Feature Places Travel

A weekend in Huni Sicogon

Rough waters turn gentle and the cerulean deep gives way to aquamarine shallows as a speck in the distant horizon transforms into Sicogon Island.

Our destination slowly appears as a towering mass of green bordered by a strip of white that glistens under the noonday sun.

Nearer still, we can make out a gently sloping mountain with a curious peak that tapers down to an expanse of coastline with creamy sand.

Huni Sicogon
HUNI SICOGON. The spring water swimming pool looks across the seas to Islas de Gigantes.


The tide was high enough to allow our motorized outrigger boat to dock on the beach right where the makings of a modern and upscale resort have taken shape.

Huni Sicogon

Huni Sicogon, our home for three activity-filled days, sits right before the coastline and where in the far distance a grouping of islands called Islas de Gigantes forms the shape of a sleeping giant.

From our spot on the beach, we can make out a huge pool with bar, open-air restaurant, and sprawling two-level building with rooms that look out either to the sea or the green foliage of Sicogon’s iconic Mt. Opao. Parched from the journey, we gladly downed the drinks offered by a resort welcoming party led by resident manager Bayon Abescola.

Huni Sicogon
Our room in Huni Sicogon opens to the beach,


Huni currently testing out amenities, facilities, and services with half of the total of 52 rooms open in preparation for grand opening day sometime in the last quarter of 2018, according to Abescola. was among those invited to the resort’s soft opening.

We were billeted in spacious deluxe rooms that can accommodate a maximum of three and offer varying bed sizes. Family rooms are good for four and come even bigger at 53 square meters.

Huni Sicogon Island
HUNI SICOGON will have 52 rooms when all phases are done. It sits on a beautiful beachfront looking across the Islas de Gigantes.


Tourism estate

Named for the humming sound of the sea, Huni is a central figure in the Sicogon Island Tourism Estate in Carles, Iloilo. The tourism estate is a development born out of a partnership between Ayala Land and the Sicogon Development Corp., said Jonah Villena, Marketing and PR supervisor of the Ayala Land subsidiary Ten Knots Development Corporation.

Soon enough, a fully completed airport on the 1,100-hectare Sicogon Island will welcome the first commercial flight from the capital while a jetty port will make it more accessible to seaborne visitors. Bayon said he expects two motorized outrigger boats for island transfers and e-jeeps for travel within Sicogon.

Huni Sicogon Mt. Opao
SCALING MT. OPAO. One of the fun activities you should try when in Sicogon Island is to scale Mt. Opao. Huni Sicogon arranges hikes to Mt. Opao and provides local guides.


Ayala Land will also bring in a four-storey Seda hotel as well as a 77-bed hostel called Dayon to be conveniently located right beside the Sicogon airport within the next three years. A resort town center with retail shops surrounding a 4.3-hectare lagoon is also in the pipeline.

For now, though, there is Huni Sicogon with its easy access to warm sea and unspoiled mountain.

Island activities

Imagine afternoon walks by the coast, a cool dip in the freshwater spring pool, cocktails and karaoke. There are also such activities as kayaking, stand up paddle, and snorkeling to satisfy a craving for more energetic sport.

A trek through the dense undergrowth up Mt. Opao is a must-try but be warned that it does require a certain fitness level. The nearby islet of Tumaquin offers the more challenging cliff jumping activity.

Antonia Beach Islas de Gigantes
ISLAND-HOPPING TOUR. Huni Sicogon is the perfect jumpoff point to a tour of Islas de Gigantes, including to Antonia Beach, where you can eat scallops for P1 apiece.


Off site, there are the popular islands that make up the Gigantes group: the selfie island Cabugao Gamay, Bantigue Sandbar, and Antonia Island. Sicogon’s location makes it the perfect jump off point for hopping from one island to another.

Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the seafood in the islands. Whether you order it as part of resort fare or from a local community in a Gigantes island, you are always assured it is the freshest it can be.


More photos of our Huni Sicogon weekend


Huni Sicogon Island
BEACHFRONT. Huni Sicogon has an expansive beachfront that looks across to Islas de Gigantes.


Huni Sicogon Island
SOFT OPENING. Our group of writers from Cebu at the Huni Sicogon all-day dining restaurant.


Huni Sicogon Island
HUNI SICOGON ROOM. Our room during the weekend stay.


Huni Sicogon Cabugao Gamay
SELFIE ISLAND. Rock formations on Cabugao Gamay, more known as the selfie island for its iconic spot for taking selfies.


Huni Sicogon Bantigue Sandbar
1-PESO SCALLOPS. Feasting on scallops, sold by the tray at P1 apiece, on the Bantigue sandbar.


Huni Sicogon beach
DINNER ON THE BEACH. First night’s dinner on a the beautiful Huni Sicogon beach.


Huni Sicogon
FRESH SEAFOOD is always on the menu on Sicogon Island.


Huni Sicogon dinner


Huni Sicogon restaurant


Huni Sicogon dinner
Gising gising


Huni Sicogon dinner


Huni Sicogon Mt. Opao
TO MT. OPAO. Our group heading to the summit of Mt. Opao.


Mt. Opao Sicogon Island
AIRSTRIP. The airstrip and lagoon, which will have retail shops in the future, can be seen from the peak of Mt. Opao.


Balay Kogon Sicogon Island
BALAY KOGON. The beachfront of nearby Balay Kogon, which is part of the tourism estate.


Balay Kogon Sicogon Island
CHICKEN BINAKOL is chicken soup with coconut meat and water. We had this delicious dish in Balay Kogon.


Huni Sicogon


Huni Sicogon
THE WINNICK. This cocktail is named after Katheryn Winnick, an actress known for her role in Vikings. It’s her favorite drink and she requested the resort to make it during her stay. It has since become part of the drinks menu of Huni Sicogon.


Huni Sicogon Mt. Opao
HUNI SICOGON. The beachfront of Huni Sicogon and Mt. Opao on the background.


Feature Lifestyle Places

SM’s Sky Park: A colorful world of fun, play

“Follow me,” said our guide the Mad Hatter, in his large top hat and violet coat, as he led us into a wonderland of artistry and play that is the Sky Park of SM Seaside City in Cebu.

A parade of kids in all sizes and ages skipped along, past fountains and manicured gardens, giant flowers, beyond the magician’s place to a tall wide gate.

The way to the magical land was locked but little Alice came to save the day with her golden key.

And off we went to a whimsical and colorful world of sweets and pastries, multi-colored drinks, cotton candy, ice cream, playing card soldiers, dinosaurs and outer space.

SKy Park SM Seaside City
SM SEASIDE SKYPARK. World renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. vice president Marissa Fernan during the opening of Sky Park in SM Seaside City Cebu.

Wonderland theme

SM Seaside City adopted the theme Alice in Wonderland when it recently opened to the public Cebu’s “newest and most vibrant family playground.”

Kids came in their quirky hats and wonderland costumes and were treated to a fun-filled afternoon with entertainment provided by book characters come to life. Alice and the Queen of Hearts sang songs and playing card soldiers performed dance numbers.

Sky Park SM Seaside City
OPENING. The Mad Hatter leads the crowd in opening the gates to mark the launch of Sky Park in SM Seaside City.

The Sky Park is at the third level of SM Seaside City at the South Road Properties in Cebu City. SM executives led by Marissa Fernan, vice president of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., led the opening of the 20,000-square meter Sky Park last September 23, 2016.

Award-winning Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who designed Sky Play — one of the three playgrounds, was also present.

Sky Park SM Seaside City
Treats for those who attended the Sky Park launching.

Sky Park features

Other than Sky Play, kids can also enjoy the Fun & Play and Water Play at Sky Park.

Cobonpue’s Sky Play occupies 1,250 sq. m. and features dinosaur-shaped sheds and slides inspired by flying saucers and UFOs. Sky Play’s “modern and whimsical design brings to life the colorful world of children’s imaginations” and highlights the “specialized handiwork and weaving techniques” of Cobonpue products, a statement from SM Seaside City said.

Visitors can choose from a selection cafes and restaurants within or in the vicinity of the Sky Park, which provides magnificent views of Cebu City’s urban areas and mountainsides.

Sky Park also has three event amphitheaters with special features like foaming jet and interactive water features. They can host live bands and thematic events.

SM Seaside City Sky Park
FUN PLACE. Children had fun playing with the uniquely-designed slides and other play areas in the Sky Park.

Party, event bookings

The park’s wide open spaces, playground facilities, and fun attractions make for great venues for parties and events. For bookings and inquiries, visit SM Seaside City Cebu’s administration office located at the basement of the Seaside Tower or call (032) 340-8735 local 55. You may also check-out SM Seaside City Cebu (Official) on Facebook.

