Day 2: Surfing and Siargao Island

“The beauty of each place I visit exceeds more than my imagination”

– Fakir

Cloud 9: Surfing

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Manila – Butuan City – Surigao City – Siargao Island – Bucas Grande – Surigao – Davao City – Samal Island – Davao del Norte – Davao – Manila itinerary.

Features: Surigao City to Siargao Island, Paglaom Hostel, Surfing at Cloud 9, Magpupungko Pool, Marsh, Cave and the Siargao People

Arriving at the port to catch the first trip to Dapa Port in Siargao. I purchased my ticket for Php 250.00, enter a small boat and waited for it to be filled. After an hour waiting the boat left Surigao City at 0600, the sea is calm, the sky is cloudy and the air is refreshing. I fell asleep for a few minutes, woke up because of the heat of the sun is bathing on my face. Then the view was spectacular, range of hills, and islands before my eyes are arrange beautifully. I just saw Bucas Grande, one of the islands of Surigao Del Norte. I wanted to go there but renting a boat is way expensive for me. I settle myself of viewing the endless green and blue array of the islands. Its one of the prettiest island I saw in my entire trip. I can stare it for another whole day.

Clear waters of Magpupungko Pool

Its still far to Siargao but I rather stay awake and marvel to the view for the next 30-45 minutes. The boat arrive in Dapa Port around 0830, the tourism office will asked you to sign the tourist sheet which actually good in case of emergency they will be the one who will do the call out. Its good for me since I am traveling alone. Another series of barkers, dispatchers and habal-habal drivers will hover you to get their habal-habal services. I just stood around the corner, observe a bit and I can feel the a low because I haven’t eaten heavy meal yet. Being hungry is a lot worse than getting lost. HEHE

In the middle of the crowd, someone snatch me and offer Php 50.00 to Paglaom Hostel. From Dapa Port to GL / General Luna is usually cost Php 200.00 good for 3 pax. So I immediately grab Kuya Bebot’s offer before it lasts. The never-ending question of being alone started here. Kuya offered me habal-habal trip to Magpupungko Pool for Php 700.00 saving Php 100.00 for the usual cost which is good for 2-3 pax. Then he asked me if I will go on island hopping and Bucas Grande. I told him that Bucas Grande is very expensive for me. He will have guests from Manila on the next day which he offered both island hopping and Bucas Grande tour for Php 4000.00 which I can chipped into. The usual rate for boat for island hopping to Guyam, Naked and Daku minimum costs Php 1,200.00 depending on the number of pax. I agreed to the terms and will meet them tomorrow. So we travel from Dapa to GL for 20-30 minutes.

Magpupungko Pool

I arrived in Paglaom Hostel, deem culture shock to the people around me. Both Filipinos and foreigns, so my thick shell melts down and I welcome the introvert me. I am too shy to talk to them at first. Paglaom Hostel cost Pho 300.00 per night. Bunk bed, bathroom, kitchen, personal locker and lanai to keep the conversation. If you want cheaper, there are inns that offer as low as Php 150.00 per night. I prefer Paglaom because I want to meet Sunny and Cocoy which are owners of the hostel. I set my things down, write my name on my bunk bed, lock my things, prepare my day pack and change clothes. Then, I am going to cloud 9 to try surfing.

I change my itinerary on the spot. Decide to surf first, then Magpupungko Pool. No rest needed. I need to compact my time because of unexpected addition to my itinerary. So I went ahead to Could 9, take a quick a lunch (fried blue marlin and rice) for Php 55.00 and pick up my long board. I hire a trainer because I am not good at boarding stuff even though I tried surfing several times. My trainer give me the basic long boarding lesson and we head to the water. Board rental (short or long) cost Php 350.00 for half day and Php 500.00 for a whole day. Trainer cost Php 200.00 per hour. The waves of Siargao are higher than any surf spots in the Philippines. Its the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” after all. The waves are the one you can see in surfing movie. Aqua green, high an endless. I am pretty boring when I started, my arms and upper body are weak. i cannot stand at all. I fell several times but I am determined enough to paddle my board. I keep on thinking on how I was able to pull it off before. I want to stand and ride my waves. I will not stop until I am able to ride. So I focus on my goal, 30 minutes later, I was able to stand on my glory.

I enjoy the rest of my surfing gig proud and mighty. I am getting good every time I tried surfing. It a happy ending after all, I was all smiles and giggly when I finish boarding. I want to stay longer but I need to visit Magpupungko. I rest a few minutes, take my picture at the infamous Cloud 9 bridge and head off to Magpupungko Pool. Its at least 30 minutes away from General Luna, I hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) for Php 700.00 which is actually good for 3 persons. I was still on a high after the surfing gig. The fresh air of Siargao and its scenic view will relax your soul. The island have uncanny weather system, half of the island is experiencing rain and the other half is smiling sunny. I am still having the best time, rain or shine.

I arrived Magpupungko at 1400, its raining hard but its low tide so you can actually swim to the nature-made infinity pool. Entrance fee cost Php 50.00 and you can rent tables/chairs/cottages or just put your things on the beach side. After the rain subsides, I walk to the pool slight rain pouring my head and again all smiles. I was so happy I forgot that I am tired. The marvelous sight of Mapupungko Pool will make your day. Its a clash of waves, sand bar in the middle and a cliff pool near the beach shore. I enjoy the rest of my day swimming, jumping off the cliff, diving and taking pictures. The place is pure happiness for a person who loves the water.

