As per the famous Dalai Lama travel quote: Once a year, go to someplace you've never been before.
To me, this means celebrating my birthday someplace I've never been before. So, on my 27th birthday I decided to go to Dumaguete.
I have always been fascinated of going to Dumaguete since 2011 because of an article I read about the Manjuyod Sandbar. The photos of Manjuyod made me feel like I'm going to Maldives. :D
Together with 3 of my friends, we went to Dumaguete on July 20, 2015.
Since July is part of the rainy season here in the Philippines, it was kind of gloomy when we arrived.
We don't really have a concrete itinerary when we landed at Sibulan Airport. So, 2 of my friends grabbed some pamphlets of accommodations from the tourist information table at the airport.
When we got out of the airport we went to one of the stores/eatery in front and got some breakfast. We ate "lugaw" (porridge) and then we head to the Sans Rival Bistro to try out their famous desserts specially their silvanas.
Day 1: Apo Island
We hired a tricycle from the airport to Malatapay Port for 600.00 pesos (this also includes our drop by in Sans Rival Bistro) Malatapay Port is the place where to ride the boat if you'll be going to Apo Island. The boat fare is 2,000 pesos (return) and additional 200.00 pesos but I forgot what this fee is for :D.
While on the boat going to Apo Island the weather condition got worse. It started to rain hard while we were on the open sea. And since the winds and waves are too strong the boatmen decided to drop us on the other side of the island where we need to trek two mountains to get to the lodging house where we will spent the night.
We were soaking wet when we got off the boat and then the boatmen left us and asked a kid to guide us to the lodging house but the kid was called by her mother and we were left on a nipa hut still getting wet because the rain won't stop and we were thinking of just getting back to Dumaguete city. Luckily, we met a diving master who was kind enough to accompany us to the lodging house. He also offer to be our guide for snorkeling on Apo Island to see the turtles. Though the sea has gone crazy that day we were still lucky to encounter a turtle and spent the rest of the day on the island. The island doesn't have a stable resource of electricity so the only time that the electricity is on is from 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
*Expenses on Apo Island: 150.00 pesos/person/night for the lodging house (Ronor Lodging House). 100.00 pesos for the snorkeling mask. 100.00 pesos for snorkeling vest and 300.00 pesos for the guide. You can also ask the lodging house owner to cook for you and they charge 150.00 per person/meal.
Day 2: Dumaguete City
We plan to head back to Dumaguete City for this day and then go on a day tour in Siquijor. But we had a hard time getting back to the city because the weather is still not that good and if it won't get any better we have to stay another day in the island. However, the sky started to clear at around 8:00 A.M. and we had to leave the island as quickly as possible because of the big waves.
We arrived at Malatapay Port at around 9:00 A.M. and we took a tricycle back to the city. We do not have an accommodation yet within the city so we started to contact the cheapest lodges and hostels to inquire and book rooms. We decided to get the rooms from Gabby's Bed and Breakfast. We were dropped off at Robinson's mall and we paid the tricycle 400.00 pesos. We took another tricycle from Robinson's mall to Gabby's B&B and I think the fare was only 10.00 pesos per person. Gabby's B&B is located at Clay Town Daro and state to the tricycle driver that it is in front of Gimik - which is an old well known eatery/restaurant in that street. The room that we reserve was the twin room which is 900.00 pesos/night and comes with free breakfast of toast and jam or budbud (sticky rice with chocolate dip and ripe mangoes). We were the only guests on the place that time so we really enjoyed the cozy and artsy fartsy vibe in it. Also, the place just recently opened that time so everything are relatively new.
We plan to go to Siquijor for this day so, after checking in and taking showers, we head to Dumaguete City Port. Unfortunately, we were unable to catch the last boat trip for that day going to Siquijor. So, we just decided to stay in Dumaguete City. We went to Lab-as restaurant for lunch. The food was good and very cheap. Then, we went back to Gabby's B&B and played Monopoly had some coffee, juice, pizza and beer. Then, we walked around the city to see Siliman University, tried the fried ice cream at Panda Ice Cream Haus and had dinner at Scooby's. Places around Dumaguete are cozy and definitely a must visit for people who love art.
