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The Pines Melaka Hotel Riverside

Warm lights glimmer across the Melaka River. We’ve just had our mee goreng and kopi ais fix a few minutes ago and decided to walk along the river to get back to The Pines, our hotel for a couple of nights in Melaka. The air was sultry with humidity and my shirt was plastered with sweat. Crossing one of the many bridges traversing the waterways, we took in the view of the lighted traditional Malay houses of Villa Sentosa, snaking just right across where we were staying. We couldn’t have asked for a better location in the city.

The Pines Melaka Hotel Lobby
THE PINES’ GRAND LOBBY

We arrived at Melaka just before midnight; a four-hour flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, a two-hour bus ride from KLIA2 to Melaka, then a quick two-kilometer ride from the Melaka Central Bus station to The Pines Melaka. We were exhausted but once we opened the door to our room, we felt that it was all worth it.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lake Sebu Day Tour

Our habal-habal motorcycle slowly climbed the steep uphill drive towards our lodging with me and my travel buddy riding at the back with our big-ass backpacks, tightly praying that we don’t fall off and crash. After what seemed like an eternity, which really must have been less than a minute, we stopped by the front of the inn and gladly jumped off the bike. We took in the scenery below, our sigh of relief coming at the same moment our breath was taken away.

 

MUNICIPAL TOURISM LODGE / LEMOBUNG LODGE & RESTO
ADDRESS: SURALLAH-LAKE SEBU ROAD, POBLACION, LAKE SEBU | PHONE: (0918) 603-3354 | GPS MAP: 6.214966, 124.701919

Lake Sebu Municipal Tourism Lodge
SECOND FLOOR OF THE MUNICIPAL TOURISM LODGE

Our day started early. From the Sunrise Garden Lake Resort in Lake Seloton, we were fetched by our trusted guide, Eric Aguilar (0905-9701986, PHP 500.00 per day) and roared through the cold, winding and empty roads of Lake Sebu en route to the Municipal Tourism Lodge (Lemobung), our home for the second half of our Lake Sebu tour.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, April 29, 2016

Second Waterfall at Lake Sebu's 7 Waterfalls

After flying almost 200 meters above ground through Lake Sebu’s Seven Falls Zipline, we huffed and puffed our way to the park’s second waterfall. The path was easy enough but adrenaline was still pumping through our blood. After a few minutes, a sheer rock wall lined with layers of time led to the 70-foot Hikong Bente waterfalls. It was almost the end of our Lake Sebu tour and all our weariness of riding the habal-habal motorbike all day seemed worth it.

First Waterfall at Lake Sebu's 7 Waterfalls
HIKONG ALO, THE FIRST WATERFALL WITH A HEIGHT OF 35 FEET

I have read a lot about the Seven Falls Zipline and the famed seven waterfalls of Lake Sebu but I actually have no idea how we would proceed about it. Do we have to hike from one falls to another like at Negros Occidental’s Seven Falls of Mabukal, do we see all the seven waterfalls by riding one zipline, or do we actually zip from one waterfall to the next?

It turned out to be a combination of the three.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lake Seloton South Cotabato

Tendrils of mist were lazily rising from the water, waiting for the rays of the early morning sun to reach it. Sunrise at South Cotabato’s Lake Seloton takes a bit of waiting, being situated 700 meters above sea level and an the eastern mountain range further delaying it. But once the sun broke free and its light touched the waters, the once gray scene turned magical; the lilies bloomed with colors as fisherfolks aboard their wooden owong dugout canoes started to make their graceful way across the gleaming waters. Life was starting at Lake Seloton.

Lake Seloton South Cotabato
LAKE SELOTON BEFORE SUNRISE

Our own day started not at the town of Lake Sebu where Lake Seloton is located, but at General Santos City. It took two hours by a combination of an ordinary bus, a cramped van and a habal-habal motorbike up and down unpaved roads to reach this famed lake in Mindanao.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, April 25, 2016

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte Underwater

Guys, don’t you wanna swim?! I exasperatedly asked my companions as they lazed under the midday shade of coconut trees, munching on crispy pork lechon and guzzling litros of warm Red Horse beer. Check the water first if it’s any good then come back and convince us some more, was their reply.

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte Underwater
UNDER KALANGGAMAN’S WATERS

Frustrated, I went off to Kalanggaman Island’s cream-colored sand and dove beneath its azure waters. It enveloped me, warm and crystal clear with nary a current to fight with. The sand beneath, rippling with the filtered rays of the sun, was very fine and soft under foot. I swam farther out, passing beds of sea grass and clumps of corals. I totally forgot about getting back to my friends.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sto. Niño Shrine Romualdez Museum Tacloban

Welcome to the grand ballroom, our guide announced as he flicked the switch open, lighting the cavernous hall at the second floor of Tacloban City’s Sto. Niño Shrine. Five massive wooden chandeliers carved by artisans all the way from the town of Betis in Pampanga illuminated the space where lavish balls were once held by deposed president Ferdinand Marcos and his first lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

We were all bowled over. It was grand. It was luxurious. And it was almost vulgar in its excesses.

Sto. Niño Shrine Romualdez Museum Tacloban
THE FIREFLY RECEIVING ROOM, DUBBED SO DUE TO ITS CURIOUS CEILING LIGHTS

Forgive me, but when my companions said we were visiting the Sto. Niño Shrine, I thought we’d be going to the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban. Well, could you really blame me? Whoever would have thought that a presidential guesthouse would have a chapel for its foyer? Blame Imelda for that one.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, April 21, 2016

San Juanico Bridge Tacloban Evening

One morning during our four-day trip across Leyte, we decided to walk the length of the San Juanico Bridge. It was not a first for me, having gone through the longest bridge in the country, both during the early mornings and evenings of Tacloban City. I could write about this latest crossing, but my previous experience at this bridge was far more interesting. Let’s roll back four years ago.

San Juanico Bridge Tacloban Evening
EVENING WALK AT THE SAN JUANICO BRIDGE

It was not in my planned itinerary to visit Tacloban City, or even pass it during my recent trip down south of the Philippines. A missed flight back to Manila from Cebu City for a connecting plane ride to Northern Samar forced me to reevaluate my plans and do an impromptu Plan B; Plan B being a combination of sea and land trip from the Queen City of the South to a little known island in Northern Samar.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chew Love Restaurant Tacloban

Love. Love. Love. That’s all you need according to the Beatles. But man does not live on love alone or even just bread, as the bible confirms. That’s just a big no, no, and no. I don’t want love, I want food. I want good food. But at Tacloban’s cutely named restaurant, Chew Love, I’m pretty sure you can have both.

Chew Love Restaurant Tacloban
CHEW LOVE’S NEW WING HAS AN OUTDOOR PATIO

Situated at the near the city’s food center, Chew Love easily stands out from the neighborhood with its pastel-colored facade complete with striped awnings and a cute balustrade-lined patio. On its yard, the walls are painted to look as though the neighborhood is as dainty as restaurant itself. And right as you enter the door, hand-sewn colorful hearts would greet you from every inch of the frame.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, April 17, 2016