Aftermath of Tayabangan Cave

The trip just started yet I am congratulating myself for achieving this far. I can say that I am now comfortable to conduct this kind solo venture. I explore the entire Pool area, around 0430, I decide to rest a bit before going back to GL. I am indeed a camper, I brought my gears with me because I love to sip coffee everywhere I go. So I heat water, enjoy my instant coffee and instant noodles to quench the starvation. This day is full of exploration and first time. After having my afternoon snack, I decide to go back to GL to rest. My guide advised me to check out Tayangban Cave since he saw junkie I am when I jump off the cliff several times.

The Tayangban Cave have little canyon to trek before heading in the cave. The entrance fee cost Php 20.00, exploring the cave add-ons is Php 50.00 for locals (Filipino) and Php 50.00 entrance / explore Php 50.00 for foreign tourist. I explore the cave which is a little bit intense but I am glad to drop by, the cave is underneath the national highway system in Siargao. It starts at the right side of the road and you will end up on the left side. Its a 15 minute spelunking activity which is a must try.

After my brief caving experience, we continue the ride back to GL. I asked my guide to stop by the Paghungawan Marsh for me to take my video. The marsh is home for Saltwater Crocodiles which is similar to the giant crocodile of Butuan, Lolong. The road system of Siargao is already equipped which is a sign of tourism boost in the region. If you want to explore Siargao Island, you can rent your own habal-habal which cost Php 350-500 per day, gasoline at your own expense. I can only drive a bike and too scared to drive my own motorcycle. I need a driver to prolong my life. Hehe

Tayabangan Cave

I went back to GL around 1800. The day is tiring, traveling both sea and land is exhausting. I need to buy some thing while staying in Siargao. I went to the market bought tuna and ingridients, went back to Paglaom and start to cook my food. The troop are asking me to go out since its Jungle Night. I am not the party head and I am too tired to go out. I also need to be early for the Bucas Grande trip. I did not join the jungle night and stayed in the cozy Paglaom lanai all throughout the night before going to bed. I am still adjusting to the friendliness of the people around me. Dumbfounded on how they seem to know each other in a very short time. I am thinking of extending my stay here if only I allot more days for this trip. I need more days because I am enjoying it way too much.

The night is deep, my call time is 0600. I need to rest and in my bunk before I am engrossed to fun of the night. The Siargao trip is truly magnificent. This is one of the best islands I visited, currently pulling this place as one of my top destination. I doze off to sleep and wonder for the love Bucas

Grande can give to me. Too tired and sleepy, I dream of having the wonderful time of my life. To live like this is to FEEL LIFE.

Catch you tomorrow PIRATES!

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 8: Last Day in Mindanao

“Make friends, have fun, travel forever and have memories that can last a lifetime”

– Fakir

Features: Hagimit Falls, Maxima Aqua Fun, Buying Souvenirs, Bangkeruhan Market, Day Tour in Kaputian Island

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

I woke up early, beat and with heavy heart. This will be my last day in Davao City. Grab a quick breakfast, pandesal and coffee near Daylight Inn. Chat with the local vendor and bid my farewell to Grace. She will be back in Manila on an early flight, mine will be at 2300. I went to Bangkeruhan to buy Pomelo and Durian for my family/friends. I tried Marang while waiting. Back to the inn, I pack my bags and check out. I stay in Daylight Inn covering my 3 nights in Davao for Php 250/night fan room. I will not recommend this place if you have other choices like My Hotel or other hostels around Davao. I’ve got tick bites all over my legs, swelling and itchy for the next days.

I went back to my friend Rosa’s place to drop my bag then start my day tour in Kaputian Island. I ride a jeepney from Davao Doctors to Aldevinco, fare cost Php 8.00 to buy my souvenirs. I bought my ref magnet, t-shirt, scarf and tie-dye pajama. Buying all those stuff cost me Php 370.00, I forgot the prices of each item (SORNA!). After buying my pasalubong I ride a jeepney from Aldevinco to Sasa Wharf for Php 15.00. I ride the barge to Babak Wharf for Php 10.00. Kuya Jay, the habal-habal driver is waiting in Babak Wharf. He will drop me to Hagimit Falls and Maxima Aqua Fun for Php 150.00, travel time 30 – 45 minutes. I did not agree on taking the day tour since I went to Monfort Cave the other night. But you can rent his service for Kaputian Island Day Tour for Php 800.00 – 1200.00 good for 2-3 pax. Kuya Jay contact: 0916 115 0189, he is really nice. I like him because he’s not nosy unlike other guides.

He drop me in Hagimit Falls, entrance fee cost Php 40.00 and parking fee for Php 5.00. The spring resort is really refreshing. The water is cold and swimming will be nice but I ditch it. I just want to check out the place, take some photos. I stayed here for a good 30 minutes. Then, we went straight to Maxima Aqua Resort. What a nice person Kuya Jay, I recommend him to my friends that went to Kaputian Island.

