The fastest direct flights to the country’s surf capital are back!
The summer of 2020 has a promise of sun shinier skies as boutique carrier SkyJet Airlines brings back its direct flights from Manila to Siargao on March 29, 2020.
The selling of seats on SkyJetAirlines.com kicks off today, January 11, 2020, with one-way base fares starting at Php3,500.
“SkyJet’s Siargao flights resumption will enable us at SkyJet to help sustain the momentum of the island’s market growth and demand,” says SkyJet commercial head Joseph Alvarico. “SkyJet’s the first airline to fly directly to Siargao, and we are looking at fulfilling our aim at allowing everyone, including millennials, to experience the culture of the island by providing competitive fares.”
“We are also working with the local tourism department in Siargao to bring Siargao’s culture across through the Dash Store, a boutique travel lifestyle shop in Salcedo Village, Makati, as well as give travelers a faster and more reliable experience of flying from Manila to Siargao,” he added.
SkyJet has been known in the industry to offer the fastest flights to Siargao at about 70 minutes per way. This means the flights are among the most convenient for Manilans off to Siargao for a break, or for foreigners traveling to the country’s surf capital with Manila as jump off point.
Siargao has long attracted travelers with its relaxed atmosphere and unique natural wonders such as the rock pools in Magpupungko, the stingless jellyfish in nearby Sohoton, and the world class surf breaks of Cloud 9. It’s been dubbed the Best Island in Asia in 2018 by popular online travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler and, more recently, one of its best holiday destinations for 2020. It’s also a growing favorite among celebrities as a quick island getaway.
Words by Andrew del Rosario Featured photo by Gaps Sabuero
This intriguing bar with an aura of prohibition-era speakeasy is where you can learn about AND enjoy classic cocktails.
If you try and Google this place now, you’ll see that they open at 7pm. Do the same search a few months ago (October 2019, to be specific), however, and you’ll see Google saying The Spirits Library is “permanently closed”.
It’s no ploy, but it does give this spirits/cocktail bar an aura of mystery. It’s a place where you can enjoy either a classic or have one made for you with the hundreds of spirits they have.
It has an aura of a prohibition-era speakeasy without it having to be hidden, since it’s located along Guerrero Street in Poblacion, just a few buildings away from the often-packed Makati Avenue.
The name is no misnomer, with shelf upon shelf of spirits that would make your uncle’s collection feel tiny. It has a feel that’s synonymous with a full-scale library, as the winding staircase and the rolling library ladder give you a most pleasing “hello”. Follow said staircase upstairs and you’ll be treated to a patio of sorts, complete with couches and high tables that make you feel like you’re in a Great Gatsby-themed room.
If you want to splurge a bit more, ask how you can get into the “Detention Room”, where owner Dr. Lee Watson and his crew of mixologists whip up cocktails from forgotten times.
No food here at The Spirits Library, but they do have some of the best mixologists around. Give them a flavor profile and they’ll whip up something that matches what you like, or ask them for a list of classic cocktails.
If you’re looking for something more spirit-forward, ask to be placed in the “Detention Room,” where you can enjoy a cocktail made from Dr. Watson’s personal collection of spirits.
There, you can get concoctions like The Baguio Skin, a simple yet unusual concoction that comes from the summer escape that is Baguio City; and an old Army-Navy Club Manila special, Adios Amigos, made with rum, lemon juice, sugar, and Blanco vermouth, garnished with a lemon peel.
For something new, here are places to take your significant other to and spend the night in sans the walls but with the comforts of a hotel room.
It’s hidden from the main road. It’s halfway between the beaches of Nasugbu and the chilly breeze of Tagaytay. It also happens to have a deceptively spacious geodesic dome tent with a natural pool and a large patio. All of this is packaged in an area that makes you feel like you are nowhere near Tagaytay or Nasugbu. Truly an excellent camping experience.
Beachside camping has always been a good idea for anyone looking to break away from the daily grind. Nacpan Beach, once hailed by The Daily Telegraph as one of the dreamiest beaches in the world in 2017, is as quiet as they come, and there’s no better way of enjoying it than sleeping in a luxurious tent at Nacpan Beach Glamping. It’s got stylish blue tents, beachfront access, and a kitchen that can whip you up a good meal.
There’s also a garden around the tents that you can walk around in for more peace and quiet.
Keeping things in El Nido, here’s a spot that takes you away from the crowds and towards the quieter parts of El Nido. Aetas Glamping El Nido (Nature Served on a Silver Platter on Airbnb) has four glamping tents fashioned from a mix of classic tent and indigenous materials. Situated in what can only be described as halfway between a mountain and rice fields, it’s a unique stay that might be hard to match elsewhere in El Nido.
