Friday, July 30, 2010

Hagimit Falls in the Island Garden City of Samal

Hagimit Falls

We were at the Hagimit Falls as part of a day tour of the Island Garden City of Samal. The van we were in was only allowed at the gate so we had to troop down on foot along a paved pathway going to the falls. Its really a long trek down so better be prepared and leave your high heeled shoes in your hotel =).

Hagimit Falls, the water source

Hagimit Falls, the water source

The falls is a mishmash of small waterfalls cascading into small pools ideal for swimming… well probably during the summer months when the weather is really hot. Its quite hard to go swimming when we went there since the water was really ice cold. Its just too bad that the weather didn’t seem to cooperate with us at the time since it was a bit rainy. But nevertheless, just the sound of the water makes you relax and enjoy the scenery at one of the picnic huts strewn around the falls.

Going up the falls was another matter since we opted to take a short cut, a local boy led us to a path along the trees where we had to brave a few knee scratches since the climb up was really steep. I had to hold on to my sister-in-law’s skirt when I was off balanced at one time.. luckily her skirt was hanging on to her dearly (else I need to buy her a new one =)

Hagimit Falls, River to the falls
Samal Island by the way, is just a stone’s throw away from Davao City. You can get to Samal Island by taking a ferry boat at Sta. Ana Wharf or a RORO at Km. 11 Wharf in Sasa if you’ll be bringing your own vehicle. The Island has 5 seaports - Kaputian, Samal, Babak PEO and Sta. Cruz, Talikud. From the island, you can rent a motorcycle or habal-habal and it would take you around the island. Hagimit Falls is about 2kms from Penaplata and is accessible to all vehicles.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gumasa, Glan - South Central Mindanao's Best Kept Secret

I love the beach. The sound of the waves for me is very relaxing… and it is a plus for us to be just 1hr 30mins away from the pristine beaches of Gumasa in Glan, Sarangani Province.


Gumasa Beach
On weekends, if we have nothing else to do, we troop down to Gumasa with our little girl in tow. I remember that the first time we brought our little girl to the beach she was just 8 months old, but having a small baby didn’t stop us from enjoying our weekends at Gumasa. Hmmmm.. no wonder my little girl (who is now 3yo) loves the water so much! As a baby, she loved the feel of the fine white sand on her feet. And at times, we just let her frolic in the water since the water is shallow enough for her to wade in. (but of course it’s always a rule among parents to keep an eye out for your kids especially in the beach!).

The beauty of the beaches there reminds one of Boracay, minus the buzz and noise of the commercial areas. I love the fact that the sand are powdery white, well… at least at the stretch of beach in White Haven Resort where we usually go when we’re in Gumasa.

Gumasa Beach

Accommodations in Gumasa and food is cheaper compared to other top beach destinations but the beach is definitely world class! Isn’t that a good deal? But if you're looking for luxury, hotels or spas are still not available in the area. You could stay in hotels in nearby Gen. Santos City. The place is also great for snorkeling. Dive spots can also be found within the area for the diving enthusiast.

Some say that Gumasa is South-Central Mindanao’s best kept secret since most of its beaches are unspoiled. But now, since most of the roads leading to Gumasa are paved and cemented, the beach is more accessible to the general public. Gumasa is slowly becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Sarangani Province.

A number of resorts are sprouting up like the Coco beach, Davak Ridge Resort, Isla Jardin del Mar, Rosal Beach Resort to name a few. So if you share this piece of info and invite more people to come see for themselves what Gumasa beaches has to offer..then it won’t be a secret anymore. =)

Gumasa Rocks

From Gensan, you can catch a van going to Glan Poblacion and from there, there’s always a habal-habal (motorcycle) around to take you to your choice of resort. For reservations and inquiries:
  • White Haven Resort: 083 8950305 (Dr. Adarna's Clinic, their the owners so don't be surprised, but they book tourists through this number :) or call 0920-9479148 (look for Cenie)
  • Isla Jardin Del Mar - 083 8930032; 083 5525478

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Misconstrued Mindanao ( A travel advisory of sorts about a misunderstood island…)

Beautiful T'boli
A beautiful T'boli girl in traditional attire
For most people who want to travel and see Mindanao for the first time, I understand your anxiety and concern. I have always lived my entire life in mega-Manila up until ten years ago and I also have the same connotations about Mindanao as you have. So let me share with you my thoughts on those misconceptions…

