Sunday, February 12, 2017

We. The North.

June 4th-June 12th

Our time in the central islands of the Philippines had come to an end. We woke up at the break of dawn and were shuttled to Coron's airport in the middle of nowhere. Our morning flight would be bringing us back to Manila and back to the island of Luzon, where we would be heading to the north of the island for our final time in the Philippines.

Once back in Manila, we immediately made our way to the bus station and hopped on a bus headed north to Vigan, our first destination. Even though Vigan is 405km away from Manila, the mountainous roads of the Cordillera region made the drive slow and it took us between 7-10 hours to finally get to our destination.

We arrived after dark and hadn't made any reservations. We took a taxi to the area where our desired accommodation was located and hoped for the best. The door was locked and we had to wait outside until someone opened up the door. Thankfully, they had one room left and I jumped on the opportunity. It was considerably fancier than the places we were used to and was a heritage building.

Vigan, not to be confused with those non-animal-based-product-eating hippies, is a city that was captured and settled by the Spanish in 1572. It grew in power and influence and became the seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia in 1758. It was spared from bombing in World War II and as a result, Vigan still maintains much of its original colonial charm; including cobble-stone roads, Spanish-era villas and also uses kalesa (horse drawn carriages) as well as trikes.

Because of this high degree of preservation, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, being the best preserved Spanish colonial town in all of Asia.

We started our day just sauntering through the cobble-stoned streets and admiring the colonial architecture. We eventually came across a small nondescript church with an extravagant graveyard behind it.

It was surprisingly interesting to wander around and see the elaborate crypts, tombs and tombstones.

From there we went to Plaza Burgos, a tribute to Father Jose Burgos. This was right across the street from St. Paul's Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace.

From there we passed City Hall and stopped to take some pics in front of the Plaza Salcedo and its impressive fountain.

Our next stop was the most interesting of the day: the Provincial Jail. This colonial-era building was still in use but could also be visited by tourists. We assumed it wasn't for dangerous offenders because we got to tour a basketball court and saw a large group of prisoners watching TV.

After a great breakfast at our hotel, we headed for Baguio, our layover stop before heading deeper into the Cordillera region of Luzon.

Baguio is a bustling university town and was founded as a hill station for the US military in the early 1900s.

We arrived near nightfall so the landscape was rather obscured, but two things were for sure: 1) Baguio was extremely hilly (there were no trikes to be seen) and 2) there was a ton of traffic.

We settled on a place called Blue Mountain Hotel and were eager to have a night on the town. Being a university town at the very beginning of the semester, we expected the night life to be the stuff of legends.

We started our evening by eating at Cafe by the Ruins. This restaurant was a little more high class than we were used to, but the food and the ambience were second to none. We ran into a little problem when we ordered drinks with our meal, because the waiter informed us that they didn't serve alcohol.

Being extremely resourceful, Mike went off into the night and procured us a 6-pack and came back into the restaurant. The waiter saw, and was not impressed. We stated that we would have gladly purchased them from the restaurant if they had offered them. After some friendly exchange, he finally agreed, but told us we would have to drink it from nondescript glasses. Fair enough.

We had heard about a really popular student bar district and we decided to find it. For some reason (most likely frugality), we decided to walk and find it rather than take a taxi. We walked around for probably over an hour until we finally stumbled upon this mecca of partying.

Unfortunately, the 3-4 bars in this complex were virtually empty! It turns out that we had in fact showed up one week too early for the beginning of the semester, and as a consequence, missed all the first-week shenanigans.

We did finally go into one bar jam-packed with 4 other people, including one not so convincing lady-boy, and I ended up dancing on stage with everyone while Mike took pictures of this sorry spectacle.

The following day, were were off to Sagada, the Cordillera's natural wonderland. It has been alluring us with caving, hiking, waterfalls and fascinating hanging coffins (more on that later), but first we had to get there.

We took an almost 6-hour bus ride from Baguio to Sagada. Considering it is only 150km away, you can imagine the condition of the roads and the speed of the bus. However, the mountainous landscape really makes up for it.

We finally arrived to Sagada and were blown away by the quaint atmosphere and chill vibe that this place radiated.

We found a guesthouse near the bus station and started to explore. We had three goals for Sagada: to go caving, see hanging coffins and chill as much as humanly possible. Our first afternoon and evening, we did the third one hard.