Maxima Aqua Fun, its infamous SUPER SLIDE attach from the cliff. I ditched Pearl Farm (too expensive for me). Last day in Davao should be filled with adrenaline and FUN. Day tour is Maxima Aqua Fun cost Php 300.00 in which you can stay from 0900 – 1700. I arrived around 1230, roam around and change to my swim attire. The resort attractions are really fascinating and not for the weak heart. I slide several times until waters filled my mouth, ears and nose. I jump from the diving board. Best thing to try is their WATER BLOB. Really exhilarating! It’s a must!

I got exhausted from the activities. My skin is burned from the sun. I met people who add me up in facebook. Last day here in Mindanao is nothing but fun! It’s time to go back in Davao City. A group of soldiers in vacation and me chipped in habal-habal back to Babak Wharf. These young people are brave and pride our country. it was nice to meet them.

Back to Sasa Wharf, I ride a jeepney to People’s Park downtown. I ate in Penong’s, I love their Inasal Chicken and unlimited rice for Php 98.00. Chow time in Davao is cheap and real good. Penong’s is in every corner of the city. After eating, I went back to Rosa’s apartment to get my things and bid goodbye to my college friend. From Ilustre St, there are jeepney to the airport. You can take a cab as well. Downtown Davao to Francisco Bangoy International Airport PUJ fare is php 16.00 – 20.00, taxi fare is Php 230.00 – Php 250.00. Grab Car/Taxi is also available in the city for your comfort.

I arrived at the airport at 2230, flight is schedule at 2305. Check in my bag, feel the infinite pricks on my skin and itchy tick bites. I board and dozed my way back to the bustling city of Metro Manila. I got home in Pasig City around 0200. Mindanao is the best trip of my life. I am going to do this until I can.

Ultimately, the overall trip cost me around Php 15000.00 including my airfare. I will provide the itinerary and budget on my next segment.

On my way to our next trip PIRATES!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 7: Exploring Samal and Kaputian Island

“Let the sun bathe you with goodness and a warm of life”

– Fakir

Features: Samal Island, Isla Reta, Babusanta Resort, Dayang Beach, Kaputian Island, Monfort Cave and Sta Ana Wharf

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Walking around Davao City is tiring but I need to get up to finish the itinerary I set. Grace and I will explore Samal Island today. This is my 7th day, sun burned and a bit exhausted from the tour. We ride a jeepney from Daylight Inn to Sta. Ana Wharf around 0800 for Php 8.00. I did not check the ferry schedule so we are 1 hour ahead its departure. We grab a bite and buy ingredients for lunch. She brought TUNA and my mouth is watering. I am hoping lunch time could be near. HEHE!

The Isla Reta ferry departs from Sta Ana Wharf at 0900 – 0930. It will depart early if its full, unfortunately its off-peak and we need to wait a little bit longer. Fare cost Php 80.00 for a 20 – 30 minutes ride. Upon arriving in Isla Reta Beach Resort, the boat crew will ask if you are going to join the trip back to Sta Ana Whar at 1500. I did not sign up because I want to explore the island. Isla Reta entrance fee cost Php 100.00 and chairs and table are for free unless you check in into their cabana or rent their tents. Overnight stay can cost Php 300.00 – 1500.00 with accommodation.

The blue sky, warm sun and aquamarine water invite you to a peaceful serenity. Beach is really white and pristine. Real good relaxation. After we explore the place. I cook our lunch, I prepare my camp stove and Kapampangan cooking prowess for our Sinigang and grilled TUNA. This is the chill part of my travel. No jumping, no trekking or anything involves adrenaline rush. This place should be visit by peace who love low profile travels.

Swim, sunbath and drink all the beer you want. It’s already 1500, day trippers can now go back to town proper or can stay. I decide to stay to check out other resorts in Samal. Grace went back to the inn and call it a day. There is a boat going to Kaputian Island around 0500, so I have 2 hours to spare. I rent a habal – habal for Php 170.00 which an ultimate haggle price. Habal – habal rental cost Php 200.00 – 300.00 good for 2 pax.

I visited Dayang and Babusanta Beach Resorts which are more beautiful than Isla Reta. The sight is just endless blue sky and crystal clear water. I will go back here and stay for a couple of days to relax and drink all day. My habal driver is really nice and talk my way through the resorts for free. Entrance fees cost Php 70.00 – 80.00 each resorts. I save a lot because of him. I took my photos, drink fresh sweet coconut and swim a bit. We return to the wharf so that I can catch the last boat to Kaputian Island.

From Sta Cruz Port (Port near Isla Reta) to Kaputian Wharf the fare cost Php 10.00. Travel time is 3 minutes. The sleepy town of Kaputian also have their day tour and resorts that offers overnight accommodation from backpacking inns to expensive beach hotels like Pearl Farm. It’s almost night fall when I rent habal-habal for Php 230.00 to visit Monfort Bat Cave. From Kaputian wharf to Monfort cave travel time is 30 – 45 minutes. The day cave tour entrance fee Php 100.00, night tour cost Php 200.00. I was agitated because of the price increase but when I check out the caves. It’s mesmerizing, the bats are about to hunt and they re flying out of their caves. The price pays it off. I also recommend the night tour!

