PANAY ISLAND: Roxas City, Capiz to Aklan

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THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Roxas City is known as “The Seafood Capital of The Philippines”. It exports to neighboring countries as well.
  • Roxas City was honored by (DOH)Department of Health with the Red Orchid Award for being 100% tobacco free. The local government has managed tobacco control by enforcing bans, investing on public Education and promotion of pulmonary health.
  • It is the birthplace of the 5th President of The Philippines: Manuel Acuña Roxas.

A. La Playa de Roxas People’s Park: Located at Brgy. Baybay, Roxas City faces the Sibuyan Sea. It is one of the best place to watch sunset and sunrise while enjoying the best seafood. It is 3 kilometers away from the circle so I prefer to take a tricycle and stay at nearby accommodations for a couple of days.

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What I love the most is their open seafood foodcourt. Their Managat fish is the best. You may have it grilled or in soup in traditional “sinigang” way. Their scallops are fresh from Carles; no wonder they are huge. When I went to Islas de Gigantes, I ordered scallops (surprisingly 1 peso each) cooked in every way.

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B. Sta. Monica Church: It is popularly known as Panay Church. This stands in Capiz, which is just near Roxas City. This baroque style church is made from coral blocks and declared as a National Historic Landmark. Aside from that, the largest bell in the country is found here which weighs more than 10 tonnes!

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IMPORTANT LANDMARKS:

  • The Roxas City Hall
  • Capiz Provincial Capitol
  • Roxas City Bandstand
  • Manuel Roxas ancestral home (Rizal and Zamora Streets)
  • The monuments of Manuel Roxas and Jose Rizal across the Roxas City Museum
  • The Panubli-on Roxas City Museum
  • The Roxas City Fountain (dancing lights)
  • Immaculate Conception Cathedral located at Rizal Street
  • Roxas City Bridge (century old)/Spanish City Bridge

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HOW TO GET THERE?

  • From Iloilo City, take the Capiz bus at Ceres Bus terminal. Travel time is 3-4 hours though it is just 2 hours via van, the leg room is uncomfortable.
  • From Caticlan wharf (Boracay), get on a bus/van bound to Kalibo. From Kalibo transfer to another bus heading Roxas City. Total travel time is appromixately 4 hours.
  • From Kalibo to Roxas City vans and buses available. Travel time is 1-2 hours.
  • From Roxas City to Carles/ Islas de Gigantes is just 1.5 hours. See my other posts about the itinerary.

IMG_9676Capiz is known for Placuna Shells (Kapiz) that sounds like Capiz. These shells are edible but have been historically used as decoration for making lampshades, ornaments, windowpane, doors and substitute for glass due to its durable, shiny and elegant characterictics. The reason why I keep on coming back to this city is their OYSTER LANE. If you have been to several parts of Panay Island then you will definitely agree that they have the largest and fattest oysters in the Philippines. What’s more? They sell one bucket between 20 to 35 pesos at the most!

C. Barangay Tambak has an entire street of oyster-selling-stalls fronting the sea. Just take a jeep from Kalibo Rotonda heading New Washington. However, the easiest way is to ride a tricyle and stay overnight in one of the accommodations adjacent the seawall.

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Jackstones on Low Tide

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Jackstones on High Tide

These giant jackstones are placed by the shore to break the strong waves before they reach the sea wall. This is my view for two days across a humble abode & seafood haven. Glad to witness its low & high tide, sunrise & sunset of calm & raging water.đź’™

Check: PANAY ISLAND: Antique

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

-Mark Twain

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CAMIGUIN: Mantigue island

CAMIGUIN: MANTIGUE ISLAND

*It is the island “Born of Fire” with 7 volcanoes and part of “The Pacific Ring of Fire”.

*It is the second smallest province in the Philippines by population and land area.

*It is the home of sweetest lanzones and Lanzones Festival every 3rd week of October.

*Mt. Hibok-hibok, an active volcano is a protected landscape that has been declared as ASEAN Heritage Park.

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Behind me are Camiguin’s two highest: Mt. Timpoong and Mt. Mambajao as seen from the other side of the island on a sunrise.

From Laguindingan Airport/ Cagayan de Oro, ride a van to Agora market (200 Php). Take a bus or van (150-200Php) to Balingoan Port for around two hours. The Ferry port is just walking distance from Balingoan Terminal. We preferred to sleep at the nearest vintage homestay right at the terminal to catch the next day’s first trip. Trips are between 4:00 AM to 6:00 PM so it is possible to enjoy a sweet escape of daytrip itinerary for the busy people.

A. Balingoan Port to Benoni Port (5:45 AM to 6:00 PM): Heading to Camiguin

B. Benoni Port to Balingoan Port (4:00 AM to 6:00 PM): Return to mainland

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Get on board for (150Php); the Balingoan Ferry to Benoni, Camiguin travel time is more or less 2 hours. Ride a multi-cab to where you are headed. Standard tour is 250Php depending on your itinerary. Their cute multi-cab has a seating capacity of 12 persons.

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MANTIGUE ISLAND: On the other side of the province is a marine declared sanctuary with white sand beach and full-grown-mangroves located 2-3 km off-coast Camiguin. Mantigue Island is just a 20-minute-boat ride from the mainland. Some people refer to it as Magsaysay island. The island is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. It is best to bring packed food to enjoy the island fully. However, caretakers offer freshly caught fish at a reasonable price.

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IMG_9598Hibok-hibok Volcano and Mt. Vulcan in the background as seen from the adjacent island.

Other places to visit are: Gui-ob Old Church Ruins, Sunken Cemetery, Clam Sanctuary, White Island, Mt. Hibok Hibok Ardent Hot Spring, Sto. Nino Cold Spring and Katibawasan Falls.