The next day we arranged to do the cave connection, which is caving where you start at Sumaguing cave and finish at Lumiang cave, never coming to the surface in between.

At the caving office, it recommends that people who were out of shape or fat should not attempt this rigorous excursion, but we were two svelte young studs so we thought it would be a piece of cake.

Near the entrance of the first cave we saw what appeared to be a pile of coffins. At a closer glance, it was in fact a pile of coffins. Apparently the ancient inhabitants of these lands keep their dead near the mouth of the cave in order for them to "see the light" and be directed to heaven.

From there it got progressively darker, and we were now fully in the cave and would have to rely on our guide to get us out of there in one piece.

We passed many stalactites and stalagmites and many other rock formations. Some of these included a pseudo maple leaf that brought a patriotic tear to our eyes, as well as a rock formation that really resonated with the environment: that being dark, tight and wet.

We were underground for a few hours before finally approaching the opening of Lumiang cave. It was quite spectacular being able to traverse the earth without seeing the light of day for so long.

Once outside, I posed next to our first taste of the region's famed rice terraces with our guide and we made our way back to Sagada.

Once back to Sagada, we were immediately in search of the famed hanging coffins. The ancient inhabitants of this region, the Igorot tribe, have been doing this ritual for hundreds if not thousands of years. It was believed that it was done in order to keep the bodies closer to the spirits, but others speculate it could have been done to prevent ground water from seeping into the coffins or more interestingly, for keeping the coffins away from rival head-hunting tribes who would come in search of trophy heads.

Another interesting observation is that the coffins were around half the size of what we would consider normal sized adults. While I know Filipinos are among the shortest people in South East Asia, this was a little extreme. Then we thought that perhaps they only buried children in this manner, but that was also misguided. It turns out that people in this tribe buried their dead in the foetal position because they believed that they should leave this world as they entered it. Pretty amazing concept.

One of the highlights of our time in Sagada (at least for me) was Bana's cafe: a local cafe with balcony overlooking a gorge and coffee plantation. Not only did they have a beautiful view, but some of the best coffee I've had since Vietnam.

It was already time to leave wonderful Sagada, and also drawing closer to the time where Mike would no longer be my travelling partner.

We took a jeepney to Bontoc, a sleepy little transit town where I saw a woman with two thumbs. From there, we continued onto Banaue, our intended and final destination on our Philippine adventure. The scenery on this ride, and in the Cordillera region as a whole, was absolutely fantastic.

We arrived in the afternoon and checked into Uyami's Green View Lodge. The room we had was decent, but the view from the lodge's balcony was simply breathtaking. I must have taken a picture of that view with every possible lighting imaginable.

Banaue is the base for exploring the Ifugao rice terraces. These ancient rice terraces were built and carved into the mountains of the Ifugao mountains over 2000 years ago. They have been called the 8th wonder of the world by some (probably Filipinos), and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.

The Banuae rice terraces are featured on the 20 peso banknote but while researching for this post, they are not on the UNESCO list because of the modern reparations made to these ancient structures. UNESCO is obviously very difficult to please. I still find them immensely impressive.

Mike and I took a jeepney to Banaue's famed lookout point and took it all in. We had the great idea that instead of walking down the road like suckers we would walk through the terraces on our way back towards the town. It was all downhill so that should have been fairly straightforward. At least we thought it would be.

Every time we thought we were going in the right direction, we ended up at a dead end or impenetrable pass. It eventually became quite frustrating trying to figure out how to get down.

Because it is still actively used in farming in this region, many of the terraces are submerged in water. While I motioned for Mike to step out onto the edge for an epic pic, he tried to step around me, and instead stepped into a huge puddle of mud and was knee deep in it. I laughed accordingly.

After wandering onto private property more times than we intended, we finally made it back onto the road down to Banaue, and just in time too, because it started absolutely pissing rain.

The following day we arranged to do a trek from the Banaue region to Batad, one of the actual UNESCO rated rice terraces.

The walk there was absolutely stunning. Not only did we get to see the entire region only accessible by foot, but we also had a local guide who made sure that we didn't get lost or wander onto people's land.

When we finally got our first glimpse of Batad, Mike and I were literally speechless. That's rare for Mike. He never shuts up. I would go in to a description, but I think the picture speaks for itself.

We stood and gazed at this marvellous mixture of natural and man-made wonder. Our guide then asked if we wanted to visit the Tappiya waterfall. Since it was hot as balls, we thought it was a no-brainer.

It was a piece of cake because it was all downhill and when we saw the impressive 30m falls, we could not have been any happier.

Seeing as though I was happy, Mike decided to rain on my parade. I asked if he could take a picture of me standing in front of the falls. Since he was already making his way into the water, he bluntly declined. The result is that weird angle shot of me using a self-timer and rock for balance. I can distinctly remember at that moment that I was happy he was leaving the next day.

That wasn't true. His time to leave the Philippines and his role as my travel buddy had finally come to an end. Our three-and-a-half month adventure through 5 countries (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and the Philippines) had gone swimmingly well. The non-stop laughs and wise-cracks made this portion of my journey unforgettable and hilarious. Mike and I have travelled several times before this trip, and I hope we will continue to meet up elsewhere in the world in the future as well.

On my final day in the Philippines, I met an American traveller named Jeff and we did some small hikes between the villages of Tam-an, Poitan and Bocos. It was fun, but I was already missing Mike.

Now that I had reached my final day in the Philippines I can honestly say that this country blew my mind and exceeded all of my expectations (except for the food, I didn't find it anything special). I have barely scratched the surface of this 7000-island nation in the month-and-a-half that I was there. I decided that the best way to get over my sadness of not visiting every island, was to visit a country with 10,000 more islands than the Philippines. Next stop: Indonesia!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Incredible Island Hopping

May 20th-June 3rd

After waking up from Mike's 30th birthday extravaganza, Mike and I decided that we had done Boracay right, but our heads and livers wrong.

Not only were we done with glorious Boracay and all the lovely things it had to offer, but our standard 3-week Visa for the Philippines was coming to an end. We had barely scratched the surface of what this island nation had to offer, so before hitting the road we needed to get our visas extended.

The air conditioning in the government office was well worth the relatively easy bureaucratic process required to get our extensions. We were now ready to explore the wonderful central islands of the Philippines: The Visayas.

We made our way back to the jetty and took a boat back to Caticlan. From Caticlan, we had to take another bus to Roxas City. We had to get out there and then taxi to another bus station, before taking yet another bus to Iloilo, our final destination for the day, but not for this leg of the journey.

We arrived pretty late at night and ended up staying at a German-themed restaurant and guesthouse. The food was quite good and a welcomed change from the American and Filipino fare we were eating on Boracay.

We woke up really early the next morning and took another taxi to the jetty, where we took a ferry to Bacolod, our point of entry onto Negros Island. Once there, we took another long bus ride to our final, and intended destination: Dumaguete.

Dumaguete is the capital of Negros Oriental province on Negros island, and it is home to numerous universities, and as a consequence known as a trendy city rife with excellent night-life. We were using it primarily as a base to explore nearby Apo Island, one of the Philippines renown scuba diving destinations.

Like Iloilo, we arrived to Dumaguete at night and immediately made our way to our intended accommodations, Harold's Mansion Hostel. Unfortunately, it was completely booked, so we found a nearby guesthouse where we stayed instead.

We still used Harold's Mansion as our dive operator, and Mike would be commencing his Advanced PADI certification the following day, while I opted to do some fun dives at Apo Island.

Apo island is a small island 30-km south of Dumaguete and the water surrounding it is a marine reserve. As a consequence, it has pristine diving conditions and tourists flock here for both scuba diving and snorkelling.

To be honest, the boat ride there was just as enjoyable as the diving itself.

That night, I befriended Dante from California and he made plans to go to visit the Twin Lakes region of Negros island with three other girls and I asked if I could tag along while Mike continued his Advanced diver training. He agreed but I hope I wasn't cramping his style.

The next day, we took a bus towards the town of Sibulan and got off at a fork in the road. From there we walked a short distance and were quickly approached by some guys on motorbikes. The lakes were actually a 13km uphill ride and would be next to impossible to reach on foot and even on motorbike if we were to do it ourselves.

So it was me, Dante, one of the girls and the driver on one bike and only 3 people on the other. The drive to the lake was really rocky but provided us amazing views over the sea, and the surprisingly close island of Cebu.

