Philippines

Cockfighting Through The Eyes Of A Kano

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Cockfighting is one of the most popular blood sports worldwide and happens illegally throughout South and Central America, Africa and Asia. It is only in the Philippines where it is accepted as the national sport, and is 100% legal.

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Having attended a few local fighting arenas known as cockpits, it was difficult to understand exactly what was going on, here is my version of events that took place at the fight. Please be aware that any sexual innuendos that may appear in this blog, are purely coincidental…

Not only is Sunday the holy day of rest, but also the prime time to catch a cockfight. The men turn up roughly thirty minutes before the fighting begins and simply loiter around with their cocks in hand. I assumed this is to size up each others cocks and talk about the odds for the day, and maybe a little trash talking…

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My cock is better than your cock

The standard one on one brawl is known as a ‘hack fight’. Just before the hack fight commences, an extremely sharp, 3 inch blade is fastened to one of the legs of each stag, this is so they do actually hurt each other, a fight to the death would last an eternity without a blade. Another two chickens are brought into the arena and are used to peck at the competing birds, this is to get the fighters psyched up, their role is a little like a manager in boxing. Then they are rubbed against each other just so they know ‘this is who you need to kill’…

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The blade covers are removed and the battle begins. The fight ends when one contestant is dead or can no longer peck at his opponent when the referee holds the two face to face. The final decision is normally made when a cock can no long stand after three attempts of being lifted to its feet, this is called a careo. The other way to lose is if one of the stags basically bottles the fight and runs away, this seldom happens and is normally received with a chorus of laughter from the hoi polloi, probably the most embarrassing way to lose for the sultador (owner/trainer). Time limit is 10 minutes but is usually over very quickly. To view one the fights from the San Juan cockpit click here

The rules vary from province to province, but this is generally how it goes. The winning sultador, as well as pride and prize money has the added bonus of taking the dead cock home for dinner…

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A variety of different house rules

One of the strangest things, being a foreigner, was understanding the betting system. As the cocks are getting fired up by their respective ‘managers’, everyone in the arena stands up and begins shouting at each other whilst throwing crumpled up piso bills back and forth. At first, I didn’t have a clue what was happening, but came to the conclusion that the people shouting, are asking which other persons would like to bet against them, so when you bet, it’s basically you betting against one other person, not a bookmaker. Cards are handed out to explain the odds but it somehow was determined by the colour of the cocks that coincided with certain dates and all odds were 2/1. To see the madness of a cockfight betting system click here

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Betting card

This is just my version of what took place around me, I tried to get a decent explanation from a local of exactly how it works, but the clientele at the cockfights were mainly tough folk with limited English, plus they always seemed to give the scary white man a hostile reception…

I cannot stress enough just how massive this sport is in the Philippines, everywhere you look there is cockfighting. We were constantly driving past training facilities called ‘game yards’ where the cocks are kept. Every town has stores called agrivet supplies that sell protein, speed pills, steroids and the like to increase the performance of the stags. Most of the supplements are legal, however, there was a case where one very famous cock ‘limpfoot Christie’ was banned for failing a drugs test…

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Fake chicken on a stick used for training

Champion cocks are bred to produce future champions. Some of the main arenas in larger cities like Manila hold thousands and some men bet everything they earn hoping to have a big win. As well as hack fights, I saw advertisements for three cock derbies and fatal four way matches, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have an annual Royal Rumble where the winner takes on the champion at the annual PPV ‘Cockmania’, and yes, cockfighting is televised. I noticed school children swapping cockfighting stickers and one day I got a nice surprise when I opened a packet of crisps to find I had won a cockfighting pog…

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Most westerners are disgusted at cockfighting and believe that it is inhumane. This is no more cruel, than pumping a KFC chicken full of steroids, only for it to live a life of hell before being slaughtered and served up in a zinger burger, but yet most still eat it. To me, this is like going back to the days of gladiators fighting to the death at the Coliseum in Rome, and when in Rome, do it like the Romans, as in the end, there was no escaping cockfighting in the Philippines. I realised this one morning when I read front page newspaper headline “Champion Cock ‘Crazy’ Erik in hooker sex scandal!”

