Tryst with Angel: Mactan Island

Punta Engaño, Mactan Island

Now I aim to dive every month as every diver should be.  And I have few plans as I begin for another diving year, schedules and preparations were put to order.  My mind thinking to mix some pleasure while on a work trip to Cebu but it turned out the conference was cancelled, and the final venue is not close to the waters.  I became restless and alternately devised another trip plan.  Surprisingly, Angel invited me to join him in Mactan over a weekend suggesting for a dive.  I was ecstatic and grateful, it was just perfect as a start for diving pursuits with my favorite dive buddy.  The next thing I did was made myself free on the weekend, bought my tickets, and work harder to put things in order before getting some leisure. 

Perfect Get-Away

The week has been full at work, and on Friday I was running for meetings. But the thought of weekend lifted my spirits, and I could almost smell the sea waters.  🙂  My Saturday mornings has been reserved for early walks but I was up very much earlier as usual to catch my flight.  And the usual sneak-while-everyone-still-asleep thrilled me once more! It was a crisp morning and the cold winds embraced me as we boarded the plane, the horizon promising a sunny day.  The flight was smooth and just like with my previous Cebu Pacific flights we touched down Mactan International Airport earlier than schedule. The skies were downcast but hoping there would be no rains during our dives.

I watched the morning commotion on my taxi as I rode to Punta Engano, not the usual way to go straight to downtown Cebu. This weekend, we will be stationed in Mactan island and guess what?  We are staying at Hilton Resorts & Spa – yes, the famous pink Hilton of Cebu!  Midtown Cebu, Grand Hotel, Montebello, Crown Regency Suites, Days Hotel, Cebu Plaza, Waterfront were few of the hotels I find shelter in other occasions but never on luxurious ones like Hilton. 😛  Courtesy of Angel who got a gift certificate for  two-night stay for two as one of his complimentary award for his travel blog.  It was an honor to share his prize, experiencing a luxurious stay at pink Hilton is not in my list.  🙂  

Everything is pink as I stepped down from the taxi, after some preliminaries at the front desk I shoot up to 22nd floor, buzzed Room 2203 and sadly woke up Angel who barely slept 3 hours. 😦  He was still in stupor as he let me in. 😛 I reached out to the terrace and watched the morning horizons overlooking the beach, calm crystal waters and green vegetations yonder. It was almost two months from our last trip and so there were catch up stories to tell, then went down to Vanilla Beach Café for a sumptuous breakfast.  I watched in awe of the abundance of food, all free!  But I needed a light meal for my dive, Angel wanted to try everything he fancied with!  😛 I love long breakfasts with stories but we need to rush to Maribago beach for the dives, we are expected at 10am.

For some adventure and to save transportation costs, we chose to commute to Kontiki Divers. After a wrong stop, few inquiries and 200 m walk, we reached the diveshop on time.  Ms Diana was out there to welcome and introduce us to DM Julian, it was some kind of exclusive dive for us – no other divers to join us!  Without delay, we went off to the shore for the diving boat – alas, it was high tide and we need to wade in the waters!  We discovered that there was lot of resorts lining up the beach which includes the Maribago Blue Waters. 

First Dives of the Year

Our first stop was Agus Bay, we descend on a sandy area then getting deeper to a wall with reefs.  It felt good to be back in the depths, so relaxing – indeed a second home.  We drifted watching the scenery, there is really something peaceful with the fishes.  There were damsels, fusiliers, variety of anthias,  banners, variety of angels, some butterfly, lionfish and more.  There were gorgonians I passed by trying to look closely for macros. But alas, I forgot to put on my contacts!  😛  I planned to have it when I got to the hotel but simply slip from my mind.  There were bubble corals, tubes, some table but no sponges.  I tried to touch something that looks like sea cucumber but turn out to be a hard coral.  There were few nudis  and pelagics were nowhere.  After 48 mins with 27.8m as deepest we surfaced near Maribago Blue Waters, the boat waiting to pick us up.

