Dashing Spot: White Island, Camiguin

Dashing Spot: White Island, Camiguin

It’s white, it’s fine, and it’s oh so far away.

Arguably one of Camiguin’s most popular attractions, White Island boasts of fine white sand beaches as far as your eye can see. Photo by JJ Alvarico

If you think you’ve seen the whitest of sands a Philippine beach has to ofer, wait until you set foot on Medan Island, more popularly known as White Island in Camiguin.

White Island, a 10-minute motorbike ride from the northern coast of the island province, is postcard perfect— with blindingly white sand that strikes a stark contrast against crystal clear waters that reflect the blueness of the skies. It will be hard not to be taken aback by Mt. Hibok-Hibok’s commanding presence in its backdrop.

But the main charm of White Island is its changing shape, which depends on the tide. So sometimes you see a serpentine shape, other times, the crescent of a usual beach, and who knows what else at another time.

Magical, isn’t it? 

Get there

SkyJet Airlines launches its direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019. Tickets are now on sale. Flights are on daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Make your Holy Week vacation more interesting by actually engaging in Holy Week activities. *wink wink*

Going on a social media purge as your penitensya (penance) or beach bumming in places like Boracay or Palawan for the Semana Santa is well and good, but don’t you ever get tired of the same trend every single year? Why not go on a simple summer holiday where you can enjoy your vacation AND still experience something relevant to Holy Week festivities? We have rounded up ideas for your Semana Santa escape.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo

Iloilo isn’t the first place that pops into people’s heads when it comes to answering the question “Where should I be this Holy Week?” It’s not as popular a destination especially that crowd favorite Boracay is merely on the northwest part of the island. But the sleep town of Barotac Viejo may just give you something new.

The little town is known for having a community that is takes their Holy Week seriously by mimicking the Passion of Christ. The townspeople themselves have been performing the Passion play, with “passion” Hiligaynon every Good Friday for almost half a century in their annual Taltal sa Barotac Viejoand it’s a delight to watch.

Places to see: Bucas Grande, Old Iloilo City, Miagao Church, River Esplanande, “Little Baguio” (Bucari)
Things to do: Party at Smallville, Walk along Iloilo River Esplanande, Island hopping at Concepcion

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island
This small island north of Cebu isn’t just a hit for its white sand beaches; it’s also a good place to be if you want to see lifesize replicas of religious images this Holy Week. Photo by Roderick Eime

It’s an island north of the Cebu mainland that’s become popular for its stretches of fine-sand beaches that is expected to see an influx of tourists this Holy Week. What people shouldn’t miss while in the island paradise is the annual Pasko sa Kasakit, a simple celebration of the stations of the cross, but with a twist where the images in the Station of the Cross are supersized and paraded around.

Places to see: Alice Beach, Camp Sawi, Kota Beach (all in Santa Fe), Malapascua Island, Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kota Park
Things to do: Biking, snorkel, freedive/scuba, beach bumming, tour the town of Bantayan for heritage houses

Siquijor

This island is starting to blow up more for the views you’ll get than what happens here during Semana Santa.

Siquijor, known across the country as a home to witchcraft and mysticism, but locals have since shed that image and now proudly celebrate their folk healing expertise with the annual Folk Healing Festival, taking place during the last few days of Holy Week. Get yourself treated by local healers or witness how they make various concoctions with the promise of curing almost anything you can think of—yes, including heartaches.

Places to see: Century-old balete tree, Salagdoong Beach, Paliton Beach, Kagusuan Beach (extremely hidden, possible that not even the locals know about it)
Things to do: Go around the island on a scooter, visit a ranch, hit the island’s peaks on a mountain bike, snorkeling, beach hopping

Marinduque

If there’s a Holy Week destination that’s never left off any list, it’s Marinduque. Known as the geographical heart of the Philippines, it’s basically an island that’s made itself known for a festival that celebrates a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ: the Moriones Festival.

Moriones Festival
He’s not really angry, but he is the first thing you’ll see when you look up information on the Moriones Festival, the tale of a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ. Photo by Richard Reynoso for travelingmorion.com.

Most of you will know what this festival centers on commemorating Roman soldier Longinus, who stabs Jesus on the side, witnesses His resurrection, tells the Romans about it, and (gruesomely) gets his head chopped off. This part is often depicted in their version of The Passion play, which talks about Christ’s last moments before He eventually passes on.

Places to see: Tres Reyes islands, Mt. Mataas, Boac, Palad Sandbar, Ungab Rock Formations, Bathala Python Cave
Things to do: Visita Iglesia, Beach hopping

Pampanga

It’s the piece de resistance of a list of Holy Week destinations, and something that’s also been a source of controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about the Maleldo Festival in San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga.

struck
Yes. This is a very REAL crucifixion. In San Pedro Cutud. And it happens nearly every year. Photo by istolethetv on Flickr.

