General Luna, Siargao, Surigao del Norte

General Luna, Siargao, Surigao del Norte
NAKED BEAUTY. Pure white sand is definitely not in short supply at Naked Island, Siargao. Photo by Cielo Lazo
Siargao does not only promise great surfing, but amazing beaches as well. Cloud 9, the famous surfing spot along the General Luna shore, has stretches of white sand bordered with wild shrubs and trees. Close by, just as picturesque, are Naked Island, Dako (Big) Island, and Guyam (Small) Island.
Naked Island is a beach bum’s paradise, an entire island of pure white sand, save for some sparse vegetation--thus, the term naked. If you're lucky, you might even find migratory birds flying about the island and strutting down the shore. Dako Island also has a long stretch of white beach as well as trees and cottages perfect for idle lunches.
Guyam is a small charming island you can explore in less than 30 minutes. The rock formations here, more visible during low tide, are what add to Guyam’s character.
Here’s a video of an island hopping adventure in Siargao:

Source: rappler

Eleksyon2013, Dapa, Surigao Del Norte


Photo Source: theneutralview





Member, Sangguniang Bayan - Lone Dist


Source: Comelec Rappler Mirror Server

To Siargao's Tres Marias

ERYTHING starts with strangeness and being estranged: unfamiliar faces in the resort’s restaurant, unfamiliar laughter on the beach, a familiar sleeping position on an unfamiliar figure in the airport lobby, familiar driving on an unfamiliar road with unfamiliar hands behind the wheel. Everything starts with strangeness and being estranged.
It took a confident “Hi, where are you from?” at the resort’s restaurant to make strangeness and being estranged less intimidating.
A simple hi, when permitted, can superficially lead to adding yet another friend on Facebook or can favorably lead to a serious conversation.
It was “Hi, where are you from?” that brought me to two Filipino-American brothers in Siargao: David, “the open, never-ending book” to use his own words and Brian, “the opposite.”

General Luna's boulevard is a white-sand beach itself, which is more than enough for any beach bumper. (Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering)
David echoed my sentiment that our country is both blessed and cursed by being a nation of so many islands. In other countries, he said, it was so much easier to hop on a bus, motorbike, or pedicab to get to a new place and experience some diversity. In our country, it is to jump on a plane and see another island, after already seeing a similar one.
But I wanted to contend that it is the beaches that look similar. Islands are never the same. Cebu can never be Siargao. I cannot be convinced otherwise.
Indeed, there are only so many beaches one can take. But really, it was not the beaches, was it? They play as backdrops or
postscripts that can be skipped without feeling guilty.
It is the company and the experience that linger, matter, and tease the memory once the soles have kissed another similar-looking shore.
Not entirely barren Naked Island
“There is nothing here!” exclaimed David.
“There is! Sand!” I countered.
From General Luna’s port, the boatman brought us to a yet another naked island. Brittania, Surigao del Sur has its naked island; Bohol, Batangas, and Cebu have their respective virgin islands. It will not be surprising to know there are five or ten islands named naked and virgin in our country. These islands ironically do not live up to their names.
Naked islands—which are too narrow and often become invisible when tide arrives—are the home of small, often unnoticed, living things; while thousands of feet beat up virgin islands.
Siargao’s Naked Island, might be the less “charactered” compared to Guyam and Daku, but it is far from being naked. It has patches of greens, tourists taking their pictures, crabs escaping to their holes, a dead log lying on the shallow waters, empty beautiful shells that would soon join the plurality of my shell collection.
It is, from the chest-deep water, like a caricature of an old man’s head with receding hair, with three or four strands standing erect on his crown.
Daku island is the biggest among the three islands of Siargao. (Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering)

