All for the Love of Coconuts , TreeSquares-July 2

Coconut Trees in Coco Beach Resort, Puerto Galera, Philippines

Native from my home country is the Coconut tree, or Cocos Nucifera, it is a national pride that Filipinos called it ” the tree of Life” .We called it locally “Niyog” and it´s grown 70% there.Living far away from home made me appreciate this wonderful tree as ever. I love dishes with coconut milk, and not just Curry but only the yummy desserts made out of pure creamy coconut milk. Coconut macarons? or our famous “Halo Halo” with fresh coconut pieces, or better it´s nutritious juice.

I grew up seeing it every single day. I see them lined up in our backyards and in planted in almost everywhere. I even thought before that it´s the national tree of the Philippines because it´s practically everywhere. This tree became somewhat special to me because living as an expat, I truly miss seeing and eating (the real) coconut. Just look at its unique features—long stemmed, lanky and tall, high, exuding a freedom spirit with its outgoing leaves, and yet the surprisingly abundant produce it can have. From its roots up to its single leaf, something is always made out of it.Others may see Coconut tree as only part of a summer vacation memory , “yes, a tropical tree, growing only in the islands in south east Asia…or in Carribean, “or how do you really get to eat the coconut fruit?” ” or ” Should I drink a fresh coconut juice from the coconut fruit itself..?!”

A tropical beach destination?—It´s got to have lots and lots of coconut trees there…or maybe others mistaken it as Palm trees.These type of palm trees always give away that it´s Asian.

I remembered an old neighbour of ours before ( v. long time ago…!) , I think I was 8 or 10 years old.He used to climb a cocunut tree to get some coconuts and we would wait there on the ground with a spoon in our hands.We love drinking it´s fresh juice, it´s yummy and cooling.

Coco water is regarded as “a natural isotonic beverage” that has “the same level of electrolytic balance that we have in our blood.” “It’s the fluid of life, so to speak,”.

If you would looked at the trunk of the Coconut photo below, you would notice the gaps made by a big & long sharp knife , in our local dialect, we called this knife with a wooden base “Sundang“. In Tagalog we called this “Itak“. These gaps are made for practical reasons, for anyone to enable them to climb that steep height. So when you see a coconut without these knife gaps, they haven´t been climbed probably! There is even a crazy game popularized in Philippines called ” Coconut Climbing”. As the name says, it´s an under time pressure, whoever climbs it faster, he/she wins.

The tree of life, Cocos Nucifera, or Coconut Trees

The famous legend about coconut is that they say it originates from the story of a man who was despised and cursed by the parents of the woman he loved. They don´t want him to marry their daughter so they cursed him.He was cursed to become an Earthworm. One time during a heavy flood, he was found by the woman he loved and although she was totally shocked what happened to him, he asked her to bury him in the ground. He wanted to watch over her for the rest of his life and be there for her although he is not a man anymore.After the woman buried him under the ground, the coconut tree sprouted. That´s how they say how it got its long, lanky trunk and wide leaves that provides endless shades. Coconut tree also symbolizes resilience, tenacity and faithfulness. To think that Philippines is always frequented by typhoons and storms and huge amount of Monsoon rains, coconut tree withstand all these natural challenges and standing tall and proud.

Two lovely mature Coconuts I have seen in Coco Beach, a beach resort in the southern Luzon where the main motif of the Resort is all about Coconut. Vacation huts made by coconut leaves and trunks, and of course, they offer dishes with coconut as an ingredient.

Living here in Germany, I see many plant lovers creating their own Urban Green Jungle. My dream is to have a coconut tree or plant but I know it´s not going to happen. I would just settle for pots made out of coconuts and probably lie on mats made out of coconut leaves.

Have you ever tasted a real coconut meat? or drink from the coconut fruit itself?

This post is inspired by “Trees” & part of this Month´s themed “TreeSquares” hosted by Becky of the Life of B., .I would be sharing more tropical trees in the coming days that I have in my Archives so I hope you keep on reading them. It´s a pleasure sharing about them.

Until then, Happy Weekend. Tschüss!

I bet you won´t even wanna try that

I bet you won´t eat it : Balut, a famous delicacy for the strong-hearted

Are you a Foodie?

Are you not afraid to try local food from places you´ve visited?

