Archive for June, 2012
Tags: india, Konark, sun temple
Tags: ang Bansang pilipinas, bansang pilipinas, best philippine attractions, best philippine destinations, Coral Triangle, explore the philippines, Filipinos, Magandang ideya, network for filipinos, philippine tourism, philippines, talakayan at kalusugan, The Big NM, Tubbataha
Lying at the heart of the Asia-Pacific region is the Coral Triangle, a spectacular underwater world brimming with wealth of unparalleled proportions. The Coral Triangle is the planet’s richest center of marine life, the nursery of the seas.
Few reefs within the Coral Triangle can rival the productivity of the Philippines’ own Tubbataha Reefs, located in the central Sulu Sea in Palawan.
Tubbataha, touted as the crown jewel of the Coral Triangle, is a project site of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This April, WWF-Philippines national ambassadors Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez went on a five-day diving expedition to do hands-on conservation work at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park.
Onboard WWF-Philippines’ research vessel M/Y Navorca, Marc and Rovilson stood at the front lines to ensure that the reefs remain pristine for generations to come.
“I’m an avid scuba diver and Tubbataha has some of the best diving in the world. Being able to see sharks and turtles on every dive and even running into a whale shark underwater is proof positive that WWF’s conservation efforts in the area is a success,” says Marc.
Since Marc and Rovilson were named WWF-Philippines national ambassadors in October 2010, the dynamic duo has led a slew of activities to create more awareness about the Philippine environment’s immense biodiversity.
These activities include WWF environmental education sessions to help empower thousands of public school students to become young stewards of nature.
The Tubbataha experience
The twin atolls of the Tubbataha Reefs lie in the middle of the Sulu Sea, approximately 160 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
The reefs are only reachable by boat, a journey which takes 10 to 12 hours and is only attempted from mid-March to mid-June.
Entry to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park without proper clearance is strictly prohibited.
Tubbataha spans more than 97,000 hectares and hosts approximately 600 species of fish; 360 species of corals (approximately half of all coral species in the world); 14 species of sharks including the ferocious tiger shark; 12 species of dolphins and whales; a nesting population of endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles; and over 100 species of birds, including rare migratory birds.
“During our trip, we saw spinner dolphins, black and white tip reef sharks, stingrays, manta and eagle rays and a whale shark, which is rarely seen in Tubbataha. Such sightings manifest the excellent health of these waters,” says Rovilson.
“Best dive ever!” exclaimed Marc after seeing the four-meter juvenile whale shark. Marc has been diving since he was 11 and has had hundreds of diving trips around the world.
Marc and Rovilson likewise interacted with rangers from the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park, the best-managed offshore marine protected area in the country.
The ranger station stands on a sandbar in Tubbataha’s north atoll.
The rangers ensure that Tubbataha’s waters are protected from illegal fishermen and poachers. “They also maintain a steady watch on the licensed dive boats in the area and are trained to come to their aid in any emergency situation,” adds Marc.
The Tubbataha Reefs: ensuring food security
But the Tubbataha Reefs go beyond being a mecca of Philippine diving. The reefs’ rich marine biodiversity also ensures an ample food supply for over 20 million Filipinos, who depend on fish as a source of protein.
The Tubbataha Reefs’ twin atolls produce fish biomass of at least 200-tons per square kilometer. This is five times greater than the productivity of a healthy reef.
“Tubbataha is the seeding and growth area of the fish stocks for Palawan and the Visayas. Without this protected area, fish would not have the opportunity to grow to maturity and repopulate other areas,” says Marc.
Adds Rovilson, “With a burgeoning Philippine population, escalating food prices, and unmonitored unsustainable fishing practices, it is only imperative that we protect the Tubbataha Reefs. As ambassadors of WWF-Philippines, we want to raise more awareness about Tubbataha so we can better safeguard this cradle of marine life.”
Home from their trip, Marc and Rovilson are more determined than ever to protect the Tubbataha Reefs plus other critical ecosystems in the Philippines.
“We are privileged and proud to represent WWF, the world’s largest independent conservation organization. At the same time, Marc and I also carry the responsibility to communicate the need to protect the Philippine environment’s fragile beauty,” concludes Rovilson
Source: Phil Star / http://www.bestphilippineattractions.com
Tags: Anawangin Cove, best philippine attractions, best philippine festivals, network for filipinos, philippine festivals may, philippines, talakayan at kalusugan, The Big NM
Like anybody whose mind and soul have been crushed by the daily grind, I long for space and respite from the steel and granite setting of Makati.