Blue green Daku
“Tell me they are not terrorists, right?” Brian joked while looking at the masked men aboard a fishing boat docked on the shore.
Indeed, they could be mistaken for such. Some faces were covered with worn-out -shirts, some wore a smirk. But their audible banter and laughter—not to mention the buoys and nets aboard—gave them away. Their fishing boat roared. They were left to fish in the vast Pacific. I jokingly heaved as a sign of relief since I am commonly mistaken for a scorched Korean traveler. Brian heaved. For real or jokingly, I could not tell.
Mindanao—especially its northern shores that Surigao del Norte is part of—does not convey the stereotypes common of this easternmost island in the Philippines: dangerous, terrorist-infested. It is rather friendly and comfortable where everyone speaks my language with a sexy curb, where strangers do not hesitate to share a joke or two, where I do not doubt when locals say “sakay lang og motor padung Dapa, ’day (Just ride a bike to Dapa, ’day).”
We took a dip with the kids and saw a huge cockle farmed by a fisher. It was my first to see a cockle as huge as that.
Daku is  Bisaya for big, and aptly, it is the biggest among the three. Unlike the other two islands, the palm-cocooned Daku houses a friendly community.
At four in the afternoon, everything looked green, blue, clear.
Momentarily, I wanted to believe that their mother’s homeland could offer happy colors, green trees, blue sky. And the rest does not matter.
Guyam at dusk
Guyam, meaning little, is a green dent in the sea visible from General Luna’s (GL) boulevard. Unlike Naked, Guyam must pride itself in being honest. I surmised it would only take five minutes to round the islet. Its shore fronting General Luna is the platitude of tropical white-sand, its other side rocky.
“I-dritso palang ni nila sa Guyam, (If only they could connect this [boardwalk] to Guyam),” I heard a teenager say to her companion at GL’s boardwalk, a day before I encountered Brian and David. Connecting an island to an islet with a boardwalk seemed like a romantic idea that appealed to me.
From Guyam, GL looked wade-able. With the presence of Brian and David, I broke off from the notion of islands being cut for romance.
Traveling is a season of encounters. It is a season to let the strange be familiar, the familiar strange.
How to got to Siargao
Meeting them made me affirm David’s words that “often the poorest people are the richest. Though they lack in material belongings, they prosper in the more important things like serenity. Being content with little things is priceless.” Say, the timid sliding of the sun behind Siargao’s horns—an ordinary, priceless scene on this side of the world.
And as we waited for their mother’s homeland to turn dusky one April day; theirs—approximately eight thousand air miles from the
Philippines—just had the same sun peek behind high-rises.   
*Jona Branzuela Bering scales mountains, treks rivers, combs beaches, hops towns, takes photographs, and searches for stories, stanzas, and silence. She always travels with a backpack, books, pens, and notebooks. She blogs at (Jona Branzuela Bering)

Source: Sunstar

Fun in the Sun on the Aegean Coast

Fun in the Sun on the Aegean Coast: Things to Do in Bodrum
Not only is Bodrum one of the top cosmopolitan destinations on the Aegean Coast of Turkey, but it’s also home to some of the most magnificent ancient sites you could have the fortune of exploring. Visiting Turkey can be one of the most unforgettable holidays you will experience; with its seamless fusion of history, culture and vibrancy, you can be sure that, whatever you’re looking for, its lively resort of Bodrum will have it.
Attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world every year, this area of Turkey is a hub for pleasant memories. Check out these fantastic five attractions within Bodrum and see for yourself how appealing a resort it really is.
The Castle of St. Peter
Otherwise known as Bodrum Castle, this fortification was built in 1402 and continues to stand strong, providing superb views over Bodrum Bay. Excellently preserved, the castle will enthral history buffs while the neighbouring Underwater Archaeology Museum will appeal to all ages.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Builaround 350BC, this ancient tomb is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and can be found within Bodrum. If you want to expand your dose of ancient history, you could also visit the 2000 year old amphitheatre that overlooks the resort town below.
The Sunsets
Picture the scene. You’re sat on the beach in the sub-resort of Turgutreis, supping an ice cold cocktail from a beachfront bar. Watch as the sun sets behind the horizon and bask in the breath-taking orange glow that it leaves behind. Make sure you have your camera handy, because it really is something!
The Watersports
Perfect for anyone up for a few thrills, the watersports on offer in the bay are extensive, including jetskiing, parasailing and sailing.

There’s something for everyone in Bodrum. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break or a fun-filled sojourn, you can guarantee that this area of Turkey will provide you with a well-deserved vacation. 

Bucas Grande escapade

Bucas Grande escapade
Photo source Leng Compra
LOCATED at the northeastern flank of Mindanao under the political jurisdiction of Surigao del Norte province lies Siargao, a group of islands known much as a surfing destination. But unknown to many, the Siargao isles also boast of magnificent coves and lagoons that harbor very scenic seascapes, enough to make your jaws drop in amazement.

