Walk the Torq at Mt. Kinabalu

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that strucked Kota Kinabalu on June 5, 2015 had not only damaged the roads and other structures in the city, but also claimed the lives of climbers including the young students from Singapore and their guides due to falling rocks at Mt. Kinabalu. It also puts four tourists in the spotlight who stripped naked and urinated at the summit six days before the quake. The Sabah natives believed that this angered “Aki“, the mountain protector, and such disrespect to the sacred mountain triggered the strongest earthquake in Malaysia since 1976.

Aki Nabalu
Low’s Gully as background. Gunong Kinabalu’s name was derived from Kadazan-Dusun tribe’s words, “Aki Nabalu” which means ‘Revered Place of the Dead’.

Seeing a shared photo of a climber face down with blood spilled at the metal rungs in the via ferrata trail tainted the good memory of our climb two years ago. My heart crumbled upon seeing the photos of unconscious climbers on what ought to be a safe and controlled climbing environment.

Since 2007, the Mt. Kinabablu has become a major attraction being the world’s highest via ferrata trail on a steep terrain and also the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. One has to take a short training in the Pendant Hut around 4pm the day before summiting Low’s Peak to experience the via ferrata trail. The enthusiastic trainer, Valerian, who discussed to us the basics of the Mountain Torq activity, was sadly among the fatalities.

Continue reading Walk the Torq at Mt. Kinabalu

Backpacking Kota Kinabalu

After the 6.0 magnitude earthquake in June 5, we pray that this charming city will get back on its feet very soon because Kota Kinabalu is definitely a tourist friendly place to visit. 
Kota Kinabalu City Tour Backpacking
There is so much to see in Kota Kinabalu (abbr. as KK) aside from climbing the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. During our 2013 trip, we familiarized the small city by walking 6km from the airport to Gaya Centre Hotel, where we stayed the first night. It was a great idea to warm-up with our backpacks, but the truth is, we don’t have enough ringgits for a taxi! :p

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KOTA KINABALU DIY CITY TOUR

Touchdown. Walk from the airport with backpacks to have a free and easy tour to the Continue reading Backpacking Kota Kinabalu

Mayon Volcano Climb Experience

Our Mt. Mayon climb was one beautiful adventure and it was my most unforgettable climb experience.

Our original plan was to climb Mt. Pulag in the last week of August 2011 via Akiki-Akiki trail (seriously haha), but typhoon Mina struck Northern Luzon forcing us to cancel the climb. It was the strongest typhoon in 2011. When we went to Mt. Pulag in 2012 via Akiki-Ambangeg trail, we also had a stormy weather, but that’s another story.

We thought of just staying in Cebu, but then we already filed for a 4 days vacation leave. So we decided to push with our flight and go somewhere else in Southern Luzon where we can avoid Mina. Our second option was Mt. Pundaquit – Anawangin, but when we checked the weather forecast, it suggested a bad weather for a trek. The third option was Mt. Isarog in Camarines Sur. Tiki contacted the tourism officer two nights before our flight and she responded late with a question as to why we just requested for a permit just 2 days before the climb. She said it might not be possible.

Our next option was Mt. Mayon. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines and also the most beautiful. It looks perfect with its symmetrical cone. It is named after Daragang Magayon, the beautiful maiden of the Bicolano folklore. How can we treat her as an option?

Continue reading Mayon Volcano Climb Experience

A Beautiful Truth: Boracay Turquoise turned Green

The Republic of Boracay vs Algal Bloom 

People noticed what appeared to be an ugly sight of green seaweeds on the long-stretched White Beach.

Main Issue:
Did it really kill its beauty? Was there malice? Was murder committed?

Bloom pleaded not guilty.

Continue reading A Beautiful Truth: Boracay Turquoise turned Green

Apo Island and Twin Lakes (Cebu – Dumaguete) Itinerary and Notes

We traveled by car from Cebu City – Liloan Port, Santander then from there took a banca ride to Sibulan Port then in the afternoon, we went to the Twin Lakes.  We spent a night in a Dumaguete hostel and by early morning, went to Zamboangita Port to take a 30-min boat ride to Apo Island.