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Things To Love About Ng Pilipinas

Around the Northern tip of Cubu lies two stunning small islands, Bantayan and Malapascua. Some would say Bantayan is a lazy retreat, I would say it’s a bone idle sanctuary. The perfect place to recharge the metaphorical batteries and reflect as our time in the Philippines draws to an end. I’d read Kota beach was home to a blinding stretch of white sand, but didn’t realise this meant literally. Stepping out of our hut in the morning was like the scenes from Lost when everything turned white before they travelled through time, shades were essential. In almost a week that we spent here, I really did love every minute of it. Bantayan has such a laid back vibe it is hard not to lose track of time here. Without ditching its local touch for a pretentious vibe like other tourist hotspots in the Philippines, Bantayan hit all my buttons. The town of Santa Fe has some of the tastiest (and cheapest) food I’ve had in the whole of the Visayas, which we ate a lot of. I also climbed a few trees and drew a face on a coconut…

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View from our hut on Kota beach

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Geordie the coconut

Over in Malapascua, an island overrun by expensive resorts, we still managed to find the cheapest place going. The lodgings were more like a mosquito motel, but thankfully they accept humans also, always willing to run the risk of malaria for the sake of my tight budget! Malapascua is, you guessed it, one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. Its most well known dive is Monad Shoal, a sunken island that is home to the Thresher Shark. An early start is required in order to see the sharks, where they congregate at the cleaning station for their daily wash. Getting up at 4:15 and out in the sea for dusk was certainly worth it, the beautiful creature has such a unique look I could have watched them all day. Their elongated tails are said to be used like a weapon to whip and stun their pray.

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Malapascua Beach

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Island life and diving, two of my favourite things about this country and a class way to end my stint here. It got me thinking about my other highlights of this unique nation, so without further ado, here are the top things that I have loved about Ng Pilipinas!

Philippines Mango

Once voted the sweetest fruit in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. I think it was more deserving of the lushest fruit in the world prize. Cheap, healthy and makes the mangos back home look like stale and sour prunes…

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Overland Transport

Making it from A to B can sometimes mean many different forms of transport. Jeepney to trike to habal habal to jeep to bus etc, etc. You won’t need to worry about finding where to go for your next leg, your cramped mode of transport will find you. You will rarely have to wait, most of the time your bags are in the trike before you step off the bus. Travelling like this can be fun and frantic, you might not always get a seat, although clinging to the back of a jeepney is highly recommended!

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Jeep, Trike, Jeep/Trike Hybrid

Cockfighting

There is nowhere else in the world that shares the same passion for this ancient blood sport, in the Philippines cockfighting is truly astronomical…

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Adobo

The Philippines are not known for producing mouthwatering cuisine, their most famous dish being ‘balút’ a boiled egg that contains the dead embryo of a chicken. Adobo however, is simple and delicious. A vinegar and garlic based sauce served with a selection of meat, spices, herbs, vegetables and sometimes fruit. There is no right or wrong way to make adobo and it is different almost every time, depending on who’s making it. Oily, but I can safely say that I have never had a bad one.

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Chicken Adobo

Filipino Facial Gestures

This is one thing I could never get used to, Filipinos are known for getting their point across using their face instead of their mouths. The answer ‘yes’ is signalled with a sharp raise of the eyebrows. If you ask for directions, you won’t get a point of the finger and a ‘that way’, the person will simply poke their lips towards where you want to go. There were many more gestures to learn as I found out that Filipinos are capable having a full conversation using only their face!

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No, Yes, Over There, What?

Sadly the stamp in my passport says time is up, after seeing every last minute of our visa. Over two months navigating the archipelago, we’ve barley scratched the surface of the what the Philippines has to offer, but what I have seen, has been truly breathtaking…

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Swimming With Money Sharks

Rhincodon Typus, commonly known as the Whale Shark, is a wonder of the animal kingdom, and holds many records for its sheer size and weight. I have never seen one of these beasts in my life, never mind in the wild, now was the time.

Oslob was nothing more than a tiny settlement situated on Cebu island, now it’s the main draw for spotting butangding and has turned it into a huge money making opportunity. The big fish are known to be very friendly and somewhat playful towards humans and the fact that they have no teeth, made the idea of diving with them perfectly safe.

Let me make it clear, the whale sharks in Oslob are there everyday for one reason, and that is that local fisherman are feeding them between 9am and 1pm. Most of the time the sharks are just hanging around right next to the bangkas with their mouths open waiting for their daily serving of fish guts, to me this made the whole scenario seem phoney and more like a underwater circus. You have to pay a £25 ‘marine fee’ just to go into the sea at the beach where they can be seen, a marine fee by the way, is a sum of money that goes towards the barangay captain, town mayor, the police department, district governor and by now, pretty much anybody who is anybody who is involved with politics in Cebu. This was introduced when the locals realised that people were curious about seeing whale sharks in the wild. Anyone familiar with corruption in the Philippines, will understand how the system works. The whole set up at Oslob was a bit of a joke to be honest, which I realised when the fisherman demanded an ‘entrance fee’ to walk into the water from that part of the beach, and charged to sit in a cheap wooden shelter to get changed into our diving gear…