Talus Falls
Nalus Falls, Kiamba, Saranggani Province
• First off, Mindanao is an island as diverse in religion, people and sceneries as it is in Luzon or the Visayas. There are places here with constituents who are purely Muslim in religion but that does not cover the whole island entirely. It’s funny when you refer to the island as “Muslim Mindanao” when people here are not only classified according to their beliefs. There are a number of Ilokanos, Ilonggos, Kapampangans, Cebuanos among others who also live here. Some are Catholic Ilonggos, some Protestant Ilokanos and some Muslim Manilenyas to mention a few.

• One funny question someone asked me in Manila was “Do I need to wear a burqa?” A burqa or burqua is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female's body when out in public (from the wikipedia). It is an attire for women usually worn by the conservative Muslim believer. If you are not Muslim, then I don’t think you need to be seen in a burqa when you tour the island.

Lake Sebu
 A T'boli boy fishing in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
• Often the news tend to “generalize” referring to the entire island as chaotic. Like I said earlier, it is a big island so there might be places that are indeed not suitable for tourists but please spare the rest of the other towns and cities here since most are generally peaceful. (PM me for places you shouldn’t wander off to- there are just a few of them promise)

Rice Fields
Harvest time at Kiamba, Saranggani Province
• Kidnappings that happened here are isolated cases and can happen anywhere else in the world if you are a highly “kidnap-able” person yourself. If you are a foreigner visiting Mindanao for the first time, it’s always best to tour the island with a local or hire a qualified tour guide so you don’t accidentally go to the places that are classified “hot spots”. Other than that, relax and enjoy your time here. 

• Bombings are works of terrorists in any given place in the world. Its just sad for us if it happens to any of the peaceful places here. After all, the reason these terrorists are so called is because they want to spread a feeling of “terror” thereby instilling an atmosphere of fear among the people living in the area. Sometimes it is a form of “economic sabotage”. So unless you want them to succeed, then I don’t see why you should get scared of these acts. It’s time for us to put more trust in our local police force. For them to do their job to prevent these kind of events to happen. Mindanaoans are not happy when these things happen here as well. So please spare us the tag “bombing capital of the country”. I don’t think Mindanao deserves that. 

• You don’t need to bring your firearms or bulletproof vests when you visit Mindanao. Don’t worry, the news reported a military encounter that happened in a place here in the island, but did you take note where exactly that is? Did you also hear about a military encounter in a province in Luzon laden with NPA rebels? Or a siege in the Gaza strip? Unless you are going to those exact places, then I think the only thing you should arm yourself with when you go here is your camera packed with extra batteries.

Lake Sebu Falls No.2
Lake Sebu Falls No. 2

If you are a fellow countryman, don’t you think it a bit odd, that foreigners seem to know a lot more about this beautiful island Mindanao than you do? Don’t you think you should come visit and see for yourself first what this deep rooted misconception is, about an island you’ve never even set foot on? Its just a bit disheartening hearing a lot of these misconceptions coming from people you share the same nationality with. =(

T’nalak Festival of South Cotabato

T'nalak Festival 2010
In Koronadal City, in the province of South Cotabato, people celebrate the T’nalak Festival. It is a festivity to commemorate the foundation anniversary of South Cotabato with emphasis being given to its one of a kind product –the T’nalak. Now if you’re not familiar with it, it is a colorful woven abaca cloth made by the hands of the women belonging to the T’boli tribe. You might also be wondering why they chose the T’nalak over a number of products in South Cotabato. They singled out the T’nalak because it symbolizes the fusion of culture and traditions of the different ethnic tribes in the province. This year’s festival theme is “One Dynamic People, One Vibrant Spirit”.

T'nalak Festival 2010
On the culmination of the festival, a parade and street dancing provided merriment and gaiety on the streets of Koronadal. The people who came to witness the event was not held back by the gloominess of the weather.