After an hour of interval, we descend at Marine Station limiting to 25m deepest according to DM Julian. It was sandy slope until we went deeper to a wall covered with reefs. There were seafans in green, yellow, brownish and lavender.  Bubble corals were abundant, some crinoids and variety of hard corals.  There were, damsels, moorish idol, butterfly, angels, groupers, lionfish, anthias and more.  We were stunned when a large school of medium-sized bluefin trevally appeared before us! It darkened our view but was truly mesmerized with this wonderful display of creation, about tens of thousands of them. So near to us as we drifted on and passed us by.  As we get shallower we went east and found the crane artificial reef which is now fully covered with corals. I found lot of fishes nearby including my favorite puffer fish. We drifted shallower until we had our safety stop, we linger more and hopped on the corals until we surfaced right on the concrete steps of Club Kontiki.  We were 48 mins down and went 22.8m as our deepest.  It was already past 2pm and so we ran out of time for third dive as we wanted.  After a  coffee break  and some pleasantries with Ms Diana, we settled our bills and rushed back to the hotel – grateful it wasn’t drizzling anymore.

More of Mactan

Angel planned for a dinner at Vienna Kaffehaus to try if comparable at CdeO  😛 , so after dark we went searching for the resto.  Our choice:  Bauern Platter, Green Mix Salad, Kartoffel Soup plus fruit shakes and blueberry cheesecake – all yummy but his fave Pasta Pesto was not in the menu!  😛

The next morning we went to hear mass at Sto. Nino Mactan in Visayan, decided to walk back to the hotel but when we passed Mactan Shrine we went to take a look.  It has an obelisk (!), a large mural of Mactan Battle, monument of Lapu-Lapu, some souvenir shops and park. And there were  Korean tourists geting around in the park with matching guide.  Passing Shangri-La, a bit farther we dropped by at Scubaworld Diveshop – had a brief chat with the shop manager (a diver perhaps), and bought some dive supplies – I was looking for beanie hood but not available.  After a few meters, we finally got to the hotel entrance.  We’re famished already and so went straight to Vanilla Beach for our sumptuous brunch.  Again I was overwhelmed of the abundance when there’s so much people out there who have nothing to eat!

We wanted to make most of our stay at the resort, the remaining few hours were spent at the house reef to snorkel – waters again – ah, this is life!  🙂  The parasols along the white beach, the infinity pool and the calm waters were picture perfect.  But our love for marine life pushed us further and we were not disappointed, as soon as we got near the two rock islets fishes started to appear.  They have installed artificial reefs, big round concrete  culverts that were almost covered with corals.  There were anthias, damsels, groupers, triggers, pipefish, sergeants.  Angel spotted a lionfish coyly swimming under its abode, which he pointed out to me. 🙂  There were larger groupers, triggers, goatfish under the culverts.  Throngs of anthias came near us as if wanted to be fed – so beautiful!  🙂  Oh, I will never get tired of marine life…

Special Tryst

We rushed and shoot up to 22nd floor for the last time – to freshen up and finally pack up. Last few minutes in this luxurious trance.  After some clearance at the front desk, we took a cab to airport  leaving our pink abode behind us.  Such a wonderful experience, I wouldn’t splurge my hard earned peso just to spend a night in this kind of lavishness.  It was such an honor that Angel shared this luxury treat with me. 

This weekend was a perfect tryst with my favorite dive buddy, I never indulge  myself a leisure getaway on a January when work is just too full.  But things just went perfectly and we both loved every minute of it.  Mactan weekend will be a special memory for me and Angel.  Shhhhh, I suspect he was sneaking on my Cebu dive plans… 🙂

NB.  Snatch a photo somewhere from files…

Unraveling Camotes Depths!

Camotes islands was never in my list for this year to explore, while I have heard about it obscurely but never thought it to be a possible dive destination. On an impulse, Angel and I packed our gears for a weekend dive trip to Camotes.  It was exciting for us both, we just love off beaten paths – it is more interesting!  Discovering one new place with little known or vague facts and information is exhilarating!

