Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Timubo Cave

Timubo Cave: Exploring the Unknown

Timubo Cave, Camotes Island, Cebu
Travel Date: April 13, 2019

Timubon Cave

Clear cold bluish water is what you'll expect when you visit Timubo Cave. It is around 30 km ride from the Consuelo Port of Camotes Island. At high tide, expect depth of 6ft, and 5ft during low tide. From the cave entrance, you are to climb down for less than 50 steps to reach the cave pool. The water temperature is not too cold, just enough to feel relaxed on this trip. The cave is well lit and locals are available and accomodating to take you and your group a photo.

Timubon Cave

Timubon Cave

The best way to get there is through motorbike rental. Hotels like, Mangudlong Beach Resort, offers arrangement for this service. The cost is 300 for a day excluding the gasoline.

Timubon Cave
Take around 15 kilometer ride from the Consuelo Port until you reach Barangay Campo. On your right side, you'll see a signage directing you to turn left. Take the left turn and drive for another 15 kilometers until you reach Barangay Esperanza. You know that you have reached Esperanza if you are seeing the beach on your left. Take a right turn on a steep hill and drive straight. On the end is  where Timubo cave is. Local folks on the way are very accommodating on directions. Just tell them you are heading to Timubo cave.

Entrance to the cave costs 50.00 pesos/person while an additional 5.00 pesos/person is paid for an environmental fee.

Entrance to Timubo Cave
Outside the cave, tiny stores are available offering local delicacies. Try their Salvaro. It is a cassava cracker sprinkled with sweet brown syrup. You'll have fun with this. I tell you, I bought two.

The must-try local delicacy: Salvaro
Just a tip for this cave trip. Expect less air inside the cave. The cave is slippery. People who has hypertension is advised to have caution descending the cave. Cellular signal is poor in the island thus your inate cartographic skill is to be unleashed. Nonetheless, this trip is safe and exciting. Like what I said, the locals are very accomodating.

How to get to Camotes Island:

Take a ferry via Jomalia Shipping in Mactan. The port is near Island Central Mall, beside Cebu Yacht Club. Travel time takes 1hr and 30minutes and costs 500 pesos. Ferry schedules are as follow:

                         Mactan - Consuelo

                         8:00 / 12:00

                        Consuelo - Mactan

                        10:00 / 16:00


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Timubon Cave

The Kiko Squad

Friday, February 15, 2019

Tawi Tawi

TAWI-TAWI: Southern Paradise

Click for Itinerary: Tawi-Tawi

On my next trip, Tawi-Tawi was the destination. Amidst the terrifying news, I almost cancel the trip in fear of going to the southernmost part of the Philippines. However, due to curiousity about Tawi-Tawi, the team decided to continue the trip with a day itinerary. 

Taking an early morning flight from Zamboanga, a 45-minute ride will bring you to Tawi-Tawi. The negative thoughts instilled to me from news were still there the moment I stepped out of the plane. High visibility of soldiers was observed. But as a traveller, I knew there was something good I need to discover about this place.

The life was simple and normal. I was very observant on every people's moves outside the airport. Our team quickly called our tour coordinator for assistance. Wearing a red helmet and a white shirt, Raja approached us. With a smile, he warmly shook our hands, did some introductions and in a few minutes, we were already riding his habal-habal for our tour.

* habal-habal, or a motorcycle bike, is the common transportation used in Tawi-Tawi. 

Raja is one of the three accredited tour coordinators in Tawi-Tawi and is part of the Layag Tawi-Tawi Tour Services, which our team found in Facebook. He was conversant in tour industry, as how he dealt with us during our stay was warm. Surprisingly, our team was actually the 4th visitor for the island this 2019.

Layag Tawi-Tawi Tour Services 
Contact No.: +63-995-820-4682. 
Look for Raja or Wads.
Layag Tawi-Tawi Tour Services Link

After leaving our things on the modest hostel, which the tour services arranged, we were off to our first destination, Luuk Banca (Badjao Village). In earlier times, Badjao people in boats have settled in the area, thus the place derived its name. Today, the place have already been constructed with stilt houses. It was a busy day for the Badjaos. There were lots of kids on concrete bridge playing cara y cruz while some ladies were selling local food on corners. There were mothers carrying their babies while having a morning conversation.

The houses were built on wood. Peeping through the door, Badjao house doesn't have room dividers. The sleeping area, dining and kitchen were all together. There were no fancy things inside too.