My habal driver (Kuya Jay) drop me off in Babak wharf back to the main land Davao. Sasa Wharf operates 24/7 transferring commuters and vehicles off Kaputian Island. Fare cost Php 10.00. From Babak to Sasa Wharf travel time is around 2 – 3 minutes. From Sasa Wharf to downtown Davao travel time is around 30-45 minutes fare cost is Php 23.00 – 25.00. Its night-time when I arrive San Pedro St., chow at Kusina Dabaw. Ordering their famous LOMI and SIOPAO, dinner cost Php 95.00.

I got tired from my adventure today. I will go back in Kaputian Island tomorrow. Last day in Mindanao will be awesome!

High five PIRATES!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 6: Davao City Tour

“Think, stop and chase all the worries away”
– Fakir

Features: Daylight Inn, Davao City walking tour, Philippine Eagle Center, Jack’s Ridge, Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, Running tour of Chinatown, Magsaysay fruit market, Davao’s Street Food, Roxas Avenue, Kusina Dabaw

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

I woke up tired from the night road travel from Manggagoy. I want to sleep more and ditch the day’s itinerary. Waking up in the safest city in the Philippines calms my tired nerves. Its 0800 in the morning, it’s already warm. I need to get up to meet my Davao-based friend Rosa. She welcome me to couch surf in her place but I decline because I know she is busy at work. I want to walk in/out of my place without letting other people be mindful about my state. This I regret 3 days after, Daylight Inn suits cheap backpacker budget but I had tick bites before I left the hostel. Anyway, rush to the common bathroom. I prepare myself for my Davao City Tour.

I went to my friend’s house, had some breakfast, endless chats, the MAJONGERA laugh we share and the life we are heading. TRAVELING THE WORLD. We squish the little time we have and continue later after her shift finish. I continue my itinerary in search of getting to my first stop. The Philippine Eagle Center.

I walk around Davao to check routes and after an hour I finally spot on the jeepney going to the center. From Davao City, you can ride the PUJ (air-conditioned and non air conditioned) at the Bangkeruhan Terminal. Fare cost Php 40.00 – 50.00, the eagle center is in Calinan and travel time is around 1 – 1.5 hours. DISCLAIMER: Vehicles around Davao run at maximum 60kph due to the City Ordinance. Once your in Calinan town, you need to hire habal – habal (motorcycle) going to the Philippine Eagle Center, fare cost Php 70.00 – 100.00 roundtrip. You can rent the habal – habal for touring around which includes visiting to the Eagle Center, Botanical Garden and the Crocodile farm. I skip the day tour though.

I arrive in the Eagle center, paid the initial entrance fee for Php 5.00 and Php 150.00 for the zoo pass. The eagles are huge and proud. These birds look small on photos. The center caters to different species of birds like falcons, owls and eagles (of course). Birds are sponsored by successful people and companies so that they continue to breed even though they can no longer go back to their natural habitat. I don’t like zoos but seeing the big birds alive and safe in this center make the world much better.

I truly love this place, visiting the eagles is Davao’s pride in terms of tourism. I still have plenty of time that afternoon to roam around the city so I decide to go to Jack’s ridge and Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague in Matina. From Calinan to Matina, fare cost Php 35.00. Then you need to ride a tricycle to go way up to the spots. I went first to the church, stick my praying candle and took some photos. The view is spectacular showcasing entire Mt Apo and Samal Group of Islands. Catalina view deck fee is Php 12.00. Across the street is Jack Ridge, famous for its city landscape. Viewing the entire Davao. Fancy restaurants and bars are also located here. No entrance fee.

The sun is about to fall, wind is still warm and I feel sticky. I decide to go back to the city. Davao’s humidity is stronger than Metro Manila, I can feel my sweat all over my body. I think I lost a few pounds by walking around. I ride tricycle back to the highway and catch a jeepney back to my inn. What I really like when walking around this city is the street food which offers fruits like guava, papaya, mango, pineapple, pomelo, etc in cheap prices. I also love Kusina Dabaw’s siopao which one of the best buns I have tasted.

I went back to my inn, took a bath and prepare for my night out. I meet up with my Davao-based friends, went to Roxas to search for the most affordable Tuna Panga and street food in which easy to find. Tuna panga with unlimited rice for Php 80.00 is way cheap here. Taste the Durian Ice Cream and another set street food to find my dinner in peace. My friends describe Davao to be a good place to live in apart from Metro Manila. I am fascinated by their brevity to jet set from Luzon to Mindanao. But Davao’s climate is really not a good place for a person like me who has a never-ending headache when the temperature goes out of the scale.

I would visiting Davao again for the food it offer and the breath of fresh air within the city.

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 5: The Grand Tinuy-An Falls and Hinatuan Enchanted River

“Start the day with breathing life in and exhaling all the worries away”

– Fakir

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Features: Tinuy-An Falls, Bislig City, Hinatuan, Enchanted River, Habal-habal Tour, Surigao del Sur

I woke up heaving with excitement for my 5th day here in Mindanao. Everything I do here makes me feel the utmost freedom I wanted in life. The day will be as amazing as the previous days. I continuously fall in love with this place. After having my breakfast, I called my guide to start my day in Tinuy-An Falls. I read from other blogs that you need to go there early in the morning to catch the rainbow so I decide to go there around 0600. Bislig air is refreshing as Siargao Island. It’s a quiet place and very peaceful.