Still tired from the trip and our rushed afternoon tour the day before, we drag ourselves from bed.  As usual, I woke up earlier than my buddy for the preliminaries – packing and ucam set up.  Our version of breakfast – a mug of coffee, 1 ½ piaya, I banana – to be light for the dive and to save!  🙂  We ordered Filipino breakfast takeout for our lunch from the next garden resort and pick up gears just in time when our transpo picked us up.  We arrived at Ocean Deep 15 minutes ahead of our appointment, I was hoping we could meet the owner but didn’t.  So, we assembled the gears and I was aghast that the dive master and the receptionist did the carrying of the paraphernalia to the boat!  Far cry from previous dive shops we got into. It was about 100 meters to the boat, Angel and I had no plans to carry our 3 tanks each, sorry… 😛

We cruised to our first site at Tulang Island for Lawis almost an hour – we planned for a maximum deep of 35 meters, since it‘s a wall it would be manageable.  We did roll-back entry and when we descend, I needed 2 more weights!  We

got into some slope and the wall – what strikes me most is that there was lot of sea fans scattered around of different colors and sizes like it’s a garden.  There were anthias, scorpionfish, camouflaging clams, hard and soft corals,

fusiliers, barrel sponge, damsels, colorful nudi, anemones, clown fish and crown of thorns!  We did see lot of this sea stars and I was apalled, I was wondering if there were initiatives by the locals to protect the marine environment from this menace.  We ascend after 46 minutes having our deepest at 33 metres.

We took refuge at the white beach of Tulang Island for our surface interval, a peaceful stretch of white sand.  The divemaster took a break and left us on our own so we took a refreshing dip at the cool crystal waters, searching for shells and stones for my souvenir. 🙂   An hour later we moved on to our next descent at The Wall which we stayed for

clownfish on an anemone

56 minutes at maximum depth of 26.7 meters. Again, it was a wall with some sandy slope decorated with a variety

healthy corals

and large expanse of corals, sponges, crinoids and variety of colorful fish juveniles.  We ascend and exited at another spot at site no. 4.

Our late lunch served as our surface interval for our last dive,  as we cruised back near the Mangodlong Rock Resort.  Without consulting my dive computer we descend for our last dive at Lucbon Shoal, in awhile it kept blinking – Error!  Our surface interval wasn’t enough L  We got down to a wide coral gardens where we had an average of 20 meters as our deepest.  Variety of hard corals – there was a wide table top coral, staghorns and other kinds of

crown of sea thorns 😦

branching species in different shades and colors.  But sadly, the crown of thorns had attacked this area and it was so frustrating to watch the corals turning grey and brown in death.  What a disaster!  In my assessment, about ¼ of the area has been devoured by the sea stars.  I found this so alarming, and I was wondering if the local government or authorities have done something to save the environs.  Even the dive operators and resorts around the islands have the responsibility to protect the marine resources, after all they’re making business from it!  We ascend after an hour as Angel was getting low on air.

We cruised back to the beach area of the resort and was grateful we got back earlier as expected.  Hey, I went ahead not wanting to see who’s gonna carry the tanks back to the diveshop 😛  After settling bills, packing gears and a brief wait of our transpo, we were back at our lodgings before it gets dark.  It was such a full day but surviving the almost unknown sites with my favorite dive buddy was pleasing enough, no complaints except for the menacing crown of thorns slowly destroying the underwater paradise in Camotes waters.

The underwater scenes in Camotes didn’t disappoint us, now and then Angel and I will continue to discover more of our country’s enchanting paradise deep down.  The exquisiteness of the marine world and seeing more places in Philippines will always be our inspiration… 🙂

Diving in North Cebu!