Sky Park SM Seaside City
WATER FUN. Bubbles filled the air at this section of the Sky Park.
Feature Lifestyle Places Travel

Filipino travelers to Hong Kong get top deals from Marco Polo hotels

The Philippines is now the second biggest travel market in Hong Kong, and the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong gives Filipinos even more reasons to visit and enjoy this Chinese city.

From room upgrades to shopping discounts and free ferry rides, Filipino travelers to Hong Kong enjoy a world of privileges from the Marco Polo Hongkong, Gateway, and Prince hotels.

Samantha Poon, Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong director of communications, said their in-room guests enjoy exclusive offers across 125 lifestyle outlets at Hong Kong’s largest and most diverse shopping complex Harbour City.

Marco Polo Hongkong
MARCO POLO HONGKONG. Fantastic view of Hong Kong from the Marco Polo Hongkong.

These include such top brands as Adidas, Bally, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, Diesel, Eslite, Kate Spade New York, Max Mara, Moschino, to name a few. What makes shopping easy for those staying at Marco Polo Hongkong, Gateway, or Prince is that the hotels form part of and have easy access to Harbour City. All Philippine tourists need to do is present their room key card at participating shops.

Star Ferry 4-day pass

Philippine Mastercard holders get additional privileges at the Marco Polo hotels in Hong Kong, starting with a complimentary Star Ferry four-day pass for two persons up until December 20, 2016. Filipino travelers who use their Mastercard credit cards to book a two-night stay at any of the Marco Polo hotels get to enjoy Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour through the Star Ferry ride.

According to Poon, the Star Ferry experience has been rated first of the “top 10 most exciting ferry rides” by the Society of American Travel Writers and cited for its value for money as well as being the most convenient way to undertake the ferry crossing.

Prince Hotel Hong Kong

For the same period, Mastercard holders also get the following complimentary privileges at the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong

  • daily breakfast for two
  • room upgrade to the next category
  • extra bed for rooms with three guests
  • handy smartphone with unlimited 3G internet and unlimited local and international calls to 5 countries, including the Philippines
  • guaranteed late checkout until 2 p.m.
Gateway Hotel Hong Kong
GATEWAY HOTEL. The Continental Club in the Gateway Hotel in Hong Kong.

Free night promo

The three Marco Polo hotels in Hong Kong are also collaborating with three sister hotels in the Philippines — Marco Polo Ortigas, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, and Marco Polo Davao — to reward corporate clients and meeting planners across the four cities.

Clients who spend a minimum of HK$70,000 in Hong Kong, P200,000 in Cebu and Davao, and P250,000 in Manila for at least 15 rooms and a meeting or banquet earn a free night at any of the six Marco Polo hotels. Booking period for this promo is from August 14 to October 31, 2016 and stay period is from August 17, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

Gateway Hotel VideoDiscover contemporary cool in the fusion of stylish comfort of Gateway Hotel in the latest hotel video, which unveils an urban sanctuary in the epicentre of Tsim Sha Shui where incredibly spacious rooms with sleek and clean design elements showcases a residential feeling.

Posted by Gateway Hotel, Marco Polo Hotels on Sunday, October 27, 2013

The free stay can go up to two nights with breakfast for two persons depending on the qualifying revenue and is valid for one year from the date of the event.

Pool said the Marco Polo Hongkong is their biggest hotel, with more harbor view rooms while Gateway is more chic and modern. Prince, on the other hand, is better suited for families.


More photos


Be On Canton in Gateway Hotel is an al fresco dining terrace on Canton Road.
Be On Canton in Gateway Hotel.


Three on Canton in Gateway Hotel.
Three on Canton in Gateway Hotel.


Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Hongkong.
Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Hongkong.


Marco Polo Hongkong
The view from inside one of the rooms of Marco Polo Hongkong.


HONG KONG VIEW. The panoramic view from inside Marco Polo Hongkong.
HONG KONG VIEW. The panoramic view from inside Marco Polo Hongkong.


[email protected] The restaurant inside Prince “is an urban bistro, café and the ultimate buffet destination.”
Feature On the go Places

Beyond level 5, Aguinid Falls is unspoiled, green

onthego-icon A regular climb to Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu entails going up the pathway created by the flowing water as it makes its way down from the fifth level to the sea.

Beyond the fifth tier, however, the falls go up three levels more. There, beyond the reach of the regular climbers, nature is raw, untouched, and green.

We discovered the rest of Aguinid during our second visit on a Black Saturday of the recent Holy Week break.

Our first climb up to the fifth level in 2014 was a thrilling experience, but the second trip was even more exceptional. Considering the number of people out to get a taste of Aguinid Falls that day, it could have gone the other way.

Aguinid Falls Level 7
ALL TO OURSELVES. We went past the crowded lower levels to enjoy a dip in level 7 of Aguinid Falls.

Thanks to our competent and extraordinary guide Natsky Rocamora, one of the Aguinid Falls community tour pioneers, we made it to the very top and quite enjoyed our visit.

Samboan waterfalls

When we arrived, there were no fewer than 20 people at the entrance kiosk waiting for their turn to go up Aguinid Falls. Several more people had gone ahead and were scattered throughout the stretch of the waterfalls.

Natzky felt we wouldn’t be able to enjoy this visit as much as we did the last one and suggested we climb beyond the fifth level to the source of the beautiful Samboan falls.

Aguinid Falls
WAY UP. Our guide Natsky Rocamora had to haul us up a steep climb one by one. Take note of the plastic bottles that Natsky gathered on our way up. These were left behind by irresponsible tourists .

Difficult climb

The way to the top is precarious and difficult and something that shouldn’t be done without special equipment or someone like Natzky, who is very strong and knows every nook and cranny in Aguinid. We didn’t have climbing gear so he had to pull us through the really steep vertical paths.

Aguinid Falls
LEVEL 6. The upper levels of Aguinid Falls are mostly untouched.
Aguinid Falls
ON 6TH LOOKING TO 7TH. This is the deep part of level 6, before the challenging climb to level 7.

Climbers and even the community guides rarely make it beyond the fifth falls so this stretch is mostly left untouched. Driftwood and fallen branches by the sides, insects along and on the water, and green foliage everywhere.

For the sake of preserving Aguinid Falls, the higher levels should be left alone. Samboan shouldn’t make any improvements to make it easy for people to go beyond the fifth tier. Visitors shouldn’t be allowed to bring food or drinks in the climb. As it is, our guide had to pick up empty water bottles discarded by irresponsible climbers along the falls.

Aguinid Falls
LEVEL 8. This is the highest point in Aguinid Falls.
Brand Partnership Lifestyle Places

AirAsia offers low fares in seat sale

Travel to amazing destinations with AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale that gives travellers access to over a hundred local and international destinations across 22 countries.

AirAsia, together with its long-haul, low-cost affiliate carrier AirAsia X are offering three million promo seats for travel to popular local destinations like Kalibo, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban and Manila and international destinations like Korea, Malaysia, China, Macau, and Hong Kong.


The airline’s seat sale starts at P1.00 base fare, excluding applicable taxes and fees. Booking period is from March 7 to 13, 2016 on as well as AirAsia’s mobile site Travel period is from October 1, 2016 to May 22, 2017.

“This time around, we are pleased to offer three million promotional seats. Guests may grab this perfect opportunity to make advance travel plans and enjoy extra value for their money. We have introduced many new and undiscovered routes throughout the region and grabbing a promo seat is the best way to discover new destinations,” said AirAsia Group chief commercial officer Siegtraund Teh.

AirAsia X destinations

“Guests from around the region can take advantage of our Fly-Thru service to connect to many exciting AirAsia X destinations such as Auckland, Sapporo, Tokyo, Gold Coast, Sydney and more. In conjunction with this special promotion, AirAsia X’s Premium Flatbed to all AirAsia X destinations are also on sale,” he added.

AirAsia BIG members and AirAsia BIG Prepaid MasterCard cardholders can earn 1 AirAsia BIG points for every P28 spent while booking the promo seats on Bargain hunters can also save up to 50% and more when they book their hotel with promo seats on

Philippines AirAsia Commercial head Gerard Peñaflor said, ”With AirAsia’s massive network in the whole of ASEAN and extending as far as India, Japan and China, we offer guests the convenience of connecting seamlessly and at the same time ensuring that they enjoy only the best quality service from us. Filipinos traveling from Manila, Cebu and Kalibo to Korea, China, Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong would be thrilled to know that Red Hot One-Peso seat sale also include these amazing destinations.”

Red Hot P1 Seat Sale

For added convenience, AirAsia strongly encourages guests to pre-book their baggage allowance at the time of flight booking to enjoy the lowest rate.

Alternatively, guests can use the “Manage My Booking” function to pre-book or add more baggage allowance at up to four hours before the scheduled time of departure.

Keep updated with AirAsia’s latest promotions and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (AirAsiaPhilippines) and Instagram (@AirAsiaPH).