It´s been such a long time and I haven´t eaten a decent typical “filipino food” for a while. Especially the homecooked ones and some traditional specialties. Yes I have tried some while living in Kuwait and some I´ve got here in the Asian stores in Germany but then, the taste of home is really missing.

Anyway, here I wanna share some of the exotic street foods you can find if happened that you visit Philippines. I was talking to my daughter and asking her if she wanna try eating “Balut”, crazy as it sounds but it´s only a boiled egg , where you will actually eat a cooked chicken embryo… with some feathers.Some enjoyed it being dipped it in vinegar with chillies or paired with a glass of beer . They say it´s nutritious, after all, it´s egg.If you´ve eaten or tried balut, then you have tasted Filipino culture. You are brave enough!

Balut is found throughout all of the Philippines and usually stored in small styrofoam boxes. Prices range from Php15 ($0.30) to Php25 ($0.50) depending on size and incubation time. My fond memories of Balut is that during late afternoons, just after dusk , the Balut vendor circles our neighborhood and shouts “Baluuuttttt! followed by “Penoy” , a normal hard boiled egg.I kinda remembered that it is sold by the vendor carrying it in a wooden basket and sold covered with newspaper, totally Filipino style.

My daughter answered and began shouting ” Neeeiiiiiinnnnn!

Do not missed these Must´-try Filipino Street Foods.Thank you Chef Denise for an honest review of Philippine´s street foods!

I got a definite answer. When something is unfamiliar, she won´t let it enter her mouth. If I put too much herbs on the meat and pasta, she would tell me.. “Mama, I want my meat and pasta to be clean, please not dirty“…so herbs are dirty now…” Lol!

So that reminds me of the “Kwek -KwekFish balls, Kikiam and Fried Calamari. Kwek-Kwek are quail eggs or normal eggs dipped in a golden yellow Batter and deep fried, while Fish balls,Kikiam and Calamaris are frozen processed seafoods that are fried.Their smell in the street is so fragrant and I can almost tell when a nearby Food stall is within reach. I remember in my college days where we often stopped by to the Fish ball stand and indulge for a few pesos before heading to class!

While most of the street food in Philippines is based on meat and chicken, which are quite very basic there are also more vegetarian type, like the Vegetable Lumpia and my favourite Turon and Banana-Q! Just like the roasted chicken which is almost the same as the grilled chicken dishes served in Beer gardens, Volksfests and BBQ Parties, in Philippines, we have another version.

Palamig or cool street drinks in Philippines , my photo credit to Quatyyy for this awesome photo.

How about grilling the inner parts like the intestines and liver parts of chicken and pig, roasted in an open charcoal grill until charred. It is best enjoyed dipped in a sweet and sour sauce, vinegar with chillies or without! A local drink we called “palamig” or fruit punch with gelatin or “Sago” is the perfect combo for this simple meal.The huge colorful containers filled with yummy drinks with different flavours will surely quench your thirst. Be aware though that what is unique about palamig is that it´s served in a plastic with a straw, and not in a normal plastic cup. Again, Filipino way.

They called them “Adidas” .. chicken feet without the shoes of course.

We have crazy names for street foods, the crazier, the better. And all of them are really authentic, just like another famous Pinoy Street food called “Adidas” ( grilled chicken feet) !?Nothing is waste, even the chicken feets are used.

Some might raise their eyebrows and says What is that??” or even shrieks at the sight or smell of it, but hey, it´s what makes this place unique, and so does its taste! My daughter rolled her eyes when I show her a photo of our infamous “Betamax” …BBq-ued blood!

Meet the “Betamax”. The sizzling street food in the Philippines made up of coagulated chicken/pig´s blood and formed into squares. My photo credit to Cielo Fernando of Zenrooms for these appetizing Pinoy foods that I truly missed!

Or what about eating some spicy, crunchy, and edgy “Betamax“? It´s called Betamax because it resembled like the old style of Betamax tape.Altough it´s made up of blood, it doesn´t taste blood at all. Again, perfect to eat it while dipping in a spicy sweet vinegar sauce.

Weeks ago, I have watched some Foodie series in Netflix like Street Food, Salt,fat, Acid , Heat, and I actually loved it. I got so fascinated by different food cultures and I began to rekindled what have I ´ve been eating for the last 10 years of my life??

