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April 17, 2013

The Visayan Invasion 2k11

September 2011. (Reposted from my Tumblr) This is the Visayan Invasion 2k11, our second educational tour which is, of course around Visayas!
We stayed at Ira’s house at Sta. Barbara. It was a simple and comfortable home, pretty much on a farm-like setting. Yet, I liked it. I liked the cool ambience and the shade of green everywhere. Away from the noise and pollution of the urban life. We arrived at about 5:00. There were six of us - Freanne, Shane, Lalaine, Shenna Lou, Allan and moi.

They were very accommodating and nice, too. I’ve never thought that they’d prepare much for our arrival, but it was just heartwarming. We were served fresh coconut juice and “bihon” for snacks. Ah, I was satisfied. It was almost sundown when we decided to go and have a look around their barangay, of course, with Ira as our Tour GuideTeehee! Going back to the house, Allan was practicing his dance for his talent in the Miss Visayan Invasion X, (Yes. Allan is a boy) while Ira’s mom cooked dinner. Dinner made me full - rice, fried fish, ham, the “bihon” we ate as snacks was served. At night, we could barely sleep.  We had this airbed that keeps on wobbling every time we move. [Therefore, I don’t like airbeds.]Add the excitement of tomorrow’s flight to Cebu. Ugh. We barely had three hours of sleep!

DAY 1 - ILOILO - CEBU

We woke up at about three in the morning and took turns in using the bathroom. The water was oh-so-cold! For the record, it barely took me 5 minutes to take a bath. [It normally takes me about 10-15 minutes. Yay!] We had eggs and noodles for breakfast. Yum! At about 3:45, we bade goodbye. We couldn’t thank them enough for letting us in for the night. We were escorted by Ira’s uncle to the airport with his pick-up van.

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The airport was just a few minutes away. When we arrived, it was still closed! Ha! We waited for nearly thirty minutes before the airport opened. [They always open at 4:30. We arrived at 4:00. That’s too early! XD ]
We all finally checked in at about 5:45. Wow, that’s about an hour. Talk about checking in a hundred students plus about a hundred of other people. That’s just about a lot.

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This is it! 
Farewell Iloilo! Hello CEBU!!!

Cebu from the sky looked great but it would look better if the sun was shining. There was a storm at that  day but I’m glad it’s not within the region. We only had rain showers and I’m hoping that everything will be fine - safe on arrival and safe back home.

We landed Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority at about 7:30 and there we met our tour guide, Mr. Ferdinand [I’m sure his name was Ferdinand]. Would you believe he is a computer engineering graduate and has been a tour guide for seven years?? Me neither. So, we then went straight to Lapu-Lapu Shrine. But before that, guess who we found by their bus outside the airport? It’s the Talk and Text Basketball Team! Oh.My.Gosh. We had a little delay in boarding of the bus since, of course, they took pictures. Imagine standing next to a tall and well-built man. Teehee! I managed to squeeze in for a picture but I don’t know whose camera it was. So, after seeing them up close, I went back to where a couple of my friends were standing, and watched as they posed here and there with the team. Now, going back to the Shrine.

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In the place stands the person who defeated Ferdinand Magellan in the fight. Facing the Lapu-Lapu shrine is the actual place where they had the battle.

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Then we went to Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, the church that houses the child Santo Nino, the patron of Cebu. Did I mention we passed by Bigfoot Studios? 

After that, we had breakfast at a  restaurant situated somewhere inside the city. There was a boy about 12-15 years old whom we’d like to call Bruno Mars eventhough he sang like Bieber. It’s because he looked like Bruno Mars! He has this percussion, sort of like a drum, and he stood there and sang while we ate. You know what? He has a really good voice, real potential. Next on the itinerary was the Heritage of Cebu Monument. It’s a big structure in the middle of the rotunda that tells the story of Cebu.

Now before we reached Magellan’s cross, we passed by a tunnel - a beautiful tunnel. Like this.

