26 August, 2012

NCIS: Light Sleeper

It's an NCIS Strikes Back marathon on Fox today and this banter among Tony, Ziva and McGee temporarily sidetracked me from blogging.
 Ziva to Tony:  This isn't one of your movies.
 Tony: Yeah, if it were, you'll be dressed differently.
 Ziva: And you'll be better looking.
 McGee laughs so Tony shot him a killing glance.
 Tony to McGee:  You'll be dead by opening credits.
Ha ha.  I just love the chemistry among the actors of this show.  I especially adore McGee.  He's my favorite.  I don't know.  I've always been a sucker for geeks.  Te he.

19 August, 2012

Lacoste Black Iris Large Shopping Bag

It's a long weekend and I'm loving it!  For the past week, my friend and I had been planning on watching The Bourne Legacy.  As we have a half-day work every Saturday, we decided to just do it today.

I arrived early and the mall was not yet open so I decided to have breakfast at Starbucks.  When my friend finally arrived, we headed to the cinema but Bourne Legacy would not be shown until 1:20 PM so we decided to go on a stroll to kill time.

And that's when the impulsive shopper in me gave in (for the nth time!) to my being a bagaholic.  

Here's my new loot, with the picture clearer than the first one as this is taken from the brand's official website.

It's the Black Iris Large Shopping Bag in Light Navy Blue from Lacoste, made of PVC leather and measures 37 x 30 and 5 x 20 centimeter.  

Here's a photo of the entire package that it came in.

I love that I was provided with its own cloth bag (the wrinkled one in the pic) as this comes in handy in storing my new bag.  It protects it too from dust.  

What I love about this bag is that it's the perfect size for traveling.  I can put in here my laptop, camera, makeup kit, jotter and pencil case and still have room to spare for a novel or a quick change of clothes.  It also has two inside pockets and a zip pocket that are great for organizing my stuff.  It is also stain-proof, as its care instructions tag shows.  

Pardon me for posting the above as I often misplace or throw away such tags that once I ended up washing a non-washable pair of shoes as I forgot its care instructions.

I must admit though that I was initially torn between buying this or a Longchamp but then I remember the many imitations of the latter and so I decided against buying it.

I was actually a little guilt stricken when I got home and saw my newly bought bags from my recent trip to the US but when I thought of how big the Black Iris bag is that it can even fit my laptop and other necessities and of how easy it is to maintain as it's stain-proof, I felt better.

Oh well, I guess a lady just can't have enough bags.  Te he.

03 August, 2012

Pasalubong from Oslob

Filipinos are probably the most thoughtful people in the world because wherever they go, they make sure to bring back some pasalubong (keepsakes or memento) for their loved ones.

The usual T-shirts, key chains, jewelry and ref magnets are available for sale in Oslob.

I bought these whale shark ref magnets at 3 for Php 100.00

Aren't they cute?

Compared to this big wooden sculpture of a whale shark that kind of looked scary to me.  Ha ha! 

Breakfast in Oslob

We were so hungry after seeing and swimming with the whale sharks that we decided to eat in one of the stalls that we saw in the area's beachfront.

The choices were limited.  There were sunny-side-up eggs, tocino, pancit and porkchop.  

I ordered porkchop with rice at Php 60.00 and I must say it was a sulit (worth-it) meal.  Cheap, filling and yummy.

I also ordered a kilo of mango at Php 40.00 that I shared with my friends and Royal Tru-Orange in can at Php 35.00.  Quite cheap.  And this I think is one of the best things about going somewhere rustic because food and service prices are very affordable.

Oslob Facilities

As mentioned in a previous post, Oslob is a sleepy town and tourism has just picked up so the facilities are still quite basic.

After our whale-watching experience, we went back to our accommodations.  It was a good thing that we had our own room because I do not know if the changing rooms in the area are okay.  I was told they charge Php 5.00 for its use.

Aside from the changing rooms, there are also stalls that sell souvenirs and food.

As the stalls are made of makeshift tent, the place looks kind of messy.

Thankfully, they are building proper stalls on one side of the area so the beachfront will be cleared of such an eyesore.

Cottages are also available for rent at Php 600.00.

With all these, I suggest that when going to Oslob, expect to have fun swimming with or seeing the whale sharks but lower your standards when it comes to the available facilities.

Underwater Shots of Whale Sharks

These photos were taken by one of my friends who had an underwater camera.  I just thought I'd share them as my whale shark-watching experience was mainly onboard our banca.

The photo below is a that of a whale shark coming head-on to my friend.  When I was in the water, a similar scene was my scariest moment as when an incoming whale shark opened its mouth, I thought it would suck me in.  