Next to camping in the woods or by the beach, a tent pitched by the shores of a lake, is something we’ve all aspired to do. Glamping Etc. Philippines, located on the shores of quiet Lumot Lake in Cavinti, Laguna, gives us just that—albeit in one of four roomier, more luxurious geodesic tents.
Enjoy free kayak rentals, body boards, vests, and breakfast during your stay, all while you wait for the night sky in Cavinti to open up.
Glamping is always a good idea with friends, especially when it leads you to discover places you’ve never been to… like Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. Yes, it is ridiculously far from Metro Manila, but this makes staying at North Beach Camp even better. No stress from work, no need to worry about traffic—it’s the ideal destination, right?
Combine that with how your glamping tents look (they’re more beach huts than actual tents) and the food they serve (pizza from Kingfisher and a Japanese spread, anyone?) and you might just get us to sign up for a night or two.
Siquijor has long been shrouded in mystery, what with how people have always connected it to the occult. What people are missing out on, though, are the amazing panoramas you get and the people you meet (they are genuinely some of the nicest). The best way to experience all of this should be from the comfort of a tent, which Glamping Siquijor gives you in spades. Beachfront huts are the way to go here.
Zambales is one of those lesser-known spots for a relaxing time because of its history (Mt. Pinatubo eruption, 1991). It feels more like a pitstop on your way up North, but take a few minutes to dig through the web and you’ll see it has more to offer: stunning beaches, activities for adventure travelers, and The Glamp Zambales.
It’s a beautiful spot in the little-known town of Liwliwa with access to the beach, picturesque tents, and an equally picturesque sunset.
Why: It’s a full-body workout that feels more like an actual rock concert.
What to expect: A typical POUND class lasts for about an hour or so, according to local POUND Pro Em Villanueva, and it’s quite intense. You’re provided with a pair of Ripstix® or drumsticks specifically made for POUND workouts, and these sticks are meant to be beaten like you would to a drum to the rhythm of some great rock music. It’s fast-paced—though you can move according to your fitness level—and highly infectious—thanks to it being a group workout.
Why: Improve your balance and coordination, rotational strength, grip strength, neuroplasticity (how your brain adapts to situations), and upper body and core strength.
What to expect: Swing a mace made of something simple (bamboo stalk with a stone on one end) behind your back and get into a rhythm of moving both it and your body along with the mace. You can start slow and do 10-2’s (swing the mace from left to right) or 360’s (all the way around your body), or flow into something entirely made-up. Spend a couple of minutes doing this and you’re bound to feel it in your arms, shoulders, and core.
Workout anywhere with Sworkit
Get this from:Sworkit.com (free seven-day trial, app available on App Store and Google Play)
Why: Fitness apps make it possible to work out anywhere with space, regardless of your fitness level.
What to expect: Sworkit is a subscription-based app that gives you access to “more than 300 unique workouts and over 400 exercises” at the palm of your hand. It lets you customize your workouts and challenges you without overwhelming you with options. There’s a free seven-day trial if you’re on the fence about trying Sworkit, but you will find yourself opting into a subscription that starts at Php149 (USD3) per month or Php979 per year.
Chill under pressurized oxygen
Get this from: Raya Wellness, 2521 Centuria Medical Makati, Kalayaan corner Salamanca Sts., Poblacion, Makati City
Why: It’ll heal any minor injuries faster than usual, and give you glowing skin.
What to expect: You’ll spend an hour in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, usually lying down. It used to be a cylindrical tank, but nowadays it’s more like a cylindrical tent. You’ll breathe air at three times the normal atmospheric pressure, letting you breathe in more concentrated amounts of oxygen. Good news: you’re mobile phone is allowed in the chamber.
Why: You will see places like Rizal, Zambales, Bataan, Bohol, and Aurora on a different level and be able to contribute to a local community at the same time.
What to expect: MAD Travel will take you to places you’ve never been in destinations that you thought you knew like the back of your hand: hike the mountains of Rizal and meet the Dumagats; explore the trails of Zambales and experience the culture of the Aetas of Yangil; see one of the last thriving rainforests in Bataan and share stories with the Aeta Ambalan, see the islands of Bohol as the people of Maribojoc see them; and surf the waves of Baler after exploring the rivers of Aurora with the Atlas tribe.
Why: To help you detoxify and cleanse your body, plus it’s good for you and the planet, too!
What to expect: It’s far easier to prepare plant-based meals than those with meat. Learn how to prepare your own plant-based meals from these websites with their easy-to-follow recipes. You’ll have to spend money on fresh produce, but once you wrap your head around with which goes well with which, you’ll be whipping up your own recipes in no time. Substitutes are always available if what the recipe calls for isn’t available in your local grocery.