The Maleldo Festival is the full (and very real) re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion. Yes, it’s the whole 10 miles: the garb, the Crown of Thorns, crying depiction of Mary Magdalene, people marching on the streets whacking their backs with things that make them bleed, and someone actually getting nailed to a cross that they’ve been carrying for several miles.

Places to see: Mt. Pinatubo, Subic Bay, Sandbox at Porac, El Kabayo, Skyranch Pampanga, Nayong Pilipino
Things to do: go on a food trip, adventure activities, Visita Iglesia

Poblacion, Makati

Yes, you read that right. It’s an option for those who don’t want to go out of the city yet still want to witness something that only happens once a year. The citizens of Makati, particularly those who live in the restaurant-and-bar hub that is Poblacion, stage a parade commemorating Lent.

They hold a grand procession every Holy Wednesday (closed roads, of course) and put up booths with life-size depictions of The Passion of Christ. Another plus: some establishments stay open even during Holy Week!

Places to see: Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (one of the oldest churches in the country), Circuit Makati (but hold off on that after Holy Wednesday), art galleries in Poblacion
Things to do: staycation at one of the many hotels in the area, food trip, pub crawl

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

This man doesn’t let even his busy schedule take away from what matters: family time.

He’s an actor, commercial model, and film producer—but above all, he is a husband to Marian Rivera-Dantes and a dad to their daughter Zia. Photo by Paulo Navarro

How often do you go on holidays?

Ding Dong Dantes and Marian Rivera try to find time to be together, despite their ridiculously busy schedules. A happy couple indeed. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

Because both our [his and wife Marian Rivera’s] work schedules are unpredictable, we have to wait for our respective shows to go on a break before we plan anything. That’s why we almost always book at the last minute— a habit that is not highly recommended; haha! The key holidays are also the basic ones like Christmas, Holy Week and, of course, our birthdays in August and November.

What’s your secret to fnding time for vacations despite your crazy busy work schedules?

When your schedules are just as hectic as your ravishing spouse’s (and Marian Rivera IS ravishing), you WILL need help. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes.

The moment we find a window, we immediately grab it, may it be a couple of days to a whole week. With our work, it is impossible for us to be away for more than two weeks. How do you plan your family getaways? We have friends who help us, like Access Travel of Angely Dub.

Most of the time, I find it more convenient for someone to help me in the planning since both of us are always preoccupied with other things. Of course, we already know what we want—it’s really just a matter of organizing the logistics. Given that we stay at least two days in a new place, my basic policy is 20 percent planned itinerary, and 80 percent kung ano ang matripan (on what we feel like doing).

What is your favorite Philippine destination?

Yes, Zia. That is a good-looking beach.
Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

I like any place that is peaceful, green, sustainable and clean. A place where my kids can safely run around while we enjoy a cup of cofee, or a mug of beer. It does not matter if it is on a mountain, by the beach, in my friend’s backyard, or even a protected area in any place within the chaotic Metro Manila for as long as we are with the right people. Pero siyempre, dapat panalo rin ang pagkain. (But of course, the food has to be a winner too.)

What are the most memorable holidays you’ve had in the Philippines as a family?

Sunsets are often the happiest when you see them with the right people. In Dong’s case, it’s with Marian and Zia. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

We really love the beautiful islands here in our country. Palawan will always have a special place in our hearts. Amanpulo is on the top of our list. Our recent trip to Siargao via SkyJet Airlines is also one for the books. Book a SkyJet flight, direct from Manila to Coron, Palawan; Batanes; and Camiguin.

Your favorite beach and why this beach?

Hard to say. We love so many and each has its own charm.

Things you love to do when on a holiday?

Eat. Sleep. Play. Plan. Repeat.

Your travel essentials aside from IDs and cash?

Cameras to document memories.

Where do you wanna holiday next?

We want to visit Cebu next.

Who is Dingdong Dantes?
Dingdong Dantes is a well-loved Filipino actor, commercial model, film producer, and film studio AgostoDos Pictures owner. He’s married to Filipino actor Marian Rivera with whom he has a daughter with.

Festivals, jumps, and travel: your guide to April 2019

Festivals, jumps, and travel: your guide to April 2019

There’s a solemn week ahead for most Filipinos, but there’s also something for everyone else looking to have a good time or learn something new.

Summer is in full swing this April, and it’s only starting to reach its peak. While most people will try and get past the many pranks pulled during April Fools, most of us will want to settle down and rest. After all, April also signals the end of another school year.

April is known for its summer events and festivals, but it’s also known for workshops. Here are a couple of things you can’t miss this April:

World Travel Expo Lifestyle Edition 2019

Scenes from last year’s World Travel Expo 3, held at the SMX Convention Center – MOA in Pasay City. Photo from Ad Asia Events

It may be midway through summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the best travel deals for the upcoming seasons! On its first year, the World Travel Lifestyle Expo will become the first of two travel expos held every year by Ad Asia Events and features some of the biggest travel deals you’ve ever seen. Head on over to the SMX Convention Center from April 5 to 7 to score some fantastic deals for the rest of the year, be it local or international travel!