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Something like you see in movies. Yellow lights flickered while our bus increased it’s speed. It was just romantic,  I can’t explain. You  just have to be there! And then we were down to South Road Properties where they are planning to build the largest Mall of Asia called the Mall of Asia 2. (They call it like it’s a sequel.)

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Our tour guide is just so tall, you surely won't get lost in the crowd. :D
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There was a mass going on...
We then went to the Magellan’s Cross. Another historical landmark in Cebu. There were ladies dressed in costumes and selling candles around since the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, our next destination, is just  a few steps away from the cross. Then we bought trinkets and souvenirs just across the street. T-shirts were sold from 80-120 pesos depending on the size. I have to say souvenirs there were cheap! [I mean from all the places I’ve been too, the one’s here are very much inexpensive.]

Next stop, the  Taoist temple situated at Beverly hills - where the elite or richest people live.  It’s a steep drive like the ones in Baguio and it seems that the temple is situated at the top.

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In there you can see one side of Cebu from a bird’s eye view. It was cloudy at that time but it was still beautiful. I could see Waterfront Hotel because of its distinctive blue color. After that, we went to D’ Port. Ahhh! There was more food than the eyes could see and the mouth could eat. From the appetizers to main courses up to the desserts! They even had popcorns and ice creams that I never had the chance to try since I was already so full. That has yet to be the best lunch of the tour.

Then we had shopping at ayala center. I could tell that it’s huge and we never had a chance to see all of  it. Next, the most awaited part of the day, the Edge-coaster ride and Skywalk situated on the 37th floor of Crown Regency Hotel.

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Itinerary said 1 ride for each person. Are you kidding me? I had two tickets so I had to try both! Haha. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so I might as well grab it. The edge coaster was a bit scary at first. Its like being in a roller coaster too. The only difference is that, youre on the edge of the 37th floor of a building and tilted 45 degrees overlooking the city and what you see below you are the street! Good heavens. It’s as if youre having suicide. But youre not. Its supposed to be a f un activity and man, I did have fun. Oh my gosh, the experience was thrilling! The skywalk was safer than the edge coaster. No, you just don’t walk at a platform by the edge of the building. You got harness. The skywalk is a floor below the edge coaster. We had to buy socks worth 20 pesos. Geez. And then they have this white shoes with spikes under, so we don’t slip. Im sure they’ve cleaned the shoes right? Haha. Imagine how many people have already worn them.  So the platform was about a meter wide, fit for one person. There were about four expert Skywalkers with us, two of them were photographers. They told stories and guided the harness all around the building. It took us about five to ten minutes around. We were then made to sit on the platform and they took pictures of us. I wanted to buy the photo for a souvenir but it costs like 200! Seriously? Well the experience was already satisfying.

We then had dinner at Family Choice restaurant. I have to say that Cebu loves buffet very much.
We spent the night at Sarrosa International Hotel. The lobby was plush! Chandeliers, and good-looking sofas were in the lobby.

Our room was carpeted and it had a nice smoked-glass comfort room. We also had a flat screen television. Cool. It has 6 beds in it and it was so comfortable being there. I wish I could stay longer. Heheh. It was a looooong day.

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DAY 2 - STILL IN CEBU

We checked out the hotel and had breakfast at Crown Regency Hotel (remember it was where we had Skywalk and Edge Coaster. The meal was plated. It was mostly egg and meat. Ugh. I barely finished the meal since I didn’t have much appetite that morning. Maybe it’s because of lack of sleep. Then Mr. Ray Parreno, their manager had a little talk about Customer Service.

Then we proceeded to University of San Carlos Talamban Campus. We met our student-guide Jayson who is a 3rd year Culinary Student. Isn't it just good to see students being the guide?

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As I see it, the University had this Study Area the size of two-and-a-half basketball courts! Wow! They also have a Project-Making Area the size of our school canteen. How cool is that? They also had this mini hotel that actually accepts guests and it’s also where their students do their practicum, maybe. And when we asked our student guide about their tuition per semester, our jaws just dropped. Php 75,000 per semester! But it’s all worth it. The campus was just so huge, you can’t finish a day to thoroughly go through every building.