Actually, it’s truly amazing to see the participants (some of whom are just in the elementary level) performing their dance number amidst a drizzle of rain. They really took it to heart that whatever happens, “the show must go on”. Well, of course considering the fact that these kids already invested a great part of their time practicing their steps and putting a lot of work on their impressive costumes… I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want all their hard work to go to waste. So a little rain (or much) didn’t seem to dampen their spirits. It was also amusing to see the photographers especially the contingent from the Gensan Camera Club (GCC) braving the drizzle to snap their own masterpieces of the event. Some with make-do waterproofing device (with a picked up plastic bag =)) to protect their expensive gear.
T'nalak Festival 2010
T'nalak Festival 2010

What really made the day really exceptional especially for the participants of the street dancing competition was when the newly elected Governor Arthur Pingoy announced an additional take home prize for all the groups who participated in the street dancing competition.
T'nalak Festival 2010

Other major events of the T’nalak Festival comprise of the Regional Agri-Trade fair and bazaars, cultural shows, nightly live bands, search for the Mutya ng South Cotabato, Governor’s Fellowship Night dubbed as “Balik South Cotabato” which gives tribute to the balikbayans who hail from South Cotabato (hmm.. wishing I’m one of them =) a grand fireworks display and “Disco sa Kalye” also on the culmination night
T'nalak Festival 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Capital of the Southern Philippines - Lake Sebu

T'boli Girls
The first time hubby mentioned we were going to Lake Sebu, I thought we were going to fly to Cebu in the Visayas. Its funny how people from the northern Philippines (well, me included) are so ignorant of the beautiful spots here in the south. The only lake in the country that I knew then was the Taal Lake. Excuse my ignorance that first time, but when we went over to Lake Sebu I was truly amazed.

Lake Sebu is a natural inland sea located in the municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato within the Allah Valley region. It is home to a number of local tribes such as the T'boli, Tasadays or Ubos and the Tirurays. Lake Sebu is one of the protected watersheds in the country, providing irrigation to the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.   

It is also known as the Summer Capital of the Southern Philippines since it is situated in an elevation of roughly 1000ft. So the climate is typically cooler. There are a number of resorts there offering bed and breakfast. You can try the Punta Isla Resort, Estares Lake Resort, Artacho Resort or the Tourism Lodge to name a few. If you are a fan of the lowly tilapia, then you're in for a treat since it is served in most of the local restaurants and eateries there.. take your pick, you can have your tilapia "pinaputok"(deep fried), "ginataan" (with coconut milk), sinabawan (in a soup base) or grilled among others. You can also rent a boat ride which will take you around the lake in about 45 mins so you can enjoy the view and take photos.

Lake Sebu Falls No.2
Also in Lake Sebu is the magnificent Seven Falls. Of the seven, only two were accessible at the time we were there, Falls #1 or Dongon Falls and Falls #2. For first timers, I recommend wearing comfortable slippers (don't bother wearing your rubber shoes as these may get wet).I wouldn't advise bringing small kids down to the falls since the long trek down is really not suitable for them. I remember I had my one year old in tow the last time we went there, and she wanted to piggyback on the way back up so my feet were literally killing me at the time. Anyways, you can leave the small kids over at the picnic area by the baggage counter and ask for a number....kidding! =) 

The falls is one of the best ones I've seen. It's nature at its very best. The view of both falls left me in awe. 
Going to Lake Sebu takes about 1 hour 30mins from Gensan and about 45mins from Koronadal City. You can take the Yellow bus going to Surallah or Koronadal over at the Bulaong terminal in Gensan. Once in Surallah, take the jeep going to Lake Sebu.

Come see for yourself why this place is dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Southern Philippines!
Lake Sebu
A View from Punta Isla Resort

Friday, July 16, 2010

UPDATED: 3rd Pinyahan Festival Calendar of Activities

UPDATED Schedule of Activities posted below. My apologies for the small font though. I can't seem to make it any bigger than it is. Hope to see you here this week and celebrate with us for this year's Pinyahan Festival.
As promised, here is the schedule for the upcoming 3rd Pinyahan Festival. It only comes once a if you're from Polomolok (and after reading my previous blogs you've come to realize how much you miss your beautiful hometown) then I say book your flights now and head on home. We missed you too! =)

If you're just  surfing the net and you happen to come across my blog either by accident (well, that could happen since this blog is only 4days old! =)), or if a friend, who I am about 90% sure is also from Poland, referred you to this blog (bless them!) then I say why not take a chance and see for yourself what this town (and this blogger creating all this hype about a town I've only been in for 10 years --excuse me I really tend to dillydally =)) really has to offer.

