Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

They loved me, I loved them back. 2012, You have been great and I won’t ever forget you, I know 2013 will be happier and more inspiring than ever.

At exactly 10 hours from now, 2012 will officially close. I just want to thank God for the blessings. Countless, countless, countless… from family, friends, relatives, love lost, love found and all in between. My heart is full of joy as I leave all my worries behind. I have gained enough wisdom to move on and enjoy my 28th year here on earth. Again to all the people around me who said I am inspiring as ever, I am delighted! Really, I feel like I am a star now. Do not worry, will make sure to inspire people and help in every possible way I can. The adrenaline rush of joy will stay with me each day. Life has never been this great and I have never been more positive. To all those who were there for me during my ‘downward emotional’ state, I appreciate it. Now, I am so much better. Self forgiven and self driven.

I ♥ you all. I mean it!

The Lost Mermaid and the Colorful Fishes of Coron Palawan

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Palawan is an island province of the Philippines Region IV. One of the famous destinations here is Coron Island. Coron is also a first class municipality and its main industries are fishing and tourism.

Last January 15,16 and 17 2012, we were able to explore the wonderful place of the said island. We left Manila at exactly 2:40 pm bound to Busuanga Airport aboard Airphil Airlines. The flight lasted for 40 minutes, I did not find it boring since I was able to enjoy the view below (though some parts of Manila were polluted, once you are near Palawan, the view is magnificent).

At the Busuanga Airport, a person from Mang Rudy’s Lodge (the place where we will stay) was already waiting for us. From there, we rode a van to Coron town proper that took about 30-40 minutes (depending on how fast your driver is).

It was our first time traveling with a new group. As you can see, I transferred to a different line of business in our company, that only means, NEW found friends. Yes, we found some travel buddies. They call their group “PAMOSO girls” and they have visited many places already. Anyway, let’s go back to my story.

Mhadz and I arrived earlier, we were supposed to wait for Ruby but her flight got delayed. So we just stayed at Mang Rudy’s Lodge, took a lot of rest and waited for the others. After taking a nap and watching tv, Mhadz and I decided to eat out. Manong tricyle driver does not know where to drop us, he just suggested that we eat at a restaurant called “Kawayanan”. Since my stomach is always hungry, I settled for rice and barbecue while Mhadz tried some burger. In my opinion, the food does not taste that good. (Hope no one gets mad at me, this is just our experience) I recommend you check out other restaurants around the area before you dine in here, just a friendly reminder.

When the second batch arrived, it was dinner time already but we all decided to eat at a later time and proceed with our activities for the night. Once in Coron town proper, we ate some “isaw-isaw” while Gen enjoyed her quail eggs. I noticed that there were actually a lot of foreigners in the area, they are all walking all over the place. What’s interesting was that I saw an american lady eating “isaw-isaw” as well. I am stunned! I thought that maybe she has adopted our Filipino ways already, amazing isn’t it?

Now our stomachs are full but the excitement isn’t over, our first stop was at Maquinit Hot Spring . None of us was able to take a clear picture of the area since it was already dark. But I tell you, people flocked in this place. When I took a swim, I didn’t wonder why. The water was very warm and clean compared to other hot springs I’ve visited before. But, be mindful of your stay here, if you can’t handle the heat anymore, please take some time to get out of the hot water and rest for a while.

So, I felt that my fat burned but my love handles was still present, funny? how could that be, Lol! It was a bit tiring but we are all excited to eat our first dinner together. Back in Mang Rudy’s lodge, we had some “adobong pusit”, rice, fish and watermelon. Dinner without stories would not be complete of course, we chatted over some topics and the big surprise was out. Little did we know that Ruby’s ex made some plans to win her heart again. During dinner, a singer suddenly showed up, sang some love songs and the “kilig moments” were up in the air. But wait, there’s more! A little girl and boy came up and handed a big pink bear and roses to Ruby again, I mean, gosh! How sweet can that ex be? ***blushes blushes all over the place***

After taking a bath, we took some sleep coz we know tomorrow is gonna be a looooong day.

True enough, we were up early the following day. This was one of the greatest day the Lord has ever made. We were about to experience something unexplainable as we wander through the magical islands of Coron.

From Mang Rudy’s Lodge, we just took a tricycle going to the pier. Please take note: DO NOT FORGET to bring your own snorkeling gears, or if you don’t have one, you can rent for 150.00 pesos each. Again do not forget, coz unfortunately, we forgot ours and we needed to get back to the port again. Good thing we weren’t that far yet when Gen realized we do not have our gears with us.

First area we went to was “Siete Pecados”, it feels great that I can swim without any vest, I felt light like a mermaid swimming with all her might and glory. I was finally one with the sea as I took my first dive and watched the small, large, colorful fishes swim to their hearts desire. The others had a chance to see Nemo, I didn’t but I grabbed his picture below. Though I find myself a good swimmer, I am always afraid of what lies beneath the sand and corals. I do not want to get hurt or destroy them so I keep my feet up most of the time.

Second area was “Kayangan Lake”, I tell you, do not close your eyes as come near this area, the place is just so beautiful I am at a lost how I can describe it. I just questioned myself “How can God do such a wonderful thing?! He is so powerful!” As a country, I am not sure if Filipinos realize that as a nation, we are so rich in natural resources and like the people living in this area, we should know how to keep them. Taking pictures was non stop, I want to capture this and that all at the same time. By the way, there were two “kuya’s” who assisted us, one was left at the boat and cooked our lunch while the other accompanied us to do a little trekking til we reach the top. And YES YES YES, as the saying goes, once you get to the top, it will be all worth it! The famous postcard pic was right in front of us. So refreshing to look at but just be careful coz you might slip. Funny how our tour guide said, “You only have two places to go if you fall, one hospital or second, to your own deathbed!” scary! I don’t want any of the two at all. We finished our turns in taking solo pictures and we headed to Kayangan Lake itself. Now, we found ourselves trekking down which was easier, just watch your feet and do not step on any shiny stones, for they are the slippery ones.

There are moments just so profound you want it to stick to your memory for a lifetime. This was one of it, Kayangan Lake looks majestic from afar and even prettier when you’re in it. No doubt it was awarded as the cleanest lake within the country. I can swim all day, plus its more fun since our travel buddies bought an underwater camera. It took some time for us to get our “almost perfect underwater shots” suddenly, the raindrops arrived, so we hurried up so we can go back to the our boat. Once we reached the entrance of Kayangan Lake, one of our boatman said it’s better if we will eat lunch first. So we did since we are all starving from swimming endlessly.

After lunch, we headed to Twin Lagoon where we found more fishes and corals but with a lot of sea urchins. It’s a must that you keep your feet up at all times.

Next it’s time to check out the Twin Peak. Approaching the area feels like you are back in stone age plus aqualand. The stones and I say stones looks splendin it all its glory under the crown of clouds. You will not believe the temperature of the water in this area. At the top, it feels so cold, but underneath that cold layer, was a lukewarm feeling. As per our tourist, the water looks oily and the temperature was like that because it is where the salt water and fresh water join.

Last stop was at Shipwreck or known as Skeleton Wreck, why? because there was a small fishing boat that got shipwrecked in this area. As we know, fishes will opt to stay here since it serves as their hiding place. I was not able to see the whole boat underneath the waves since I was caught by the numerous fishes. They are so big compared to the other areas, really! I kept on waving and saying hi to them but they are too busy to notice me. I am weird, I know! Haha! We also took this time to take loads of pictures!

After the loooooong island hopping trip, it’s time go back to Mang Rudy’s place and look for souvenirs. We walked around the town proper and found this very cute little shop. I highly recommend this one, not sure why but they are cheaper compared to the vendors outside. We found this lovely ethnic earrings! 🙂

For every journey, it must end. Sad to say that’s it’s our last day so we need to enjoy Coron full blast. We woke up early around 5:30 am and headed to Mt. Tapyas. It was a 700+ steps and upon reaching the top, it will be all worth it.

After taking a bath, the other batch needed to catch their early flight back to Manila. Again, we were left but it was fine. We had the chance to buy some stuff before going back to the city. I bought “daing” or dried fish, and toured for a while. This will be one of the best experience I ever had. I LOVE CORON from the deepest of my heart.

***Special thanks to Gen, Jeanne, Anne and Mhadz for the pictures***