My guide fetch me at 0615, we started the trip to Tinuy-An Falls. From the main road going to the falls will be a rough drive. It will be a 30 minutes bumpy ride. Road blocks, mud and stone path will welcome you. We arrived around 0700, I am the first tourist of the day. I guess I was too early. I paid the entrance fee for Php 20.00. You can explore the place, swim if you like and get all the pictures you want. My first impression, I was overwhelmed by the grand falls in front of me. Pictures don’t give justice to the beautiful fall in front me. The Tinuy-An falls is very high and the curtains of water gives refreshing treat to the guest.

So at this point of time, Pryde (my camera) decides to kill its manual mode. HAHAHA : ( It was busted for some reason so I decide to get my pictures using my ipad and action camera. Still hopes high and enough cameras to cover my trips, I proceed in exploring the falls area. The Manobo tribes are the land lords so they will your guide if you want to check out the upper curtains of the falls. My guide is as quiet as I am as we go further up. There is a man-made stairs that will help you climb. Kuya guide is very kind to help me when we reach the slippery area. The cold splashes from the falls give me the refreshing feeling.

I reached the upper part of the falls, then swim in the ice cold water. The view was as fascinating as you view it below. Getting into high places relieve my addiction to adrenaline. It seems like all the issues in my life wash away by any scenic landscape in front of me. The love for adventure will definitely continue for as long as I can climb and hike and travel and walk and love this life. Tinuy-An Falls is a beauty you cannot see from its photos. It speaks more glamour in real life than check it out from the photos. It’s too dreamy to capture. To pretty to catch. Too real to get. These are my feelings as I view the wonders of the area. Really cool! Returning back to the main road after the trip, you need to ride into the Tribal Habal-habal which is actually part of the ordinance set in Bislig since they are the landlords of the area.

I made new colleagues all the way from Siargao Island. Upon embarking my way to Enchanted River, Jel’s friend from the DIY is also in Bislig for the same tour. I was just too early and unable to check that she messaged me several times for us to cut the cost of the habal-habal. Sometimes being too early can missed cheap opportunities. So, we fetch Grace from her inn and proceed to Hinatuan. We manage to cut the cost from Php 1000.00 to Php 700.00 which is still a good price. The motorcycle ride to Hinatuan is not a joke; another butt numbing trip for 45 minutes on a endless highway starts again.

We arrived at Enchanted River around 1000, registration fee Php 50.00 and you can explore the entire area which currently manage by the local government. At first glance, I am not as fascinated towards the River. It’s way different from the pictures shown in the internet. The turquoise color is gone and the deep blue abyss is not there. A bit disappointed but our guide said it’s currently not good to look because its high tide. Even the water taste a little bit salty. Since its high tide, river water meets the sea which is the reason why it’s a bit salty. Going here made me sweaty so I take the opportunity to dip into the cold relaxing water.

My high school friend Nilo was here when he globetrot Philippines for his work. I saw several of his photos from here so this made me decide to include Enchanted River as part of my Mindanao backpacking trip. I am a good swimmer but never a good diving. Taking my underwater photos gave me a hard time. This is part of the disadvantage of backpacking alone. No one will take your damn pictures. Good thing someone invented a timer for cameras. Whoever you are, thank you.

We waited for the fish feeding program in Hinatuan which starts at 1200. Grace got a really good spot at the upper portion and I got one on the lower portion. The staff feed the fishes for the next 15 minutes with background music. After the gig, we decide to go back to Bislig for Grace to take her Tinuy-an Falls trip and me to ready my pack. It was a quick day tour for both Tinuy-An Falls and Hinatuan. I cleaned up back to the hotel and ready my bags to Davao City. I ate roasted chicken for lunch which cost me Php 120.00 with drinks and rice.

I waited for Grace and we hopped into Bachelor Bus bound to Davao City, fare cost Php 300.00 for ordinary bus. The February wind is like a lullaby as we begin our journey. The road trip started around 1700, as we view Banana Plantation and endless greens of Mindanao. This time of my life really change my perspective about travelling this beautiful country. Its broaden my mind and views as we passed by the town after town. There are several bus stops for break and dinner time. As the night time crossed the sky line, I fell asleep and when I woke up we were in Davao Ecoland Terminal. The entire transfer took us 7 hours and it’s worthy. We catch a tricycle to My Hotel to check in but they are fully booked. They refer us to Daylight Inn, we got our double bed fan room for Php 300.00. Same pricing to surrounding inns in Davao, our is near the famous Bankeruhan and other establishment.

Finally, I was able to set foot in the one of the safest place in the world. Tomorrow will be the time to explore Davao City. For now I need to take a rest and have the best sleep.

Touch Down PIRATES!!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 4: A Long Run Around in Mindanao

“A trip so long is a journey to patience”

– Fakir

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Features: Sea and Land Transfer from Siargao Island to Mangagoy, Bislig Surigao del Sur, Travel time, Tinuy-an Falls, Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Bislig and finding a hostel

I am leaving Siargao Island with a little bit of a heavy heart. The life in this island is like a dream I never thought of. I share my life with people I met here and have the waves of desires in our lives. To travel the world and to live in peace. I will never forget the experience Siargao had given me. It was 0400 when I woke up, I barely sleep because I want to stay longer here but I need to move on to my next destination. I clean my locker in Paglaom Hostel, closed my pack and hopped to my habal-habal. The habal-habal rental cost Php 200.00, one of the nearby hostel guest don’t have a ride to we share. Indeed, I am a lucky bastard.