A little trivia before I end this post:  Did you know that whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are by far the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate, rivaling many of the largest dinosaurs in weight?

Oslob Whale Shark-watching Experience

We started the day early.  At about 6:30 AM, my friends and I were already registering for our whale shark-watching experience.  The fee is Php500.00 per person.  As one of my friends is a foreigner, she had to pay Php1,000.00.  Too bad we came here just after they imposed the increase on the rates as before, Oslob's whale watching rates were only Php300.00 for locals and Php500.00 for foreign nationals.

After our registration was the briefing.  Here, we were informed of the do's and don'ts of whale-watching e.g. the acceptable 5-meter distance when swimming with the whale-sharks, and other reminders like no putting on of sunblock, no flash when taking photos, no riding or touching them, etc.

Afterwards, we were issued tickets.  

Then we were given our snorkeling set and life vests.

As the seas were rough, we were told to not bring our cameras if they were not waterproof or with no proper casing.  My friends heeded this and went back to our room to leave their cameras but I refused as I wanted to document my whale-shark watching experience.

Then our banca was off to the sea.  It was a very scary ride and I feared the banca would tip over as the waves were crashing against it rather violently.  Thankfully, it did not.

The whale shark-watching area was five minutes from the shore.  As we were among the first batch, there were few guests.  There were about half a dozen spotters though, luring the whale sharks or butanding with food.

I'm scared of open water so I was the last one to leave the boat.  It was a fun experience to be swimming with the whale sharks but I must admit I wasn't feeling particularly ecstatic.  I only swam and snorkel for a mere five minutes and asked to be hoisted back up to our banca as it felt terrifying for a non-swimmer like me to be floating in the deep water, kicking my legs as I tried to swim away from the whale sharks when they got close.  And boy, did they get close as despite their size, they could glide swiftly in the water that one moment, they're meters away and next, one was already a mere meter or two away from me.  What's even scarier was that their mouth looked so big that when they open it, I thought I'd get sucked in.

If it was scary for me to be out in the water with the sharks, it was fun for me to just watch them swim around the boat while a spotter fed it with shrimp.  Below are my two photos of whale sharks that got close to our boat.

As my friends were enjoying snorkeling and swimming with the sharks, I chatted with out local boatman.  From him, I learned that whale sharks had been visiting Oslob usually during the months of October since he was a child.  The locals did not mind them, though, until October last year when they discovered that they could bring in tourists.  Below is a photo of my knowledgeable boatman.

I learned so much from him, including what they ate, that they are attracted to bubbles as they thought there's food, they disliked seaweeds or sagbot that when fed and they accidentally sucked in some sagbot, they would swim away, and that they have no teeth.  I am debunking that bit about their having no teeth though as my online search says whale sharks have 300 to 250 rows of tiny teeth.

From him too, I also found out that there are a dozen or more whale sharks in the area but only six of them are always seen.  Lastly, he shared that whale-watching in the island is only until 1 PM so as to not overfeed the whale sharks and to give them free time to be out in the sea.  "Because so long as you feed them, they keep on coming," he said in the vernacular.

Home-Cooked Dinner at Oslob

Another tip to those who will stay overnight in Oslob:  Make sure you arrange for your dinner meals as come 6 PM, carinderias (stalls selling cooked food) are already closed and restaurants are about fifteen to twenty minutes away as they are mostly in the town proper.  It's a really sleepy town, you see, where come night time, almost everyone is home the moment darkness settles.

We arrived in our accommodations at around 7 PM and again, it was 'nong Tallo who saved us from our predicament of what to eat for dinner.  He called some local ladies who were selling freshly caught fish and arranged for it to be cooked.  I'm not really familiar with fish (I only know milkfish, tilapia and tanguigue) so I do not know what this fish is called.

We found the fish too big for us so we only bought half of it and asked that it be cooked three-ways:  sinabawan, kinilaw and inihaw.

Sinabawang Isda served us our soup.  It was cooked the way we do so at home.

The kinilaw was my favorite of the three.

But the grilled or inihaw part of the fish was just as good.

This meal cost us Php125.00 per person and included the cost of the fish, labor fee for Manang for her cooking of the fish, rice and two 1.5 liters of coke.  Not bad, eh?

Oslob Accommodations

Continuing my Sumilon Island, Oslob and Dalaguete summer adventure thread, I will now move on to our Oslob adventures.

It was 'nong Tallo, my Oslob contact person, who became my hero for anything Oslob-related.  He arranged for a tricycle for the five of us for our transfers from Bancogon to our Oslob accommodations.  This cost us Php200.00.  A tip to those who would like to  follow our itinerary:  Make sure that you already arranged for your transportation as come night time, there are too few or worse, no available tricycle or multi-cab that ply the streets of Oslob.

