Monday, September 29, 2008

Forest Camp in Valencia

wish i live the resort, not in the wishing well (hehe)

It rained that Saturday morning in Dumaguete. Our itinerary was to visit Valencia, a town about 10 kilometers away from the city, to visit Forest Camp and Casaroro Waterfalls. I was secretly grateful that it rained…I woke up with aching limbs, and the wet weather meant extended bed time! But around 9 am, the sky cleared and my stomach was already grumbling. After a late breakfast at the Silliman cafeteria, we boarded a tricycle to the Valencia jeepney station.

All seats were already taken but instead of waiting for the next jeepney, we decided to sit on the “extensions”---these are small benches placed in the middle of a jeepney (it reminded me of high school and our habal-habal ride the day before). It was an easy 30-minute trip to Valencia. Valencia is a first class municipality, a quiet town located at the foot of Mount Talinis, with mountain terrains, a cooler climate, and a laid back lifestyle. No wonder many expats have settled in this town.

From the town plaza, we hired a tricycle to take us to the Forest Camp (50 pesos one-way), a resort and camping site with natural pools and cascading waterfalls. There are nipa huts for picnics, cottages for overnight guests, and a hanging bridge over a pristine, rushing river. Forest Camp is a verdant oasis, a great place to relax and be one with nature. Entrance fee is 60 pesos each.

destination map

"Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills and fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of our lives and experiences are endless. The water calls up our own ambitions of flowing with ease, of navigating the unknown. Streams represent constant rebirth. The waters flow in, forever new, yet forever the same; they complete a journey from beginning to end, and then they embark on the journey again."

~ from Lifelines

a coconut tree house

April and Franzia
listening to songs of the river

guest rooms

Our Deepest Fear

Banica River, Valencia, Negros Oriental

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
~ Marianne Williamson

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Photo Hunt: View

view from the patio
view from the hut

view from the bridgeway

view from my room

I took these photos at Santiago Bay Resort in Camotes Island, Cebu last May. More photos of Camotes Island here.

More views from around the world at TN Chick.

Lasang Pinoy: Fried/Golden

Spanish Omelet for breakfast
with fillings of ham, tomatoes, sweet bell pepper
topped with grated cheese
with fried potatoes, toasted bread and strawberry jam on the side

Waterfront Cafe, Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City

More scrumptious treats at SpiCes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao

Lake Balinsasayao

The purpose of our delightfully grueling habal-habal ride to the rain forests of Sibulan was to see the Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao. The rain forest surrounding the lakes is a national park and home to various species of trees, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. From Lake Kabalin-an, the twin lakes are about half kilometer away. And making a short descent to the lake by way of flat stones was a welcome change from the challenging riding terrain and brain-numbing habal-habal adventure.

The tranquil Lake Balinsasayao welcomed us with its sparkling waters and majestic mountains. We took a short boat ride across the lake to see its twin, the equally breathtaking Lake Danao (boat ride is 250 pesos for an hour). The lakes are two small but deep crater freshwater lakes rising 1000 feet above sea level and separated by a narrow mountain ridge. The twin lakes are nestled in a hollow between four mountains---Mount Mahungot to the south, Mount Kalbasan to the north, Mount Balinsasayao to the east and Mount Guidabon to the west. Lake Balinsasayao lies on the northwest of the ridge and Lake Danao to the southeast.

On the ridge, there’s a 3-storey tower---a great viewpoint to see the lakes. From the tower, we watched the fog descend from the mountains to the lake---it was an amazing sight. There are cottages at the banks, you can also fish tilapia and other freshwater fish, kayak and trek around the lakes. Unfortunately, swimming is not allowed because of the lakes’ depth of 90 meters. A trail around the lake is for those who love to walk. I actually wanted to walk on our way back to Lake Balinsasayao's banks but my knees were like jelly after our habal-habal ride.

The narrow, rocky, winding road took us back to town. The blind curves and slopes still made me nervous but I savored the captivating scenery, the glimpse of the rural, simple lifestyle, the wind and sun on my face, and the craziness of our adventure. At the end of the day, we were exhausted but I marveled at the feeling that I have conquered something.
our blue banca
Franzia paddles, April poses for the camera
Lake Balinsasayao from the tower

trail to the tower

Lake Danao
fog coming down from the mountains
smoke on the water
my stressed, old feet
Sibulan highway

Sky Watch Friday: skywatching at Silliman

Skywatching from one of Dumaguete's historical landmarks---the Silliman Hall in Silliman University. The Silliman Hall is the first and oldest building on campus, built in 1903. The walls of this building were made from local coral blocks and solid iron posts. Designed like an old colonial mansion, this building commands a great view of Tanon Strait, Rizal Boulevard and Silliman Avenue.