The quest for the fabled Anawangin Cove started with a hot cup of MacDonald’s brewed coffee and pancake with syrup. My companions and I left the city behind us and traversed the hillybest philippine attractions, best philippine festivals, capiz, network for filipinos, philippine festivals may, Philippines, roxas city, Seafood Capital, talakayan at kalusugan, The Big NM until we reached the town of San Antonio where the SUV snaked its way to a quaint fishing village called Pundaquit.
We found ourselves in Pundaquit Paradise, a restaurant that serves sinigang na maya-maya (fish in tamarind broth). There was a sprinkling of European tourists relaxing and taking swigs of San Miguel beer. An unfamiliar Scandinavian tune drifted in the air.
We bought food from the local sari-sari store since food was pricey in the cove. The locals were a tad curious but friendly. Children escorted us down the docks and fooled around on the sand. The boat danced on the sparkling waters, so cool and so blue, a luxury so unexpected, I allowed myself a sigh. The expert bangkeros put the banca in full throttle.
I saw a school of fish weaving patterns in the sun. It was fun trying to catch them with my hands. After 15 minutes of relaxed sailing, we spotted strips of beaches where sun worshippers lolled with nary a care in the world. We rounded a bend and amidst oohs and aahs, the cove appeared.
At once, the pine grove beyond the sands greeted us and we were transported to a temperate place. Balmy weather, unruffled sea, the sand khaki white and soft to the toes, how remarkable to know we were just a few hours away from home! But forget home. For now, we were adventurers. We set up tent and gathered dry wood for the fire.
At the back of the pine trees is a stream that leads to the sea. We crossed the swamp up to a point where fresh water met brackish water. I was excited and a bit uneasy but it was exhilarating.
In the middle of the water we took a break, and upon turning around and looking at the horizon, the glorious landscape that lay before us took our breath away. Pine trees surrounded the mountains and we imagined ourselves crossing the Alps.
There’s a saying that no two sunsets are ever the same. A perfect sunset capped the day for me. At dusk, most swimmers turned to their camps and left me alone on the beach. Some, though, were still in the dark waters a few yards away and all I could hear were their voices echoing in the silver and black skies while the waves whispered at me. Pam Munoz Ryan once said, “Wander into that infinite space between soul and star..
Source: Manila Bulletin / http://www.bestphilippineattractions.com
Tags: best philippine attractions, best philippine festivals, bicol, Calaguas Island, Filipinos, network for filipinos, philippine festivals may, philippines, talakayan at kalusugan, The Big NM, Traveler's Guide
Days are slow and hot, the nights short and cold. Shortly after five in the morning – when elsewhere it’s probably still pitch dark – Mahabang Buhangin (Long Beach) is already a pale turquoise, the sky a faint hue of pink and blue. It’s difficult to stay asleep once sunlight streams through your tent. Besides, daybreak in this island is, like a child awaiting a candy treat, something you’ll look forward to day after day. Ah, mornings in Calaguas.
Getting to the Calaguas Group of Islands in the frequently storm-ravaged region of Bicol is no mean feat, at roughly 12 hours by land and sea from Manila. But this relatively quiet beach off the northeastern coast of Camarines Norte province makes all the travel through winding roads and open seas worth it.
Here are five reasons why you should spare a weekend (or maybe more) in this quiet, happy beach before the rainy season comes.
1. It’s a natural wonder.
For a country blessed with countless patches of white sand and crystalline waters, Mahabang Buhangin fits the image of a Philippine beach to the hilt: a palm-fringed stretch of powdery white sand–the same fine consistency found in Boracay Island–as well as waters so clear it’s a shame to not take a dip even under the noonday sun in the middle of summer.
While it has the fine sands of the country’s most well-known beach, it also has the laidback feel of Bantayan Island in Cebu–fresh catch for lunch and all–as well as the rugged terrain of Zambales, the remoteness of El Nido, and the rolling hills of Batanes. But it’s far from a clichéd destination. You can trek up the mountain behind the beach and enjoy a panorama of islets against the Philippine sea, or explore the nearby islands by boat.
It’s a place that forces you–in a good way–to appreciate the simple pleasures of watching the sun set, crows gliding majestically against the orange (sometimes magenta) streaks of the sky.
2. It’s (as yet) undiscovered, and therefore peaceful.
Blame the distance–approximately 10 hours by land (or an hour by air) and two hours by boat from Metro Manila–for that untouched vibe many are looking for in a true island getaway. There are no fancy restaurants, spas, and resorts here. Calaguas is very basic: there are only bamboo cottages with tables and benches where you can lounge around and have your meals, but no rooms for you to sleep in.