The Red Hot P1 Seat Sale is for base fare only and does not include airport taxes, fees and other optional services.

Feature On the go Places

Pescador Island adventure: dolphins, marine beauty make up for the “sharks”

onthego-icon Dolphins! They swam beside our boat as we neared Pescador Island off Moalboal for a day out snorkeling and enjoying the much better preserved underwater marine life in the southern town known for its long strip of white sand beach.

Our welcoming party of at least five dolphins dove and jumped and glided alongside our motorized outrigger banca for a time, entertaining all of us as we clapped, cheered, and took pictures.

We dropped anchor in the shallows of the small uninhabited island of Pescador so our party of 20 plus adults and kids can enjoy swimming and looking at the fish and corals underneath.

Pescador Island hopping

The dolphins and Pescador were the highlights of our island hopping experience.

Sad to say that things turned bad from there on.

After a short time in Pescador, the skippers of the two boats we rented for the day told us to climb back as we were going to another popular snorkeling area. They claimed they were bringing us to where the sardines congregate in Moalboal.

Dolphins in Pescador Island, Moalboal
Dolphins swim beside our boat as we approach Pescador Island off Moalboal in southern Cebu.


Though we wanted more time off Pescador, we agreed because we believed it would be another satisfying experience. The boat skippers did make the motion of bringing us somewhere else and we saw others there. But after shouting to each other and slowing down a bit, they went off again.

They said they were bringing us to a sanctuary. It was anything but. It was dirty, the corals were dead, and there was something in the sea that stings.

They thought that would discourage us and we would ask to go back. Some of us, including me, did stop swimming and just stayed on the boat. However, some children and a few adults continued to swim. It was then that they asked us to go back up the boat again.

Boat rental rates

We were surprised and thought they were bringing us to a new location after we complained about the dirty sea. What happened was they already dropped us back at White Beach.

We left at past 8 a.m. and they returned us before noon. Since we paid for two boats, at P2,500 each, for our party of 24 adults and kids, it’s not hard to see we were shortchanged.

Pescador Island, Moalboal
PESCADOR ISLAND is an uninhabited islet off Moalboal that is a favorite among divers for its fantastic underwater scene.

Pescador Island, Moalboal

The deception, actually, started way earlier. In the beginning, we asked for one big boat that can accommodate our party of over 20 adults and children. That was the day before our trip, and were were at White Beach in Basdaku, Moalboal. We were assured they have such a boat.

On the day of the trip, the person we negotiated with (a mainstay at White Beach) pointed the boat that bears the markings “ACS”. I told him it looked quite small as it was still some distance away and if it would fit all of us. He said yes.

As it is, the boat skipper of the motorized outrigger banca ACS waited until we (not one boat crew offered help) brought all our things aboard before saying his boat couldn’t accommodate all of us.

White beach

Keep away from this one, he’s crafty and rude and bad for Moalboal tourism. He has this style of walking away, muttering and mumbling, in the middle of your conversation if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing.

He told us we had to add another boat if we want to go island hopping. With the kids all excited to go and thinking of the hassle of bringing down large coolers and other provisions down from the boat again, we ended up paying for two boats.

Pescador Island, Moalboal
ISLAND HOPPING to Pescador Island is a popular activity in Moalboal. Just make sure you negotiate well for the boat you are renting.

This was not our first time in Moalboal and we never had problems in our past trips to White Beach. This was our first time to go island hopping, though, and realized we should have seen to the finer details.

If you’re planning to hie off to Pescador in Moalboal this summer, here are some tips to make the most of your experience. Never agree on a price without looking at the boat first as you can’t rely on them to be truthful. Ask how long you can be out at sea for such a price. Decide on the itinerary and make sure they stick to it.

Events Feature Places

PLDT Home offers connectivity bundle to AirBNB hosts

Being an AirBNB host is a great way to earn money, make friends, and get to meet people from different countries.

Cristina Hoffman, who has listed her family’s Villa Busay in Jardin de Busay with AirBNB, said all her guests have so far been wonderful. Hoffman was among those who shared their experiences as hosts at an event organized by AirBNB and PLDT Home at her luxury villa.

Since the first thing guests ask about when looking up a place to stay is Internet connection, PLDT Home provides a connectivity package for AirBNB hosts that’s replete with exclusive and special offers.

Pat Jose, PLDT Home product specialist, said a reliable Internet connection is now a big consideration among travellers.

AirBnB PLDT Home
The view from Villa Busay, which you can rent through AirBnB.

PLDT Home bundle

This is why PLDT Home offers the AirBNB package that includes DSL connection at 50 percent off and comes with speed boosts for one whole year, free connection installation, free wi-fi modem, an option to add a Smart Bro pocket wifi plan with 1.7 Gigabytes of data for only P299 per month, and a two-year access to iFlix and Fox international channel.

“This is one of the best deals PLDT Home has especially put together for AirBNB hosts,” she added.

AirBNB hosts in Cebu said they love their experience with the listing company and appreciate the connectivity bundle being offered by PLDT Home.

PLDT Home subscribers, meanwhile, get a one-time P2,500 off for every P8,000 minimum booking at AirBNB.

PLDT officials and AirBNB hosts during the media event. PLDT Home offers provides a connectivity package for AirBNB hosts that’s replete with exclusive and special offers.

Villa Busay

Hoffman, who described her property in Cebu City as her dream home, said she decided to have the villa listed on AirBNB as they currently live in Hong Kong.

Her property in Busay is a two-story villa that is built on side of a cliff. It has four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and an infinity pool with panoramic views of the metropolis.

The Hoffmans have been AirBNB hosts for over a year and the listing makes it easy for them to get villa guests.

AirBNB, which has around 1.5 million listings, has served some 60 million guests.

The spectacular view from one of the rooms in Villa Busay.
Food Places

Coral Seaside at Jpark serves freshest seafood, Mediterranean cuisine

The freshest crabs, lobsters, and fish sourced mainly from local fishers served along the coastline as the sun dips below the horizon and lights up the sky make up the luscious seafood dining experience that is the Coral Seaside Restaurant of Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City.

At Coral Seaside, seafood is served in a silver platter amid a clear wide view of the dark blue sea.

Jpark Coral Seafood Platter
CULINARY BOUNTY. Coral Seaside’s seafood platter hosts a marine bounty of fish, prawns, squid, and mussels drizzled with tomato salsa and garnished with greens.


Jpark Coral Seaside
STARTERS. Soup of the day, Caesar Salad, and a red monggo ball.


Chef Mattia Stroppa said seafood makes up 90 percent of the restaurant menu. He added that he plays around with the different dishes to bring out a unique combination of flavors.

The chili crabs that he served to us, for example, took inspiration from the distinct culinary characteristic of Singapore cuisine.

Coral Seaside menu

His seafood platter hosts a marine bounty of fish, prawns, squid, and mussels drizzled with tomato salsa and garnished with greens.

Mattia pays particular attention to ingredients and preparation to provide Jpark Island Resort guests their best Mediterranean and seafood dining experience at Coral Seaside Restaurant.

Jpark Coral Seaside
SEA URCHIN CARBONARA. This one’s special and a personal recommendation of Chef Stroppa.


The pasta is handmade by the restaurant culinary team on the day it is served and made only from Italian semolina with its more expressive flavor. He incorporates the Japanese taste in his carbonara by using scallops instead of bacon and topping the dish with sea urchin bits. “This dish you have to eat hot as soon as it arrives on the table,” he pointed out.

Coral also makes its own bread in the style of the Chinese mantou, which is dough made from wheat flour and steamed into soft, fluffy buns.

Jpark Coral Seaside
BEEF HANGING TENDER MEDALLION. Not everything is seafood, this one’s served with red wine sauce and grilled vegetables.


Jparl Coral Chili Crabs
CHILI CRABS. The dish takes inspiration from the distinct culinary characteristic of Singapore cuisine.

Dining options

From romantic dinners for two to family or group events, Coral Seaside provides a wide range of dining options.

Guests can choose to have the set menu priced at US$25 per person or have their pick from the variety of dishes on offer.

Open daily for dinner except Sundays, Coral Seaside can seat up to 150 guests. Both the indoor and outdoor restaurant spaces can be maximized to accommodate more guests.

The restaurant’s alfresco dining is popular as a venue for a small wedding reception, birthday and anniversary celebrations, and other intimate events.

Jpark Island Resort & Waterpark is located on M.L. Quezon Highway in Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City. Call (+63-32) 494-5000 for inquiries or reservations at Coral Seaside Restaurant.

Jpark Coral Seaside bread
MANTOU BREAD. Coral also makes its own bread in the style of the Chinese mantou, which is dough made from wheat flour and steamed into soft, fluffy buns. Instead of steamed, Coral deep-fried it.