Oh and another thing, if we happen to bump on each other taking pictures at the streetdancing competition or my favorite sport Lumba Kalabaw (I'm not athletic =) least say "hi"ok? You can also let me know how you went out of your way to come here so you can experience this. Just so I can thank you and treat you to a pineapple filled-spanish bread and Dole pineapple juice over at Gala Bakeshop. okay? See you all here!

Sorry for the small fonts..its the best I can do =)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Barangay Cannery's Pinyahan Festival

Pinyahan Festival 2009
Barangay Cannery is one of the 23 barangays in Polomolok, South Cotabato. Known to be the home of food manufacturing giant Dole Philippines. "Brgy. Cannery" is so called due to the fact that it houses the cannery and food processing plants of Dole..and this is where I live... I wake up each morning with the smell and view of pineapples. My first year here, i got really sick of seeing them...imagine even dreaming about pineapples occasionally.. hehe. My garden even sprouts pineapples out of nowhere.. well, maybe due to the fact that the garden soil they dumped on my garden came from previously planted pineapples. But then, tasting Dole's MG3 pineapples makes one change her mind..and I've grown to love anything "pineapple", may it be the fruit, the juice, the ornament you hang on New Year's eve...

1st Pinyahan Festival 09.01.2008Okay I know you get the picture..Brgy Cannery is a pineapple haven.. everything here has "pineapple" written over it. Even the acclaimed Gala Bakeshop here sells spanish bread with pineapples! --but try them they're really yummy! hmmm.. here i am dilly dallying back to Brgy. Cannery.. one of the events that gets people here really excited is none other than it's annual - Pinyahan Festival.

"What? a festival in the barangay level?" Yep.. you heard it right. The Pinyahan Festival is the only festival sponsored by the local barangay. Polomolok by the way has a municipal-wide festival of it's own -the F'lomlok Festival which would be a different blog for me altogether. So back to the Pinyahan is the brainchild of Brgy Capt. Mariano Superioridad who wanted a celebration of sorts giving importance to Brgy Cannery's main source of income - the lowly pineapple.

Since its inception 3 years ago, it has been a time for merriment and camaraderie among the people here. What with the successful activities like the street dancing competion, ethno-cultural shows,  Pinyahan Festival Queen, sportsfest, fireworks and comedy shows to look forward to, each year the participation of people here seems to be growing. My personal favorites are the "Lumba Kalabaw" -- a carabao race which really proves to be hilarious and a total crowd drawer and the street dancing competition --where you'll be amazed at the creativity and love the people here show for the pineapple through their painted faces (they're green mind you..not your usual black ati =)) and colorful costumes.
Lumba Kalabaw
Lumba Kalabaw

The 3rd Pinyahan Festival 2010 starts on August 20 until September 1, 2010. I'll be posting this year's calendar of activities in another blog so watch out for it! For the moment, just enjoy the pictures of Mr OSG below. thanks for viewing and reading!

Pinyahan Festival 2009
Pinyahan Festival 2009

Bb. Matutum 2008
Bb. Matutum 2008

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Polomolok Sunsets... a constant play of colors

Living in Polomolok has been a cornucopia of experiences for someone like me. All my life I've lived in the bustling and oftentimes traffic-laden streets of mega-Manila. So it is a refreshing change for me to be living in a place with more greens than browns and grays.

ParkerOne of the things I truly love in Polomolok is the myriad of colors that seem to greet us each morning.. more so when the sun sets. Who would imagine that I would be living in a place where the opulence of colors of the sun as it sets is the last thing you see at the end of each day. Sometimes, just watching it takes my breath away. Hmmmm.. maybe if hubby and I kept on watching these spectacular sunsets together earlier..we might've gotten our little bundle of joy much much sooner! :)

Sunset_frontWhenever I feel really down, Polomolok sunsets make me feel a little better. Its like seeing God's hand in the skies..telling me.."O tama na muni - muni mo.. magluluto ka pa!" hehe..kiddin. Its like seeing our Creator's signature in the skies. Letting me feel thankful for the day that is about to pass and looking forward to a new and bright day tomorrow.

If you are from here and living elsewhere, don't you miss your Polomolok sunsets over at Polotana, with the view of Mt. Parker and the other mountains (sorry I dont  know their names :)... come home every so often. If you are new here just like me, then enjoy these sunsets.. its nature at its finest and we are so blessed to have these views right at our backyards.

