Monday, 25 January 2016

Sights: MOALBOAL,CEBU: More Than Just for Diving

Known for its lively and colorful marine life, Moalboal is flocked by divers all year round. Little did I know, Moalboal had more to offer.  Going to Moalboal was easy. From the airport, we took a cab and headed for the South Bus Terminal and boarded a bus headed for Moalboal, the ride took around 3 hours. From the town proper of Moalboal, we rode a tricycle and headed for our first stop, Panagsama.

Panagsama Beach

Panagsama is one of the two major beaches in Moalboal. You won't find any sandy shore line here,  In here you will find different dive shops, bars and restaurants. You'll also find really nice and affordable accommodations here.

The shoreline in Panagsama

I was really surprised with food scene here, most restos here serve American and European dishes. There are even some restos that are owned and run by expats. We got to dine in a few and the food was really good. Below are must visit and must try dishes...

Czech Inn's Grilled Entrees and Chili Bar's Pizza

Cafe Francais' Lemon Pie

The most important thing about Panagsama is the Sardine Run, this is what Moalboal is known for. I've never seen so much fish in one spot before and what makes it more amazing is how they swim in synchronization. After an earthquake hit the Visayas area a couple of years back, it was said that the sardines moved to a different location. But luckily they are back in Moalboal, you can either see them in Panagsama or in Pescador Island. Its a must see spectacle that I would suggest people to see at least once in their life.

Here's a short clip of the sardine run. I would have wanted to go deeper and view the sardine run from below but I couldn't as I had no fins on.


In order to visit Pescador Island, you have to rent a motorized boat to go there. Resorts has packages and tricycle drivers will offer their services. Fortunately for us we met kuya Gaspar, he is more commonly known as kuya Totoy. He arranged our boat ride to Pescador Island and the nearby snorkeling sites. He personally drove us to and back Badian for our canyoning adventure. He even become our personal guide and driver around Moalboal. If you're looking for a guide in Moaboal, you can contact kuya Totoy, he can look a little shady at first but he was very kind and we felt that we were taken good care of.

Kuya Totoy

You can contact him on his celpphone, 0939-2450575 or on any numbers found on his calling card.

Pescador Island was nearby, it took around 20 to 30 minutes to reach the small island. It was evident that the place was teeming with so much marine life. In whichever direction you'll face, you'll be greeted by schools of small fish and colorful corals. Using only my mask and snorkel, it was difficult for me to go close to the fish and corals as the waters are really deep. But even from afar, you'll still be amazed how beautiful everything is.

Pescador Island
What lies beneath....

One of my favorite marine life that I saw was this solitary turtle swimming in the deep blue colored sea.

Just Follow the Light...

Travel Tip. Wear a rash guard, leggings or anything that can cover your body if you decide to go snorkeling. There are a lot of this type of jellyfish around. I got stung a number of times, it gets really itchy and worst it'll stay there for a couple of days.

Days before leaving for Cebu, I came across a video featuring canyoning in Moalboal. Right then and there, I knew it was something I had to do and experience. It was pretty long trip going to Badian, it took around an hour or more from the town proper to reach the starting point of our canyoning adventure.

From what I saw in the video, it seems that the highlight of the whole canyoning adventure was jumping off different cliffs.And what a great to start if off by jumping off a 10 foot cliff.

The two and half hour canyoning consists of jumping off cliffs, floating, swimming rappelling and trekking. It can be exhausting but generally it was a pretty easy hike.

Jumping into the Water


Taking a short break

Floating down the stream

To me the thrilling cliff jumps,  the long trek and swimming on the cool pristine river were just a part of what made this experience so memorable, it was more of the breathtaking beauty of what was around.

The 2013 earthquake has caused large boulders to fall and block the stream, good thing the water still flows through it.

The trek lead us to Kawasan Falls. Seeing so much people around, we decided to view the falls from a far and not to swim aymore.

After our 2.5 hour canyoning adventure, we headed for the second major beach in Moalboal, Basdaku. A long stretch of fine white sand greeted our sights and grazed our feet.