What about discovering a paradise island in a remote place, coupled with amazing dives! Imagine a stretch of white beach, idyllic environment, summer breeze and the depths… A tiny island in the northern most tip of Cebu province lies Malapascua – a dive destination every diver wouldn’t want to miss, the home of tresher sharks! And Kalanggaman – a virgin and unheard island belonging to Palompon, Leyte.  Angel has been raving about this unknown island which I didn’t seriously consider as our future destination.  But when I discovered that it’s one of exotic sites  in north Cebu diving, we included it in our list of dream destinations.  Angel and I has been looking forward for our Easter break, exploring the depths in these two interesting and intriguing islands  –  was just a perfect summer get away for our weary souls…

 Long Weekend

Our sked for north Cebu has been set many months ago and have chosen weekend after Easter, since it’s a long weekend, no need to get a leave from work.   It was a long week and arriving home on brownout, I packed up my gears almost midnight after a nap to make most of the time.  I only had about three hours sleep as I need to wake up early for my flight. I sneak away again from home while everyone still asleep.  😛  Luckily, I bumped no one I know at the airport – I’ve always wanted my get-aways private, I just don’t want to chatter about things explaining my trip.  I was rewarded with great sights when we get airborne – over Bohol, hundreds of choco hills and the islands of Panglao, Balicasag & Pamilacan, plus a colorful rainbow!  I always took rainbows as a sign of a great wonderful trip…

 It was a sunny morning when we touched down Mactan International Airport, and every time I set foot in Cebu, I had that proverbial feeling that I’m on familiar grounds like home.  Actually, this place has always been my fave get away aside from being venues on conferences, conventions or meetings relative to work. In short, I always landed in Cebu work wise or just plain whims to transport myself to another location to break the tedium of things. I had good friends also in this city.

 I met up with Angel at the North Bus Terminal for our trip to Maya, it was our first to visit north of the province just like when we went to Moalboal last year, our first visit to the south. It was a long trip passing coastal towns of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod, Tabogon, Bogo & Daan Bantayan and city of Danao. When we reached Maya, the summer heat was scorching but watching the island from afar revives my spirit, excited what’s in store for us for the next two days! We cruised for Malapascua for 30 minutes but made longer since guests were dropped in different locations respectively,  good for us since the boat  docked right at Bounty beach near our lodge at Mike & Diose’s Beach Cottage. I was almost running after I jumped out of the boat to our lodge – the sight was enthralling! Although we booked on budget room, it was decent and comfy enough and I was amused with the mosquito net, drape style like those kinds seen on queen’s room.  🙂

Backpackers Dream

Angel and I were just thrilled and wanted to do things fast, we rushed to unpack our gears and to hang out our wet suit (folding it is a no-no), and we need to check at the dive shop for the skeds. We found out that the only means of transpo in the island are single motors traversing the foot path or trails.  Divelink is quite distant from our lodge so we were transported courtesy by our host.  Indeed, the dive shop shared a building with the Tresher Shark Research and Protection Center. Voila! The dive shop was kind enough to accommodate our requests: morning dive at Monad Shoal and two dives at Kalanggaman Island!  🙂  In the last days I was trying to negotiate for Kalanggaman, calling other dive shops but was never encouraging as they will need at least eight divers. Actually, the staffs at Divelink were generally friendly and I was delighted that they knew my dive mentor personally.  🙂  After settling things for the dive trip we retraced our way back to our lodge.

 We went back on foot asking directions from the locals but we had our first stop for our late lunch (3pm) at Gingging Flower Garden – good food but never pricey. We made stops also to buy our needs for the next two days until we finally get back to the cottage – whew! – it was a maze-like trails. We wanted to make most of our time as it was nearing dusk. Get around the place, took photos, look out into the beach, and finally had our refreshing swim in the blue, blue waters. So relaxing… I guess our chosen lodge seems a perfect place for this Easter break.  Ah, this is island living!

 We agreed to retire on bed early as we need to be up at 4am, so after our hot drinks, pep talk, stories and laughter , we set our alarms and yield to our tired bodies and hop to our “queenly” beds and doze off!   🙂

Milestone Dive

As usual I woke up earlier than Angel, I had preliminaries to do – set up UW cam hoping it would still work and my contacts. So far, this is my earliest dive – Threshers are early sharks and so is cleaner wrasse. So we were required to be at the shop at 430am, you think that’s insane? None at all, if you want an encounter with the threshers!