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A Whale Shark is printed on the reverse of a 100 piso bill, ironic

The catch 22 being that, this is the only place where you are guaranteed to see whale sharks in their ‘natural environment’. To be within touching distance of these leviathans was a pretty cool experience, close enough to see the toothless whale looking like grandpa Simpson hoover up the constant supply of grub, close enough to swim around and see the gills, fins, tiny eyes and everything else that make the shark tick, close enough dive beneath it and see the feeder fish which literally live of the butangding just like the political hierarchy are living off this entire scheme…

Is it whaley worth it? All been said and done, it was fantastic and something that can be enjoyed with the right management of expectations, even though you do get the feeling you’re being extorted. The day when I get to see a whale shark drifting along graciously in its real natural habitat will have to wait…

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Boholic

Tagbilaran city had nothing to offer whatsoever, but managed to serve up the worst pizza I have ever had in my life. I think the cheese could possibly have been made from human tit milk and the pepperoni, I was almost certain it was still alive. Jerac’s pizza offers a special prize for anyone who can eat their huge 22″ pizza in 40 minutes which is obviously impossible. Some photos on the hall of fame showed an obese Texan giving up after 8 of 36 slices. This eating challenge is one that man vs food would not even put to bed.

Bohol is home to one of the world’s smallest primates, the Philippine Tarsier. You’ve as much chance of seeing a Mackem in Moscow this week, as you have of seeing one of these strange little creatures in the wild. Luckily a sanctuary has been set up to rescue the tarsiers from the verge of extinction. I must say, the tiny nocturnal animals were even smaller than I had imagined and looked twice as bizarre, I’d describe it as a cross between a monkey and a rat with aliens feet and eyes like a regular of the Haçienda.

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A sad fact about the tarsiers is they have a tendency to commit suicide while in captivity. The animals are extremely sensitive to daylight and noise so are known to bash their heads when unable to cope with the stress. Thankfully the sanctuary seems to be doing a good job in keeping the environment natural and doing its best to keep the noise to a bare minimal whilst banning flash photography.

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The Chocolate hills are one of the Philippines premier tourist attractions, and are the result of the uplifting of ancient coral reef deposits. The token ridiculous story says that they’re the tears of a giant that cried his heart out after his lass left him, or something like that. The hills take their name from the browny colour that they’re meant to turn at this time of year, but I could still see many patches of green, so it would be more fitting if I renamed them ‘the fortnight old netto’s chocolate hills’. The grassy mounds reminded me of tele tubbies land, excluding the sun portrayed by a really annoying baby…

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Dipsy, La La and Po

I wasn’t expecting anything mind blowing, but I did enjoy the hills. Even though they are just that, hills. And so we took a couple of up roads, we took a couple of down roads, and made our way home from the green and brown, Chocolate hills.

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Three of the 8 sisters hillocks

(The boat from Larena on Siquijor to Tagbilaran, Bohol runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays departing at 7.30pm. The cost is 220 piso for economy and is a much cheaper option than the ocean jet daily service from Siquijor town that costs 800+ for the same duration)

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Unlucky On Siquijor

Siquijor (siki-hor) is an island that when mentioned to a Filipino, will always get the same reaction, ‘ohhh Siquijor, witchcraft, be careful!’ Yes it is true, Siquijor has been known as a dwelling for healers, but this is an old tradition fading fast. Filipinos are generally very superstitious people whom believe that spirits should not be provoked in anyway, so what I had been warned about could only be taken with a pinch of salt.

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We opted to camp on the beach around San Juan. We were treated to djembe/didgeridoo jams every night by our free spirited friends camping nearby and welcome to cook our own food on the fire. All was well and we were optimistic about the next few days exploring the island’s beautiful beaches and waterfalls.