A Boodle Fight , wash your hands and eat your heart out!

Living in Germany have taught me how to eat using knives and forks, seldom spoon. I grew up eating and using only spoon and fork. We are not so particular with using knives. With us, everything can be sliced with forks and yes, use your teeth. In a “Boodle Food Fight” like the photo above, we used our hands, clean hands of course.

As I observed here in Germany where most fishes are already cleaned, scaled and washed, you cannot even see other parts, only the meat or flesh of the fish matters. Most of the time, or young children only knows Lachs, (salmon) or Fischstäbchen ( fish sticks). Very clean and appetizing.

I could imagine the Horror in my husband´s face when I ask him to eat a “Tilapia” fish, roasted and fried, with tails and head. He doesn´t even know where to began. In a Boodle Food Fight, the whole table is full of different food ,set up in big banana leaves, with different side dishes like fishes, seafoods, fruits, and meat. Of course, a pile of rice should be plenty.The more, the merrier.

Would you even dare to eat with a Boodle Fight?

Or what about the Lechon, the infamous Roasted Pig, the king of every occasion ?

Lechon, the roasted Pig delicacy and food tradition

In every occasion, when a big Lechon is on the Table, it would be awesome. Sometimes I think its the national dish of the Philippines while here in Germany it´s their Sausages (Würst). It´s actually the star of every occasion. The word Lechon came from Spanish and actually means a “suckling pig”. There are also other dish variants such as “lechon kawali.

When a baby turns 1, roasted pig, or a smaller part Pork Belly or Pig´s head should be present on the table.In rural provinces, rearing a pig early and preparing to butcher it for a child´s birthday is very common.I don´t know exactly how this tradition originated but I grew up seeing this in every family gathering. It´s part of Filipino culture. On the downside, when you don´t have Lechon, it seemed like your Budget cannot afford it, or you just don´t want to splurge, or simply, avoid “Fatty” foods.

But when there´s Lechon, the fun begins. It´s dressed up with an apple stucked in his mouth, and it doesn´t stay that long in the table because it will be devoured easily.

If you´re more into seafood, in Philippines there are plenty of clams and oysters. I am not so much of a fan of them but theres the black version I have tried when we are still living in the province of Albay, we called it “Tabagwang“. it is cooked with coconut milk and it´s quite tasty.

Fresh Oysters for some seafood lovers

I grew up in a culture where food really is a great part of our everyday lives. Imagine, eating 3 meals a day, and most of them with a cup of rice. Merienda, or “snack” is composed of other foods made up of glutinous rice, our local versions of noodles like Pancit and Bihon, and some bread.

Eating out in restaurants, there´s a traditional preference for Filipinos. A lot of well done cooked meat, either beef or pork, rich with vegetables and delicious soup, all in one pot. It´s called “Bulalo“.

I bet you won´t even have a left over from this bowl of “Bulalo”.

Bulalo is a very rich and warm dish and oftenly enjoyed during family gatherings. I remember eating it on weekends and with plenty of rice and fish sauce on the side. It has fresh greens like beans, cabbage, corn and lots of onion. The beef is so tender and the meat is actually falling out from the bones. It is super tasty. Even with teh soup itself, it´s already a complete meal.

So, which of the food above would you love to try? or you bet you won´t dare to try?

What have yo´ve been eating for the last 5 years of your life?

Until then, stay safe and wishing you a happy week!

Tschüss!

Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins

Hanging Coffins in Sagada, Philippines

I was rambling thorugh my gallery and saw these photos. Reminded me of my adventure exploring the Mountain Province , Sagada, in the Philippines.We went cave spelunking , hiking, and swimming after discovering perfectly hidden waterfalls, but none of these brought a nostalgic memory than this sight.

Hanging coffins–what a weird sight.

It´s my first time to see such things. Everything about the dead and burial practices are no interest for me, but I practically was curious why such practice is being done here.Of all places, they hanged all the coffins high up above, and even labeled them. The local guide says that we can´t go near to this place so I just zoomed my photos to have better capture. Although I must say that the forest surrouning this valley is really beautiful.

A burial practice that is over 2,000 years old.

