Be enchanted by the Enchanted River

It had been raining on and off the past few days but we've agreed that no matter what, rain or shine, we're going. So at around 5 in the morning, with the sky all dark, moonless and starless, we set out for the Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur.


Hinatuan, on the northeastern part of Mindanao, is a second class municipality with about 40,000 people. It's divided into 24 barangays and includes barangay Talisay where this amazing wonder of nature is located.

What's behind these greens?

The Enchanted River at high tide.

Being a coastal town, Hinatuan offers some of the freshest seafood this side of Mindanao. And as one of the government's waste management efforts, Hinatuan is totally plastic-free. You'd have to have your own shopping bag or make do with old newspapers for packaging.

Old newspapers for wrapping your seafood. 

Best for kinilaw, sinabaw or sinugba!

The Enchanted River

I've first heard about this place a few years back from some friends. And ever since, I've been wanting to go. Unfortunately for me however, I wasn't able to. Not before most of my friends and my friends' friends, and their friends from places much farther away got to see the place for themselves. Hah! How unfair was that! Agusan del Sur being the family's hometown, Hinatuan is quite pretty near. So every time someone asks me about it, or merely mentions it in a conversation, I kinda flip out!

But not anymore!

I finally got to be enchanted by the Enchanted River for real!

This is actually a medium-sized very blue basin-like part of the river that has such crystal-clear water that you can actually see the depths below. When I first saw it I wondered where the water's coming from since the 'basin' is right next to a hill. As it turned out, water gushes out from beneath the mountains. And so the unseen part of the river is an underground one and what we see and refer to as the Enchanted River is the visible end that leads out to sea.

Steps leading back up from icy river water.

It may seem really shallow because of the water magnifying things but I tell you it is not. In fact it's very deep. Early dive attempts to  determine its depth did not turn out successful right out. Although divers got to explore the underground part later on, it was eventually prohibited due to safety concerns.

Steps down to the river.

A ringing bell at 12 noon signals lunchtime. Two-legged ones are asked to leave the water so the finned ones can enjoy their feeding time as well.


Wait, there's actually more!

The River itself is so much worth the long trip but there's actually more! You can head out to sea via small motorboats or what's locally known as bangka and go island hopping! Visit a fish pen/restaurant a bit - just a bit - far out into the Pacific where you can eat lunch, belt out in videoke, or spend the night. 

Old bamboo walkway to the waiting bangkas. 

Heading out to sea.

Fish pen no. 2

These sea-turtles (locally known as pawikan) were eventually given their freedom to roam the ocean.

Smaller ones were also available.

Frolic in the waters of more islets.

Souvenir shop in one of the bigger islets.

And even go enter and exit on opposite sides of the mountain and play caveman!

Unfinished structure near the cave's mouth.

Seaside shanties as seen from the bangka on the way back from island hopping.

Pretty scenery.


So how to get there?

If you're coming from somewhere beyond the island of Mindanao, several airlines such as Cebu Pacific, PAL and Air Asia have daily 60 to 120-minute flights to Butuan City in the northeast, Surigao City in the east northeast and Davao City in the southeast.

There are available vehicles for hire that can take you directly to Hinatuan for a fixed price and drop by Bislig's Tinuy-an falls along the way. Or you can board Bachelor Express buses from all three locations to Mangagoy, drop by the junction to the Enchanted river marked by a huge signboard and take a habal-habal ride to the spot.  Travel from Davao city usually takes about 4 to 5 hours, from Butuan city - about 2 to 3 hours and from Surigao city - a little more than 3 hours.

No need to worry if you don't have baon (packed lunch/food) for there are several stalls located right before the resort where you can buy and have food cooked. Or you could shop in the local market and cook your food yourselves. Like we did. 

That's kinilaw in the round container, sinugbang  (grilled) fish and sinugbang pork.

And what's the budget?

Vehicles for hire - usually vans with driver included, can range from 2,000 Php (about $50 USD) and up depending on where you're starting from and how long you're going to be using the vehicle. Fuel and driver allowance (i.e. meals) are or are not included depending on what you've agreed upon with the operator/owner.

Food from the booths near the Enchanted River usually costs about 20 Php (about $3 USD) depending on the dish you ordered. A plate of rice good for 3-4 persons is around 60 Php.

Entrance fees are 30 Php for adults and 5 Php for kids 4ft and below.

Cottage fees range from 100 to 500 Php (about $2 to $11 USD).

