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Reminiscing Samal Island (Davao City)

So I’ve been sick for three days now, probably the flu. And my kid has it too. So that definitely ruined my plan of featuring either food or another good place to visit here in Bicol. What a downer since I was eagerly looking forward to the long weekend to spruce things up in this blog (Monday is a holiday because May 1 is Labor Day here in the Phil. Yey!). But since I’ve been sick, I’m stuck at home and can’t do any of those plans, unfortunately.

Anyway, what happened was I found some old picture files from a work-related travel in Samal Island, Davao City way back in 2007. By the way, Davao City is not located in the Bicol Region, rather, it is located in Mindanao. Thought I’d just share it with you. I completely forgot about how pretty the island is until I saw the old pics I took using my old (and now defunct) Digital King.com camera which I bought for Php4,000 at a time when the average digicam still costed about P12,000. So kindly bear with the resolution.

Pearl Farm Resort

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The Infinity Pool

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Flora

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The Lagoon

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Samal Island was absolutely divine. The whole experience was really special for me even though we were only there for the day tour. I also noticed that I liked to take photos of the view instead of myself back then. I guess, selfie was not yet such a big thing back in 2007.  Thanks for walking down memory lane with me!

Beaches

Aguirangan Island Experience, Presentacion, Cam Sur

Sun, sea and wind on your face. Enough to make you forget all the never-ending deadlines at work and finally be free, even just for a day or two. All you need for a weekend getaway. Jason Mraz sang “You don’t need a vacation when there’s nothing to escape from…” Unfortunately for the rest of us working folks Jason, we do need a vacation.

So one time, we gathered everyone and cramped ourselves in two vans and headed off to Aguirangan Island looking for just that, an escape, a weekend getaway from work.

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Aguirangan Island is located in Maangas, Presentacion, Camarines Sur, around 2 hours away from Naga City. So, we took the Pili Diversion road and turned left and drove all the way to Presentacion. Upon reaching Barangay Maangas, we coordinated  with the Barangay Captain for guidance where to park the vehicles while we spend the night on the island which was on sight from the Barangay Hall by the way. Now, proper coordination was a must for our safety and the safety of the vehicles, plus they hooked us up with the bankero (boatman) so we would get a good deal.

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Upon reaching the island, I was surprised that it was actually quite small and can be toured on foot in 5 minutes, the others said. So Manong Caretaker ushered us to this shady cottage which is a little far from the beach. They have these cottages under tall trees, which can feel a little creepy though since it felt like you’re deep in the woods. It is way better to stay in the cottages on the beach front for better view and access to the beach. Although, don’t expect to find air conditioned private rooms as there aren’t any. An open cottage is all you get, unless you bring your own tent. Our overnight stay costed us Php2,000.00 for the cottage and for use of amenities (public bathroom only) including the generator as the source of power to light up the whole place.

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Anyway, the beach was amazing! Although the sand was not as fine and as white as in Boracay, but it is more like tiny broken corals like the ones in the sand bar of White Island in Camiguin. And the water was not too cold, just perfect for a relaxing swim.

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By the way, the entrance fee for day time swimming is Php35.00 per person. There is no store on the island, so bring enough food, water and everything you think you’ll need for your day at the beach. Also, day swimming might be the better idea on this island since as nice as the place is, the state of its public bathroom was not for the faint of heart. Manong needs to do a better job cleaning it as the visitors need to be more responsible in using it.

DSC_0541The next day before we went home, Manong Bankero, as suggested by the Brgy Captain, gave us a surprise treat by taking us to a river (Salog) in the barrio where the water was refreshingly cool and clean. It was the perfect finale to our weekend getaway. (Credits to Bam for the great shot of the river below).DSC_0800

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Hotels

SELVINA’S HOTEL AND RESTAURANT, SORSOGON CITY

Last Good Friday, we went home to Sorsogon City for what turned out to be a pleasant family reunion, wherein my oldest brother and his family also came home from Manila. Anyway, I noticed that no matter what time of the year, it always always rains whenever we go home. Since it is summer, there had to be a typhoon then – Typhoon Crising.