The solution: camping! Everyone brings their own tent and cooks their own meals, and you will too. If you’re not a happy camper, Calaguas has the most genteel environment for you to try this outdoor adventure for the first time.
To fully enjoy the beach all to yourself, go on weekdays when nary a soul visits the place. It does get its share of crowds on weekends, although if you steer clear of the big groups and stay on the other side of the beach, you’ll still enjoy the peace and quiet.
3. It’s affordable.
When other more popular beach destinations get too pricey during the summer, Calaguas is a great detour for those who want to enjoy as much sun and sea without the hefty price tag. There are no peak, high, and lean season rates here. Save for the P100-per person overnight fee and a one-time cottage fee, you’ll shell out practically nothing while on the island. Of course, you can always wait for the fishermen shortly before noon everyday and buy fresh seafood at P50 per kilo and have it grilled in time for lunch. You’ll have more control of your food, although you’ll have to be prepared to let go of certain comforts, such as ice-cold drinks.
Although distant, the Bicol Region is easily accessible by land when it’s not feasible to travel by air. There are buses plying the Manila-Naga and Manila-Daet routes everyday starting at roughly P500, or you can always take the newly refurbished Bicol Express at P665 for a sleeper bed.
Roundtrip boat rentals typically start at P3,000 for one to five people, even cheaper depending on how well you can haggle. Boatmen are readily available at the Vinzons and Paracale ports, the two jump-off points to Calaguas.
4. It’s a place to unplug and de-stress.
There is only one spot along the beach where you can receive a mobile signal, and that’s just for one network. You need to hike up the mountain behind the beach, which may take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour, to get the signal from another network.
In short, Calaguas is not the place to check on your emails or catch up on work. So leave your phone tucked inside your bag and just enjoy your time at the beach. Surely, you’re going to miss that feeling once you’re back in your airconditioned office cubicle.
And since electricity only becomes available when the caretakers run their generator sets — which isn’t everyday — you’ll be spending most of your waking hours alternating between eating, taking a nap, and taking a dip, just like we did.
5. It’s charming and friendly.
Life in Calaguas is laidback. The locals are very warm albeit the quiet type, but there’s nothing a little chat can’t solve. They can help the less-than-skilled to light a fire for grilling, bring fresh buko from one of the countless coconut trees in the island, or assist campers in fetching water from the lone freshwater pump at the beach. The young kids are a delight to talk to as well, and having breakfast with them was one of the more poignant memories of our trip.
This is how a day in Calaguas will be like: wake up to a faint pink and blue glow on the horizon; spend most of the day swimming in the shimmering aquamarine waters; end the day staring at the fiery colors of the sunset; sleep under the stars.
If you think you’ve seen the best of the country’s beaches, wait ’til you get to Mahabang Buhangin.
Travel tips and directions:
1. Bring a tent, mosquito repellent, cooking and dining utensils; candles, lamps, or flashlights; and a first-aid kit.
2. Wrap your belongings in drysacks or sealed plastic bags as waves can get a bit rough.
3. If you don’t want to lug around everything during the trip from Manila to Bicol, source your food and drinking water from Daet. Plan your supplies well ahead to make sure these are sufficient for your needs.
4. Bus trips need prior reservation. Manila-Daet buses of Superlines and Philtranco are mostly regular airconditioned buses starting at 500 pesos and are found at the Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao. Alternatively, you may take a sleeper bus bound for Naga at P1,000 (lower bunk) or P1,200 (upper bunk) just like we did and get off at the intersection in Calauag town (Isarog has daily 9 PM trips from Cubao). This way, you can sleep throughout the trip in time for the remainder of your land and sea transfers.
5. If you wish to take the train, call the PNR for reservations at (02) 319-0044 & 48 and visit http://www.pnr.gov.ph for trip schedules. However, note that the Bicol Express train can only drop you off at the Naga station, which means another two-hour van ride back to Daet.
6. Similarly, you can hop on a flight to Naga and head to Daet on a van.
7. To take the Vinzons route, take a 15-minute tricycle ride from the Daet bus terminal to the Vinzons fishport and get a boat from there.
8. For the Paracale route, get off at Brgy. Talobatib in Labo town (for Manila-Daet buses) or Calauag intersection (for Manila-Naga buses) and take another bus for Paracale. Proceed to the fishport (5 minutes by tricycle) and get a boat.
Source: GMA News