Plantation bay was next in the itinerary but we didn’t have the chance to go there. Only bus 2 did. I was in bus 1. They said it was beautiful. But well the USC tour was worth it. 

Then we went to Maribago Blue Waters which has an AAA rating. It was beautiful-- almost paradise.

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It was unbelievable windy that time!

It had a pool, white sand, and a man-made beach that overlooks the tall buildings of the city. Awesome!

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Look at how blurd these photos are. :/ At least, I get a souvenir photo. 

We saw some Koreans in the pool too. The staff offered us their lemon grass and calamansi juice. That was the first time I tasted something like and it was so good! Refreshing! I wanted another glass but they only had enough for one. Sheesh.

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Then we had a tour of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority. It was huge! We went to the Domestic and International Departure areas plus the Immigration Area and etcetera. It was about more than half an hour of walking all around the airport. 

Then we bade goodbye to Cebu and our tour guide whom we loved. 
Sir, goodbye and hope to see you soon!

I could compare our fastcraft ride to a car travelling on a very rough road. And considering the situation, almost everyone vomited, mostly on the front . I was glad I was able to find a seat at the near back and was able to control my dizziness. That was one long fastcraft ride. Irony.

It took us more than two hours to finally arrive at bohol. We went to panglao island where we would stay for the night. The resort was called bohol plaza resort. It was nice. It was almost 10 when we had dinner
There were four of us in the room , and the three of us were camwhoring.

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DAY 3 - BOHOL

We woke up at 5:30.
Upon arriving at the lobby, everyone was so weak as if we haven’t slept. 
Well maybe it was some kind of a hangover from last night’s fastcraft ride.

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We waited for like an hour for the bus to arrive. Then we went to dauis church where I bought water. They said it had healing powers. The church was blue on the inside and it had a nice view outside!

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We then went to Aproniana restaurant where we had eggs and hotdogs for breakfast. The restaurant was neat. It had little trinkets (sort of shells) hung on the ceilings and lights that sets the mood for breakfast. Cute!

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Then we shopped at Aproniana's Souvenir shop. Gosh the shirts there were a bit expensive so instead I bought peanut kisses and other Boholano goodies instead.

Next stop, Baclayon church where the claimed image of Father Pio is seen on one of its support walls.

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Did you see it? 

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Then we went to Loboc River! Yeah! My very first river cruise! 

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They served us lunch here. While we fed our stomach, we also had a view of the Loboc River and the bounty of flora (and beautiful houses) while the boat passes by.

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Then there's the people of Barangay Gotozon here elder people sang and younger ones danced. They also offered us a little trivia about Philippine Dances. :)

Next stop is the Bilar Man-made forest which is a bit creepy. My bus-mates even tried if they could capture ghosts using their cameras, but failed. Then we went to the Tarsiers (uber cute primates)!

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Now that is one big tarsier! Hahaha. LOL. Kidding. It's just Nica.

After that is the exciting ride towards Chocolate Hills! Chyeah! I swear , it's even better than the pictures! I've always thought the hills were just found on one side but no. You can see these hills 360 degrees! But before you get to the observatory, you have to climb 9 sets of nine steps or you can take the ramp. Our local tour guide said that it's better if you take the stairs when going up and take the ramp when you're going down...or was it the other way around? LOL!

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That's just breathtaking!

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I wish the hills were brown when we went there. It was green at that time, nevertheless, it was still beautiful. After that, we headed to Bohol City Mall where we shopped for what else, shirts! I bought a black Bohol t-shirt and a green one with the name 'artist' on the front in bold letters. Yes. I am an artist, no questions. :D
Then its goodbye Bohol and were off to Dumaguete at about 5 -- which means another ferry ride. It was better this time, and yes, no more vomiting. Just dizzy heads. :)

It was evening when we arrived. We waited for about 30 minutes before we were able to get out of the port and proceed to South Seas Resort. We went there via Silliman University Bus. The bus was old and it’s like it’s all gonna come down before we could reach our destination, but it didn't. Thank God. :)

We arrived at the Resort about 10-minutes after. First impression of the place: 'Uhm. Is this really a resort-hotel?' From the outside, it looked like some abandoned place with a few lights on and not even a security guard to say 'Good evening' or 'Welcome'. It was creepy. 

