Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

I was up and awake early in the morning for another mission as an Ambassador, and that is “finally” meeting the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu Philippines.

I’ve been living here in Cebu for almost a decade now and never have actually roamed around Cebu or at least come over and see what’s with this talked about whale sharks in Oslob. To think a lot of people from around the world spend thousands just to be here and get to do swimming with the whales.

I’ve meet up with my host, Roger at the South Bus terminal in Cebu city around 6am but since we preferred to ride the air-conditioned bus we have to wait around 7am. Luckily, the first round was not full yet so we get to ride but we’re on the last row, the butt part of the bus.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

It took us about 3-4 hours to get to Oslob, luckily I have my phone and mobile internet to check my emails, chat on Facebook and listening to music during these hours. Though I feel secure, since I’m with the two (2) gentlemen I did not get to sleep since it’s too bouncy on our spot – I don’t recommend sitting there. But our Korean seatmates slept well.

There are a lot of resorts to choose from when you get there, there’s actually a resort that the bus may drop you but do feel free to go to other resorts since they all offer same price when you want to do swimming with the whales or dive with them.

I suggest you go directly to the government resort since there are restaurants there, and anyway you’ll need to go there before going to the whales since you’ll need an orientation.

So, we chose the most quiet resort that we can find and after paying for the fees we changed our clothes and went to the area where the fishermen guides will pick us up.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

The one in the middle is the WithLocals host, Roger and the other guy is his friend John. I'm so happy that Roger got his own GoPro Hero camera, since I can't take my DSLR with me out there.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

Here's what we're looking at. The ones that you're seeing that seems like small islets, they're actually boats with tourists - Roger took the photo while I was trying to fix my hair.

Few minutes later, the guides called us up to go down.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

The official fishermen guides of the government are the ones wearing blue shirt. If you don't know how to get into the boat or what we call "banka", no worries the guides are very helpful and kind to assist you.

They won't bring you right away to the whale sharks, since you must take the short orientation by the government employees to ensure your safety and the whale sharks. Do take time to listen since any violations can send you to jail.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

 Say hello to the Korean girl! (photo above on the right lower corner)

It took me a while to get the courage to jump into the waters since it was windy that day and the waves are a bit big. So when I jumped, this is (somewhat) my view.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

I'm saying "somewhat" since this is Roger's view but this is somewhat my view right away after I jumped. Can you imagine my feeling? I swim my way up and told the guide that the whale shark is to near me. They said that it's okay if they're the ones touching you, as long as you're not intentionally touching them - I don't want to go to jail.

The guide told me that I should not use the life jacket since I know how to swim but since I'm not that experienced, I don't trust myself so I wore it!

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

I keep on holding on to the banka, and the guide wants me to experience letting go of the banka so he just keep on holding on to me, even though I'm wearing the life jacket.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

The guide suggested that I use it the life jacket as a floater, or just hold on to it so I can look deeper. So I got the courage to do it, and just use my left arm to hold on.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

Oh yes! Love this shot!

As the guide noticed that I'm starting to get comfortable and want to dive a bit to see the whales, he suggest to throw the life jacket into the boat and promised that he'll look at me all the time to make sure I won't drown. So I did!!

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

Thanks to kuya for holding on to me. Making sure I'm safe and making sure I enjoyed my time swimming with the whale sharks.

As you start getting comfortable, you'll be able to see and appreciate the view more, the view of the whale shark and the fishes following them around.

whale shark watching and swimming with the whales in oslob cebu

How to get there?

Go to the Cebu City South Bus terminal, take a bus going to Oslob – feel free to choose between the open air or air-conditioned bus but I suggest go for the air-conditioned since it’s a lot safer and less stops, since the open air is preferred by the locals because it’s cheaper.

Just tell the bus conductor that you’ll stop at Oslob, tell them to drop you there. They usually issue tickets about 30 minutes after the bus left the terminal, then collects the payments about 30 minutes later.

You’ll know that you’ve arrived or near if you’re starting to see this sign.

The Total Expenses

Roger’s experience offered in the WithLocals website includes a trip to Moalboal with an overnight stay. But I squeeze it all to one day since I don’t want to take too much of his time. Let me give you Roger’s rate.