Jpark Coral Seaside
SEASIDE SETTING. From romantic dinners for two to family or group events, Coral Seaside provides a wide range of dining options.
Brand Partnership Feature Places

Jpark Island Resort hosts one of best dive spots in Mactan

The sea floor sloped down as we made our way from the shallows to the murky depths, ready to take on our first and possibly best diving experience at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark in Mactan Island.

It seems difficult to believe but just half an hour before, we put on our first wet suit and oxygen tank and learned how to correctly breathe underwater at the resort’s simulation pool used only for diving exercises.

We learned the underwater language of divers: thumbs up to go up, thumbs down to venture down further, forming a circle using thumb and index fingers while raising three other fingers for “okay.”

The dive master of Marine Boy Water Sports Center, which operates within the Jpark Island Resort and offers a host of water activities including diving and the best stand up paddle boards. H prepared us for possible occurrences underwater: in case we accidentally let go of our breathing regulator or water gets under our masks and what to do when the pressure build-up leads to pain in our ears.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark diving
FANTASTIC VIEW, AWESOME EXPERIENCE. Diving off Jparl Island Resort and Waterpark in Mactan Island is an out-of-this-world experience, especially for people like us who just learned how to dive.


Jpark Island diving package

As beginners to the underwater scene, we made our way down the sea through the beach.

I have to admit it was scary going so far down the sea it had become darker and colder but my fear soon gave way to excitement at the scene that unfolded before us.

Splashes of green, purple, red, yellow, orange, and black greeted us in the varieties of fish, corals, and seagrass that grow and live beneath the Mactan sea.

The underwater scene is a treasure trove of slopes and steep walls, seagrass beds and drop-offs, plateaus and caverns populated by a rainbow of marine life, and you can experience the beauty of this vast liquid world through the diving activities offered at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Diving
TRAINING. Before you head out to sea, the dive master provides a short training in the pool that will introduce you to using your equipment, safety protocols, and hand signals.


Best diving spot

Sports, entertainment, and activities (SEA) manager Carlo Cajoles said the part of the sea just in front of Jpark is among Mactan’s best diving spots.

“This is why Jpark can offer beach entry. The diving spot is very accessible to us, and it’s one of the most beautiful in Mactan. There exists in that area a wall full of corals. This is why we are trying very hard to have this declared into a marine sanctuary from being a protected area,” he added.

As we swam underwater, we couldn’t help but agree with him. We passed by harmless schools of Nemos and other varieties I do not recognize and a solitary lion fish here and there to remind that the sea is beautiful but it can be deadly.

The guides provided by Marine Boy Water Sports Center brought bread and it was fun to see these underwater creatures rushing to get the bits and pieces of food that we scattered around.

We stopped at a lush spot and had our photos taken and too soon it was back up to dry land.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark diving
UNDERWATER. Our group underwater just several meters away from the Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark shore in Mactan Island.


Jpark diving rates

Although my jaw was tired and my mouth dry from clamping down firmly on the breathing equipment, it was a wonderful though brief sojourn beneath the sea. Marine Boy at Jpark Island Resort provided us, first-timers, with our best diving experience.

I don’t know about my other companions but I couldn’t wait to do that again.

Interested in exploring this underwater world? This diving package is for US$60 per person and includes free training and briefing at the pool, diving companion for each guest, unlimited pictures and videos that will be saved in a CD, and use of diving equipment. Including the training, this runs for a maximum of an hour and 20 minutes.

Call 0927-3541216 (tap on number to call on your phone) for bookings and inquiries. You can visit the Jpark Island Facebook page at or follow its Twitter account at

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark Diving
BACK AT THE SURFACE. Learning how to dive in Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark counts as one of our best experiences.
Lifestyle Places

SkyWaterpark Cebu is island’s next big attraction

If you can imagine swimming pools, waterhouse with slides, climbing nets, and giant tipping bucket, jacuzzi, and a swim-up bar built way above ground, then you have an idea what Cebu’s next big attraction SkyWaterpark Cebu will be like.

This newest leisure destination will occupy 4,200 square meters of the rooftop space of JCentre Mall in Mandaue City.

Skywaterpark Cebu artist’s perspective.

SkyWaterpark Cebu attractions

When SkyWaterpark Cebu opens, planned for February 2016, it will hold the distinction of being the first and only waterpark facility in the country built above ground. It is located next to the 583-room Toyoko Hotel that is on its way to completion as well.

Waterpark attractions will include the following:

  • Children’s Play Area with swimming pool, seesaw, and curtain
  • 12-meter high waterhouse with water slides, climbing nets, giant tipping bucket, and decorative elements
  • a main pool that features a free-form island pool, infinity pool with jacuzzi, swim-up pool bar
  • expansive decks, sunbeds, and cabanas

There’s also dining and entertainment at the waterpark in the sky, from burgers, pizza, chicken wings, sandwiches, fries, and wraps during the day to island-inspired menu options for the evening.

SkyWaterpark Cebu
SkyWaterpark Cebu is located on the rooftop of JCentre Mall in Mandaue City.

JCentre Mall rooftop

Since it is located on the open rooftop space of the JCentre Mall sixth floor, guests will enjoy vantage views of the surrounding metropolis made up by the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Cebu.

Want to have exclusive access to Cebu’s upcoming leisure destination? SkyWaterpark Cebu is holding a pre-selling promo of Club Membership Packages up to February 1, 2016.

SkyWaterpark Cebu
SkyWaterpark Cebu artist’s perspective.

Enjoy unlimited access plus a host of benefits and privileges valid for 15 months from SkyWaterpark Cebu’s opening for only P10,000 for Premium, P15,000 for Premium Plus, and P35,000 for Executive Class membership packages.

For inquiries, contact SkyWaterpark Cebu through: (+6332) 518-1481 and 518-1482 or email [email protected].

Check out the SkyWatepark Cebu website at

SkyWaterpark Cebu
DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT. From burgers, pizza, chicken wings, sandwiches, fries, and wraps during the day to island-inspired menu options for the evening.


SkyWaterpark Cebu
Party venue.
Brand Partnership Places

Jpark waterpark features giant slides, lazy river, fun play areas

When you let go, the force of the drop will take you on a spiral spin along the sides of a concave structure before plunging you into the water through a bottom hole in an exhilarating space bowl experience at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark.

The space bowl slide, a 48-meter fall into a six feet deep pool, is among the top draws and possibly the scariest activity at the Cebu resort’s famous Waterpark, possibly rivaled only by the giant green slide.

Carlo Cajoles, Jpark Island Resort sports, entertainment, and activities (SEA) manager, said the Waterpark is made up of several attractions designed to give guests of all ages their best water play experience.

Jpark Waterpark slide
WATERPARK FUN. Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark offers the best water play experience in Cebu.

Giant slides

The space bowl is one of three giant water slides. It’s not as long as the other two but it is a spinning drop instead of a straight one. Cajoles said guests tell him that going down the space bowl is like being flushed in the toilet bowl.

The green slide is 156 meters long and shaped like a tube. According to Cajoles, the challenge is bearing the pitch-dark environment inside.

He added that the tamest slide is the white one. Although it is a high 120-meter drop, the white slide takes you on a slow glide along a winding open surface.

Cajoles recommends that guests try the white slide first and then the green one before going on the space bowl. Each of the giant slide offers a different kind of experience, but guests might not try the other two if they take on the most challenging first.

Jpark Waterpark Captain Hook
CAPTAIN HOOK. Kids will love the pool at Jpark with its pirate or Captain Hook theme and jungle gym that comes with slides and showers.

Jpark Waterpark pools

Jpark’s pools come in different shapes and sizes and offer a range of fun and thrills. The island pool is the main pool and only five feet at its deepest. Including the center structure and surrounding decks, this pool is close to 2,000 square meters in size.

One of its interesting features: a water walk made up of flotation devices lined up from the side towards the middle of the pool. The challenge is not to fall into the water before reaching the end of the walk.

Kids will love their pool at Jpark, with its pirate or Captain Hook theme and jungle gym that comes with slides and showers. The toddlers even have their own pool, too. This makes the Waterpark the ultimate fun activity for the family.

Jpark Waterpark Angry Birds
ANGRY BIRDS. Among the fun activities in Jpark is this real-life Angry Birds setup with a lifesize slingshot and a stuffed toy bird shooter that you aim on pig pins.

Amazon River

A narrow, winding body of water snakes around the Waterpark. They call it the Amazon River and it has a slow current so you just hop onto one of those water inflatables and let the flow take you from one point to another.

Cajoles said the lazy river is only 3-3.5 feet deep so it’s not at all scary. Jpark also has Red Cross-trained lifeguards watching over the pools to ensure the safety of bathers, he added.

An even more enjoyable water experience is the wave pool as it generates waves twice during the day. If you’re staying in or just visiting for the day, ask for the specific schedule of the surf so you can be at the pool when it comes.