It was my 50th dive – my requirement for logged dives enough to go for the Tubbataha trip! And I’ll be using first time my all new D4 computer…

It was still dark and we need a torch, clutching our gears we tried to find our way to Divelink hoping we won’t get lost in the maze-like trails, we don’t want to be late!  We arrived on time though, very much earlier than other divers. While waiting, DM Johan made a brief briefing for our first dive at Monad Shoal, I was getting excited when he said they sighted threshers and devil ray from yesterday’s descent! Angel and I were beaming and fervently hoping for the same surprise. 🙂  We finally left past 5am already, and when we reached the spot we found out that there were other dive boats already docked. We descent at 618am and positioned at the first cleaning station, we should stay 1 meter from the sea bed and wait until they come. Watching around numerous divers waiting, I was bit disappointed and felt it was too disturbing for the marine life. I stayed with Angel just nearby with our DM, not wanting to miss the events.  We waited almost holding our breath, the cleaner wrasses hovering obviously waiting also for the sharks, then suddenly out of nowhere a devil ray appeared, flapping its way upward as if to surfaced but there was no threshers. DM Johan motioned us to the next station and waited awhile but there was none, so we surfaced after 40 minutes and my air down to 40 bars.

We cruised back but missing the threshers never dampen our spirits, the early morning dive was too refreshing although bit cold 🙂 .  There’s something more in store for us for the day.  We rushed  back to our lodge on barefoot, we didn’t had our slip-ons and wearing booties in swimming attires looks funny! 😛  Imagine Angel and I walking fast in barefoot catching our breath but careful enough not to hurt our feet. It was an experience and it’s good walking on the sands, brisk walking is a good form of exercise! After a rushed breakfast, we walked back again to the shop as we were expected at 830am for the next site cruise. Well, it was a pretty sweaty morning!

Hidden Paradise

We arrived just in time for the cruise to Kalanggaman which took two hours, it was sunny and the waters calm – it was just a perfect day for our dream island escapade! Looking at the island from afar seems like one of those tropical paradise islands in Caribbean,   I guess there’s no need to go outside the country, because we have our own jewels just waiting to be discovered.  A white island with greens – it shines like pearl as what Angel described.  We had our first descent at the northern part – a wall only heaven knows how deep, but we agreed to be between 25-30 meters.  A steep wall covered with colorful corals – we were in different world enjoying the view in silence.  I had these awesome feeling every time I am in the midst of marine life, can’t be put in words. Perhaps only with Angel I share this overwhelming feeling. There were trigger fish, barracuda, damsels, anthias, common anemone fish, angelfish, butterfly fish. I pointed out a stonefish to Angel, which he tried to poke and it wiggled away, we jerked away not wanting to get contact with his poison!  But I never saw gorgonians or basket sponges.  We surfaced after 37 minutes with 29.7m as deepest with my air down to 40 bars.

As planned our surface interval was spent at Kalanggaman, which what we just wanted as we needed to set foot on our dream island 🙂  – Angel and I had our lunch there, walk on the stretch of white sands, took photos and had a swim. It was a surrender to sun, sea and sands! We hastily headed for the boat when the alarm call sounded – I wanted to explore more of the island maybe walk around its circumference.  Our next descent was at the southern part of the island, but as I jumped unto the water, I noticed some sounds at my back and informed DM Johan, he had my tank replaced as there was some leaking! I need to swim back to the boat for the necessary replacement.  Angel and I descend last as he waited for me. Angel and I stayed close as we follow other divers again exploring the reefs – it just felt good wallowing in the marine world.  We tried to search for critters, found a moray eel, a camouflaged clam, worms, few nudis. We just swam around until we got shallower on a sandy area and explored the reefs, hopping from colorful corals, we linger more until our air was down to 40 bars we surfaced away from others, and swam back to the boat.

We cruised back trying to relax for the two hour ride, somewhere halfway we spotted dolphins which made us all stand and went at the boat front to get a good view, but it didn’t last long. We arrived almost 5pm and took refuge at the shop while waiting for our gears.  After settling our bills and some pleasantries with Mr Gary, we headed to our lodge and a brief stop at Gingging Flower Garden to buy food for dinner. I guess we walked sluggishly perhaps  bit tired of the day’s events!