During World War II, the Japanese Army occupied this building until the American forces came to Dumaguete. Today, Silliman Hall houses the ethno-anthropology museum where artifacts dating as far back as 2000 years ago are on exhibit. There is also an ethnographic collection retrieved from the tribal minorities of the Philippines.

More sky photos from around the world at Skywatch-Friday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: lazy afternoon

A lazy Saturday afternoon at Dumaguete's Rizal Boulevard.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Habal-habal ride to Lake Kabalin-an

Lake Kabalin-an

My third trip to Dumaguete last weekend was a memorable visit. Not only because I had the ride of my life on board a habal-habal (a motorcycle) through the rain forest, on steep, twisting and rugged mountain road, but because I met new-found relatives I never knew existed in Dumaguete. The meeting with relatives was great as we traced our roots from our great-grandfather who came from Spain in the late 18th century.

But let me tell you about my death-defying ride to the lakes in the rain forests of Sibulan. To reach Sibulan, we took a 25-minute ride in a multicab from Dumaguete. When we asked some townfolk how to reach the lakes, we were advised to rent a habal-habal because the road is only accessible by motorbikes and 4-wheel drive. There were 3 of us and nobody was willing to sit on the gas tank in front of the driver so we needed to rent 2 habal-habal. The motorbike drivers were charging P600 for each bike to bring us to the lakes and back to town. I used my rustic haggling ability and a bit of my charm until we all agreed at P800 for 2 bikes.

Getting to the lakes was an unforgettable experience. Sibulan is a coastal town and the tip of Cebu is seen across Tanon Strait. From the sea breezes at the start of the ride, the road to the lakes took us to the rain forest filled with scents of trees and sweet mountain air. But the steep, rugged road as well as the elevated slopes were scary at the same time exhilarating. My cousin, Franzia, covered her eyes when the slopes become too steep and our motorbikes seem to have lost control, while April held on to their driver with both arms and legs. Their poor driver was almost mangled from their grasps. It was a hilarious sight! My driver, Edison, assured me that he’s been driving through those roads for the past 14 years---it still didn't reassure me.

Riding a motorbike is not my favorite thing. Motorbikes make me extremely nervous. And riding a habal-habal in those rugged terrain with no helmet, no protective clothing, you’d never believe the bloody scenes running through my mind. But I reasoned with myself that anticipating an accident is pointless, so I prayed harder and steered my mind to enjoy the lush mountain ranges, feasted my eyes at the unobstructed view of the sea, and inhaled the fresh air.

After a 45-minute ride (that felt like 3 hours), we finally reached Lake Kabalin-an. It’s a scenic little lake, very calm and the water reflects the green mountains around it. At the center are trees that have sprouted from the bottom of the lake, giving it a mystical feel. Enchanting Lake Kabalin-an is a peaceful haven after our arduous bike ride...a perfect place to catch our breath.

how about a hammock between the trees? cottages and rock boulders are scattered around the lake

the concrete part of the road

(I was busy holding on to my driver on the steep, rugged parts---too nervous to raise my hand and take pictures.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gone fishing...

Silliman University, Dumaguete City

I'm off to Dumaguete tomorrow---the City of Gentle People, the city by the bay. Have a great weekend and I'll see you all again next week!

Litratong Pinoy: Ginintuan (Golden)

Sa mga nakatira sa America na mahilig mamili sa Neiman Marcus, malamang napansin n’yo itong ginintuang salamin sa kanilang tindahan. Nasa catalog din ito ng Horchow, isang mail order catalog sa America. Nasasalamin sa disenyo ang exotic, mayaman at makulay na kultura ng Morocco ala Arabian Nights na nais ko sana sa aking bahay. Ito'y disenyo ng isang Pinoy at bawat isa ay gawa sa mga kamay ng manggawang Filipino sa isang pabrica sa Cainta.

Ang sumunod na litrato ay naging ginintuan lamang dahil sa sinag ng bombilya. Ang totoong kulay ng kabibeng mangkok ay puti at gawa ito sa bone china, isang uri ng porcelain. Gawa naman ito sa Cavite at binebenta sa mga tindahan sa America.

To those who live in America and shops at Neiman Marcus, you probably noticed this golden mirror in one of their stores. This gold mirror was also in Horchow’s mail order catalog. This Moroccan-inspired mirror captures the exotic, rich and colorful essence of Arabian Nights which I dream of having in my own home. Designed by a Filipino, and each piece is hand-crafted by Filipino craftsmen in Cainta.

The second photo was made golden by the glow of light coming from a bulb. The real color of this shell bowl is white, and it's made from bone china, a type of porcelain. This was made in Cavite and sold in stores in the U.S.

More golden photos at Litratong Pinoy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Happy(ness)

"Jump for Joy"

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.

~ M. Scott Peck

In the photo: Franzia at Malagos Garden Resort