Based on what we experienced and where we stayed, I would divide Basdaku in two areas. In general, accommodations in Basdaku is more expensive compared to Panagsama. On our first night, we opted to go simple and stayed in the 'affordable' resorts area. I'm not picky about accommodations but the loud music that was being played in the area was irritating. It went on til around 12am and by 8am it was already blaring again.

The upside of staying in this area is the long shore with fine white sand and this is where you'll be able to interact with the locals.

After spending a night in the noisy 'affordable' area, we wanted to stay somewhere that's more quiet. A few meters away are the 'upscale' resorts area. Shore line was pretty short but I didn't mind as I enjoyed how quiet and peaceful this area was.

The best thing about staying in this area is as soon you step on the water, you can already start snorkeling. You will spot built concrete pathways from the shore to the sea, walk on it and when you reach the end, a sea wall awaits. I'm assuming that the pathway was built so that people won't step on the live corals, a  sign that the area is really taken well care of.

Just like in every area we visited, the marine life under water was filled with so much life and beauty.

I've read about the gorgeous sunset in Basdaku and before heading here the locals we met were all saying that we should go to Basdaku to see the sunset. Being a big fan of sunsets, we made sure we would catch it. When the sun started to set,  I wasn't really impressed on how it looked. Luckily we lingered around and waited patiently.

After a couple of minutes more, the colors on the horizon started to change. Lo and behold one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen and captured.

Being not a diver yet, I didn't expect to have a fun and memorable time in Moalboal. I would remember Moalboal for two things, the rich lively marine life and for a one of a kind canyoning experience. So for non-divers like me who are having second thoughts of visiting the place, think no more and go, there is more to Moalboal than just diving.

End Note: We were offered to go to Oslob to do some Butanding watching but after hearing and reading the sad news about how the whales are getting hurt because of the on going human feeding, we declined to go. I instantly fell in love with the gentle whale sharks after swimming with them in Donsol, Sorsogon and I don't want to see them getting hurt. So if ever someone invites you to go Butanding watching/swimming in Oslob, please say NO!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Story of Sherbie

Its been a while since I last posted, I've been swamped with work and personal stuff that I had to do. One of the things that kept me busy was Sherbie, our beloved dog/little brother. When our mom passed away a few months back, my brothers and I talked about getting a dog. We wanted someone that would accompany and amuse our dad. We knew our dad like dogs, we thought it would be perfect for him in coping with the pain and sadness. Little did I know, how Sherbie affected each and everyone of us.

Sherbie's Story

Timing couldn't be more perfect because the opportunity presented itself when a relatively of my brother's girlfriend was looking for somebody to give their 1 year old Shih Tzu to.  Luckily for us, that Shih Tzu landed on our hands, from being Herbie from his old home, we named him Sherbie. We had a new little brother and now there were four of us, Sherwin, Sherwon, Sherwan and Sherbie.

This is how Sherbie looked like before, his hair was all matted and unruly.

I must admit, it wasn't love at first sight. When my brother got him, he brought Sherbie to a dog groomer and was advised to shave all of Sherbie's hair since it was all matted and tangled. Moreover he wasn't perfectly healthy, he had fleas, a terrible visible ear infection plus he had lumps and scratches on his skin. In spite of his looks and health, I can still clearly remember the first time we met. He had this puppy look on his eyes as he stared at me. After letting him sniff my hands, I picked him up, laid him on my lap and that was the start of an indescribable bond I had with Sherbie.

All Shaved Up

Within a few weeks, Sherbie's health dramatically improved. His hair started to grow, ticks and fleas were gone and after getting used to his surroundings, he became more comfortable and became a little bit calmer. The joy and happiness Sherbie brought in to our home was so evident, we would hear our dad giggle and laugh again because Sherbie would lick and nibble his toes. Our home started to brighten up again because of him. From being an unwanted dog, Sherbie finally found a home where everybody loves him.

Sherbie sleeping beside his favorite stuffed tiger.