I have never met the local tribe, tried mingling thorugh the market but I guess I can´t distinguish enough who are the locals since I don´t understand their dialect. Me & my friend started our early hike and upon reaching the “Echo Valley”, our guide asks us to try yelling, shout loud to test the Echo thing. We did as we say and it was really working.

Too many strange things, and very old cherished practices.

As we gazed through the other direction, the view of the coffins really surprised us. We´ll of course we´ve heard about it but seeing them for real just gave me goosebumps. Such a beautiful place with so much virgin nature .

I have heard that the local tribe has many rich stories about all of these graves-or coffins. They have chosen this higher place, high up in this cliff, to be able to be close to eternal heavens. The dead chose this place to reast for eternity. The guide mentioned that there are far many more hidden coffins among the cliff tops of the valley, all sacred and undisturbed.

I tought about how they have brought it all up there…

Before the Spaniards came to Philippines, there was no Christianity. No one is Catholic. The old generation worshipped nature and spirits called locally as “Anito”.The locals believed that the spirit of the departed ones can still be reachable even when they are already deceased. That they can asks them for guidance by conducting spiritual “rituals” and prayer.

And nature is their best hiding place…

Just a normal sight in the Echo Valley, Sagada

In the remote areas of Sagada, people are still practicing this burial practice but nowadays since most of the population in the Philippines are Catholic, this kind of culture is discontinued.

Another short story about cultural Heritage, what do you think of the Hanging Coffins?

A Penny for my thoughts and a legion of Kois

Hungry Koi Fishes waiting for feeding time in Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

From time to time, I love to share about some fascinating places I´ve been whenever I visited the Philippines. I think I´ve been away for too long and sometimes I couldn´t even recognized the same streets that I´ve walked into. Funny and feeling odd, I get a mental block.I laugh when I heard our native language and it seems like a stranger´s voice to me whenever I hear the diction and the local accent. The buildings have been renovated and more infrastructures have been built, and yes, commercialization is always there. There has been lots of shops that opened for business, mostly unfamiliar brands that I never heard of, but some still thrive and lasts up until now.Familiar sights brimmed in my eyes were the line of tricycles, pedicabs , shuttle buses, jeepneys, and stand shops. The streets is always full of people walking around.As usual,the weather is hot and humid and as expected,I am always sweating .It´s an old habit of mine to go inside the shops to cool down since it´s the only place with air conditioning.

Here in Germany, it´s very seldom that I´ve been to places with air conditioning. Only at work, in the car, or I can´t even recall…!

Anyway,some places still looked familiar, and whenever I remember the fond memories, I couldn´t help but to smile.One of them is a nature park called Nuvali. It is one of my family´s favourite place to go. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, play areas and picnic areas nearby so it´s a one stop place for everyone.Nuvali´s amenities includes a lake with lush nature surrounding it. I personally enjoyed the scenery and the quiet walks in the park.Within the vicinity, a unique attraction is the KOI fish feeding area.

Koi feeding in Santa Rosa, Nuvali Park

When I first saw photos of it, I got really curious to see it with my own eyes.To tell you the truth, there were Lots of Kois! I have no idea how many Koi fishes were cultivated here.

The whole sight was really overwhelming in number that it looks scary. Kois are jumping, swirling with their mouths open, gaping, and waiting for fish food. There´s a legion of carp fishes that swarmed into the lake and looking at them is quite exhilarating especially the sound they make.I am just not used to see them in herd like that. Pre Covid, people flock to this place every single day, especially on holidays and weekends just to feed the fishes. It´s really a magnet for kids, and also for adults! It is forbidden to feed the fishes with other types of food, only the one being sold at the ticket entrance.There is a shop that sells fish food so everyone can really enjoy the experience of feeding the hungry Kois.

Santa Rosa became quite famous because of these Koi Fishes. The location is ideal , it is very near to exressway so its a popular stop over for those who are travelling south-bound.I´ve heard Nuvali even become the Koi capital of the Philippines.I´ve seen quite a number of Koi ponds in many gardens here and in the Netherlands but nothing compares to the Kois in Santa Rosa.I brought my daughter here but I guess she´s too young to remember all these.