Cebu to Dumaguete, Negros. MyTravelDigest
Off to Dumaguete riding a motor boat that carries around 90 passengers for a P35 fare. (Liloan Port, Santander)

The water is calm during summer, but most of the time it is going to be a rough ride. There is nothing to worry though as boat incidents are rare and it is just a 30 minute ride and coast guards require all passengers to wear a life vest. So sail away for an underwater adventure :)

Below is our IT with a few notes from our Apo Island Trip with Twin Lakes Visit via Dumaguete. Continue reading Apo Island and Twin Lakes (Cebu – Dumaguete) Itinerary and Notes

When In Dumaguete

Dumaguete City is attractive to foreign retirees because of the low cost of living and also the slow pace of life.  We noticed many of them down the boulevard enjoying a chat with their friends.

It’s a smoke-free city. Also, it is a great place to visit for a food trip because there’s a lot of good restaurants, especially around the Boulevard. You won’t have any problems with the transportation because there are many tricycles available to take you from your doorstep to anywhere around the city for a minimum of P7.50/P8.00. To go to farther places, you can take jeepneys or Ceres bus. Continue reading When In Dumaguete

Moalboal: Panagsama and Basdaku Beaches

On National Heroes Day, Benjie and I wanted to take a breath of fresh air and spend some quality time together, so we decided to travel not so far in Cebu to enjoy the beach.

Panagsama Moalboal Beach

By 8:15am, we went to CitiLink which is around 7min walk from South Bus Terminal (SBT) to ride the v-hire going to Moalboal with a P120 fare. Alternatively, you can take a bus for P105 at SBT but with its many passenger drops, it may take a little longer to reach Continue reading Moalboal: Panagsama and Basdaku Beaches

Just Another Weekend at Cebu South: Samboan, Ginatilan & Boljoon

This is one of the few unplanned out-of-the-city weekend trips I had. Unplanned, because most of the time, I am meticulous searching where to stay, where or what to eat and what to enjoy on new places. Well, now it doesn’t matter as long as I’m with my best travel buddy. I just hit a few keywords on google a couple of hours before we left the city.

We hopped on the bus at Cebu South Bus Terminal around 7am and read e-books and listened to some feel-good music while on the road to Samboan. We chose Samboan because I heard that there is a coral garden with many clownfishes just near the shore.

I have been to different parts of the country, but I haven’t seen this part of my province. Continue reading Just Another Weekend at Cebu South: Samboan, Ginatilan & Boljoon

Lofty ‘Madjaas’

Our Madjaas climb was a year ago, yet I can still vividly recall how tough and fun at the same time climbing the highest mountain in Panay Island.

To get to Madjaas, you can either travel by plane to Kalibo or take a ferry boat trip to Iloilo and then take a bus or van Continue reading Lofty ‘Madjaas’

D2K: Dulang-dulang to Kitanglad Traverse

The traverse from Mt. Dulang Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad is one of the most challenging trails I have braved. The majestic mountains belong to the Kitanglad Mountain Range, a popular destination for Filipino climbers due to its elevation, views and difficulty. Mt. Dulang Dulang is the second highest mountain in the country with an elevation of of 2,938 masl,  while Mt. Kitanglad is the fourth highest with 2,899 masl. Other great mountains to climb like Mt. Kalatungan (2,824 masl) and Mt. Maagnaw (2742 masl)  and Mt. Sumagaya (2,248 masl), a plane crash site, can also be seen from here.

What makes the traverse a difficult climb aside from its elevation and long Continue reading D2K: Dulang-dulang to Kitanglad Traverse

The Ilocos: Vigan, Laoag, Pagudpud and La Union

A better way to learn more about our country’s culture and history is to travel to Northern Luzon in a shoestring budget and experience the local life. Take delight in riding the kalesa in Vigan and marvel at its old world charm. More history awaits in Laoag and there’s fun and excitement at the sand dunes of Paoay and a relaxing treat of serene white beaches and lovely blue skies in Pagudpud.