On the first night, we stayed at Dona Mercedes Country Lodge. Now this lodge has a lot of good reviews from Trip Advisor raving about how clean and comfortable it was and all that. But after our brief stay, all I can say is that you only really get what you paid for, which is not much.

However, on our second night, and after a whole day of frolicking in the waters of Bacon Beach, we checked in at Selvina’s Hotel and Restaurant which is located in Pangpang, Sorsogon, just along Maharlika Highway.

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It was night time when we arrived and the hotel had all these attractive incandescent lights going on making its façade glow, and the kids went “Wowww.” Now I wish we had booked a bigger room so we could all stay together, but I had the room booked a month ago when I thought we were the only ones coming home.

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Anyway, I got the Double Standard room for a steal as the original price was Php1,500.00 including VAT and surcharges, but less travelbook.ph discount of Php240 and less Php600 (for my 600 points redeemed), I only paid Php660. I earned the points from booking hotel accommodations and writing reviews.

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The Double Standard room was very nice and clean. I liked the simple design and the classic neutral colors they used for the room (just white, black, brown and nude). I also liked that it has a couch, a center table, a coffee table and complimentary coffee. They also put a hot/cold water dispenser on the lobby so the guests don’t need to buy. The AC was functional and the bathroom has hot/cold shower and a bidet, and very clean as well. The usual towels and toiletries are likewise provided.

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On the other hand, wifi was slow inside the room and the TV was kinda small. But the addition of the veranda was a real pleasant surprise.  It was nice to enjoy the view over a cup of coffee in the morning. I’m gonna bookmark this hotel for when I need a room again soon. (P.S. sorry naman po sa pag-mowdeling. Last na yan pramis hehe)

 

Resorts

OH LA LA PARADISE SPRING RESORT IN GUINOBATAN, ALBAY

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Oh La La Paradise Spring Resort is one of the nicer resorts I’ve been to here in Bicol that I think will not disappoint even the balikbayans or those coming home from abroad. The place is clean, spacious and has a lot to offer such as lush gardens, a pond with koi, spring pools (for adults and for kids), affordable cottages and 15 rooms should you decide to spend the night. The entrance fee is also not so hard on the budget at P100.00 only per person. However, the prices may vary depending on the season I think.

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Their cottages can be rented with the corresponding prices as:

10 SMALL cottages : max. capacity 8 persons – Php 500 (per cottage)
10 BIG cottages : max. capacity 20 persons – Php 700 (per cottage)
EXECUTIVE SMALL :  4 x Php 1,000 and 2 x Php 1,500
EXECUTIVE BIG : Php 2,000 / 3,000 / 5,000

And by the way, they have new attractions which are the big water slides.

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For those of you planning to spend the night, I am posting their room rates as I noticed nobody was replying to all the queries on their Facebook account. Hope many people will find this information useful:

Micky House : Room Nb 5 (studio type) – Php 2,000
Micky House : Room Nb 6 with air con – Php 2,500
L’Oeuf House : Standard type Room Nb 16 to 19 – Php 2,000 ; Room Nb 20 (aircon)– Php2,500 & the Executive Type w/hot water: Rooms 12 & 23 – Php 3,500

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The resort is also great for parties and events like weddings as they have many venues to choose from such as the following:

  •  Vulcan Hall and Restaurant (capacity is 50 persons and being rented out for P10,000.00)
  • Function Halls : 1) CONCORDE GROUND FLOOR : max. capacity: 150 persons – Php 10,000; 2) L’OEUF GROUND FLOOR BIG : max. capacity: 150 persons, -Php 15,000  & 3) L’OEUF GROUND FLOOR ANNEXE : max. capacity: 50 persons,- Php 8,500 with videoke
  • Music Halls – GROUND LEVEL:  Php 6,000 (P7,500.00 with videoke)
  • Wedding Hall (with private swimming pool) —Day: Php 30,000 / Overnight: Php 50,000
  • 3 Function Halls in the Macumba building: 1) 3D FLOOR : w/air con, max. capacity: 100 persons – Php 25,000; 2) 2D FLOOR : max. capacity: 150 persons – Php 15,000 & 3) GROUND FLOOR : max. capacity: 250 persons    – Php 20,000

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Over-all, the place is really nice and good for relaxing and the source of the water is a natural spring so it always feels fresh. The only let down on this resort I think is the distance from the National Highway, and this can be an issue for those who are commuting as tricycles charge P100 per trip. But if you have a car, there should be no problem getting there with apps such as Waze.

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By the way, all information about prices I sourced from ohlalaparadise.ph except for the tricycle charge which I learned when I went home early by myself.

For inquiries, call/text Ohlala’s mobile number at 09185243034.

Hotels

Nagaland Hotel Review (Family Room), Naga City

Visiting Naga City soon? Better book your hotel room ahead of time, especially if you plan to go during Peñafrancia Festival in September when there is massive influx of people from all over the country. During this time, devotees flock to Naga City to celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin, fondly dubbed by the locals as “Ina.” Many people, both young and old, join the processions as “voyadores” in the belief that their efforts to try to get as close as possible to “Ina” will yield divine blessings as well. At this time, hotel rooms are selling like hot cakes and all hotels get fully booked immediately.

Another busy time for hotels is during the summer when the students and yuppies come home from Manila and the tourists visit Bicolandia looking to bask in the summer sun. Naga City is almost always included in their itinerary, either as jump off point or as the main destination.

If you are going by yourself or as a duo, it should be no problem fitting into a double standard or a twin sharing room at any hotel or travel lodge in the city. However, if you are traveling with your family, for instance, a couple with kids, I highly recommend you get the Family Room at Nagaland Hotel. Up to two children are allowed in this room (0-11 year-olds are free if sharing the bed). It is the second biggest room at the hotel which has one queen size bed and a double bed. The really nice thing about the room is the sheer size of it, which is huge. The kids can literally play “patintero.”

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The aircon is split-type, there is a 32 inch flat screen cable TV, a kettle for boiling water only (strictly no reheating of coffee, etc.), free wifi, a mini refrigerator, hot and cold shower, and free toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soaps. The room and the bathroom are very clean as well. Its location is also very good as it is located in the heart of the city, just right infront of E-Mall, near San Francisco Church.

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As for the price, it is way better to book online so you can avail of the promo which is around Php1,760.00 (via travelbook.ph, traveloka, agoda.com, etc.). However, if you fail to book ahead of time and opted to inquire directly at the hotel front desk, the regular price is Php2,200.00 for the same room. So, be smart and save at least Php440.00.

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Everything Else

Welcome to My Bicol Blog!

Why, hello there! My name is France and I can’t say I have traveled far and wide, or anything cheesy or haughty sounding like that. That picture up there is a collage I made of a couple of my trips around the country (lakwatsa ko). All I can say is that I have been to some places, nothing fancy, but when I do go to a place, I make sure to plan ahead so that I don’t end up feeling like I got ripped off by the locals or paid too much for too little service. For instance, I try to avoid lousy hotel accommodations or end up getting a tad too pricey room because of failing to book ahead of time.

Maybe some of you even experienced going to a place with high hopes, only to find a couple of dead-ends, or remnants of what had once been great destinations but have wasted away due to poor maintenance and neglect. So, that is why I came up with this blog. To help you get the most out of your trip to Bicolandia by showing you the better alternatives by learning them first-hand myself. So, without further hooplah and whatnot, and before I pee myself, I must get to the bathroom, and uh, welcome to my blog!