Koi Fish feeding in Nuvali, Santa Rosa, Laguna

Koi fishes are omnivorous, which means they feed both on plants and animals including insects, crustaceans, and meat proteins.One positive thing about it that despite it´s commercial purposes in this place, these Fishes help to make the lake waters clean.This whole experience of Koi feeding have taught me that these fishes can actually detect if someone wants to feed them!You can really see their eyes , and wide open mouth as if they really recognize the arrival of food.

There are countless laughs heard at the background plus the amazing sound which the Kois made. The shops are full of hungry guests, each one trying to sample the day´s offer. Filipinos are always been hospitable and costumer service is always on top.

These Kois would never learn to do social distancing!

Feed me, Feed me..!

Koi fishes are really special, no wonder they are one of the beloved aquarium pet in south east Asia, especially in Japan.Having a pond in a zen garden is perfect for little Kois to swim around. In Feng shui, a spiritual form of organization and placement of objects, says that having the spirit of the koi near you will attract good luck, fortune, and spiritual benefits. Aesthetically speaking, they are really beautiful.

Tropical Garden with Kois

Excuse the nostalgia, but it was a great day to remember.

Until then, Tschüss!

Stranded thoughts in the beach

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

“Whenever I look at the ocean, I always want to talk to people, but when I’m talking to people, I always want to look at the ocean.”–Haruki Marakami

Today I read in the news that Germany wants to open Tourism soon, meaning anytime in the coming months. That would mean easing border restrictions and allow public travel vacations soon. One friend posted a story about Ostsee while enjoying some drinks buried in the sands. My neighbours wants to book for Turkey and spend 2 weeks in the beach.My new passport had never been stamped yet and it seems like I have forgotten how does it feel to be in an airplane once again…

Then I decided to daydream a bit…

Some fond beach memories are still very vivid in my mind. There are rows of dancing coconut trees, white powder sands, seafoams and waves ,crystal clear turquoise waters and lovely sunsets.Here, time goes in a very rhythmic slow motion but our faces beamed with wide smiles. Sun -burnt skin that lasts weeks to fade out but our hearts are grateful, warm and glad. Spent a long time of waiting and planning as soon as vacation days are set but once my feet touches the shores, my worries are all gone. I always thought,I don´t need much money , all I need is a bag full of sunshine and a heart eager for adventure. Because I know, a day spent in the beach is always good. As long as I am at the beach, I am happy.

Maybe I get a new Henna Tattoo, this time with the same design that I have in my mind.

Adoring the different shades of blues, teal and turquoise colors

In my childhood,I spent most of my beach holidays in my homeland. Growing up, an excursion to the beach is the highlight of our summers. From my previous works, we always have company outing and of course–it´s in a beach resort! The journey to the beach is always a long, tiring one, going through rough roads and far away villages,and the horizon seemed endless. But once I saw the beach glistening from the bright sun, the excitement begins.

Once the weather starts to cool down mid-February, my heart races, excited which beach and island would I be able to explore. As a kid, I got used to swimming in the beach where the sands are ashen black because of the volcanic minerals and rocks that have eroded from Mt. Mayon. Black sand from what I know is derived from cooled lava from numerous volcanic eruptions, perk is that it´s great for exfoliating dull skin. I never knew this before, since as a kid, we´re just used to seeing dark sands and we never thought of it as dirty. Through time, I started discovering other fine beaches, with sandy white shores, and cream shade and full of crushed corals as well.

It´s one of the most marvelous times where we can go night swimming as well and watch the moon reflecting in the pitch black waters.

“Life is a summer, full of fun,
at the beach, under the sun.”

Rugged hills surrounding the beach

The harder you seek, the greater you find” is always true. Some beaches that I have explored required a lot of commuting and travel time, especially ones that are in remote areas and can only be reached by boats or ferries. I remember discovering a secluded island in Palawan by chance. The island that we´re supposed to go is closed so we were offered another place.There´s always a mysterious beauty when it comes to hidden paradises. I wish I have all the time and money to spent to explore them all. In the north, I went to different beaches to watch endless sunsets , cave hunting and yes, made a picnic in the dunes.