After spending a wonderful night in Vigan, we waited around six in the morning for the Partas bus to go to Laoag. The bus fare was P150 per person and it took us almost 2 hours to arrive in Laoag. Around 11am, we took an early lunch near the Sinking Bell Tower and there we asked around and commissioned a tricycle driver for P500 for our Laog-Paoy tour. Then the next day, we were in Pagudpud to enjoy the white beaches and the beautiful scenery, afterwards we went to Bangui windmills and Kapurpurwan rock formation and then off to La Union for the surf swells.

We will always admire the simple pleasures at these laid-back towns. Continue reading The Ilocos: Vigan, Laoag, Pagudpud and La Union

Vigan: Heritage Town

This is yet the best unplanned trip for me. The evening before our scheduled flight came my biggest surprise, my passport was nowhere to be found!

I have searched my whole room, even checked my books page by page if I ever slipped it between the pages. I even went to our office as early as 5am to see if I left it in my locker.

By 7am, I have given up on the search and delivered the sad news to my travel buddy whom I bugged since couple of months ago for this trip to be pushed. She doesn’t want to go to Siem Reap alone, so we decided to be somewhere else in Luzon and Vigan popped-out of my mind. Luckily, she agreed having no choice after being all packed-up and ready for a trip.

To at least not waste our money spent for the airfare, we took the Cebu-Manila flight, but have not made used of Manila – Siem Reap via Cebu Pacific. After arriving in NAIA, we headed to Resorts World Manila for lunch and visited the casino there after signing up with their free membership card. We contacted our friends to ask for tips and also visited an internet cafe to google on how we go about our 5 days leave.

Vigan Itinerary Guide
Grandpa’s Inn where you can stay comfortably on a budget.

By 4:30 PM, we took a bus with a signboard for ‘Laog’ at the Partas bus terminal in Pasay. The ticket was for P465. It was an almost 10 hour bus trip to Vigan. We arrived Continue reading Vigan: Heritage Town

Mt. Mauyog Day Hike

If you are looking to spice up a rather boring weekend, a trek to Mt. Mauyog may be a cure for boredom. You can spend your weekend with a day hike and pay only around Php350 for the transportation going there.

Mt. Mauyog in Balamban is becoming a popular hiking destination for Cebuanos because of its relatively easy trail that can be traversed from the more popular Mt. Manunggal, a plane crash site of late President Magsaysay and Continue reading Mt. Mauyog Day Hike

Sea Glass, a real gem.

We always love to go deeper
Into the ocean
Dive for black pearls
Or farther
At the other end of the rainbow
to look for treasures
Like a pot of gold
Or to find diamonds
So rare to mine
that we must dig into caves

Never knowing that some treasures are:
unlike gold that’s non-translucent, yellow and dark
unlike diamonds that’s too bright and blinding
unlike pearls that’s white or black and iridescent
They are not like any crystal glass, not highly transparent

Sometimes
They are but opaque
With colors like of amber or emerald
Or like jade or turquoise
They are crafted by nature like unbreakable stones
Hardened, sculpted and polished by the ocean waves
and washed ashore
yet hardly noticeable.

Sea glass, a real gem. by Karen Rae Arnoco

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Sea Glass: “Letting nature do the work”

“Seaglass: is the ocean’s way of telling us that if you give it something breakable, it will turn it into something beautiful.”

Sea glasses always fascinate me. It is called a reverse gem because it is from man-made trash and was polished by ocean waves, while diamonds and gold were from nature but were polished by man.

When  I found many sea glasses on the shores of Apo Island, I was happy but sad at the same time. I also saw beautiful ones in Coron and Siargao, but it was a rare find. Not like in Apo Island, there’s plenty of them.

When we got to the other side of the island for a nice swim, I saw many bottles in the rocky area and that explains why there are a lot of sea glasses here.  I believe this came from the main island and washed ashore here. I saw ones made from Tanduay and Emperador bottles, the popular hard drinks in the Philippines, their embossed marks still obvious on the sea glasses. The green ones might be from sprite bottles, the brown ones maybe from beer bottles. It was disappointing and I could only hope that more people learn how to throw their trash properly. It’s simple. Please don’t get too drunk that you become unaware that you’re leaving nature with too much work.

Look how the waves make these bottle trash into such beautiful beach gems! The ocean is doing a great job in recycling trash. Kudos!

mytraveldigest sea glass
Seaglasses at the coralstone shore of Apo Island

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