Bathe in herbal oils and feel relaxed
Get this from: Arogya Manila, 8858 Sampaloc St, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Why: You’ll be more relaxed and will be rid of impurities.
What to expect: You’ll be doused in two (yes, TWO) buckets of herbal sesame oil while lying on a hard, wooden bed. “A gentle massage comes in after, which feels like it won’t really do anything to you,” says holistic wellness coach Nikki Torres. The effect it has after the treatment is a revelation: you’ll be more relaxed and feel like you have more energy than you did before the treatment. Treatments can be customized depending on how you’re feeling.
Go on a yoga retreat in Dumaguete
Why: Yoga retreats are both relaxing and invigorating, and it’s not all about yoga like the name suggests.
What to expect: Yoga retreats can be done anywhere as long as it’s peaceful, but holistic wellness coach Nikki Torres swears by Atmosphere Resorts & Spa’s treetop yoga platform that overlooks the ocean as one of the best places for a yoga retreat in the Philippines. They’ve got a three-day and six-day full board yoga retreat program with two yoga classes and one meditation class daily, various workshops and presentations, access to the resort’s facilities, and a discount on the resort’s spa services.
What to expect: Hair dyes have never gone out of style but one that comes in screaming tones yet won’t harm your health or the environment is the way to go. Brand Manic Panic (@manicpanicnyc) is more of a conditioner than hair dye, thus it restores what your hair has lost, hydrates your hair, and uses natural vegan dyes. Punky Color is another vegan hair dye brand that will guarantee the same vibrant effect sans the harmful effects other hair dyes give off. The downside: you’ll need to bleach your hair once so the colors will come out vibrant. The upside, the vegan hair dyes, which last for four to six weeks, can be replenished for as long as you want for they are—again—vegan and safe.
Interested in other weird, wonderful, and purely wow treatments? Grab a copy of Dash Issue 8 today and see our full list!
Marine biologist Miguel Azcuna curates of underwater species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.
The Philippines is an archipelago. This means it’s made up of groups of islands surrounded by a vast expanse of water, ergo, a rich diversity of marine life. Diving is the best way to see the beauty that our water holds.
We spoke to a marine biologist, Dr. Miguel Azcuna from Batangas State University, to know which marine species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.
Where to find them: Anilao, Batangas
The name rolls off the tongue, right? These are the cute, colorful, shell-less mollusks (scallops, clams, snails, cuttlefish) you see in those island hopping package pamphlets that offer snorkeling. They love seawater and some have been referred to as sea slugs.
Where to find them: Malapascua Island, Cebu
“Thresher sharks are unique in that they use their unusually long tails to catch their prey,” says Dr. Azcuna. This particular species have found a home in the waters off of Malapascua Island in Cebu, known for its magnificent and quiet beaches. They are often found in Monad Shoal and pose no threat to humans. Be at the site early, like around 4am to 5am, for better chances of sighting.
Where to find them: Tañon Strait, between the islands of Cebu and Negros
Dr. Azcuna says they rarely pass by the Philippines but they do swim from time to time. “These apex predators prefer cooler tropical waters and can (in very rare cases) be seen in Tañon Strait between June and October.” The last time orcas were seen in Philippines waters, it was 2018.
Where to find them: Apo Island, Negros Oriental
Yes, there’s more than one place to find the humble pawikan. They can usually be found nesting in the waters of Palawan (for instance, just offshore of Club Paradise), but for a better chance of spotting one, Dr. Azcuna recommends Apo Island. You’ll usually see them grazing on seagrass.
Where to find them: Sohoton Cove, Siargao
You may be asking yourself this: “Why would you recommend seeing jellyfish as a once-in-a-lifetime activity?” Well, these jellyfish are ones you can actually swim with and not be extremely worried. Dr. Azcuna says the jellyfish that swim in Sohoton’s jellyfish pond are stingless “because they have no need for stings in freshwater.” Go early in the day to avoid the crowd.
Who is Dr. Miguel Azcuna?
Miguel Azcuna is a marine biologist who specializes in Bioprospecting for New Medicine, particularly from marine sponges. He holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, where he majored in Marine Biotechnology.
He was a part of the team from UP MSI’s Bolinao Marine Laboratory that donated giant clams to Camiguin’s Giant Clam Sanctuary.
He is currently an associate professor at the Batangas State University – ARASOF Nasugbu Campus and a member of the research staff at the Verde Island Passage Center for Oceanographic Research and Aquatic Life Sciences (VIP CORALS).