Another Time

We missed the threshers shark but we got what we planned for the trip, and we have more reason to be back in Malapascua Island next year, hopefully given the opportunity to have a spectacular encounter of the sharks!  We made most of our remaining hours, after gears rinsing and bath. We leisurely had dinner while discussing for the next months dive trips.    🙂 Diving will always be part of me, actually I needed it to keep things in balance, to keep me sane as they say. And nothing could be more wonderful than sharing amazing experience with a buddy who share the same passion and love for diving.

I got sunburns, reddish and bit painful but the pleasure was more than enough to cover the pain.  My sunkissed skin is just on the surface, something deep in me in mind and my heart is more important. Our short escape was sufficient to refuel our spirits for more challenges back at work and that’s  more than enough to keep me going.  Again the Lord has arranged all things for this wonderful trip,  all praises be to Him!

Watch out for our next spectacular dive trips!

NB We got no underwater photos during this dive since my cam went kaput!

Trip to Southwest of Cebu

diving, what else

Diving, what else?

I first heard of Moalboal about three years ago from my cousin Sheila from Deutschland who’s visiting us for a holiday, I remembered asking her it’s location.  I learned then, that it’s a remote place in southwest Cebu and best known by divers. I was thinking it would be a good destination for fun dives and even for just a get away.  So, Angel and I included this in our dive trip plans as part of Tubbattaha 2010 preparation.  I never got the chance to explore Cebu’s countryside, with all my trips were at the city either attending conferences, meetings, conventions, get away or as stop over to other cities in the Visayas.

Viva, Cebu!

 So one downcast Friday morning I sneak out of home when everyone is still asleep and catch the early flight for Cebu.  I enjoy mysterious trips 😛 , it gives me a feeling of randomness like chasing liberty! And it is always a challenge to discover one new place, I can’t resist the sceneries in the countryside.  The cheery weather greets me as we touched down the Mactan International Airport and I found Angel & Mike waiting for more than an hour already. 😦

We went straight to south bus terminal and got into a Bato – Barili Ceres bus, the summer heat beating and it was too hot and it seemed like forever before it finally left the terminal.  Last  month, I went south of Cebu passing the towns of Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando but this time upon reaching Carcar, the bus went west to the mountainous side to the towns of Barili, Dumanjug, Ronda, Alcantara and finally Moalboal. I thought there’s no need to tell about my trip to friends back home but my friend Agnes surprisingly called up and after few plesantries she was aking where am I and who am I with! Arrrrgh…. I wanted to end the call immediately.

I remembered Carcar is famous of special ampaw, indeed when we got down town peddlers were selling this delicacy. But I remembered most the old acacia trees lining up the road, the branches reaching and meeting up like an arch – so bucolic and beautiful! It’s just unfortunate we can’t get photos but just watch in awe.  Going south is mountainous but the roads were well maintained so the trip was smooth (unlike back here home when roads are in repair contributing traffic jams).  But I didn’t notice much agricultural production areas except for some limited rice fields we passed.  Reaching Moalboal, we got down near the intersection with the big acacia tree just as what was described in the book – a tree with all sorts of directions.   We got into the tricycle for Panagsama Beach about 4 kilometers away – after haggling the fare. 😛

Going through the narrow street in Panagsama, we finally reached the Moalboal Backpacker Lodge  ,our refuge at panagsaman beachthe owner was there to welcome to us – and true enough he’s a German national as he sounds over the phone when we talked! The lodge was just homey as I think and it was simply what we need. Our room is downstairs and close to the shower, toilet and kitchen – just my preference.  We’re so famished we headed to the nearest restaurant for our lunch after we settled our things, and just as we thought the food were bit pricey… As planned we went to Savedra Dive Center (5 star PADI dive center) which is just about 50 meters from our lodge, to confirm our dive schedule, prepare our gears and possibly met up with our DM.  We tried to haggle Ms. Abeth: possible night dive which Mike haven’t tried yet; lower rate for 3 day dives – gear rents for whole day not per dive; and priority site in Pescador Island. We can’t do the night dive since we need a dive instructor which will cost us more, so we settled for 3 day dives with lower charges!  🙂