We eventually got to the shore of Balinsasayao lake. It was quite tranquil and virtually deserted. The others jumped right in, but I just chilled on the dock and snapped some pics.

Even though it's called Twin lakes, the other lake is only visible by kayak, so we only got to see the one. My favourite part of the day was actually the treacherous ride to and from the lakes and the beautiful views along the way.

I got back to Dumaguete in the late afternoon and spent my final time there visiting the oldest-surviving structure in the city, the famed bell tower. 

The following morning, Mike and I got an early start to our next destination, the island of Bohol. We arrived in Tagbilaran, found a guest house and dropped off our bags and quickly found a trike driver who was willing to drive us to the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary.

The diminutive tarsier, is one of the world's smallest primates and only remains on a few islands around the world. Threatened with extinction on the island of Bohol, this wonderful sanctuary provides people with a chance to see these tiny creatures in their natural habitat while protecting them from local and introduced predators as well as the encroachment of man.

Even though there were guides literally pointing them out to us, we still had a difficult time spotting them. Measuring between 8.5cm-16cm from head to tail, these little guys are like tiny chameleons.

They are said to be Steven Spielberg's inspiration for ET. Even though they were sleeping most of the time, when they opened their eyes, it was easy to see why.

Once we were done at the sanctuary, our trike driver left us off in Loboc, right across the street from Loboc church, once considered as part of the Philippines UNESCO World Heritage listed Baroque churches. After a mediocre lunch, we caught a bus towards Bohol's biggest tourist draw: the Chocolate Hills.

The chocolate hills are a unique geological formation in central Bohol and are characterized by 1260 rounded hills as far as the eye can see. They are all covered by grass, which during the dry season turns a light brown and hence the Chocolate hills.

We were nearing the start of the wet season so the hills which we witnessed were more of a mint-chocolate variety, but still impressive none-the less.

Having finished everything we intended to do on Bohol much quicker than we expected, we decided we didn't in fact need to spend the night. We made it back to the guest house where we had left our bags and cancelled our booking. Mike, being the swell guy he was, agreed to pay the guy half of our night's stay as payment for keeping our bags for us. I, being a greedy bastard took offence to this kind gesture of his and we got in to one of the few arguments we had during our time together. In hindsight, Mike was right. They did us a favour and it only cost a few dollars, so no big deal.

We rushed to the ferry and managed to catch the last boat headed for Cebu city. We arrived after dark and were luckily able to grab a place to sleep at Tr3ats Guesthouse ( It was a very clean and nice hostel in a not-so-nice looking part of town, but we were only there for one night so it didn't really matter.

We awoke early the next morning and were already in a taxi on our way to the bus station, trying to make it to our next destination before dark. We were hoping to make it to the beautiful island of Malapascua, famed for white sand beaches, and even more so for the incredible and rare thresher sharks that inhabit the waters off its shores.

We took a 4-hour bus ride to Maya and managed to make it to the jetty before the last bangka left for Malapascua. Within 30 minutes, we arrived on the sleepy, white-sand beach of Bounty Beach.

We managed to find a cheap place to stay and quickly looked around to find a dive shop that would take us to see the famed thresher sharks. After visiting various shops, we finally settled on Seapark Divers. They were one of the more expensive dive operators on the island, but their equipment, boat and Swedish dive master really seemed to sell them to me. The dives even included the use of underwater cameras and this was a definite plus. Not to mention, they were heading to the Monad Shoal the following morning, the whole reason we had come to Malapascua.

The Monad Shoal is a cleaning station where larger underwater fish come to be cleaned by smaller ones. The smaller creatures will eat parasites and there is a beneficial symbiosis achieved by both animals.

This is actually the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be seen regularly. In fact, the dive shop gave us a 70-90% chance we were going to see them. We loved those odds.

The thresher shark is distinctive in that it has a long sickle-like tail which can in fact be the same length as its entire body. It also uses this tail to stun its prey before eating it. Pretty bad ass.

 (Photo Credit: Denice Askebrink)

In order to be successful in our dive, we needed to leave early. Like be on the water at 5:30am early. Of course, everyone was ready on time, except our dive master (not the Swedish lady) and we were sitting around waiting for him to get his ass in gear.

Of course, because of our frenetic pace, and my non-chill attitude when it came to depending on others to achieve my goals, I was furious with the guy.