2D1N South Cebu Tour Experience Highlights:
  • Swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob
  • Trip to Moalboal
  • Trekking to Kawasan Falls
Inclusions: Entrance fees, Meals, Snacks, Bus Transport, Overnight stay
Price: $88.40/person

But then if you insist on just going for the swimming with the whale sharks, here are their rates.

Swimming with the Whales – P500/person
Diving with the Whales – P1,500/person

Note: I believe the snorkel is included. I forgot the fare for the bus, but it’s lower than P200 I think it was around P170. Sorry, forgot to write it down.

I’ll try to update the post once I get to roam around the south area of Cebu again, so hopefully I’ll be able to update you with the exact fare for the bus. The meals there goes around from 150 to 250 and the taste can pass. Our meal was about P300/head since we had drinks – mango shake for me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Must Check Out Areas at Cebu White Sands Resort

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Along with fellow bloggers, Exotic Philippines was invited to come and visit one of the resorts in Mactan Cebu Philippines, the Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa.

Let me just note that this is not a hotel review, but just a featured hotel. I do hotel reviews but since I was just there for a day to talk with the owner and his family, I can’t provide any hotel review since it’s purely just viewing the hotel, talk and dinning with the family who owns the resort – which was a pleasure to meet them.

The Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Though I’ve been living here in Cebu for more than 10 years now, and just live near by the resort, it was my first time to enter and really see what’s inside the resort.

The name itself is a brand, there are other White Sands resorts owned by the Unchuan Development Corp. For years passing by this resort, I really thought that it’s one of the expensive accommodations here in Cebu, a resort that I can’t afford and where rich people stay. But then when I entered the resort, it was welcoming and feels at home. It’s just like you own a house with huge ground or lot area.

Comparing the size of the lot area of this resort, it’s not as big as other resorts in Mactan, but it’s a place where you’ll surely can relax and feel at home. I’m not that type of person who’s really comfortable with high class hotels and I usually feel out of place. So, I really appreciate the environment and ambiance of this resort, I feel more like being at home or visiting a friend's home.

Here are the areas at Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa that I think you want to know more about and that you must try out.

The Rooms

The owner of the resort tours us around the resort and of course, they let us see their rooms and here they are. Sadly, because I forgot to take notes I wasn't able to pin point which rooms is which - since there are 3 types of rooms that they offer.

Here's one of their oldest rooms, this room is one of their rooms from the start (if I remember it right, it's been around for 18 years) and look at the room. It's so clean, well maintained, classic but still beautiful!

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

At the back of the sofas, there are two beds where one can fit 2 persons and the other is just one. I believe it's equivalent to a family room but it's their deluxe room.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

I'd say that this is my favorite. It looks so comfy that I wasn't able to stop myself from sitting on it. I have to, I wanted to, love it!

Now, below is I believe the one they call the courtyard room. I just love the colors, it's so warm and the bed looks so comfy.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

If you're looking for a modern room, then book their Mabuhay guest room which is below.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

It has a terrace that you can hang out, and the nice thing about it that I think honeymooners will like is...

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

See that window? if you'll turn off or open the blinds, then you'll see everything inside the toilet room in black and white. Naughty! Naughty!

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

If you're looking for a room good for two (2) then here's another Mabuhay guest room for 2.

As for the room rates, they are:

Room Type
1 Night Stay
3D/2N Stay
Courtyard Villas
Courtyard Junior Suite
Supreme Room

If you're more than the capacity of the room, they charge P1,500/night for adults (I think the extra bed is included) with breakfast and P900/night for kids.

The Restaurants

We were able to have our lunch with the family who owns the resort, and I tell you their food is really good. I totally forgot the name (see I forgot the name, I was so focus on eating it) but it was like a steak or something.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

I do have photos of the meal but since I took the picture using my phone with a low quality camera, it does not goes well with the post.

The Anahata Spa

I love massage and upon entering their Anahata spa made me want to just lay down and call someone to massage me. The aura and the feel of their spa is so relaxing that I bet, I'll fall asleep.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

I love the lighting's! The colors they choose, it's so cool! I'm not sure what's the tub for but I believe it's for the other services of their spa. Other than massage, they also offer body scrubs, body wraps, and facials.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Their message have lots of variations too! Including the traditional "hilot" massage, Thai massage, bentosa,  etc.