April 5 – 7, 2019
SMX Convention Center – MOA, Pasay City
Worldtravelexpo.com.ph

Parkour Workshop @ Ninja Academy Powered by Milo

There are a lot of skills that can be learned online, but some are better acquired in person, usually through a workshop. One such skill is the ability to move over, under, through, and around obstacles with ease like modern day ninjas or Jackie Chan. From April onwards, Ninja Academy, the country’s first gym dedicated to the practice of parkour, will hold workshops for six straight weekends where you’ll learn all the basics of this fast-growing sport.

April and May 2019
Ninja Academy – PH, Circulo Verde, Pasig City
bit.ly/MILOParkour

Siquijor Healing Festival

Healing Festival 2014 - Siquijor Island
A Japanese lady experiences folk healing in Siquijor last 2014. Photo by Soichi Yokoyama

Whenever you hear about the province of Siquijor, two things come to mind: an unspoiled island with spectacular vistas in Central Visayas… and witchcraft, though nowadays is on folk healing. The island now prides itself on its folk healers or mananambal and celebrate them via a Healing festival held during Holy Week. Festivities start on Holy Thursday and last until Black Saturday, and is mainly held in the town of San Antonio.

April 18 – 20, 2019
San Antonio, Siquijor

Centurion Festival in General Luna, Quezon

Centurion Masks
A mask maker from San Narciso, Quezon holds one of the many wooden masks they make for the annual Centurion Festival. Photo by Allan Barredo

Said to be the predecessor to the widely popular Moriones Festival, the Centurion Festival in the province of Quezon recounts the conversion of Longinus, a Roman centurion said to have stabbed the side of Jesus Christ, had His blood go into his blind eye and restored his vision. It’s just as colorful as Moriones and is even celebrated in other places like Pinamalayan, Mindoro.

April 15 – 21, 2019
Quezon Province and Pinamalayan, Mindoro

Capiztahan in Roxas City, Capiz

It’s a seafood spread for the ages, and it only happens in Roxas City, Capiz. Photo from the Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office

Roxas City is known across the country as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, and you’d be hard-pressed to not give us a reason why we should change it to a different city. You can enjoy the freshest catch every single day from the waters surrounding Roxas City, and there’s no better time to do so than during Capiztahan. The festival is a seafood lover’s dream come true: streets lined with all kinds of seafood caught and cooked the same day!

April 12 – 15, 2019
Roxas City, Capiz

Tiki cocktails ‘til dawn at Coco Bar in Coron

Tiki cocktails ‘til dawn at Coco Bar in Coron

Heads up, dudes and dudettes! There’s a new tiki bar in Coron, and it promises a vibe as chill as the cocktails they serve.

Yes, there are bars in Coron that stay open well into the night, but they’re what we would call “classic” bars: good bar chow, beers, and a couple of drinks here and there. While these places are great, it’s hard to find a place in town that serves cocktails you’d normally find in tiki bars (they’re normally on the islands well outside of Coron)… that is, until you come across Coco Bar along Calle Real in downtown Coron.

Welcome to Coco Bar, your tiki bar hangout in Coron. Photo from Coco Bar PH

Walk through the doors of Coco Bar and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped away from town and onto an island. You’re welcomed with a combination of thin bamboo, thatch, and wood, with small tables and high chairs that encourage standing more than sitting. They want you to socialize and move about the restaurant, hence the set-up.

It’s like seeing a nipa hut with spirits galore. Photo from Coco Bar PH

The cabinet-behind-the-bar is similar to something you’d see in Manila’s bars, lined with the many spirits they can use to either make your night more interesting or put you out of commission for the rest of the night.

Eat

A good way to start (or sustain) your night at Coco Bar: Wings & Mojos. Photo from Coco Bar PH
Or you can engulf this: a Coco Burger. Photo from Coco Bar PH

As with most Coron bars and restos, they give you their best interpretation of what goes well with their drink menu. The stands outs? the Coco Burger and the Loco Moco. These use the same homemade pure beef patty that’s sure to satisfy any burger lover’s palate, whether it’s in a bun or on top of rice.

It’s a staple in Hawaii, but not so in the Philippines: a Spam Musubi. Photo from Coco Bar PH

In the hunt for something interesting? Try their Spam Musubi, a sushi-style treat from Hawaii that combines the ever-reliable Spam with Japanese rice and nori.

Drink

Tiki bars are known for chill drinks that reflect the very essence of island living: laid back with a sense of community. This is where Coco Bar shines, thanks to its lineup of tiki cocktails.

The Adonis. Photo from Coco Bar PH
Palawan Sling. Photo from Coco Bar PH
Malajon Martini. Photo from Coco Bar PH

A couple of their best picks (as of now) include the Adonis, the Palawan Sling, and what might possibly be an island exclusive: the Malajon Martini.

The Basics
About Php520 (USD10) per person; tiki cocktails start at Php220
FB: Coco Bar PH, IG: @cocobarcoron

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