Within 15 minutes we arrived at Dapa Port, the port area is busy with hundreds of tourists and locals line up to get the ferry tickets. I bought a Mabuhay ticket for Php 260.00 and terminal fee for Php 15.00. Economy and business tickets are sold out. The fare is a bit expensive but when I hopped into it, I changed my mind. The Mabuhay class have air-condition, comfortable seat and airplane seat feel. I still wonder why I did hop to a small boat going to Siargao Island. The tricycle driver from Surigao City seems to drop me to a different port. No wonder, all passengers are mostly locals at that time.

I fell asleep as we sail out to the vast sea. The travel time is less than 2 hours since this is a huge vessel. I arrived in Surigao City really drowsy, my head is starting to ached and I need to find my way to the Terminal. I take a jeep to the terminal for Php7.00. I was about to take a bus to Butuan, then another bus/van going to Mangagoy. When I reach the terminal, I learned that vans bound to Davao City are available in Surigao City. I hopped into the crowded van, paid Php300.00 going to San Fran Integrated Terminal. The van route to Butuan City then bound to Surigar del Sur. The entire stop/go routine lasted for another 6 hours of my life before arriving to San Fran. I was tired and weary; I barely slept in the van because the view is just to awesome.

From San Fran, I need to take another ride to Mangagoy, Bislig for my Tinuy-An Falls and Enchanted River escapade for the next day. I decide to take Bachelor Bus to Mangagoy paying Php150.00 fare. Van transfer fare is cheaper for Php 80.00 – 100.00. Take the van instead if you want to have a cheaper rate. The travel time from San Fran to Bislig is another 2 – 3 hours butt numbing trip. I met local ladies who are kind enough to give me shelter for the night. I was tired when I got in Bislig, the drivers are hauling around me. I cannot decide because I am starving and headache is around the corner. The local ladies pulled me from the haggling drivers and decide to check me in their houses. I am too grateful for their offer but I decide to say no. I am a bit uncomfortable staying in to someone else’s house rather than taking an inn. They helped me get an air-conditioned room instead in Star Dormitel for Php 300.00 instead of paying Php 550.00 in which I am very thankful.

I was gasping for food when I reached my room. I am tired and really starving so I decide to complete my stocks again and went to Gaisano Mall to purchase some stuff. Bislig City is pretty quiet place to live, its warm and peaceful compare to nearby cities. After getting my food, I ate in my room and search for my habal-habal to fetch me for tomorrow’s adventure. I stayed outside and eat Balut to my heart’s content. I cannot find any available driver so I decide to contact Jel to get her contact instead which she provide immediately (Such an angel to have bumped into). I was able to contact the guide and settle for Php 1000.00 for the entire Tinuy-An and Hinatuan River tour. Everything is settled, I got the food and things I need for the next day activities. I conclude my 10 hours transfer from Siargao Island to Mangagoy, Bislig a huge success with a butt numbing ride to the far flung of Surigao.

Let’s do this PIRATES!!!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 3: Bucas Grande, Naked, Daku and Guyam Island

“Your own body and mind will be the one who is going to stop you. Not time nor money”

– Fakir

Boat ride to sting less jellyfish

Bucas Grande, Naked, Daku and Guyam Island Itinerary

My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Manila – Butuan City – Surigao City – Siargao Island – Bucas Grande – Surigao – Davao City – Samal Island – Davao del Norte – Davao – Manila itinerary.

Features: Bucas Grande, Bolitas Cave, Tiktikan Lagoon, Stingless Jellyfish, Sohotan Cave, Naked Island, Dako Island and Guyam Island

I can smell the refreshing air of the sea and that trance music all over the place. I woke up and I am still in Siargao Island. It is time to get up and get the day started. The Magpupungko pool and surfing gigs yesterday were one of the highlights of the trip. I initially scratched itinerary going to Bucas Grande because its too expensive for a cheap traveler like me. Boat rental to Bucas Grande from Siargao would cost me at least Php 2500.00 – 4000.00 which is actually cut my entire budget. Good thing I was able to join in with a couple traveler from Manila. Jel and Mark agreed to include me in their island hopping tour.

The usual trip is a separate tour to Bucas Grande and island hopping (Naked, Dako and Guyam). You can do it in 2 days to enjoy the entire beaches and lagoond much better. But we don’t have time to do it separately. If you will hire a boat for island hopping you can rent a boat for Php 1200 – 3000.00 depending with the number of pax. Rent a boat to Bucas Grande for Php 2500 – 6000.00. I grab the opportunity to cut the trip to Php 1333.33 for both tour which is a grand cut from my budget. Big thanks to Kuya Bebot, Jel and Mark for getting me there in cheap cost. Hurray!

Our travel agent Kuya Bebot fetch us from our hostels and proceed to the GL seashore to hop on our boat. We sail to Bucas Grande to start our trip. It will be a grueling 2 hours and 30 minutes boat ride with big waves and scenic view of each islands will welcome you. Every island have evergreens and white shores. The coral cliffs and the waves will relax your eyes. Excitement embrace me, I would never thought I will set foot in Bucas Grande. I am thrilled as we get closer to the island. The sun is brimming hot from its blue sky, it was an endless sea and big white clouds. As if the world got bigger but I came here to make is smaller.