” On the beach, you can live in bliss..” -Dennis Wilson

Sandcastles and dreams took my breath away in Boracay Island, Cebu,Philippines
Crystal clear waters in Kayangan ,Palawan

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Malcapuya Island, Palawan

Having an island all by yourself is quite a luxury. Without the crowds, I can admire this paradise as long as I want.Pre covid , where travelling is free and no restrictions, having a beautiful beach always comes with a price. Crowds are a hassle when you wanted a beach to enjoy freely.Stranded in this island for few hours, I don´t even have the energy to complain about life, it is just too good. I busied myself fondling my feet on the shores, counting the clouds, looking for shells and swimming. We had a packed picnic and I saw our guide climbing the coconut trees to get us some fresh coconuts to drink and enjoy. The smell of the fresh grilled fish is quite tempting. The table is set with different kinds of fresh produced seafoods and fruits.As I turned again my eyes to the sea, I just felt grateful. I wish these moments last forever…

I kinda missed the ripe mangoes, watermelons and scraping the fresh coconut which drips its juices. Probably I would have another round of swim before I decided to took more photos after my camera drained of its battery life. There are banana boat rides, camping, taking a nap in a hammock, and yes, shopping for sea shell jewelries!

In the beach, I don´t care about the time, all I know that as along as the sun is out there, I am free to enjoy. I don´t even bother to wear a watch.I feel alive while floating in the waters, staring at the different cloud formations,amazed by the green foliage and bushes. From time to time, distracted while listening to the waves splashing in the rocks. The weight of the waves which carries me to the shore and the seasalt taste in my mouth is enough to remind me all the goodness of life, because when I´m in the beach, I am free to think of the things that I refused to think.

Watching the boats sailing by

There are countless hours spent sailing and island hopping. I got excited as soon as we put on our life vests and the engine motor starts to roar. I don´t mind the water splash, I am at the beach anyway so I am bound to get wet either. The waters are too inviting, beautiful, glistening and the bottom is really inviting. Snorkeling is a must and I told myself to master my strength to adore the world down there.

What a beautiful world to explore the waters who holds such deep history of wars and trade, the old Japanese ship wrecks , legions of corals and colorful fishes…surrounded with jagged limestone cliffs.

The harder the access, the sweeter the find.”G.J Walker Smith

There were simple meals shared under the Nipa huts. Countless photos were taken from nature and laughing comes naturally.I´ve heard stories about the old tribes and folklore stories of each region, shared by the local guide who is quite humble and proud of his roots. Little did he know that they are super lucky, endowed because of living so close to this beautiful nature.

Life taught me that I should walk more on the seashores, forget wearing your shoes, you need to feel the sands under your bare feet, to lie down on the sandshore and take a nap, maybe built a castle and watch how the waves smash it, and perhaps,if I get lucky, I find a giant seashell to bring home or fill up a tiny bottle with sands…

Someday…soon.

Coron Bay, Philippines

When was the last time you went to the beach?

Have you ever tried diving through shipwrecks?

Silent Sunday

My Island-hopping with a Banca

Adventure is worthwhile.” ―  Aesop

 

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“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life..”.{ Werner Herzog}

I grew up in the second largest archipelago in the world, and with 7,107 islands with 36,289 kilometers of coastline,the sight of Banca ( Banka in Tagalog , pumpboat or  canoe ) is as common as hundreds of  typhoon-visits I’ve seen in my whole life! Although, we didn’t live near the sea, my childhood is filled with family swimming trips and beach getaways with friends. A country with tropical climate and abundance of water sports, it is very easy to indulge in the beach and explore nature through a tiny fishermen’s boat. The banca, also known as ‘pumpboat‘, which has 2 large outriggers which are usually made of ‘Bamboo‘to give the necessary stability.

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Accidentally we found another beautiful island…

Just like any firsts,  my first Island hopping experience was unforgettable, at the same time, liberating.  I said this because when you ride a banca, you will lost all your inhibitions, your sea & motion sickness , tensions, and fear of the waters will be gone. ( At least it works for me! )  Thoughts like ; ‘Is it strong enough? Will I reach alive in my destination?  or what if it suddenly sinks? ‘. Totally morbid thoughts!

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Sitting at the dock of the Bay { Soundtrack of my Life}

When you go on an adventure boat ride, it seems that the boat absorbs all your worries and transport you into another world, literally. Every move, the roaring motor sound it makes, the way that the boatman pull and start the engine, every push of the paddle and waves creates a magical nostalgia. This is how every island trip becomes special to me.Imagine owning an island for a day? Or sleeping under the stars, endless bonfires and the beach as your backdrop!

