken intestines; and they taste bloody brilliant.

Filipino street food is always intriguing, but very few visitors and even locals are willing to take the plunge and actually try them straight from the streets. That’s where Sarsa’s isaw (grilled intestines) comes in. This version is cleaned out and flavored to perfection. You can try the chicken or spicy chicken isaw (Php185), pork isaw (Php195), or beef isaw (Php210).

Sarsa.ph

Mutton adobo by Abe

Another unbeatable Filipino favorite, adobo, comes in as many versions as there are cooks. This dish from Abe (Php545) is particularly delectable, and unique in its use of mutton as the main meat.

Ljcrestaurants.com.ph/abe

Toyo Eatery’s tasting menu

There’s always something new at Toyo Eatery, but it’s not so new that it’s not familiar.

Toyo Eatery’s food has gotten much praise for its creativity in using local produce. Their food is not no-nonsense fare for people who just want to fill their bellies. Every dish comes with a complex story that is inspired by a facet of Filipino culture. Their tasting menu (Php2,900) includes dishes such as burnt squash soup, Aklan oysters, and garden vegetables served in unique way, and is the best way to sample what this exciting restaurant has to offer.

Facebook.com/toyoeatery

Who are JJ Yolo and Mark Del Rosario?

  • JJ Yulo, a popular food writer, published in the likes of Esquire and Spot.ph, and the founder of the blog Pinoy Eats World.
  • Mark Del Rosario, founder of Let’s Eat Pare, a top online food community.

Words by Amelie Llaga

Freediving 101

Freediving 101

No tanks and regulators. It’s just you and the deep blue. How to freedive according to instructor Johnn Mendoza.

Conserve oxygen, equalize and safely surface

Relax before and during the dive.

Prepare for a freedive by lowering your heart rate through normal breathing and exposure of the face to water. This induces the mammalian dive reflex that helps in adapting the body for freediving.

Equalize the whole time because the initial depth changes in the water greatly affects the ears’ eustachian tubes and it may cause pain or discomfort—similar to what you feel when flying in higher altitudes.

Go only as far as you can, then go up. Slowly.

When you reach the depth you can handle, ascent safely and slowly and avoid overstretching as you do so.

Upon surfacing, do sharp sets of inhale, holding it in, then exhaling to restore oxygen content in your body.

Best time to freedive

In the Philippines, it’s year round because the waters, in general, have wonderful temperatures and conditions. The best is in the summer months of March, April and May when the waters are flat, warm and clear, allowing for a better diving experience.

The ideal location

Cebu has good waters for freediving, as well as seeing whale sharks.

Cebu is one the best and most convenient places forfreediving with so many dive spots only a few hours’ drive from the city. Panglao, Bohol has amazing reefs.

The right outfit and gear

You might also want to bring something to capture the moment, but it’s best to just enjoy the dive.

Fins, mask and snorkel. A low-volume mask is necessary for easier equalization. The snorkel has to be a simple J-type without a purge valve. Go for long fins designed for greater thrust using minimal exertion.

The basics

Lessons

Dive ta Bai chapters all over the Philippines can help you connect you with the local community of freedivers. Message them on Facebook at Facebook.com/DiveTaBai/.

Words and photos by Johnn Mendoza

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