We left our things at the lobby and had dinner at their open restaurant overlooking the ocean. I forgot what we had for dinner, but for dessert we had this little shot glass half-filled with whipped cream and little sago on top. It was good, but a little too much on the whipped cream. I guess I'm just not used to it. Pfff.
After dinner, our coordinators decided to hold the Miss Visayan Invasion after we freshen ourselves up. We were gathered at the lobby but the lights suddenly went off! Brownout! Darn it was as dark as midnight and we only had our cellphones to serve as light. So we waited for the hotel's management to find a solution to the situation. Turns out, they didn't have emergency lights or so. We waited for about a lifetime...kidding, for about half an hour before they decided to postpone the night's activity and escort us to our rooms. The path to the rooms was so dark [and scary] that one emergency light wasn't able to light our way. We passed by trees that were older than me. There were six of us in a room. Ira, Sunshine, Jan, Shane, Kristel and me. We waited for more than half an hour to finally have the lights. Praise!! After the lights were back, Shine went outside. After a few moments, she got back and told us that a crazy man got inside the place. Scary! So, we made sure we locked the doors and turned on the lights while sleeping.
That morning, when I woke up, I looked outside the windows, only to discover that they were'nt locked! And the windows were not just ordinary-sized windows. It was more than the size of four men side by side. Gawwwdd! 

So, if you're planning to go to Dumaguete, don't ever stay at South Seas. Ok?


DAY 4 - DUMAGUETE

I didn’t take a bath because they didn’t have enough water and the comfort room was way too open -- no privacy at all. I mean if I were outside, I could take a peek and see who’s inside through the clear glass walls of the shower room. And it didn’t have a door. It's like it wasn't cleaned for way too long.

When we went back to the lobby, we placed our things and went back to the place where we had dinner last night. A beautiful view overlooking the beach and the horizon greeted us a sunny morning. The resort’s surrounding was actually beautiful during the day. If only they made such an effort to improve the place, their service and their accommodation, they could pass even for a two or three-star rating - believe me.
Anyway, we had eggs and tocino (Tocilog!) for breakfast plus a hot chocolate drink--yes, milo. Now, that’s what you call Filipino breakfast.

After that, we bade goodbye to that somehow gloomy place.
First destination for Day 4 is the Plaza. Where we visited a church, and saw the oldest model of Ford and a canon used during the war. 

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I'm squinting my eyes too much because it was too sunny!

Beside the chuch there were tombs for the aborted children (and there were a lot). It was sad to see those. Next, Rizal Boulevard. Thank God our bus malfunctioned and was brought for immediate repair, we had the time to stroll around the boulevard. Coolness!

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The sun was shining brightly so it was really a good time to sport some jump shots and candid poses around. Our bus got repaired immediately and was there just as we were halfway to the end of the boulevard. We were then brought to Silliman University’s Marine Laboratory. They had plenty of species of crocodiles and bones of marine animals.

Then were off for Lunch. We had it at Jo’s Chicken Inato.  Of course, we had roasted chicken. And then we were off to Bacolod! A 6-hour butt-aching drive from dumaguete. Now this is some serious sitting. Haha. It was such a scene outside because I could see shades of green everywhere! I just love it very much. I wish this would never end. XD We passed by a housing project, a sugarcane farm, a corn farm, and lots of fields and mountains. It was almost sundown when we arrived at Bacolod. We stopped by Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House which, my teacher said, was spooky. Well, I enjoyed it.