Exploring Badian

 Next town is Badian, a secret get away too with a beautiful island, which is home of the opulent Badian Island Resort & Spa, and the famous Kawasan Falls – a falls I heard long, long time ago and wanted to visit. While we still have the afternoon free, we planned to have a side trip to make most of our time.  The tricycle was waiting for us when we got back to the lodge – the summer heat got us so we need the cool waters to refresh us.  It was about 24 kms. to the site, it was a long trip with the tricycle.  There was a church at the entrance of the park, and the trek along the river took us about 25 minutes until the falls and pool.

Just seeing the falls and hearing its gushing waters was so tempting – so cool!  The guides told us it’s an advantage not to go there on weekends, because there would so much crowds, much noise and one can’t fully experience the nature’s beauty and serenity.  True enough – lesser people, less queue for the bamboo raft, less noise thus with great pleasure.  We finally get into our raft after some waiting, I was thrilled getting near and under the falls  – the waters was cold & strong! It was just what we need to cool down from the summer heat (no, not summer anymore!).  And we went inside a crevice just enough for the raft to pass through and we need to lie flat – something rare! Just like kids we soaked ourselves, played with the waters and enjoyed so much the free massage from the falls!

beautiful kawasan falls Badian Island is also a good dive site with the luxurious Badian Island  Resort but don’t have much time to visit the place. We get back to Moalboal bearing the tricycle noise , 😛 until we reached the lodge.  We tried to explore the whole stretch of the street in the night trying to find some place to eat farther away but we ended up near the lodge – enjoying the pork barbecue and veggie salad – at a cheaper price.   😛

Looc, Pescador Island, Kasai Point and some Surprise!

 We wake up early as our first dive is at 7:30am, and we need to be there earlier.  The weather was bit downcast and I consider it better so there won’t be too much heat.  There were other divers too mostly foreigners.  I tried to watch closely the crew assembling the gears at the back shop.  We were assigned to Yosil as our DM who I learned later to be one of the most keen divers especially on micros, and very efficient on buoyancy control.  We cruise for about 15 minutes to our first site at Looc which is across a sandy white beach.  We descend on a drop off wall – good sightings especially the big green turtle perched on a hard coral with two fishes on its back.  I tried to catch the attention of Angel & Mike so as not to miss it! Then after about 30 seconds, it swam away – so schon!

There were gorgonians in different colors as well as star feathers, I tried to look closely for crinoids but none or maybe my eyes failed me.  There were groupers, batfish, butterfly fish, colorful nudi branches among others.  We do some bit of clean up – found plastics in corals.  I sighted about 2 fish cages, one of those things I don’t like to see underwater – an insult to the marine wildlife. Can we just leave them alone? We are only there to enjoy the sites not to harm them!  We had our safety stop in a white sandy area with full of soft & hard corals, colorful sponges and juvenile fishes. Angel and I explored the area – found a pipefish which just stayed near and was fascinated with the flounder.  We hardly noticed it as it was of same color with the sand.  We surfaced after 45 minutes with my air at 40 bars.

After our quick breakfast (cappuccino and local breads) at the lodge we get back to the diveshop for our next descent.  We’re bit excited since we’ll be exploring Pescador Island but I told DM Ms Lindy to get away with the current. J  She said we’ll be going north, then east and swim back where the boat will wait for us. She warned us not to go deeper 20 meters.   We were the last group to descend – each in different spots.  We swam into a drop-off wall covered with colorful corals, sponges and feather stars.  Then the large thick school of tamban (sardines) – millions of them, we watched it in awe, my first time for such sightings.  I guess fishing them all won’t fit in the dive boat. We saw sea turtle again (smaller one), few tuna, a frogfish in camouflage, pipefish, sea cucumber among others.   We found again at least four plastics in the corals which were taken away by the DMs.  We went again to a sandy area for our safety stop exploring around.  Ms Lindy pointed out to us a blenny which seemed to be tamed – it didn’t swam away. We surfaced after 46 minutes just in time when Angel’s air gone zero! He shared Larry’s (another DM with us) octopus for the ascent.