Polomolok Sunset

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 of pineapples, coffee and prayer

In the south-western tip of Mindanao between Gensan and Tupi lies Polomolok. A booming little town known as the home of multinational giant, Dole Philippines. Its pineapple plantation which spans around 12,000 hectares is the largest pineapple plantation in the world. You'll know you're flying over Polomolok when you see the landscaped hills looming below as you peek in your airplane window.

Polomolok is a 1st class municipality under the province of South Cotabato. It is situated on the base of the majestic Mt. Matutum, home of the musang or the civet cat. Now you might be wondering, what is so important about the so called "musang" that is worth mentioning. Well, if you are familiar with the coffee "Alamid" it is said that these wild cats eat only the finest coffee cherries..and the expensive and much coveted coffee beans is an outcome of their now precious poop..hehe. Bless the locals in Mt. Matutum for doing the gruesome job of searching for these beans in the civet cat's poop that we have the aromatic and robust coffee Alamid to serve to our guests.

One can catch the grandiose Mt. Matutum on the clubhouse of Dole Kalsangi, an exclusive residential village for the company's top brass. Its streets are lined with Norfolk pine trees, macademia nut trees and other greens and foliage which according to some are brought to Polomolok by Dole expats straight from Hawaii. The well paved roads and log houses in Kalsangi remind one of American establishments in Subic or in Baguio. First timers might be surprised to see a place such as Kalsangi in the midst of the pineapple plantations..but mind you, if you are not from here Kalsangi might be a bit tricky to find. It is afterall in a hidden and well secured area owing to the fact of course that its inhabitants belong to the company's top executives and expats. It is rumored that even the country's presidents and their staff going back to President Marcos' time all stayed in Kalsangi inconspicuously whenever they are in Mindanao.  Also in the area is a premiere 9-hole golf course and clubhouse serving the yummiest burger and steaks in Polomolok.

Also in the foot of Mt. Matutum in Landan is the Trappistine Monastery of Our Lady of  Matutum. It is home to the Cisterian Nuns more popularly called "Trappistines" which supports themselves selling religious artifacts, prayer books, postcards as well as pastries. (Try their rum balls--truly heavenly!) The monastery church is open to the public every Sundays for the 10AM mass.

Polomolok still has a lot to offer in terms of sights and places to visit. I know so because it has been my home for the past ten years (and still counting) now. It is also known as "Poland" or Polomolok-land to locals here who are now living in manila. So if you happen to meet someone who says they live in Poland in the southern part of mindanao, it is Polomolok nonetheless :) Hope you come visit my Polomolok one of these days..and you will come to know and appreciate for yourself what a beautiful town it truly is. 

The Pinay Travelogue

This is my first hand at blogging :) my first try in letting my mind flow and my hands to "type" (since im not literally 'writing' with a pen and paper.hehe) and share with you our please be kind to me with your comments.. hehe.

I've always had a long time relationship with writing. The spoken language for me is a bit more difficult to express..hence writing and conveying my feelings, sentiments and angst through this medium is like second nature to me. So let me share with you some of our journeys in this blog. I want you to see what i have seen and recorded through my husband's camera --he is after all my official photographer. So all the photos you will see here are all the works of Mr. Omar S. Gallinero. Yep, my hubby and partner for all the obvious reasons..he takes the photos, i blog about them.. he sings and i clap my hands..he trips and I laugh..hehehe..I guess you get the picture..we are after all pretty much a packaged deal. :) All credits to him for his talent in freezing moments and capturing breath-taking photos of places I can only describe to you. I ask you only one thing, if there are photos you like and want to use, please respect copyright and ask our permission first.
The title of my blog "Pinay Travelogue" for me stems from the obvious..well me being Pinay (and mighty proud of it mind you) and Travelogue - a dialogue and log of all the beautiful and interesting places we've ever been to. If you are a traveler yourself and haven't been to my native Philippines then I will try to orient you on interesting sights, things to do and tips to the best of my knowledge. The travels i intend to put here are not solely limited to my country..I will try to include foreign lands --that is, wherever our pockets might allow us to go. But most of them will be around our beautiful island Mindanao, since there are a lot of undiscovered and majestic views and spots here crying out for someone to blog about :)

Welcome, enjoy the journey and let me take you around....

T'nalak 2008