Jpark Waterpark Waterwalk
WATERWALK. The kid didn’t make it. The waterwalk is among the most enjoyable things to do in the Jpark Waterpark pool.

Fun activities

In line with the resort’s goal to promote family fun, Cajoles said he and his team are always coming up with entertaining activities for their guests. These come in the form of standard games like darts as well as water volleyball or basketball and some out-of-the box activities on the pool or by the poolside.

The latest they’ve come up with was an Angry Birds setup with a lifesize slingshot and a stuffed toy bird shooter that you use on pig pins.

At night, the Waterpark turns into one big party with singing and dancing and a firedance display.

“We’re the only resort doing this. We think of the enjoyment of guests before anything else. If you’re in Jpark, you can be sure to have fun from morning to night,” Cajoles added.

Jpark minigolf
MINIGOLF. Fancy yourself a round? Jpark Waterpark has a mini golf course.


Jpark Waterpark kart
The resort also has several karts for the use of guests.

Be Grand Resort Bohol: luxurious getaway in Bohol

With its clear blue sea and fine sandy beach, luxurious suites and villas, and wide selection of food and drinks, the Be Grand Resort Bohol in Panglao Island has all the ingredients for an enjoyable getaway in the island of Bohol.

The resort has 188 rooms and suites with a view of the pool, garden, or ocean that cater to a range of visitors and plans to open soon its 19 exclusive villas, said Be Grand Resort Bohol front office manager Pearl Lorraine Yang.

Be Grand Resort Bohol wet dining.
BE GRAND RESORT BOHOL. The view from the Food Hall, which offers the option for a fun and one-of-a-kind wet dining experience. (All photos on this page are by Rey Dacalos, unless otherwise indicated, provided by Be Grand Resort Bohol)


Be Grand Resort Bohol pools
The different pools in Be Grand Resort Bohol.

“We’re just waiting for the villas to be completed before we do a full opening. The exterior is done but we still need to put the finishing interior touches,” she added.

Guests will have access to five restaurants with different menu concepts once Be Grand Resort Bohol fully opens, according to executive chef and director of culinary arts and production service Valerio Malucelli.

WATER FUN. The kiddie pool in Be Grand Resort Bohol offers fun water play options.
WATER FUN. The kiddie pool in Be Grand Resort Bohol offers fun water play options.


Be Grand Resort Bohol private villas
PRIVATE VILLAS. Be Grand Bohol’s exclusive villas have their own entryways and facilities including a private, continuous pool that meanders around the property. Only villa guests are allowed to use it.


Be Grand Resort Bohol rates

The Oceana wing has three levels of rooms and suites with a view of the Bohol sea. Deluxe Oceana rooms measure 38 square meters while suites are bigger at 78 square meters and come with a living room, mini office, kitchen, and plush bathroom.

Accommodations in the other wings only differ in the kind of view from their windows. Overnight rates range from P15,500 to 25,500 for the rooms and suites.

Yang said they’re positioning the resort to be a destination where guests, especially families, can relax and have fun.

She added that they’re cultivating both domestic and international visitors, especially those from South Korea, the US and Europe.

GET FIT. Among the enjoyable experiences at Be Grand Resort Bohol is this session of aqua-zumba.
GET FIT. Among the enjoyable experiences at Be Grand Resort Bohol is this session of aqua-zumba.

Dining facilities

When it comes to food, the resort currently has three dining facilities open: the Food Hall, Bridge Bar, and Lune.

Malucelli said the Food Hall is a multi-function resto that serves the day’s main meals and converts into a gastropub at night, adding that a smorgasbord of food choices from Filipino to Western is available in the menu.

The Bridge Bar serves light refreshments such as sandwiches, sodas, and even cocktails. It is primarily intended for guests enjoying a cool dip in the pool.

Paella Cubana
Paella Cubana


Be Grand Resort Monkey Bar
Be Grand Resort Bohol executive sous chef Elmer Patok grills food for guests.


Beachside dining in Monkey Bar
MONKEY BAR. Be Grand Resort Bohol offers a magical dining experience on the beachfront at the Monkey Bar.

Lune, which is aptly named after the moon, is for after-dinner drinks located at the rooftop of the Oceana wing. The cocktail bar serves Spanish canapés or finger food known as tapas and offers panoramic sunset views of the Bohol coastline and sea.

Opening soon, according to Malucelli, are the Monkey Bar for seafood dinners out on the beach and fine dining restaurant Boathouse that is exclusive to villa guests and open for reservation to other resort customers.

Be Grand Resorts Bohol
LUNE. The bar, aptly named after the moon, is for after-dinner drinks located at the rooftop of the Oceana wing. It serves Spanish canapés or finger food known as tapas and offers panoramic sunset views of the Bohol coastline and sea.


Panglao at dusk
PANGLAO AT DUSK. The view of Panglao Island at dusk on the Lune bar, which is located on the rooftop of Be Grand Resort Bohol.

Be Grand Resort exclusive villas

Be Grand Bohol’s exclusive villas have their own entryways and facilities including a private, continuous pool that snakes around the property. Only villa guests are allowed to use it.

According to Malucelli, the menu will change daily for the villa’s exclusive restaurant, the Boathouse, depending on the fresh produce and catch of the day.

Diving lessons
Instructors conduct basic diving lessons at the diving pool.


Be Grand Bohol Diving Lessons
DIVING LESSONS. Instructors conduct lessons at the resort’s diving pool.

There are villas for couples and families, and the honeymooners’ villa sits privately by the beachside.

The resort offers a host of activities for its guests: from fitness routines like aqua-zumba to cooking and swimming lessons, Bohol tours, and such sea activities as parasailing, jetski and banana boat rides, and scuba diving.

(For more information about Be Grand Resort Bohol, you can visit the official website or the Facebook page.


More Be Grand Resort Bohol photos

Feature Places

Jpark Island Resort offers fun beach, sea activities

Though Jpark Island Resort is known for its grand five-star waterpark, the Cebu resort has a strip of beach and sea that is just as enjoyable.

The family resort in Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City has a coastline of fine golden sand framed by jagged rocks and bordered by a sea that several varieties of fish have made their home.

Jpark Island Resort
JPARK ISLAND RESORT. Apart from being a grand five-star waterpark, Jpark Island Resort also has a strip of beach and sea that is just as enjoyable.


Sports, entertainment, and activities (SEA) manager Carlo Cajoles said what few people know is that the area of water fronting the Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark has been declared a protected area and on its way to becoming a marine sanctuary.

Among the fun activities that guests can do at the beachside of this premier Cebu destination are fish feeding and snorkeling.

Family resort fun

Jpark beach sand castle
BEACH SCENE. Jpark Island Resort has a coastline of fine golden sand.


Drop bits of bread pieces on the water and watch schools of fish swim around you, each one trying to be the first to gobble up the food.

The fishing feeding happens even in knee-deep water and a small piece of bread can bring them by the school-loads. Some mistake your legs for their daily feed so don’t be startled if you feel a soft nip or two. It is not painful but can certainly take you by surprise.

Since it became a protected area where fishing is banned, several species have made the sea off Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark their feeding grounds.

Cajoles said their effort to ensure the protection of the marine environment has paid off.

JPark fish feeding
FISH FEEDING. Guests watch schools of fish feed on the bread pieces they dropped on the water.


Jpark Island resort day use options

Another activity that Jpark Island Resort offers its day use and stay-in guests is snorkeling just a few meters from shore where the shallow sea tapers off into a wall of corals underneath.

Cajoles said their joint effort with the University of San Carlos (USC) marine biology section is finally bearing fruit in the number of corals growing on the seafloor.

Jpark provides the snorkeling equipment for free to guests. A boat brings them out to sea for a one of a kind snorkeling experience, he added.

According to him, the underwater scene right in front of Jpark is one of the best spots here in Mactan.

JPark Island Resort snorkeling
SNORKELING. The underwater view just off Jpark Island Resort. The resort offers its day use and stay-in guests the chance to snorkel just a few meters from shore where the shallow sea tapers off into a wall of corals underneath.

Get updated about Jpark Island Resort by following its accounts on Facebook at, on Twitter @jparkresort.

Community Feature Food Places

Eats Meets West showcases the best of Midwest Cebu towns

Crabs simmered humba style, skewered squid cubes turned golden brown on a clay grill, and native chicken cooked in fermented coconut juice as five towns in midwestern Cebu prepared their entries for the Eats Meets West culinary competition held in Tabuelan.

It was a flurry of mincing and slicing, grilling and frying, and food arrangements on long tables turned makeshift kitchens and set up in the open grounds of the Durhans White Beach Resort last November 13.

Eats Meets West is one component of the community-based ecotourism workshops organized for Midwest Cebu towns by Boboi Costas of Grassroots Travel. Costas initiated the culinary competition, with the support of Smart Communications, in the third leg of the workshops as a way of teaching business planning and operations.

Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban
ALL ORGANIC. The Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban is a refreshing all-organic drink of kalamansi puree, mint leaves, ginger extract, and lemon blended together.


Talema juice Tabuelan
BEST WELCOME DRINK. Talema Juice is named after the main ingredients tanglad (lemongrass), lemonsito concentrate, and mango. It won for Tabuelan the Best Welcome Drink.


“Food is an important component in travel and an integral part of local tourism initiatives. When the food is good, the vacation is good,“ he said.

According to Costas, another objective of the activity is to discover, develop, and enhance local cuisine. One criteria of the food competition was for Alegria, Aloguinsan, Balamban, Asturias, and the host town of Tabuelan to put a new twist to local dishes.

Alimangong humba Eats Meets West
ALIMANGONG HUMBA is a new twist to cooking crabs, preparing it ala humba, a popular Cebuano braised pork dish. It was prepared by a high school student from Tabuelan using a recipe handed down by his grandmother. The dish was picked Best Main Course during Eats Meets West earlier this month.


New twist to local food

There were some excellent turnouts but Tabuelan outdid itself and swept all contended dish categories except for Best Dessert, which went to Aloguinsan.

Tabuelan’s alimangong humba or crabs cooked in the manner of the popular Cebuano braised pork dish was picked Best Main Course, Talema Juice named after the main ingredients tanglad (lemongrass), lemonsito concentrate, and mango was Best Welcome Drink, Korntik Cookies made out of finely ground corn came out as Best Food Pasalubong, with Best Packaging thrown in for good measure.

Other noteworthy submissions were grilled dishes: skewered squid cubes by Aloguinsan and Balamban’s deboned chicken pieces accompanied by sauce made out of basil and pesto.

Another Tabuelan recipe called the Tubisnok, though not an entry, was well received by the judges. The Tubisnok is native chicken cooked in fermented coconut juice locally known as tuba.

Balamban deboned chicken
BALAMBAN CHICKEN. Balamban prepared deboned chicken pieces with sauce made out of basil and pesto.


Eats Meets West Aloguinsan
SQUID KEBAB. Aloguinsan submitted as main course entry this tasty diamondback squid kebab. The diamondback squid, locally known as dalupapa, is a large squid that could grow up to 7 kilos, community members said. At left of the photo are taro balls, a dessert made of gabing tuod and served in a thick syrup of coconut milk and sugar. The taro balls were chosen as Best Dessert.


Drinks and desserts

From Alegria’s moringa bibingka and Balamban’s kamote krispies to Tabuelan’s budbud cassava with choco, there were exceptional entries for desserts as well.

Aloguinsan ruled this category, however, with its taro balls served in thick syrup of coconut milk and sugar. The taro balls are made from an abundant town plant known as gabing tuod.

Moringa bibingka from Alegria
MORINGA BIBINGKA is Alegria’s new and healthy take on the native rice cake.


Korntik Cookies Tabuelan
KORNTIK COOKIES from Tabuelan was picked as Best Food Pasalubong. It’s made from finely ground corn.


Balamban Kamote Krispies
KAMOTE KRISPIES from Balamban for the desserts category.


Showing a lot of promise are the welcome drinks by Balamban and Aloguinsan. The Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban is a refreshing all-organic drink of kalamansi puree, mint leaves, ginger extract and lemon blended together.

Aloguinsan extracted juice from kamote leaves boiled for 10 minutes and flavored this with kalamansi and sugar for its Kamote Juice. Alegria used the same process on a local medicinal flower to come up with the Butterfly Pea Drink.

Tubisnok native chicken in tuba
TUBISNOK is native chicken cooked in tuba or coconut wine. The dish, which was well received by the judges, was prepared by Tabuelan but not submitted as an official entry.


Cebu ecotourism initiative

Aloguinsan also garnered the non-food awards, including Best Table Setting with its dining implements made from a native vine as well as Best Welcome and Take Home Souvenirs.

Eats Meets West
CULINARY CONTEST. Community members from Aloguinsan prepare their dishes for the Eats Meets West culinary competition.


Eats Meets West Tabuelan
TEAM TABUELAN. The team from host town Tabuelan won most of the categories in the Eats Meets West cooking contest.


Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, Smart Communications, Inc. public affairs senior manager, said the competition was timely because companies are looking for local products as Christmas giveaways.

For souvenirs, the towns presented handcrafted home accessories, necklaces, and bracelets made out of local wood, shell, or plant fiber.

She lauded the initial output of the ecotourism initiative in the food and souvenir products that came out of the Eats Meets West culinary event.

Eats Meets West Aloguinsan
RECYCLED PLASTIC. Aloguinsan presents decors made from recycled or “upcycled” plastic wrappers of junk food.


Costas said the activity seeks to discover signature food and drinks and local products that the towns can showcase when they collaborate to come up with tour circuits next year. The goal is to offer two-night, three-day tour packages that showcase the best of Midwest Cebu towns and begin these in March 2016.

Eats Meets West Cebu
VENUE. The Eats Meets West culinary competition and workshop was held in Durhans White Beach Resort and the nearby La Familia resort (shown above).
Feature Places

Aguinid Falls offers a different kind of thrill

Going up Aguinid Falls was a climb of many thrills: wading in the flow or swimming where the water pools, stepping from rock to rock, climbing alongside that falling sheet of liquid or meeting it head-on, pausing to take a shower.

Cebu has many waterfalls and they’re all, to a varying degree, spectacular, but Aguinid Falls in the southern Cebu town of Samboan gives you a different kind of experience.

Including level zero, Aguinid is made up of six interconnected waterfalls flowing into one another along the mountainside.

You can choose to stay and swim at the first level, go up some, or conquer all by proceeding to the topmost part. At the last level, the falling current is stronger and the pounding water more painful especially if you choose to go up and take your shower on the rock protrusions.

Aguinid Falls Level Zero Samboan Cebu
AGUINID FALLS. Level Zero of Aguinid Falls is closed to swimming because it is muddy and tends to get murky.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
LEVEL ZERO for no swimming. The path leading up Aguinid Falls.


Aguinid Falls Level 1 Samboan Cebu
TO FIRST LEVEL. The section leading to Level One. Starting in this part of Aguinid Falls, people can swim in the waters.


Aguinid Falls exploration

The limestone rocks over which the water of Aguinid Falls flows make navigating to the top possible even on a pair of slippers. The rocks are not slippery since moss does not grow on them.

Still, take a local guide with you because they know the best route to the top. They’re particularly helpful when you reach the second level where the only way up is braving that flowing water. The second waterfalls is high and you are able to climb it by using the shallow notches that the local community carved on the rocky surface.

Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu.
LEVEL ONE. The first of the 5 levels of Aguinid Falls. The solid rock to the right is where you clamber up to go to the upper levels.


CLIMB UP. At level 3, you need to climb up the waterfalls face through notches carved on the solid rock. It only looks scary, it’s really quite easy to go up.
CLIMB. At level 2, you need to climb up the face of the waterfalls through notches carved on the solid rock. It only looks scary, it’s really quite easy to go up.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
GET READY TO CLIMB. This is the section you need to climb to go to levels 3, 4 and 5 of Aguinid. You go up through cavities carved on the waterfalls’ solid rock face.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
BACK DOWN AGAIN. Guides say going down level 2 is so much easier than climbing it. We were skeptical at first but it’s actually easier. This is why you should hire a local guide to show you how to traverse the different levels of Aguinid.


If you listen to the guide and follow their instructions, going up Aguinid Falls is safe enough. As we made our way to the top, we met a group coming down at the third level and they had with them a young boy who was probably not older than 10 years old.

Our guide also took our photos. If you don’t have a waterproof camera, bring your mobile phones but make sure you place them in airtight plastic casings. You can buy ahead or at stores near Aguinid which sells them for P120 to P150.

Remember that there is no way you wouldn’t get soaked in the climb so wear the appropriate outfit. Take into consideration that you will be taking large steps up and down rocks and a bikini might be too revealing. When it comes to footwear, a better alternative to slippers would be water shoes.

Aguinid Falls 4th level in Samboan, Cebu
FOURTH LEVEL. This part is deep enough for diving and guides typically tell you to only stay here if you really know how to swim.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
STILL CLIMBING. You will again need to climb up this part to head to Level 5 of Aguinid. Don’t be a wuss, a kid could do it.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan
TOPMOST SECTION. Level 5 is the topmost level and is the most beautiful and scenic. It is also the best area for swimming and taking a waterfalls shower. You can still climb up but you need special gear and your guide has to be with you at all times.


Entrance, guide rates

Exploring Aguinid and bathing in its cool waters will only cost you P20 in entrance fee and a tip for the guide. When it comes to tipping, please be generous since it’s how the 70 or so community guides earn a living.