He finally came and we made our way to the site, a good 7.8km away. The dive itself was rather boring in that we essentially jumped into the water, quickly descended to 35m (115 feet), grabbed onto a rope and waited for the thresher sharks to appear.

Having arrived late, I was frantically worried that we had already missed them, but as we stared straight ahead of us, into the semi-murky water, a creature with a fantastically long tail quickly emerged.

(Photo Credit: Denice Askebrink)

Now I'm not sure if it was the same shark we had seen multiple times, or several different thresher sharks, but either way, it was definitely a sight to behold.

We stayed under as long as we were permitted before our air ran out, and headed to the surface. Mike had a difficult equalizing on his way down and was in a good deal of discomfort. To add insult to injury, he got bit by a jellyfish in the face on his way up, while I escaped unscathed. Sucks to be him.

The rest of the afternoon, we just chilled on the beach and worked on our tans, completely content with our thresher shark experience. What was nice about Malapascua, is that it had more of a local, Filipino feel and it was great walking down the beach at sunset and seeing the families playing in the water.

The following morning, we took an early ferry and were back on a bus towards Cebu city. We ended up staying at Tr3ats again because there really wasn't anything wrong with the place. I had a very ambitious plan for the following day, to visit Oslob and its famed butanding. Yes that's right, they also have whale sharks!

So what my day trip entailed was a 3.5 hour bus ride to and from Oslob, on the island of Cebu, where I would get off at Tan-awan and make my way to the beach.

As I approached the beach, the waves were crashing like crazy and there were only a few little boats in the water at the time.

I paid the entrance fee, was given a mask and snorkel and made my way to the shore. I hopped on a tiny boat and was taken maybe 10-15m from the shore. The water was surprisingly choppy. The water was too murky to see in but the guy in the boat told me to jump in. As soon as I entered the water I was literally face to face with a massive whale shark swimming right towards me, his mouth agape, seemingly trying to swallow me whole like the plankton around them.

I know they aren't carnivores, but when you see this humongous fish coming straight for you, you can't help being a little scared. Once I realized that they weren't going to eat me, I spent the rest of my time swimming with them and observing them. A lot of the guys on the little boats were actually feeding them shrimp, so some of them were even vertical.

I was told that the water was 15 meters deep, and one of these sharks was at the surface, and its tail was only a few meters from the bottom, meaning that it must have been at least 10m (33ft) long!

Because of the choppiness of the water and the impending storm that was brewing, there were barely any other people in the water. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were more whale sharks in the water than people. I really wish I had an underwater camera that could have captured this amazing and unique moment.

Now a few things to know about this experience. These whale sharks had always been coming to the area because of the abundance of plankton. Once local fishermen discovered their presence, they started feeding them to ensure that they would return day after day. Now there are quite a few people who have boycotted this place because of this practice of feeding them and their apparent exploitation for profit.

Now I do understand that these animals have grown accustomed to being fed, but being seen as a profitable venture to fishermen means that they will not be hunted for shark fin soup, or trophy fishing or anything else that would have them killed. While I know it isn't as exciting as driving around in a boat for hours in search of an elusive 30 second experience, I think that this still has its merits and benefits the local community while not harming the animals themselves.

After my 20-minute swim was over, I was actually asked a series of questions, from a few western girls working for a whale shark conservation project. They wanted to know what I thought of the experience and how it could be made better or safer for the animals. In all, I would recommend Oslob to everyone except perhaps PETA supporters.

While I was gone for the whole day, Mike had visited a sweaty local gym and seen some of the sights that Cebu City had to offer. That night, our friend Jack from Boracay and his friend Cedric from Sweden were hitting up the town, and Mike was down to party. I decided to sit this one out and get a good night sleep.

The following day, Mike and I were off to the airport for a flight to Palawan, our next island destination. Seeing as though the boat ride takes 28-30 hours from Manila, this flight was our best option.

Palawan is one of the most remote parts of the Philippines that we visited, but is currently on the verge of becoming a major tourist draw in the country with foreigners. It is renown for it's pristine beaches, diving, and untouched ecosystems. Because we had somewhat limited time, we needed to rush to the island's signature destination: El Nido.