Life vests, goggles, and life buoys are also available for rent at very minimal hourly rates.

Motorized boats or bangkas for island hopping are at 160 Php per hour and accommodates 4 persons.

The Enchanted River is open daily from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more inquiries, you can contact the Hinatuan River Management at (+63) 920-259-5554 or the Hinatuan Tourism Officer at (+63) 919-460-0855.

Window into the river.


Cebu in a day!

Dakbayan sa Sugbu! 

That's how you say it in Cebuano. Christened as the Queen City of the South, it is the second most significant metropolitan city in the Philippines and is an important center for trade, commerce and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao areas. It is the capital city of the metropolitan area of Metro Cebu... and is famous for the Sinulog Festival.

In my less-than-48-hours stay in the big city, I played tourist and revisited attractions I've been to before and places I've seen as a first-timer.

Magellan's Cross

Koreans! Lots of 'em. It was like more than half of the people in that tiny building were chinky-eyed Koreans. Oh, well.. K-Invasion of the Philippines, remember? Haha.. So much for that. This Christian cross above, was planted by Ferdinand Magellan when he first set foot in the country, Cebu being the oldest Spanish settlement. It is right beside Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. The one displayed is not the original cross and a sign just below it says that the real one is encased inside to protect it from wear and tear... most specially from tourists/visitors who take a bit of the cross for souvenirs.

And of course, I din't attempt to chip off some souvenir. ☻

Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño

The first church was constructed in 1565 and was made of nipa and wood on the spot where the image of the Sto. Niño (the Holy Child Jesus), kept in a wooden box, was said to be left by the Magellan group and was later found by Spanish explorers who came after him. Lots of people all over the country flock to this minor basilica located just across the City Hall, as the Sto. Niño is believed to be miraculous, healing diseases and such. 

So, expect long queues if you wanna come face to face with the Sto. Niño!


A Day of Red, Plump Hearts.

February 14, 2012 

Here once again. 

It's the same day as last year. People all over - couples to be exact, are busy prepping for this long-awaited day... with flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, dinner dates, etc. And single people... wear this:

Haha.. A lot of single people I know make a big deal out of being dateless on this day. But.. 

What is the big deal?!

It's just Valentine's day. Not a very special day. The sun rises in the morning. The sky brightens. It either remains clear and blue. Or turn grey one minute and rain the entire day. You eat breakfast. Go to work. Then lunch. Back to work again. Have dinner. Or totally skip it. You watch some tv. Or socialize on Facebook. Then hit the sack. Typical day. ~a typically-normal-but-slightly-bitter single

It is Valentine's day. Not any ordinary day. It's the perfect day to spend with your honey. May it be just watching a movie together and eating out. A stroll along the beach or along Manila bay. A romantic dinner on board a yacht with sweet music filling the air and flutes overflowing w/ champagne (or something else bubbly). Whatever little thing you spend doing as long as you're together.. makes this day specially special! ~a head-over-heels-in-love-with-you honeybunny who's definitely got a date

It actually depends on how you look at it. How you see life and this day. Some say it's a day of love. Give  and receive some. But despite what the naysayers say about this being just any day or what the romantics say about this being a very special day.. let's all keep in mind that loving and being loved is and should be an everyday thing. We don't love our parents or children or siblings or sweethearts just for this day. We love them everyday! 

So, let's spread the love. :) 

"Give love because you can."

Happy red, plump Heart's day! :)


A walk to the ECP – Singapore

Thank God it’s Friday.

But then, I was on holiday so it really didn’t matter. Started my day really early. Shower at 4 am. Breakfast at 5 (or should I say very late dinner). Mails. Small talk. I din’t actually have any definite plans for the day..where to go..what to do. Good thing I spent some quality talk with the hostel guy who suggested I visit East Coast Park, which was actually on my list! I just happened to bunk at the right location. Wonderful!

A quick run upstairs for my camera and off I went.  The outside world was calling me…waiting to be explored!



In Pictures.

photo courtesy of definitelyfilipino.com

The last year was wonderful. 

GOD had been so good to me and there were so many things I was and am thankful for. Backpacked my way to places. Culture and things I got to experience. Couchsurfed. People I met and the Friends I 've made. The lessons I've learned... So in thanks, Year twenty eleven. In pictures. Some of it anyway. :)

Went to see the Banaue Rice Terraces sometime in January. Huge thanks to Sky!

What a magnificent view... right?

Jeep-mates from all over! ☺




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