We cruised back to Panagsama for our lunch break, we ended at the far end of the street in a secluded restaurant but overlooking the waters.  We got back to the lodge for some power nap as our last descent would still be at 2:30pm. Torsten was there like a gracious host asking about our dives and telling us stories of his own dive experiences in the area.

Our last stop was Kasai, little farther than Looc about 25 minutes cruise to the site – we were still with Ms Lindy & Larry. Our deepest must be 18 meters only as warned by Ms Lindy – she pointed out I dropped by 2 meters at the 2nd dive. : P  Well, I really needed a dive computer!  I think you’ll never get disappointed in any dive site in Moalboal – there’s so much abundance – teeming with marine life. Groupers, lionfish, pipefish, frogfish and more – not to mention the gorgonians, sponges, soft & hard corals.  But we found again fish cage, a string entangled in corals and some rubbish – Angel & I got plastics.  We had our safety stop again on a sandy area full of colorful corals – just need to be careful not to harm them, indeed buoyancy control is necessary.  We explored around, found pipefish again, a small eel, a crab shell (?), bubble corals, colorful anthias and more.  I tried to check Angel’s air and signaled for ascent after I got the OK sign from Ms. Lindy.  I emptied my BC from air and swam up raising my right hand looking up…

After a coffee break, settling bills, brief talk with Ms Lindy and goodbyes, we went off to the lodge – it was such a full day. It was great advantage to have a nearby accommodation.  I needed some time in the bath to wash off all the salt especially my hair.  Mary Ann informed me that Torsten is inviting us for dinner with no reason.  But when he arrived, he said he’s preparing a small dinner because one of us is the 100th guest of the lodge! Surprises of all surprise – a sumptuous dinner plus to be featured in news on their website!  😛  Angel & Mike were amused when I told them both that we’re having dinner with the Siggelkows – wondering who’s the lucky 100th!  Such a   blessing – wonderful sites, new sightings, bit of underwater clean up, safe dive plus a free sumptuous dinner – the Lord is good.  food, yummy food..And Angel was saying he was pining for grilled back ribs which exactly what we had!  Simple wishes – simply answered with no cost…..

 Leaving Moalboal & Heading Home

It was raining the following morning but has to go downtown for the mass (it was Sunday), and I don’t need to complain about the rain and it’s not a reason to skip the mass.  I had no time to have it in Cebu, more so in Cagayan de Oro as it would be too late when I get home. It started already when we got to the church but just in time for the 1st reading.  Surprisingly the rain stopped already when the mass ended.  We hastily get back to the lodge – had our breakfast, brief talk and goodbyes and some photos with the Siggelkows.  We promised ourselves another dive trip to explore more of Pescador Island and Airport next time, also to frolic in the serene white beaches around Moalboal.

We took again the Ceres bus back to Cebu, going through the same route – I took pleasure in the churches we passed along the hi-way and of course I don’t want to miss the old acacia trees in Carcar road.  It seemed like the trip was shorter going back to Cebu. 😛  We took a cab when we got out of the terminal but Angel & Mike alighted since they were going the other way. I need to go to the travel lounge to fix things – much that I wanted to visit the Sto. Nino Shrine and Redemptorist Church but don’t want to run out of time, I even failed to call my friends – Willyn & Ms. Angel.  After a quick late lunch (I felt no hunger) I left for the airport for an early check in, I don’t want to be rushing again!  The flight was on time and full, sitting on the plane my homework running on my mind – I have a presentation to do the next morning in the Monday mini-program!  It was raining when we arrived CdO but thankful it wasn’t foggy for the landing.

Home at last but can’t help smiling that my get-away was another wonderful one.  I always gain favor from the Lord and I couldn’t thank enough. I had more trips to look forward in the next months and for sure full of surprises and new discoveries…