After having dinner, we head back to Gabby's and played The Game of Life board game until the clock hits 12:00 midnight and it was my birthday. So, after playing we already hit the sack to get some sleep for tomorrow's activity.
Day 3: Manjuyod Sandbar
I woke up at around 6:00 A.M. and it was raining. I felt worried that time that the rain might continue for the day but I was also praying hard that it would stop so I can spend my birthday on the place I wanted to visit the most in Dumaguete. At around 8:00 A.M. the rain stopped, so we already started to prepare for the day and head to Manjuyod. We first took a tricycle going to Ceres bus station the fare is 10.00 pesos/person. Then, we rode the bus routed to Bais - bus fare is 50.00 pesos/person. We dropped off at the Bais market and my friends took their lunch and we bought some coffee and snacks to bring to the sandbar. We took another tricycle going to Canibol Wharf for 100.00 pesos. It was like 20-30 minutes drive from the market to the wharf. Then, we rented the boat for 2,000.00 pesos. It was a 5-10 minutes boat ride from the wharf to sandbar. There are cottages on the sandbar but the rent is too expensive for us so we just decided to roam and stay around the sandbar until the afternoon.
Tip: The rental for the cottage is 3,000.00 pesos just for the day and 4,000 pesos for an overnight stay. You can also include dolphin watching and other site in Bais for the boat rental.
We arrived back in Dumaguete City at around 6:00 P.M. We just took a shower and decided to have a dinner at Gabby's Bistro to wrap-up my birthday. Gabby's Bistro is one of the must try restaurant in Dumaguete City and it is inside the compound with one of the famous accommodation Florentina's Hotel.
Day 4: Siquijor
We decided to skip the whale shark watching in Oslob Cebu because we are already lacking time, so we just head out to the nearest island, Siquijor. Siquijor has been tagged as an enchanted and mystical island because of old folklore and stories that supernatural things exist in this island.
We took a ferry from Dumaguete City Port. The fast craft fare is 120.00 pesos and 15.00 pesos terminal fee. There is a schedule for the fast craft departure from Dumaguete Port and back from Siquijor Island, the one that we got was for 10:00 A.M. It was a 45 minutes boat ride. We arrived at Siquijor island at almost noon and we were already fascinated with their port and got excited what the island has to offer.
We do not have an itinerary when we arrived there and we were lucky enough to meet the tricycle driver Aipee Dongon (you can try to contact him at 0927-2633983) who offered to tour us for 1,200 pesos. We first took our lunch on a local eatery near the welcome sign of Siquijor in front of one of the old church and bell tower in the island. We were advised to be careful with the drinks, food and the interaction with some people in Siquijor due to rumors that some practices witchcraft.
After having lunch, we just took some pictures on the welcome signage and on the bell tower spot then went to Capilay's spring park. The park is free for public and you can take a swim on the cold spring pool. Then, we head to the Oldest Balete Tree on the island. Together with the tree is a small fish spa pond and they also have someone who's dressed up as a fairy to make the spot look really enchanted. You don't have to pay anything here, they just ask for donations. Then, we went to Cambugahay Waterfalls and tried to jump on the falls while swinging on a rubber like stem of tree. After dipping on the waterfalls, we went to see the oldest church in the island and the old convent that has been transformed into a school now. Our last stop is at Salagdoong Beach which has been famous because of the two platform on the cliff where you can jump if you are up to an adrenaline boosting activity. Though there are still other places to go to in Siquijor, we didn't have enough time to get to them and need to catch up the last ferry to go back to Dumaguete City.
When we arrived back to the city we decided to go to Rizal Boulevard which was named after our national hero Jose Rizal. According to the story, that is the shore where he used to sit before he went to Dapitan when he got exiled. We tried some street food specially their Balut and Penoy.
Then, we head back to Gabby's took a shower and grabbed some drinks and played boardgame for the night.
Day 5: Going back home to Manila
Last day in Dumaguete, we had our breakfast first in Gabby's before checking out. Then, we went to some souvenir stores and head to Sans Rival Bistro to buy boxes of Silvanas to bring home to Manila.
After buying souvenirs and silvanas to be given as gifts, we head straight to the Airport to catch our flight back to Manila and we arrived in Manila at around 5:00 P.M.