The earliest time that visitors are allowed inside the falls is at seven in the morning. Since it gets dark early on, the town has set 5:30 p.m. as the cut-off time for visits.

Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
NEAR THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY. The entrance to Aguinid Falls is on the national highway leading to Samboan. If you’re driving to the place, this is one of the parking areas near the falls.


Aguinid Falls in Samboan, Cebu
ENTRANCE FEE, GUIDES. This is where you pay your P20 entrance fee and hire a local guide. To get the most out of your Aguinid visit, you must get a local tour guide who can show you how to safely traverse the different levels of the waterfalls.


Aguinid Falls, Samboan, Cebu
WATERPROOF BAG FOR YOUR GADGETS. You will get drenched in Aguinid so make sure you have a waterproof pouch for your phone and other gadgets. If you forgot to bring one, you can buy from the stalls leading to the falls. You can also buy a pair of slippers here, which you will need in going up.


Aguinid Falls is located in Barangay Tangbo, Samboan. The village is just close to the town center. From the coastal highway, Aguinid Falls is an easy 10-minute walk.

There are private parking spaces close to the falls, but they charge P50 per hour. If you’re taking the bus from the South Bus Terminal in N. Bacalso Avenue in Cebu City, ask the driver to drop you off at the spot nearest Aguinid Falls. A big billboard marks the way in.

From the town center, the place is a tricycle or habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire) ride away.

For more about Samboan, read our previous stories: “19 Samboan attractions that make it a top Cebu destination” or “Samboan is home to natural, heritage attractions.” To get a portable Guide To Samboan, install the Android app Samboan Guide.

Feature Places

Durano Eco Farm springwater pools offer cool, clean dip

Water from a fast-flowing mountain spring runs through the Durano Eco Farm and replenishes seven multi-level pools to give visitors the best dip of their lives. The pools come in various sizes and depth: shallow for kids, deep for teens and adults, and one that’s a 12-foot plunge for those who want to dive.

Although these pools did not form naturally, they were made to fit the surrounding environment. They followed the contour of the hillside, and stones and rocks were used for the poolsides and divisions.

Spring water continuously flows down through the multi-level pools and rejoins the bigger river beyond so you can be sure you’re swimming in clean, natural and unchlorinated water.

Durano Eco Farm in Carmen, Cebu
SPRING WATER. A mountain spring fills seven multi-level pools at the Durano Eco Farm in Carmen, Cebu.


Durano Eco Farm Carmen, Cebu
SPRING WATER continuously flows to fill the pools.


Durano Eco Farm, Carmen, Cebu
MOUNTAIN SPRING. The pools were made to fit the surrounding environment and followed the contour of the hillside.


Durano Eco Farm in Carmen, Cebu
DIFFERENT POOLS. There are different multi-level pools in the Durano Eco Farm.


Durano Eco Farm Carmen, Cebu
DIVE. One pool is deep enough for a plunge.


Verdant retreat

What I love most about our experience at the Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort (and it probably helped that we arrived much earlier than the other guests) was that sense of remoteness about the place.

You’re surrounded by a riot of tall and short trees and lush plants, and the music of the flowing spring that slowly becomes a roaring as it joins the bigger river.

It’s not uncommon for dragonflies to go skimming over the pool water and butterflies to fly around you while you’re swimming.

The resort is a verdant retreat, and it is easier to get to than most rustic hangouts in Cebu.

Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort
VERDANT RETREAT. Lush plants, trees and a flowing spring make Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort a verdant retreat.


duranDurano Eco Farm and Spring Resort stepso-eco-farm-steps
STEEP WALK. The walkway from the spring pools back to the entrance is steep and can leave the sedentary office worker a robust physical challenge.


Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort tree house
TREE HOUSE. Those who want to spend the night can stay in one of the tree houses in the resort.


Durano Eco Farm

Located in the town of Carmen, the Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort is less than a 30-minute drive from a side street in the town center. From the Super Metro store in Carmen, take a left on the third street called Nacional. You’ll know that it’s the correct street if you see the billboards of Shemberg Biotech Corporation and St. Benedict’s Monastery.

The town of Carmen is an hour’s drive going north from either the cities of Mandaue, Mactan, or Cebu. If you do not plan to bring your own vehicle, you can take a bus that leaves several times a day for the town from the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Poblacion where you can take a habal-habal (local word for motorcycles for hire) to the farm.

Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort
TURN LEFT. From Cebu City to the resort, you turn left to this side road on the Carmen national highway.


Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort
RESORT ENTRANCE. The entrance to the Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort.


The road leading to the farm is narrow and damaged in certain portions but the drive is easy because only a few vehicles use it.

There are picnic tables and cottages for day use and spartan accommodations in tree houses for overnight stays. Entrance fee is P60 per person.

Contact the Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort through these numbers  0917 506 8335 or 0915 560 0572 (tap on numbers to call on your phone) or through their Facebook page or booking and inquiries.

Feature Places Travel

Danasan Eco Adventure Park offers fun, extreme, and nature adventure

Two specks atop a steel tower hurtle downward, their screams reverberating around the mountain camp that is the Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City.

As they near ground, the two friends’ shrieks turn to whoops of triumph and relief at having survived the 130-foot swing. It’s not as if they weren’t warned, though. The name Skydrop alone suggests it would be one, long fall.

If you think trekking along a mountain trail to reach the falls is too tame, you can rappel down the flowing water or cross it in a Tyrolean traverse.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City
ATV RIDE. Danasan’s ATV ride takes you on a winding trail that are muddy and challenging in some parts.


You’ve visited far too many caves? Gone spelunking a few times too many? Why not up the challenge? The caves in Danasan will have you slither like a snake in some narrow parts and swim in others and are clearly not for the faint-hearted.

Extreme adventure

When it comes to extreme activities, the Danasan Eco Adventure Park has a lot to choose from.

Aside from the Skydrop, there’s the Twin Tower Adventure. You climb 60 or 120 feet up one tower, cross to the other in a high cable traverse, and rappel down the other side. This is one activity that’s sure to get your pulse racing and your heartbeat pounding.

The park, which has already developed 135 of its total 167 hectares land area, hosts waterfalls and caves. Getting to these park attractions requires riding on a modified tractor as it makes its way through a bumpy and winding dirt road on the mountainside.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park Twin Tower Adventure
TWIN TOWER ADVENTURE. Among the attractions in Danasan Eco Adventure Park is this Twin Tower Adventure where you traverse a high cable installation.


In Danasan, you go down not up to get to the last in a series of three waterfalls. The first waterfalls is a 10-minute walk from where the tractor ride ends. A few minutes of navigating the dry part of the riverbed will bring you to the top of the second falls. You can choose to get to the bottom through the steps carved on the hill beside it or rappel down the flowing water. The second falls also offer the Tyrolean traverse, which you accomplish by using your arms and legs to move on the high rope.

Spelunking in Danasan means donning a life vest as you go exploring; the cave is half-filled with water from the river system that connects to the waterfalls and provides the community’s supply as well. The more advance spelunkers try out a cave where they have to slide prone through a very narrow gap.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park waterfalls
WATERFALLS. There are three waterfalls you can walk to in Danasan.


Recreational activities

Don’t worry if you’re only after moderate fun and enjoyment, the Danasan Eco Adventure Park has something for you, too. There’s horseback riding, waterfalls trek, ATV ride, wakeboarding, rope course, or go karts.

There’s also a rope course where you get to overcome obstacles and challenges from high above ground. You can choose to do your wakeboarding in the beginner’s lake or the one for advance riders.

The park’s zipline is only a 440-meter ride and you get the added experience of going back to the starting point on horseback.

Recreational activities like volleyball, baseball, tennis, and board games are also available.


Danasan Eco Adventure Park crispy pata
CRISPY PATA. For lunch, we had this delicious and crunchy crispy pata.

Danasan rates

The rate for many of the extreme to moderate adventure offerings in Danasan is an affordable P380 per person.

It also has the following packages:

Barkada Package I is for a group of not less than 10, costs P1,200 per person, and already includes the entrance fee to the park, two adventure activities, lunch, and roundtrip shuttle service.

Barkada Package II is for a group of not less than eight, costs P2,350 per person, and includes overnight stay in an air-conditioned room, entrance fee, roundtrip shuttle service, and four adventure activities.

Day Use Package is P1,750 per person and includes the entrance fee, four adventure activities, use of swimming pool, and roundtrip shuttle service.

A one day pass is P1,400 per head and includes four adventure tickets.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park pool
SWIMMING POOL. The park has its own pool.


Park accommodations

There are varied accommodations available at the adventure park. Six air-conditioned rooms called Caida are good for four to eight persons, another six air-conditioned rooms called Mahogany good for three persons, six non-airconditioned Kawayans rooms good for three persons, as well as three dormitory type rooms that are good for 10, 14, and 26 people.