We reach the registration area for Bolitas Cave around 0845. Entrance fee cost Php 30.00 and guide fee Php 100.00. We geared up, a hard hat and flashlight will be provided before the exploration which is actually useful thereafter. We start to explore the main cave, beautiful crystal stalagmites. White with sparkling stones are available to view inside the cave. The cave is tainted due to bat waste mining during the Japanese Period. Bat waste is usually used as fertilizers and ingredient for gun powder. The ground is hauled and severely damage which saddened me. It was decades but the cave is not yet rehabilitated. Balinsasayaw birds make and small fruit bats nest inside the cave ceiling.

Amazed by the huge cave, we explore further by spelunking in Bolitas Cave. I never thought caving will be as intense as entering Bolitas. It was full body work out, you will need all your body parts to fit into the hall. Heat and humidity combine are sure like instant day to the gym or running for a whole 1 hour. The cave is so narrow that you need to enter body flat. It was a sweaty morning for all of us. Bolitas cave caters hundreds of stalagmites that looks like phallic in different sizes. I surely had a hard time getting in and out from this spelunking activity. Full of sweat and dirt, we finally end our first tour of the day and move on to the next part of our Bucas Grande trip.

We went to Tiktikan Lagoon afterwards, the view is still spectacular. Entrace fee cost Php 20.00. It seems like I am transported to another world, out of the Philippines and went to a magical place. If

you want a quiet, calm and peaceful trip to Surigao del Norte, Bucas Grande will suit you specially when your a non-surfer person. I am falling deeply in love with Surigao. Tiktikan is famous for its 10-15 meters diving board so with knees wobbling, I ready myself and jump bravely. Everyone thinks that I don’t struggle when it comes to jumping out of high places. But the truth is I am shaking inside out. I was born with a complex poker face which hides my emotions. The water is refreshing, it washed out the dirt from the cave and made me feel that adrenaline that I am looking for. The thrill of jumping is like letting go to all the misery I had in life. I just jump and it feels so good.

After taking 2 jumps, we need to move on to our next trip which is watching the Stingless Jellyfish and Sohotan Cave. The tour is the most expensive package in my entire Mindanao trip. The package will depends on the number of pax in a group. Since we are 3 pax, we pay for Php 1450.00 for both tours. We geared up, helmet and life jacket before we hopped to our paddle boats. Going to Jellyfish Lake needs to be catered by paddles which only good for 2, guest and the guide. Taking the small boat is relaxing as you view the magnificent coral hills surrounding the entire place. Its too picturesque because of its blue green water, endless green, blue sky and refreshing sun.

Few jellyfishes are available, season is April where the entire lake is full. It is still cute to see different sizes of Jellyfishes here. They are incredible to watch as they swim. You can touch them for a few minutes, I took videos and pictures before we head back. You can help your boat man by paddling, they have extra to speed up the small boat. I would like to compare Bucas Grande to Blue Lagoon of El Nido though through pictures. I haven’t gone to El Nido yet.

We ride to another motor boat moving to our next trip, Sohotan Cave. The cave is only accessible during low tide, its the only way to enter and exit the marvelous place. Sohotan is like a secret cove which is really beautiful. Rock formation, caving activities and peace in this world. We hit the snoring cave, according to our guide the cave release noise which is comparable to snoring when its high tide. You need to swim to enter the cave, if you will dive the water have a green luminescent light. It was wonderful.

We proceed to another cave, entering the above hip water all the way up to the narrow cave stairs and ending up in the cave balcony. The twist is you need to jump from the 10-meter cliff to exit the tour. The Cove is very large, exploring the entire area is one of the extra ordinary trip in my entire traveling experience. Not everyone know this place exist, especially those who resides in the Northern part of the Philippines. The Bucas Grande trip is about to end as we went back to the tourism office. We hopped back to our boat back to Siargao for our afternoon island hopping tour.

The weather is fine but the waves are high, it seems like our boat will jump over the waves for the next 2 hours and 30 minutes. It is impossible to take a nap coming from the exhausting morning in Bucas Grande. We are all wet from the waves and rain, my butt and back are shouting numbness. We reached Naked island around 1600, it is surely imposed its named. No trees available, its just the pure white sand and the blue waters surrounding the sand island. Its extremely hot when we reached the island so it just took us 10 minutes to explore the little white beach.

Apart from taking snacks from the tourism office in Sohotan, we haven’t take our lunch. Extremely starving, we reach Dako Island which is the largest among islands. Dako mean large in Bisaya dialect. It suits its name because its large, fine white sand and coconut everywhere. A real tropical beach. Entrance fee for the 3 of us cost Php 100, cottages/tables ranges from Php 100.00 – Php 300.00. We take one of the Nipa cottages which usually cost Php 250.00, haggle price for Php 100.00 because we will just stay for an hour or two. We packed our lunches, our guide gave us scallops to be cooked and I brought my gears to cooked additional rice. Locals are serving for guest, cooking fee Php 50.00 and bring your own ingredients. They can also sell freshly catch fish which is additional fee.