The Swimming Pools

If you don't like swimming at the beach like me, then check out their pools that looks like the head of Mickey mouse.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Look at the top view that I shot. It's like a hidden Mickey at the resort.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

The resort is a family friendly resort, the resort is also owned by a family so I think they did think about their guests with kids. So, if you've got kids who loves to swim, then they'll be just fine at the kiddie pool. 

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

You can relax and at the same time, be with your kids.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Sit down, get wet and watch your kids. If you fall asleep, no worries they have people watching the pool.

The White Sand Beach

The Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa is called "the white sands" for a reason. They do have REAL white sands at their beach that have been there from the start. It was preserved by the owners, they did not buy it somewhere and put it there and I was running around the seaside at the white sands.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

The girl is Mary by the way, she's also a blogger. The one she's standing from is actually the second restaurant of the hotel, that is the Buenavista restaurant.

The Royal Koi Fish Pond

The owner Mr. Unchuan is fond of the Koi fish, but wait, what's this falls doing here?

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

It's a real false but a small one. It's one of the Koi fish pond at the resort wherein huge Koi lives in.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

 And the Kois loves me way too much or they know I'm pointing a camera at them.

They have 3 ponds for their fishes, and one of them is near the rooms.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

 And yes, they are all Koi fish at the resort. I can't count them. I'd guess they have almost a thousand Koi fish at the resort.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

So, the questionis, o Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa really have white sands?

I'll let you decide through this picture.

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

If you just want to visit and relax for a day, the Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa also offers day use. For Monday to Friday, their rate is P750/head for adults and P400/kid wherein the P200 is consumable at their restaurant. As for weekends, their rate is P950/head for adults and P500/kid which includes an Eat-all you-can at their buffet from 11am to 1pm.

They also have day use rooms, wherein the entrance fee is waived for 4 persons, and a P1,000 conumable food at their restaurants and includes a free use of the pool and beach from 9am to 5pm.
Book Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

Thursday, October 9, 2014

6 Reasons Why the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Wish to Increase the PSC

6 Reasons Why the Mactan Cebu International Airport Wish to Increase the PSC

I was at the Waterfront Airport hotel in Mactan to attend the public hearing on the plan to increase the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

MCIAA wish to increase their international rate from P550 to P740, and P300 for domestic rate to P400. I’m using the word “wish” since this is just a proposal to increase the PSC (a.k.a. terminal fee) for the following six (6) reasons.

Last increase was way back in 1999 and 2006

It was way back in 1999 when they increased their international rate from P500 to P550, and 2006 when they increased their domestic rate to P300. 

MCIAA's financial revenue stream decreases 

With the last increase rate, and the current increase in all our expenses and costs it is possible that the revenue stream may decrease from about P1.5 Billion a year to only P500 Million after the Concession Agreement.

MCIA Projects and Upgrades

The MCIAA’s recently partnered with GMR-Megawide under a private-public agreement to help plan and do upgrades for the airport. Obviously, we’re really behind. It’s not fair to compare with international countries, so even we compare our airports (generally here in the Philippines) to other Asian we’re really behind.

Please note that GMR-Megawide is the current partner of the top rated airport in New Delhi, India. They’re the ones who brought the airport from 100+ ranking (if I’m not mistaken) to top 3 best airport around the world.

MCIA’s Service Improvement

Among of the promises that the representative of the GMR-Megawide that if we’ll pursue the plans, we have a huge improvement in terms of booking queue, luggage queue, ambiance, efficiency, look, feel, facilities, etc. Which is what most of us is demanding for, that we’ve been wanting for.

Increase Flights and Airlines 

At the moment, we only have one (1) flight a day from Cathay Pacific, one of the known airline in Asia. I’ve already took a ride with Cathay Pacific and they’re really a great airline. They’re kid friendly, great customer service and because they’re known they can totally bring a huge number of tourists directly to Cebu. 

Next year, they did promised to increase their number of flights and with that we really need to upgrade since there are also other airlines who are interested in having a direct flight to Cebu.