Dog owners would understand the fuzzy feeling of coming home to a dog's warm welcome. Sherbie has never failed to greet me every time I get home. As soon as he sees me enter the door, he would excitedly go towards me, jump up and down and try to reach for my hand. As soon as I sit down on the floor, he places himself on top my lap. He would proceed to lick my face, hands, legs and he would nibble my fingers. He also loves to have a rub down of his chest and belly.

A common scene in our living room.

On one very unfortunate morning, Sherbie decided to go on an adventure on his own, he stormed out of the front door, went down stairs and ran out of the building. Since I wasn't around, the people at home didn't know where to find him, he was last seen on the same street where we take our daily walks. Some mentioned that it seems that somebody might have picked him up. It broke my heart when I found out that he was missing, the pain of losing someone you love was again sinking in. As soon as I got back home, we went all out to search for him, went to dog pounds, animal welfare centers, printed a total of more than 700 posters and  posted everyday, I even consulted a psychic. It felt so hopeless and it was a long shot but still we pursued. The mood at home drastically changed, our dad started crying again and sadness started creeping in fast. I was thinking that if it's really meant to be this way, all I was hoping and praying for is that Sherbie is fine and being well taken care of.

The house felt empty without Sherbie around

After almost a month of continuous searching, a miracle happened. We got a text from someone saying he wanted to show a picture of a dog that they bought on the street. He claimed that after buying the dog, the dog was brought to Camarines Norte, Bicol (more than 350 kilometers away from our place). After a week, they passed by the same street and he noticed one of the posters. He tore the poster down, brought it back to Camarines Norte to compare the picture with the bought dog. He saw the resemblance and as his wife told me, he would look at the poster every night and feel sad about it. Written on the poster were the words, 'Lost Family Member'. Upon being egged on by his wife to tell his boss about the dog, he did so. When the boss who also was a dog owner and lover (he owns Dalmatians) found out about the poster, he asked him to confirm and return the dog to it's rightful owner.p

The Poster

The kind man was Noel, he works as a driver of a politician in Bicol. I met him in our sgreed meeting place and the first picture he showed me was a close up shot of the dog's body, I immediately knew it was Sherbie. And as I browsed on the different pictures Noel took on his camera phone, I felt my knees weaken. Alas! We finally found him!!! Noel told me the exact details on how they got hold of Sherbie and he admitted that he wasn't really well taken care of but he promised me that he'll make arrangements to take Sherbie back to Manila.

The last picture I took before he went missing.

After waiting for a couple of days, Noel texted and told me that Sherbie is on his way back to Manila. For the whole day I was anxious, excited, worried, paranoid and restless. When I was still posting around, I've always wondered if  Sherbie will still recognize me if we see each other again. My answer came when I went to fetch him in one of the bus terminals in Cubao, Edsa.

With me was Noel, his wife and their baby daughter. When I saw Sherbie from a few feet away, I immediately called him. As soon as he heard me, his head spun around and like a lightning bolt he dashed towards me. As I crouched down to hold him, he turned into a energizer bunny that's been set to turbo mode. He became wildly ecstatic as he kept on jumping up and down, kept on licking my face, hands and kept on nibbling my fingers As I was holding him close to me, people passing by started to look at us and I kept on hearing the words, "Grabe! tuwang tuwa yung aso, grabe!. (Wow! the dog looks so happy).  I just kept on holding him, on my mind I was telling him, you're safe now and we're going home. I felt my chest lighten up and my eyes started tearing up, our lost little brother is finally back in my arms.

Dirty, full of ticks and fleas after traveling for more than 350kilometers.

After being gone for almost a month, after traveling back and forth for more than 700 kilometers and after going against all odds, he is back where he truly belongs. Sherbie is now happily back to his usual ways, he has gained his weight back and is now again ticks and fleas free after being infested when he was gone. In behalf of my family, I would like to thank Sir Noel for bringing our beloved little brother back to us. Your name suits you well as you've given us the best Christmas present we'll ever wish for.

He had a haircut and bath the day after he came back...feeling fresh and brand new.

 Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year to Everyone!!!