I ate in my stomachs content, binging my own food and my Jel’s food. We have fresh scallop stew and fresh coconut. I was really full when we finish eating our combine lunch and early dinner. Before the sun sets, we proceed to Guyam island which is our final destination. Another white sand, tropical shore and rocks on the other side completed our day tour. Entrance fee cost Php 20.00. We swim, take pictures and videos. This will be the longest island hopping tour I’ve been to. It almost night time

when we left Guyam back to General Luna shore. It was pure fun and new experience for me. Meeting new people which also in love with traveling.

The Bucas Grande tour is a achievement unlocked for me. It was one of the best peaceful places I ever went to. I will be going back to this place to explore more. This will be my last night in Siargao Island. Together with my hostels buddies, we went out that night to check the acoustic night in Harana, know more about other people and chill like a villain. The people of Siargao, tourist, foreigns and locals give friendly vibe. You will actually love both the place and its people. I will surely go back to this happy island. It is worthy place to travel. Worth the money, exhaustion and the long ride. Two thumbs up for Siargao tourism!

Back to Mindanao main island PIRATES!

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Day 1: The Journey to Mindanao for 8 Days and 7 Nights

“Plan ahead, pack your bags, secure your tickets and get broke. Live the life you think you deserve.”

– Fakir


My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao

Manila – Butuan City – Surigao City – Siargao Island – Bucas Grande – Surigao – Davao City – Samal Island – Davao del Norte – Davao – Manila itinerary.

Features: Manila to Butuan, Butuan to Surigao City, Golden Mile Pension Haus and Transfers

I always wanted to backpack a place I never set foot. In July 2015, I booked tickets from Manila to Butuan and Davao to Manila. I think its possible to set a thousand kilometers road trip in Butuan to Davao. Buses to Davao are all over Mindanao. I got 2 different tickets, no itinerary yet and I will deal with it at least 2-3 months before the trip. I purchase an all-in-fare ticket to Butuan for Php 625.00 and back to Manila for Php 500.00. Later I added check-in baggage for Php 224.00 each ticket to suffice my pack and equipment. Its still pretty cheap so I decide to pursue the dream and wait for 7 months.

Finally, its almost a month before the trip. I check out the timeline, initially wanted to go to Manila – Butuan – Davao – South Cotabato – Davao del Sur – Davao Del Norte – Davao City – Manila itinerary. But, I change my mind because transferring to Butuan to Davao to Lake Sebu will consume so much time. I decide to go to Siargao Island in which I found out that there are several places I could explore in Siargao for non-surfer like me. There is so much that it would cost so much. I decided to have Manila – Butuan City – Surigao City – Siargao Island – Surigao – Davao City – Samal Island – Davao del Norte – Davao – Manila itinerary.


February 25, it was my flight to Butuan City. I am coughing out loud and caring for a flu for the past days. I went on hiking 1 week ago, prior to that went back from my Bohol trip. I was exhausted and exasperating in excitement that led me to sickness. So I pack my bags, make sure that everything on my checklist are securely put on my pack. My flight was change from 0740 to 13:25 which actually ruin my itinerary. I was supposed to tour in Butuan but decide to scratch it on the list. I went to the NAIA Terminal 3 way too early. 3 hours before the flight I landed in the airport. I thought traffic is heavy because portion of EDSA is closed because its a public holiday.

I just waited and abuse the free internet in the airport, listen to songs until my flight was called for boarding. It was a smooth flight of 1 hour to Butuan City. As I view the mountain range of Agusan, I was mesmerized and its just the start but its already worth it. I got out of Bancasi Airport, van dispatchers and travel agencies are now offering their services. I was starving; I ate in the canteen outside the airport. I order Tinolang Tuna and rice with a drink for Php 80.00. Then hop to the van going to Surigao City for Php 200.00. The original plan is taking Bachelor Bus to Surigao City but the terminal is about 5-10 minutes away from the airport. You need to walk from the airport to the highway and catch a multicab to Butuan Integrated Terminal if you want to catch the bus. Fare is almost the same or the bus is more expensive than van transfer.


From Butuan Airport to Surigao City will take a cruel 5-6 hours travel time. The van is stopping to pick up passengers which prolong the entire trip. I slept several times, asking if we are near yet its still far. Good thing that the place is too damn beautiful where the mountain range is meeting the blue waters of the sea. I could not agree no more. It’s night time when I arrive at Surigao Integrated Terminal. Some tricycle drivers offer service from the terminal to the Centro (downtown) for Php 50.00 but I decide to take the multicab instead for Php8.00 to Vasquez Street where most inns are located. I did not booked for one so I walk in to Golden Mile Pension Hauz.

Unfortunately their fan room for Php300.00 is under construction. Then it started to rain hard so I need to take immediate shelter. I haggle for their rooms since I will be staying for a good 8 hours. From Php850.00, they gave me the air-conditioned room for Php550.00. I am exhausted and starving from the trip. I walk around, found barbeque restaurant Zouk. Order myself rice, grilled chicken wings and chicken innards with carbonated drinks for Php78.00. Dig in, pay and went back to the hotel to call it a night.

I woke up around 0400, drink coffee and some of my biscuits. I arrange my pack then left the hotel then catch the first trip to Siargao Island. I was again way too early because I am too eager to reach Siargao. I have lots of activities to do in the island. I want have fun after the road trip that doesn’t seem to end. I will right the entire Siargao Island travel on my next blog. There is more in this island that won’t fit in this entry.


Road trip PIRATES!!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.