From the airport in Puerto Princessa, we took a non-air conditioned bus for a nauseating eight hours before finally rolling up to El Nido. We took a trike to the town itself and were quite surprised by the beachfront and accommodations that were available. We managed to find a guesthouse within our price range with one minor inconvenience: our room contained a bathroom where pretty much all of the other guests had to share the same shower. That evening, we just enjoyed the sunset and admired the view from our guest-house's beautiful patio.

El Nido, or the nest in Spanish, is named after the tiny swiftlet birds that occupy the massive limestone cliffs surrounding the area. These karst cliffs comprise the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago. This archipelago is composed of 45 unique islets and islands. Many different companies offer various boat excursions to the various islands, all you need to do is pick which lettered itinerary suits your fancy.

We decided to start with itinerary A. We met at the dock at around 9am. Our boat was quite comfortable and we were joined with a group of people from several different backgrounds, including Canadians.

Our first stops were all lagoon related: small lagoon, big lagoon and the Secret lagoon, which required swimming through a narrow tunnel and emerging in a shallow lagoon on the other side.

These were beautiful locations made less beautiful by too many Korean tourists making way too much noise and disturbing me.

We then went to Shimizu Island for an incredible lunch and got to talk to some of the people on our excursion.

Our final stop of the day was to 7 Commando Beach where we could take advantage of a cash bar and snorkel with sea turtles.

While it doesn't seem like we saw that much, this whole excursion still took a full 7 hours. Well worth it though!

The following day, we opted for tour C. This tour started with the aptly named helicopter island. If you used your imagination, you could kind of see the island's resemblance to the aforementioned vehicle.

From there we visited the Matinloc shrine. This place used to house a convent and a school, and is now rumoured to be haunted.

After lunch, our destinations were of the beach variety: Secret beach, star beach and the hidden beach.

What is most of note from this experience, is that while Mike and I were swimming in the open sea next to the boat, all of a sudden a storm rolled in from out of nowhere and brought torrential downpours and gale force winds, almost propelling the boat into a nearby karst cliff. It would definitely be pretty scary on the boat, and a number of passengers were noticeably shaken up when we got back on board, but it was rather amazing to swim during this intense yet brief storm.

After everyone was accounted for, we headed back to El Nido. Besides island hoping, Mike and I had the privilege of meeting up with Megan and Steph from our crew in Boracay. While the partying wasn't nearly as epic as in Boracay, we still had our fair share of beach parties and drinks.

After 4 full nights in El Nido, we were on to our final central island destination: the island of Coron.
Coron is reputed for its phenomenal wreck diving, because on September 24th, 1944, a US navy fleet attacked and sunk a Japanese supply fleet of up to 24 ships. This site is the reason Mike did his Advanced diver training in Apo island.

From El Nido harbour, we took a small ferry to Coron town on the island of Busuanga. While intended to be a passenger ferry, it was still incredibly scenic because you get to pass many of the karst islands we passed on our excursions.

The whole ride took around 8-hours and we eventually approached the distant island. We started to explore the town in search of accommodations and were quite surprised by the amount of real estate built up on stilts. Visibility was pretty poor by this point and we had to use flashlights to make sure we didn't fall into the ocean.

We ended up staying at Coron Backpacker Guesthouse (, which actually turned out to be quite nice.

We also found a dive operator to explore the nearby wrecks and decided to go with Seadive Resort. They had a great boat and a great location right on the water.

We had opted to do a 3-dive package and the following morning, we were on our way to our first wreck: Akitshushima. The Akitshushima is a 118m long seaplane tender, and would be our introduction to the Japanese fleet sunk on September 24th, 1944.

The maximum depth was 36m and we saw lots of schools of fish.

Our next stop was the Taiei Maru, a 170m Japanese tanker. This was by far my favourite dive of the day. It was a hauntingly beautiful swim through with extremely low visibility. Mike and I stayed glued to our dive master because if we were to have separated from him, we would surely have died a watery death like the Japanese sailors on that fateful day.

Our final dive of the day was the shallow Tirukaze Maru, a Japanese submarine hunter. This dive was great because not only was it closer to the surface and provided great visibility, but it is also submerged next to a reef providing a vast array of underwater life surrounding its structure.

This was a phenomenal day of diving capping a beyond phenomenal time in the central islands of the Visayas and Palawan. Unfortunately our time here had come to an end, but we definitely made the most of it. Next stop: the North of Luzon!