Room rates range from P1,200 (for smaller non-aircon) to P8,300 (for non-aircon dormitories) and P2,500 to P4,800 for air-conditioned rooms. Park administrator Crisanto Atamosa said they currently offer a 40 percent discount on rooms.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park rooms
ROOM PACKAGES. Danasan has various room packages with various free offerings.


Getting to Danasan Eco Adventure Park

The barangay of Danasan is so far off into the mountains that it’s nearer the town of Asturias than the Danao City center. According to Atamosa, it’s 27 kilometers or an hour by car to the Danasan Eco Adventure Park from City Hall. The park provides shuttle services from Parkmall in Mandaue City or the Danao City fish port to Danasan.

For booking or inquiries, call the Danasan Eco Adventure Park at: +6332 239 5654 or +63917 301 3171 or +63922 865 5779 or +63925 500 7803 (tap on numbers to call on your phone).

Danasan Eco Adventure Park cave
SPELUNKING in Danasan means donning a life vest as you go exploring; the cave is half-filled with water from the river system that connects to the waterfalls and provides the community’s supply as well.
Feature Places Travel

Aloguinsan features Bojo River, The Farmhouse, Hermit’s Cove tours

A small town located on the western seaboard of Cebu, Aloguinsan is gaining renown for its nature tours that advocate sustainable and responsible tourism.

One of the notable activities for town visitors is a downstream ride on a small baroto (wooden boat) along the Bojo River as fishermen guide point out mangrove and other flora as well as bird species.

Aside from the river cruise, the town also offers a culinary treat at its organic farm and exploration of a cove that was once home to a hermit more than a hundred years ago.

The town, which faces the island of Negros, is 72 kilometers via Toledo and 58 kilometers via Carcar from Cebu City. It is reachable by vans for hire or buses via Toledo City. Those with their own transport may take the Carcar City or Toledo City route going to Aloguinsan.

NATURE RESERVE. The Bojo River Nature Reserve covers an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora. (Photo by Boboi Costas)
NATURE RESERVE. The Bojo River Nature Reserve covers an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora. (Photo by Boboi Costas)


The Bojo River Village Tour

Just two kilometers from the town center of Aloguinsan is a village of local fishers and their families. They protect the Bojo River Nature Reserve, an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora.

The community manages the Bojo River Village Tour, which involves a ride downriver as a fisherman guide point out mangrove and bird species along the riverbank.

A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape.

Aside from the river cruise with its corresponding orientation and short lecture on mangroves and wildlife, the Bojo River Village Tour includes an ancient send-off ritual performed by a village medicine man, a mat-weaving demonstration, and a buffet lunch.

If guests request it, the community — which has organized into the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS) — can also run bird-watching tours and stage a special cultural performance with the river providing a stunning backdrop.

Green Culinary Adventure at The Farmhouse

Still in Aloguinsan, a group of local farmers has enthusiastically adopted natural farming methods to be able to produce food organically.

At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences.

It is one exciting, flavorful, and trend-setting culinary experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Aloguinsan Farmhouse
THE FARMHOUSE. At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences. (Photo by Boboi Costas)


This culinary adventure tour includes a walk around the vegetable farm, livestock area, chicken coop, vermiculture and tilapia pond. Guests are treated to a demonstration of how the puso (rice cooked in diamond-shaped containers made of palm leaves) is made.

Want to bring some of those fresh vegetables in season home? You get to harvest what you need through pick and pay.

The tour, which is managed by the Cultural Heritage for Aloguinsan Tourism (CHAT), ends with a mouth-watering buffet lunch.

Exploring The Hermit’s Cove

Guests can also choose to relax in a secluded cove where a hermit once made his home more than a hundred years ago. With its fine white sand and swaying palms and crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful marine life, it’s not difficult to see why he picked this bit of paradise.

Today, a community of fishermen and their families call the Baybay Cove in Kantabogon home. They celebrate through songs and stories the hermit’s exploits and extraordinary life.

Only five minutes by motorized banca from the town center, a tour of this tropical destination includes snorkelling with a local guide at the underwater garden within the 18-hectare marine protected area.

Be amazed at the majestic myriad of fishes, corals, and marine turtles that are plentiful in the area. If you’re lucky, you just might get to see some whale sharks.

Lunch is an authentic fisherman’s fare prepared the ancient Filipino seafarer’s way. Witness as well the community’s old fishing rituals and techniques and its traditional arts, and participate in handicraft-making.

Tour itineraries and structure vary, depending on weather and tide. The tour is being managed by the Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (KEA).

Aloguinsan Bojo River cruise
TREK. A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape. (Photo by Boboi Costas)


Aloguinsan eco-tour rates

Walk-in package is P400 per head and includes river cruise and swimming.

The full tour package is P650 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch along the Bojo River, snacks at The Farmhouse, handicraft demo, river cruise, and swimming.

A student package is P850 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch at The Farmhouse, snacks along the Bojo River, handicraft demo, river cruise, swimming, and a tour of heritage sites such as the baluarte (heritage park), old stone church, and parola.

Interested in any of these tours? For booking or inquiries, call the Tourism Office at (+6332) 469-9041, Rudney at 0905-913 3055, Jamaia at 0922-658 0094 or 0949-375 8978, or Jerry at 0917-730 9757. It is recommended that guests book at least two days ahead. You can also contact the community through their Facebook page.

Getting to Aloguinsan

There are several transport services from Cebu City to Aloguinsan, including a van for hire, rent-a-car, and bus, going to Toledo City. You can also bring your own transport and take the Toledo City or Carcar City routes. Travel time is around two hours.

Where to stay

The accommodations in Aloguinsan are in or near the town center. These include:

Almaxi’s Apartelle
0910-429 9687

Lunhaw Resort
Call: 0920-118 3050 or 0922-395 7519

You may also want to experience homestay accommodation of which the town has plenty to offer.

Heritage History News Places

Gabii Sa Kabilin 2015 sites: A walkthrough

Gabii Sa Kabilin or Night of Heritage is the year’s most-awaited cultural and heritage event in Cebu. On this day, which is always the last Friday of May, museums, churches, temples and heritage houses in Cebu stay open until midnight. To preview and plan ahead your Gabii Sa Kabilin route on May 29, check out the story map we created below. To get a mobile guide to the event, which also serves as portable resource on heritage sites in Cebu, download the Gabii Sa Kabilin app for Android. The iOS version is still coming.

Brand Partnership Lifestyle Places

Book Jpark rooms at discount with ‘Jpark SummeRush Sale’ promo

Summer’s not over at Cebu’s only five-star waterpark resort, Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark (JPI).

Have your fill of sun, sea, and fun for only P5,300+++ overnight stay in a deluxe room and P5,800+++ in a deluxe ocean view room in the Jpark SummeRush Sale ongoing from May 15 to May 31, 2015.

Your stay comes with free buffet breakfast for two adults and two kids below 12 years old plus unlimited use of the all-time favorite Jpark waterpark.

Designed by Dream Park International, USA, the waterpark features six themed pools and three exciting pools, all yours to enjoy for the ultimate water adventure.

 Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark
BALM FOR THE SUMMER HEAT. With the soaring temperatures, resorts like Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark offer a much-need and fun respite. (Photo provided by Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark)

There’s more! The promo comes with an option to avail of a 1 + 1 lunch or dinner buffet. You and one other get to have that sumptuous lunch at the Abalone Buffet Restaurant for the price of one at P1,530 nett. Dinner buffet for two persons is only P1,770 nett.

The Jpark SummeRush Sale is exclusive for all JPI Facebook fans and followers so don’t forget to like the official Jpark Resort FB page.

“It is the first time we are doing an exclusive promo for Facebook. This is our way of saying thank you to our fans and followers, hence we are offering them special rates,” said JPI general manager Sean Noh.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark
ROOM PROMO. You can stay at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark for P5,300+++ for an overnight stay in a deluxe room and P5,800+++ in a deluxe ocean view room by booking through its Jpark SummeRush Sale ongoing until May 31, 2015.

Here are five easy steps to getting the ultimate summer rush at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark.

1. Like the official JPI Facebook page
2. Fill out the online booking form
3. Receive a confirmation letter by email from the Reservations team
4. Make a payment to confirm your booking
5. Have your fill of Jpark summer

For more details of the Jpark SummeRush Sale, head on to the JPI Facebook page or send an email to [email protected].

Located on the white sand coastline of Mactan in sunny Cebu, Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark strikes the perfect balance between urbane sensibilities and vibrant tropical island fun.

Within its 9.5-hectare expanse are 508 of the region’s most spacious and luxurious rooms and suites.

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark
ALL-TIME FAVORITE. The Jpark waterpark was designed by Dream Park International, USA, and features six themed pools and three exciting pools.