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Inside were photos of the General, their family history and other photos. I see they were acquainted to the Lacsons. After all, it is where they came from.

Then we proceeded to L’Fisher Chalet where we will be staying for the night. We had dinner and after that was the Miss Visayan Invasion X! Curious? It’s similar to a pageant but the thing is, the boys will be dressed up as girls! It was fun! You know, seeing boys [okay, they’re NOT REALLY boys] wear high heels and sway their hips and answer nonsense questions during the interview. And the girls were cheering! Haha. They were also planning to have a pool party that night (just so we could use our bathing suits), but it didn't pursue. We even took photos of us in our bathing suits! Hahaha. Meanwhile after everything that night, we also had a little birthday celebration for a couple of our classmates at their guest room, which is not allowed. 

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And so he turns 19!

Unfortunately, we were caught. Our coordinators were having a room check that night and maybe they reached our room and noticed that no one was answering. I wish we had left one person in. All three of us in the room went neighboring. We were reprimanded but thank God they did not report us to our teachers. Overall, it was a good night, really.

Day 5 - BACK TO ILOILO

Last day of the tour!
We woke up at around 5:30.  We then proceeded to the rooftop where we had our breakfast. Yes, they have a rooftop restaurant and swimming pool. Tocino, eggs and rice were served again, plus a pineapple orange juice.

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I look so happy in the photo! Hahaha. Goodness.

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Others were dipping in the pool. We took a few pictures overlooking the seas as well. It's a nice rooftop pool. :) 

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After breakfast and a few photo-ops, we went back to our room to gather our things. But before that, we took the chance to finally have a decent photo of us inside our room! Hahaha.

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At the lobby...
We then went to the Ruins. The guide was super fun, he kept on saying jokes and spoke like Marc Logan (funnyman/local newscaster). He even looked a bit like Marc Logan.



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See those E's facing each other? Actually, those are M's. Go tilt your head side ward! :D It symbolizes the names of the owners Mariano and his wife Maria

And then there’s a fountain at the back that looked magical, as if you were in a cartoon like from Aladdin.

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And there are green grasses and flowers everywhere! I’d love to live here. It’s also amazing how this structure still stands up till today. Egg whites and cement make a really good pair for this structure. The place is really being taken care of and really is beautiful until now. Our guide says something magical happens here during 5:30 when the sun sets. My classmates guessed that ghosts appear during the time. Eh, wrong. He said there are no ghosts. This is what happens…

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Photo by Traveling Morion

The Ruins turn into a beautiful hue of gold because of the direct rays of the sun! Magical isn't it. So  if you visit the ruins, make sure its nearly sundown. :) It was just about eight or nine when we went there, too bad.
Then we went to El Ideal Bakeshop. Perhaps the oldest bakeshop in Negros. I bought angel cookies and they tasted like heaven! Yeah. I wanna have more, but my wallet says no. XD.
Then we went to Balay Negrense. An ancestral house.

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They've got a lot of ancestral homes in Negros. Rows of them. It was a bit spooky inside Balay Negrense and you weren’t allowed to take pictures on the second floor. Last time, according to our teacher, some ghost showed up in one of our senior's photo. Eeeekk.. Creepyyyy...

We also went in the basement where numerous souvenirs molded from were available. I bought a circular keychain that says 'Balay Negrense'. I wonder where that keychain is now. :/ They even have this little structure out of wires! I was in awe. Who else makes these stuff? :D

After that, we had our last lunch for this year's tour. It was at O-Hotel which is a nice place. The food was good. We had our exit exam, which I hope, I had passed. I haven't seen my score until now. At an instance, I saw a group of my batchmates gathered in a circle. Out of curiosity, I headed towards them ans found out that they were watching a ghost captured in the photo. I had the chance to look at it, but I forgot how it looked like. LOL.

So that's a wrap of an exciting, thrilling (what else? Spooky!) Visayan Invasion. I wish to go back to these places someday. Definitely, I will. Have a good day! 
Photos are from my batch mates. :)

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