As each banca has its own personality, so as the journey. There is something so raw, exciting, and at the same time exhilarating about sitting in a wooden rugged ,slim boat where you can see the  fishes swimming, your face get wet from the splashes of the tides, and the open view of the sea that makes your horizon like  blue infinity.

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Our rental Banca during  Island hopping 

The banca is as typical as the colorful Jeepney, but  only 20 % of about a million bancas are registered. Uniquely, all of them have a name. Yes,you can recognize them in their flamboyant writing such as ‘Princess of Coron‘, Poseidon, Madonna or Seahawk. Most bancas are normally named after their owners, like the name of the hotel and resort, their son, or daughter. Isn’t nice to have a boat named after you?

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Waiting for the next destination…

I have boarded the largest sailing ‘Dhow’, the Al-Hashemi in Kuwait and explored nearby islands through a modern Catamaran, but my excitement can never surpass  the time when the wind blew over my face when I am on board in the little,skimpy, noisy, and colorful Banca. Have you ever wondered how a banca is made? If you watch the Secret Life of a Banca then you will realize how special it is.

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Unique cone-shaped bancas we used to explore the craters of a volcano

After the devastating  typhoon Haiyan, around 30, 000 bancas were destroyed, debilitating  the poor fisherman’s source of income in the Philippines. The old Banca  is being honed and re-engineered from the old model with the new through the use of fiberglass boat technology.Aside from its touristic usage, the Philippine bancas are now being built better, to empower the local livelihood and to weather the storms of the future. They are not just for photo shoots and having some fun in the islands, for the locals in the coastal areas, the banca  is the way of life and a way to live.

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Our rental banca in the midst of limestone rock mountains

If you’ve never ridden a boat, maybe the sight of a banca might intimidate you. But trust me, they are the  most reliable mode of transport to cross the sea, river, and lakes and wander through the mountains into the best-kept hidden paradise. Bancas are relatively robust if they run to ground since they have no deep-set keel or a centre board (sailing boat). But their maneuverability is relatively limited due to the flow resistance of the outriggers and the small oar blade. They are only partially ocean-going. Bancas can differ in degree of motorization, forms, sizes and colors.

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Bancas in front of the houses in the local neighborhood in Negros Oriental

I have seen smaller paddle-bancas. Children who lives along the coast  uses these boats as their playground. At an early age, they are taught to swim and  join their parents to go fishing.Poorer fishermen have only a paddle-banca but at night, they join the bigger motorized boats to catch more fish. The sailing-banca are seldom used but can only be seen in the southern regions of Sulu, especially used by Badjeros. They are famous for their colorful sails. In Boracay island, I saw bancas with blue sails docked on a bay during sunset. They look spectacular in summer!

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A beautiful day to sail

During island-hopping, the banca is usually provided and arranged by the hotel we are staying. They have their own boatman, with a guide and they are all experienced in sailing. They provide life jackets and are very flexible to our needs.While exploring the island, snorkeling, and swimming, our rented banca is just there, waiting  patiently . Everytime we hop on back to the banca, I know that the next adventure awaits.

“The sea is the same as it has been,since before men ever went on it in boats”

{ Ernest Hemingway}

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Until then…we shall sail together again.

 

Have you ever ride a small boat like the banca?

How was your experience?

If you love reading this post, share it with your friends and leave your comments. Thank you once again for stopping by and see you in my next island hopping adventure!

 

 

Solitary crystal clear waters

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Solitary crystal clear waters

I am a self- confessed nature and beach lover, and I find true solitude in island hopping and discovering rugged virgin lakes and beaches. I just find natural beauty of bodies of water to be totally de-stressing. I am not a savvy traveler, I am just a normal girl who wants to be refreshed, away from the busy-ness of the city, and going to place like this, leaves me both satisfaction and awe without blowing a budget.

Solitude” for me is a personal business.

It takes your whole being to be in tune with yourself. It is not the absence of noise, it’s actually the absence of distraction, and when you found yourself floating in the clear waters of the claimed ‘ cleanest lake in Asia’, it is guaranteed that you’ll find zen and calmness, naturally. Your mind gets clear. Your senses becomes alive. Literally unplugging from all negative vibes. Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan is a picture of no filters, and crystal clear waters seemed to washed away all  the toxins in my mind. When you can actually see the bottom of the lake especially when the sun is up,you can feel the good aura of the place vibrating. Visiting this place is one of the most memorable holidays I have in my life.

