It took Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation to bring this beautiful archipelago in Northern Iloilo to light. Carles, Northern Iloilo was one of the hard hit areas. Rescue aids and volunteers went out of their way to find remote communities that needed assistance. Their perseverance paid off as they found these communities. At the same time, they also found the islands of Isla de Gigantes. An enchanting set of islands that was once solely enjoyed by the locals. Gradually, photos of the stunning white beach and captivating rock formations became viral online. Isla de Gigantes name came big. Every body wants to experience this piece of paradise and that includes me.
There’s more to Oriental Mindoro than the famed white beach of Puerto Galera. At the southern tip of the province is the municipality of Bulalacao. A place locals used to fondly call “Bula-layo” (layo means far) due to its remoteness from the rest of the towns in the province. It was a time when the roads were rough and people had to bear almost a day’s travel to get to Bulalacao. Now with paved roads, sea ports and nearby airport, Bulalacao opened up a set of islands and beaches sans the tourist crowd. A place still with provincial feel, less commercial and genuinely laid back good time.
For the past four years, Kalanggaman island has risen to fame. It started when German luxury cruise company Hapag-Lloyd made a stop to this small island in Palompon, Leyte back in 2013. The MS Europa, considered as the “most beautiful” of its luxury cruise ships unloaded about 400 passengers on this 6-hectare large island. They only stayed for a couple of hours but it was enough for visitors to be awed by this small island with a beautiful white beach, coconut tree dotted island and picturesque sandbar. Soon, photos and videos of the island went viral in the internet dubbing Kalanggaman Island as one the most beautiful sandbars in the world and has one of the best beaches in the country.
It was a welcome we never expected. We were on a road trip from Malitbog driving to the other side of Sogod Bay. Our guide, Butz, was leading us towards Wawa Bridge, the bridge that connects the mainland and the northern part of Panaon Island which are under the municipality of Liloan, Southern Leyte. We stopped by a viewpoint of Tagbak Marine Park. Once we got off our van, blaring music went on and a group of colorful festival dancers started to perform. On the side are tables of local delicacies and handicrafts. Oh what a welcome, Liloan.
Not to be mistaken by the similarly sounding Caramoan in Camarines Sur, Caramoran is a municipality, northwest of Catanduanes. The name admittedly came from the former when people would point to the former which is just on the opposite side of the strait separating the provinces. Not to be left off as a shade of its homonymic neighbor, Caramoran, one of the largest municipality in Catanduanes, boast the idyllic isles of Palumbanes Islands and languid Hitoma Lake on land. This is the second part of my return visit to the Happy Island of Catanduanes in conjunction with the 2018 Abaca Festival.
I had fond memories of Caramoan Peninsula early in my years of travel. Low limestone islands, captivating azure waters, a few caves and pristine white beach on several islands of the peninsula. That was more than a decade ago. Before the popular reality show Survivor decided shoot here and placed the islands on the world wide spotlight. It was only recent that I had a chance to go back and see how popularity have changed the place. I may have not visited all the places I had been before but this day tour sojourn was enough to satisfy my curiosity.
We’re in the midst of the summer season heat and the call of the sea grows even stronger. With AirAsia Filipino introducing direct flights from Manila to Bangkok, there’s another beach or island getaway to add to your summer destination – Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya, is the second most visited city in Thailand after Bangkok and there’s a good reason why. It’s the closest beach escape from the bustling city. For a full day of tropical island fun, Pattaya Sea Adventure handled our tour (booked via KKday) which includes parachute ride, sea walk, snorkeling and beach bumming at Koh Larn Island.