One of these islands is Bucas Grande, lying adjacent to the more well-known Siargao Island but located much nearer to the Surigao del Norte mainland (a shorter 45-minute trip from barangay Hayanggabon in the nickel-mining town of Claver).

Bucas Grande is an irregular shaped island; the western side that faces Surigao del Norte is straddled by coves and islets. Its numerous emerald colored inlets provide not just breath-taking sceneries but also a perfect aquatic playground where one can swim, kayak, snorkel, dive or just chill in some idyllic strips of beach strewn across these inlets.

When my friend Albert had his Shenzhen China trip cancelled due to visa problems, he immediately booked his Lenten vacation Plan B, which was a long-weekend trip to Bucas Grande. He invited me along with some of our photography co-hobbyists to join the trip.

For a group of 10, we shelled around P4,500 each, which basically covered all the necessary expenses for the trip that includes transportation, accommodation with meals and the tours around the island.

From Davao, we took a seven-hour drive to the town of Claver, the jump-off point is at Barangay Hayanggabon, where you take a motor launch for a 45-minute trip to Bucas Grande. There are accommodations in Hayanggabon for van drivers, where they can wait during their clients' sojourn.

Claver town hosts one of the largest nickel mines in the country and as you set forth to Bucas Grande, one can see contrasting landscapes, the bald, brown mining mountains of Claver and the lush verdant islets of Bucas Grande.

The boat took us to Tiktikan Lake Resort, which is going to be our home for the holidays. The resort had only two cottages, thus it was not really crowded and at times, we felt we had an island for ourselves.

Our cottage has a stunning view of a lagoon, which looks more like a lake. There, one can rent a small banca and go rowing to explore the lush inlet. The sound of hornbills from the nearby forested cliffs indicated that the place is still rich not just with flora but also of fauna.

The emerald waters of the Tiktikan inlet provided much respite to our urban-weary bodies, hiding in a nearby inlet is the Crystal caves where one can go spelunking.

The highlight of the trip was whole day island-hopping. The boat took us to beach strips. Much of Bucas Grande are coves with cliffs rising up to the sea, and there are pockets of white sand beaches like the popular Marka—A (named because of an A-shaped mark, naturally etched on the cove's cliff), which are pit-stops for island hopping tours.

Another trip was at Club Tara, a high-end resort that reminded me of a low budgeted version of Samal Island's Pearl Farm Resort, a breakwater cuts off an inlet that provide resort's guests with their own virtual private lagoon.

Another stop was the jellyfish sanctuary. Visitors take human-powered small bancas to the sanctuary, where boatmen will guide you to an inlet where harmless non-stinging jellyfishes abound. The main highlight of the island tour is a trip to the Sohoton National Park.

Bucas Grande escapade
Photo source Leng Compra
The Sohoton National Park can be accessed through a cave during high tide. On the other side of the cave, you are greeted by scenery much more pristine and virginal than the rest of the Bucas Grande inlets since this place is more isolated than the rest of the island. It is a maze of coves and inlets, where one can get lost if you don't have an experience guide with you. The forested cliffs are teeming with Philippine Ironwood, which is said to be one of the hardest hardwoods in the entire world.

The boat makes numerous pit-stops inside Sohoton, one of which is the Haggukan Cave known for the snoring sound the cave makes because of a natural vacuum. Another cave is named Magkukuob cave known for its stalactites and stalagmites. Exiting Magkukuob can be done by jumping off to the inlet through one of its opening.

Our boatman/guide said the National Park is an enchanted place -- the abode of supernatural beings -- during the boat ride inside the park. In the middle of a hot summer day, a sudden downpo
ur caught us unprepared; good thing I brought along some plastic bags to shield our cameras. The boatman said the rain, which seemed to occur only inside the national park, was a sign of the presence of these beings.

Supernatural powers or a wonder of nature, Sohoton and Bucas Grande Island would still cast the same enchanting effect to any traveler who would wander along its coves. (Sunstar)

About Siargao

Siargao is composed of 48 islands and islets-politically divided into nine municipalities: Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, Gen. luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. Read more...

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