Other Countries have increased

Finding out that Japan (they have that earthquake proof airport) only charge P1,000 plus for their international and we will only charge P750 to at least improve the services and the facilities of the airport, I say why not? Right?

Please note that these six reasons that I’m sharing with you are the reasons that I see why we should really increase our PSC. But of course, I do hope that all the money will go to where they should go, and not somewhere else. Plus, with a promise that the expected results will be delivered. It may not be immediate, but I do hope within at least 5 years we’ll all be able to see what we’ve paid for.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

8 Sites to Check Out When You're in Argao

Argao Cebu Philippines

I’ve been tasked to go to Argao to do my job as an Ambassador of WithLocals few weeks ago. I’ve been there, I mean I just pass by there and just took the place for granted like there’s nothing much to see there, but I was wrong.

In the small town of Argao in Cebu Philippines, there are at least 8 sites that you can totally enjoy to eat, look, play and explore. Luckily, the WithLocals host Janine was able to come up with an itinerary for everyone to book and enjoy and for me to share here at the Exotic Philippines blog.

The Argao Hall of Justice

Yeap! That's the Hall of Justice in Argao that they're still using. Amazingly, the walls of this building are made built with white eggs some years ago. Imagine that!

Argao Cebu Philippines

If you're going to look at the wall a lot closer (especially in person), you'll actually going to notice some egg shells on it.

The Capilla Mortuario

I got goosebumps when Janine told me that this little chapel is actually where the aborted babies are buried for years.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Don't believe me? Then this plaque about the Capilla Mortuario will be able to prove it all and give you at least a bit of history about the chapel and the babies.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Now, check out what's inside the chapel.

Argao Cebu Philippines

The babies are inside there. I think there are also babies on the sides too. But really, I feel like they're there and watching me, that my hair are standing and my back bones are tingling. Scary!

Argao Cebu Philippines

Plus, if you're going to look up you'll notice that the chapel have the image of an angel child grabbing a baby.

Guilang's Tablea

Who doesn't love chocolate? Well, there are actually people who are not into it but there are just few of them - I think. But Lola Guilang of Argao Cebu have been making her very own 100% pure chocolate tablets since 1948 and it's addictive since I bought 2 packs of it, and I regret just buying 2 packs.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Look at that! When I was actually taking this shot, I can totally smell it and starting to drool. I just love Guilang's Tablea!

Alex Kafe

So it seems Alex Kafe is popular in Argao and it's just walking distance from the Hall of Justice.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Janine have already booked and reserved us a table and ordered some meals ahead and what surprised me is this.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Their specialty, the HumbaChoy. It's a Bachoy (famous in Ilo-Ilo) but topped with the famous and my favorite Humba. which was new to me. It also has noodles! If you want me to rate it, I'd say it's 2.8 stars.

Chitang's Torta

Love torta? Then try the famous torta of Argao, the Chitang's Torta! You might want to check out my blog post about the store and the opportunity to see the back of the store and how their torta is processed and made.

Argao Cebu Philippines

The Argao Nature Park

One of the sites that Janine took me is the Argao Nature Park, which needs some improvement but hey, they're trying and the place actually looks great for a small town.

Argao Cebu Philippines

Argao Cebu Philippines

Look at those tall trees!

Argao Cebu Philippines

I want to chill and work there. Wanna come?

Argao Cebu Philippines

This is a great spot for prenup photoshoot right?

Argao Cebu Philippines

And you'll also get to meet this guy and his friends who wants to grab me and the camera.

Bahal Max

The place is a bit far from the center but if you love wine, especially the coconut wine it will be a great visit. Get to know the owner of the Bahal Max and know how it is made.

Argao Cebu Philippines

The Mahayahay Beach Resort

After the whole day visiting these sites, we get to chill out at the Mahayahay Beach Resort just like this little guy here.

Argao Cebu Philippines

If you're there in a great time and catch the waves then you might want to do this too!

Argao Cebu Philippines

Go skim boarding!

For only $48.61 you'll be able to enjoy and get WithLocals Host Janine to tour you around and bring you to these sites. There are actually more sites added by Janine but these are the ones that I think I stands out.
Check Out the Argao Experience!

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