Raja led us to one of the houses and introduced us to a Badjao well-known weaver of mats. With different colors of pandan threads in her hand, she free-handedly weaved it to come up with a mat on very intricate design. She will then sell it to market for 500 to 800 pesos depending on the size. Depending on the difficulty and size, the weaving may take months to finish.

The next tour destination is the capitol site. Inspired by Taj Mahal, the capitol building, painted in white and decorated with golden dome, sits on top of the hill overlooking the whole Tawi-Tawi. On a normal day, this building is busy with the different needs of its people. However, for  this day it was laidback that only goats were present on its building entrance.

Before the morning ends, our team went to the next itinerary, trekking at the Bud Bongao (Bongao Peak). Standing 342 above sea level, Bud Bungao is the highest elevation in Tawi-Tawi. Believed to be sacred, the peak welcomes pilgrimages of Muslims to give respect and to pray for wishes. Prior the trek, all visitors are asked to register and to pay environmental fees at the tourism facility located on the foot of the peak. Proper disposal of garbages are highly enforced on this conservation, thus all plastics and bottles of the tourists are monitored by the tourism authority. 

Click for Itinerary: Tawi-Tawi

A roughly 45-minute trek on its newly built paths is to be expected. Along its path, wild monkeys expecting for bananas keep the trekkers entertained. Throw them some bananas and get amused and relieved from the series of assaults to the peak.

The exhaustion from trek was changed to delightfulness after reaching the top. The beauty of Tawi-Tawi was impecable with its white beaches perfectly matching the blue skies. Celebes sea engulfing the Tawi-Tawi island complemented the calmness of the moment.

The view made a peace in my heart. From there, I felt tranquility. I felt that the news about how chaotic Tawi-Tawi were all selective. At real, it was different, very different.

After the trek, Raja brought us to a local restaurant and introduced us to our next tour coordinator, Wads. The food was simply served. No posh garnishes or table settings, but the taste was indeed remarkable, a southern asian-ish blended with a Filipino flavour. Our team was served with sorts of seafood, from curried manta ray to fish cevishe.

After lunch, Wads brought us to our next itinerary. Like Raja, Wads is also interesting and knowledgeable about his job. After preparation, our team boarded a small boat to Simunul island and went on a 45-minute journey.

Simunul island played an important role in the history of the Philippines. From this island, Islam faith was propagated in the country through Sheik Karimul Makdum on 1380. It was also through the Sheik that the first mosque in the Philippines was conceived in the island. The original mosque lasted for 500 years. The original pillars, which are made of ipil, are still preserved inside.

Other attractions in the Simunul trip included the visit to Papa Bulls Park. The park houses a seawater crocodile spanning an eighteen feet. It was brought to captivity on 2017. Bohe Sallang Natural Pool is also found in this island. The pool became a famous attraction because of its unknown depth.

After the Simunul Island, the team embarked on a 20-minute ride to Sangay Siyapuh Island. From a distance the Bud Bongao created a silhoutte trademarking Tawi-Tawi.

Click for Itinerary: Tawi-Tawi

Before the night arrived, the team prepared to return to Bongao Island. On the way back, I realized how rich Tawi-Tawi is with its culture, people and place. The culture, through time, had mixed from South Asia, Arab, Chinese, Indian and the Philippines, and blended it into a unique element. The people had been noticeably warm. The dialect may be different, but one could feel the respect given to each other, whether of different religious beliefs. Everybody was at peace and there were no signs of violence.

Generally, Tawi-Tawi is safe and it will remain safe as long as everybody will keep it that way. For the future travellers of Tawi-Tawi, proper communication to the accredited tourist coordinators is the key. Before visiting, ensure that it was well-planned and well-coordinated like our team did. 

Tawi-Tawi is again another road less travelled and surprises are just around the corner.

Magsukur Tawi-Tawi. Thank you Tawi-Tawi. 


Post Memo: 
Like other places in the world, Tawi-Tawi also faces problems on waste disposal. Plastics and garbages may be found on beaches and under stilt houses. The belief that the vast sea can accomodate the peoples' trash is still existing.Culture and peoples' attitude were seen as main factors for this problem and education is a key player to combat this problem. It is a big challenge for the local government of Tawi-Tawi, but through initiatives and efforts of everybody, this may be resolved.

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