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Revisiting the same spot, even in a bit gloomy weather, the waters still as clear as it can be.

I have enjoyed swimming in this lake, exploring the cool, azure waters as far as I can. There is so much serenity in this place that you might think you are in another dimension. Surrounded with limestone mountains, you don’t have the right  to be ungrateful about life. I have tried snorkeling as well and seeing colorful marine life, it was a dream to see the world down there. I explored the whole surroundings by  boating,cruising through the native tribe’s area,the Tagbanuas, in between of the tiny islands and looking into their culture. There is an adjacent lake, the Barracuda,which is less commercialized in the sense that only a few visit the lake and most are armed with tanks and diving suits, making it a haven for professional divers.  Locals nearly discourage visitors to visit the place as the depth of the lake is unknown and is recommended only for professional divers.

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A fantasy island that actually exists

The surrounding mountains will leave you in awe. Everything is so calm and I felt  so secure.There’s an old tale I’ve heard that they are growing an inch every year. I haven’t tried climbing these mountains yet, but its on my list.  Large area is composed of Karst formations where swiftlets  or the Philippine Cockatoo, dwell and build their nest (edible birds nest). There are vertical limestone cliffs that reach up to 600 meters above sea level and eight (8) brackish lakes and three (3) smaller one’s that have underground connections to the sea.This place is on Tentative list in Unesco World Heritage List.

When you are in a place where there is a deafening silence, it’s  so uncomfortable and yet you never get tired of it. I still can’t believe that this fantasy island really exists. Claiming that it’s the cleanest lake in Asia or not–just look at the waters and you’ll know what I mean.

Do you love water-fun activities?

What is your ideal place of relaxation?

You might want to check out these posts if you want some inspiration from the tropical beaches and destinations I personally love. There are still so many beautiful beaches that I have been to but I haven’t made a post for them.

Coron, a fantasy island that actually exists.

What real summer looks like in Coco Beach.

Malcapuya Island : Accidentally in-love!

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge |Solitude

Whole lotta Fish

 

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Whole Lotta Fish!

I can’t get enough of these Fishes in frenzy chaos…they come in herds, almost like a catastrophe ready to scare you or amuse you. Koi fishes are particularly beautiful fishes, I love them. But if you see them in volume like these, I bet you will spend quite sometime staring at them.

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More and more fishes..

If you have a time to kill, you can try counting them by their colors, if you got bored,better  just feed them..

This photo was taken from my last vacation in Philippines. These Koi fishes are the main attraction in a Nature Wildlife park called Nuvali.

 

via Daily Prompt: Fish

2,500 Feet Underground : Enigma of the Sumaguing Cave

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Underground wonders inside the Cave of Sumaguing

When I saw today’s Daily Prompt : Underground, my nostalgic memory brings me back to one of my unforgettable Backpacking adventures, my first Cave Spelunking. I can only think of the time when we explored the Underground caves of Sumaguing in Sagada in Philippines and it still brings me back the chills.

What I discovered inside the cave was beyond my expectation. When I looked at the photos I took with my old  phone, I just didn’t do any justice to it.All we have is a kerosene lamp to guide us through the darkness. All I have is determination to get through the loops and the challenging cave connection.

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Cave Spelunking in Sagada

Cave Spelunking is something that calls for an adventurous spirit. It is something for someone who is willing to explore the unknown and unveil the enigma of the destination.

I still couldn’t believe that up there in the mountains of Sagada lies an underground mystery, buried thousand of years ago, under 2,500 feet underground.Just imagine a sight of burial graves of about 500 years old before entering this. When I touched the glistening and golden formations inside Sumaguing cave, I felt for a while the cave’s mysterious aura is hovering all the visitors who dare to explore it.Everywhere you see, it’s unexplainable, how could nature be so profound, yet so beautiful.

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Feeling the enigma of the underground beauty of Sumaguing Cave

Beauty underground is rare, It is found by those who seek it.

 

Have you ever been 2,500 feet under and explored something beautiful?

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Underground