Must take home pasalubongs: VjANDEP Pastel ((pronounced with silent “j”) this box of bread stuffed with creamy, sweet yema is perfect with coffee. Don’t forget to try the unique locally produced Lanzones Wine.

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“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea!”

-Isak Dinesen

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY

WHY VISIT ZAMBOANGA CITY?

*It is known as Asia’s Latin City.

*Zamboanga is the 3rd largest City by land area and 3rd oldest City in the Philippines.

*It is widely acknowledged as the Sardines Capital and Chavacano Capital as well.

*The biggest and most modern seaport of the Philippines is in Zamboanga.

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WHERE TO GO?

A. MERLOQUET FALLS: From Zamboanga City Integrated Bus Terminal, take the bus bound to Pagadian, Dipolog or Ipil. Travel time is roughly 2 hours or may take longer depending on the traffic. Get off at Vitali Bus Stop and ride a habal-habal. We hired it roundtrip to lessen the hassle. Prepare for a downhill trek on the stairs for 10-15 minutes before reaching the hidden beauty of Merloquet Falls. It is best to visit on weekdays to avoid the crowd. Don’t forget to bring snacks especially drinking water because stores  are not availble yet.

Budget in Php: (Bus 150, habal-habal 100 roundtrip, 10 parking, 5 entrance fee)

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B.YAKAN WEAVING VILLAGE: I keep on coming back to Yakan Village for the intricate designs and colorful weave. Some of my favorites are their table runners (350-1500 depending on the seater), fashionable body bags secured with zippers, cellphone pouch, purse, coasters and hairbands. Visit in the afternoon when they’re actively weaving and witness how they create the impressive geometrical designs. I strongly encourage you to patronize local products; they’re not just sturdy and cultural but patiently hand-woven by the locals.

From Zamboanga City, go to Valderosa Street at the public market and ride a jeep headed to Upper Calarian. It will take more or less 30 minutes. The Village is on the right side of the road.

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C. STA. CRUZ GRANDE ISLAND: (Little Sta. Cruz Island is restricted to the public due to military use). The bigger Island is called the Pink island of Zamboanga due to the presence of red organ-pipe corals (Tubipora Musica). Its pinkish coraline sand illuminates in broad daylight. There are usually some Vinta/s (traditional boats with colorful vertical sails) along the shore. This is the perfect place to find South Sea Pearl sellers of all kinds. It is a must-visit-island because The National Geographic recently recognized it as “one of the 21 best beaches in the world”.

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Register at the Department of Tourism Office of Zamboanga located inside the Lantaka Hotel By The Sea, Valderosa Street. You will be escorted by designated personnel or armed police officers. Camping and overnight are strictly not allowed for security reasons. You may bring packed meals or ask the care takers to cook freshly caught seafood if there are any available. In our case, we had a large bucket of crabs.

Budget in Php: (Roundtrip motorboat costs 1,000/group of 10 persons, 5/person terminal fee, 20/person entrance fee, 100 small cottage for sharing)

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D. CANELAR BARTER TRADE: This is the best place to buy souvenirs like sarong, malong, cloth bags, duster/bestida and local goodies. What I hoard the most every time I visit are assorted coffee. To be specific: macadamia and almond; noodles, chocolates and matcha sweets that come from neighboring countries in the south are my take home. It is just one trike away from the city center or walking distance to most backpacker’s inn.

Other places to visit are: The Pasonanca Park, Pasonanca National Park, Fort Pilar, Pettit Barracks, Plaza Pershing, Tagbilat Falls, Bayangan Island, Pandilusan Island.

FOOD TRIP:

1. Curacha at Alavar: Curacha is often referred to as the red frog crab or spanner crab. Curacha is sold per kilo like most seafood servings. Zamboanga visit is hyped by these must-eat-seafood (Curacha, ginataang shrimp & seafood platter) in special sauces. My favorite is Alavar’s sauce which base on my tastebuds consist of the dominance of coconut milk, chili, ginger and crab roe. Try their lychee shake; it complements every viand.

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2. Knickerbocker is a dessert similar to halo-halo only that this seems healthier considering the tropical fruits in it (ripe mangoes, banana, watermelon, melon or apples depending on the season). Gelatin and milk are part of the ingredients topped with strawberry ice cream; heavenly! Try their version at Paseo del Mar (Valderosa St. beside Fort Pilar) or Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant (Sta. Maria Rd.)

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3. Dennis Coffee Garden: This cafe and restaurant serves Kahawa Sug (Authentic Sulu coffee). It is a family heritage business that started in 1962. They specialize on Tausug cuisine and sells native pastries like: Pastil, Daral, Wadjit and Panggih-panggih. I tried their Chicken Pianggang (marinated in charcoaled spices), Chicken Satay (marinated in spicy peanut sauce) and Beef Kulma (curry paste) all served with Sambal (hot paste mixture of spicy condiments) usually found in Malaysia, Indonesia & Singapore. For the adventurous: try the special Tiula Itum, a Tausug soup dish made with charcoal. Their branches are at KCC Mall and San Jose Road, Balisawan-my preferred ambiance.

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4. Bay Tal Mal: According to the locals, “Bay Tal Mal” was derived from the Arabic word Bayt-ul Mal meaning “House of Wealth”. The atmosphere itself felt grand and rich yet the menu is affordable. It is the first Muslim restaurant in the region that is Halal Certified by HICCIP thus accredited by the Department Of Tourism. I had to try the Moro cuisine: the Patier Rice, Indo-Malay Beef Adobo, Shrimp-coconut cake and Chicken Kiyaliya. They’re at a very accessible location: Mayor Jaldon Street Canelar.

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“Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge,not hoarding it.”

-Dharmesh Shah