Since Oslob too is not yet a developed tourist area, finding an acceptable accommodation was very difficult.  I did some online search but there were no helpful contact numbers or web and blog sites.  Thankfully, we have one staff in Plantation Bay who is from Oslob and her uncle, Tallo, happened to be a town official so he knows everything about Oslob and was the one who arranged everything for us.

Our accommodations were pretty basic.  Below is a photo of our room.  Pardon the quality as this was taken when I woke up at 5:30 AM and it was still pretty dark.

Inside, there was a small bed, mismatched bedsheets and blankets and towels (one was green and the other was blue) and the toilet and the bathroom areas were kind of cramped.  The furnishing was just one plastic red table and two chairs.   

As it was also new, there was an ongoing construction, which woke me up very early in the morning.

At Php1,750.00 per room per night, it was kind of expensive, especially since they also charge an extra Php400 for the mattress but then  the best thing about our accommodations was its location.  The registration and the briefing area for whaleshark-watching were just right in front of it.  

That and the fact that the people there were all friendly and helpful, which is typical of those from the province.

As our accommodations were newly established, it didn't have a name yet.  For inquiries, please send me a private message as I do not want to publish 'nong Tallo's contact details.

Rating my Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort Day Tour Experience

Now that I'm done blogging everything about my Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort day tour, I will now give my verdict.

A day tour in the said resort is pegged at Php1,500.00 on weekdays and Php2,000.00 on weekends and holidays.  Pretty reasonable.  Inclusions are round-trip transfers from Bancogon in Oslob to Sumilon Island (the island is right in the middle of the sea so this is a must), lunch, island activities like snorkeling, trekking and kayaking and use of swimming facilities.

A massage is not included in the day tour package so I had to pay Php1,500.00 for an hour of their Hilot Lamang.  It was okay, but expensive.

What I really love about the place were the picturesque views.  I could be in their Pavilion, in the lagoon or in the beachfront and my views were all spectacular.  A must is to trek to higher ground for a sweeping panoramic view of the sea and Sumilon's neighboring islands.

I also appreciated that the resort built a payag-payag, benches and loungers and installed hammocks around the resort as guests could lounge just anywhere to rest.

When we were there, most of the guests were groups of young professionals but the place is also perfect for families.  They even have a children's playground by the Dive Shop.


Our lunch was a disappointment because the food at the Pavilion was not delicious.  It was limited too that even when some food ran out, they did not bother to replenish.

I was also concerned about the security of our things as they did not provide us with lockers.  They did offer a safety box for our valuables but this comes at a fee of Php100.00 so my friends and I took just one and in there stored our wallets and mobile phones.  As for our other bags, we were told to just leave them in any of the picnic tables or loungers as these are on a first-come, first-served basis.  Whoa.  Just like that.  No claim stubs, no assigned staff.  Nothing.  We decided on leaving our bags by the Dive Shop as it seemed to be the safest knowing that there would be Dive Shop attendants on standby.  

Speaking of the Dive Shop, its changing room was a little untidy as parts of the floor were wet and there were also slipper marks.

The service was okay but I could not help but notice that it was obtrusive.  The staff would greet guests engaged in a conversation or would talk too loud and laugh that lounging guests could hear them.  I also noticed how some of them would not follow proper comportment and bearing.  Many times, I saw their Dive Shop attendants slouching.  I even heard some of them shouting instructions at a companion who was already way up on the beachfront.        

at the Dive Shop

Trekking is a good activity that the resort offers but it disappoints because aside from the panoramic views below, the watchtower and the baluarte, there was nothing else to see.  It would have been more interesting to climb up and while doing so, identify many species of plants and trees endemic to the island.

Another activity that they can offer is bird-watching.  It was fun seeing all those birds but since I was doing it by myself, I was left wondering about the species of the bird I saw.  The management should keep track of all the birds seen in the island then catalogue them for their guests' reference.  As I also got frustrated with just hearing bird calls during our trek, it would help if the resort would provide those interested with a binocular.

I would also strongly recommend that the management invest more on training its staff as for me, it is the service that ultimately defines a company.  

For inquiries about Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, please visit their official website.  Note that for day tours, they require reservations so they could arrange a boat transfer for you.  Just a tip.  Arrive there early (the earliest boat transfer from Bancogon to Sumilon is at 7:30 AM) so you will have more time to enjoy its facilities and activities until you depart the latest boat transfer back to Bancogon, which is at 5:30 PM.

Sunset at Sumilon Island

After disembarking from the boat, we had to wait for 'Nong Tallo who was my contact for our Oslob accommodations.

While waiting, I walked around the Bancogon's beachfront to take photos of the sunset.

These two are my favorite: