southeastasia

We Love Batad!

From Sampaloc, Manila, we took an overnight (Ohayami) bus that left at 9:00 PM (August 20) going to the municipality of Banaue, traversing a series of cliffside roads up North. The roads are long, winding, rough, wet (due to rains this time of the year), and risky. We arrived at around 8:00 AM the next day (Thursday), had breakfast overlooking the Banaue rice terraces, found a special trip (shared with 6 backpackers) at noon to visit the Batad rice terraces, a UNESCO-declared World Heritage.

Spent the night in Batad, slept in a traditional Ifugao house (with the convenience of modernity: a mattress). Pounded rice manually. Hiked up to the highest view point of the Batad ampitheatre terraces. Witnessed a huge rock mountain landslide that sounded like thunderstorms. Hiked back to the Jeepney joint and took a jeep back to Banaue to spend the night there before going to Sagada the morning after.

Sagada was a good 3-hour trip with endless exhilarating scenery. Food choices were the best we’ve had in the trip so far. I devoured a home-made yoghurt. We arrived at around noon of Saturday, spent the whole afternoon sampling food, exploring the streets of Sagada on our own, and admiring the limestone formations and pine trees that generally define the landscape of this charming, isolated, and artsy mountain town.

Tough, rough, exquisite nature. E-x-q-u-i-s-i-t-e!

Dolphins Showing Up Without a Memo in Negros Oriental, Philippines

One of the dive masters shouted “dulpin!”, he pointed at the far horizon and made a hand gesture intended for the boat captain.

I was busy looking at people napping on the boat.
Two Korean guys infront of me were both tall and lean donning the same hairstyle and were in almost identical napping position, a middle-aged Taiwanese couple beside me looked very deep into slumber as the wife’s head rested comfortably on her seated husband’s lap. Their two teenager boys, meanwhile, were silently sleeping (as opposed to their only other state: wide-awake bickering) at the boat’s upper deck.

Either I was too preoccupied or I hardly understood the context of what the dive master was saying. Until moments later, everybody rushed towards the front edge of the boat and the dolphins became visible under the clear, deep blue waters of Dauin, Negros Oriental.

There must’ve been a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand dolphins alternately half-circling on and off the water surface! I couldn’t count, of course, all I know is that they were all over the sea. Some dolphins were staying closer to one another, most of those within our very limited view of them were noticeably staying in small groups as if racing with each other and those staying close to our boat, racing with our captain. My good guess is that there’s one important trait Filipinos and dolphins share: our love to entertain! That impromptu dolphin show was nothing short of magical.