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Before doing anything we decided, why come to ‘the Mystique Island’ and not visit a healer. We managed to track down a ‘Mangkukulam’ as they’re known locally, by driving around the hills waving a picture of an old woman to some of the locals until we were pointed in the right direction. Once we arrived at the healers gaff, we took turns to receive a diagnosis. The healing practice ‘bolo-bolo’ involves the mangkukulam blowing on a black ball through a bamboo pipe in a glass of clear water and manoeuvring around ones body until the water turns brown to reveal your ailments. Not the most conventional of treatment, but better than the last time I visited a doctor when the local GP was more concerned about finishing his sudoku and munching a Gregg’s cheese and onion pasty…

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When the diagnosis was complete, the healers son told us we were both fighting fit and off we went. I always go into these things with an open mind so had no real opinion on it at the time. Mind you the experience lost a little of its atmosphere because of the blasting karaoke coming from the healer’s family, I safely say I loathe ‘the power of love’ by Jennifer Rush even more…

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From then on in, things in Siquijor went horribly wrong. First, we got riotously drunk on local rum ‘Tanduay’ which cost 60pence a bottle (the coke cost 70), the weather took a turn for the worst and instead of exploring the island, we were confined to the inside of a cheap Aldi tent. I then had a bout of severe, unexplained fever and a small blister on my foot managed to get infected to the point where it became green, smelly and very painful…

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It was almost time to leave the island when the storms finally started to settle. On our way to the port to buy our boat tickets we got a flat tyre…

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The motorbike was repaired and thankfully, I made it to the port in time before the ticket office closed. On the way back, we were running low on gas after horsing the bike to catch the ticket office, petrol stations can be few and far between. You can guess what happened next…

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So maybe the Filipino’s superstitions are right and we shouldn’t have disturbed the spirits, either that or it was all just one big coincidence. We didn’t get to explore much of the Mysterious island, but everything happens for a reason and we met some great people and lived like like castaways for a while. Ironically, just before we boarded the boat, the sun got out…

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Grandaddy Of Negros

Auf wiedersehen Zucker beach, hello to the other side of Negros Island, Negros Oriental. Filipino bus rides can be quite entertaining at times, on this one in particular I was lucky enough to witness what might have been a world record for the most passengers on one tricycle, and had an interesting conversation with a local about toilets. In the Philippines a toilet is also known as a comfort room, I explained that where I come from we sometimes call a toilet a ‘bog’. The word ‘bog’ is a strange word for a Filipino tongue to pronounce, ‘bo…borg…b-hog’ the guy couldn’t get his head around it…

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We spent a night in the provincial capital Dumaguete before heading down the coast to the small town of Dauin, pronounced the same but not to be confussed with Darwin in Australia of course. The purpose for coming to this place was to dive.

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Apo island is just off Negros and is said to have some of the best diving in the Philippines, although the guide books say that about pretty much every dive site, even though their so called travel writers don’t dive or even check out some places they write about. Apo means Grandfather in Tagalog so I’m hoping this island is going to be the Grandaddy of diving, lets wait and see.

The underwater real estate around the island was exceptional, in three dives around Apo, we saw many extra large turtles, pretty hideous frog fish and some black and white super poisonous sea snakes. We also swam through some volcanic water coming from the sea bed and encountered new breed of underwater creature called ‘the Korean diver’. We came across the large school of Koreans at the start of the first dive and I was not surprised that all they seem interested in doing was what they do best, taking photos of each other doing the peace sign underwater, with a camera which looked like a robot. All the gear, no idea…

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Ready to dive Apo?

When not swimming with the fish, we spent our time riding into the highlands to visit Casaroro falls around the area of Valencia and the hot springs. The hot springs were a nice place to spend a few hours, that is if you like sitting in a pool of scolding hot water reeking of rotten eggs…

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Eggy Water

The final dive of our stay here in Dauin was the ‘car wreck’. I’d like to say there was a cool story behind how the car got there, such as the Mitchell brothers of Dumaguete drove it into the azure after an argument got out of hand when one found out the other was having it away with his missus. But no, the car was just put there for divers 25 years ago. The wreck at 25 metres deep, barley resembled a car, but now serves as a meeting place for the local Lion fish.

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Car Wreck Briefing

For anyone heading into the area to dive, I recommend organising it through Bongo Bongo divers in Dauin. A new place with a relaxed home stay atmosphere. They do trips to Apo and excellent home-made sausages for BBQ nights! What more can you want! Check out their Facebook page here

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Zucker Beach

The problem with visiting somewhere as remote as Sibuyan, is that it’s always going to be a quest getting to the next destination. We were able to catch the twice weekly bangka to Roxas on Panay island. I wondered why there was a placed called Roxas on many of the Filipino Islands, the name Roxas refers to Manual Roxas, the first president of the Philippines as an independent nation, he is to the Philippines as George Washington is to the US. A bangka by the way is a small wooden boat with stabilisers (try this, stick your index fingers in either side of your mouth and pull your cheeks apart while saying bangka, see what happens). Anyway, after five rough hours of holding onto the roof of the boat we arrived at Roxas, dripping wet and feeling like a drunken sailor, but I could think of worse ways to spend my Monday morning.

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Typical small bangka

A bumpy and cramped ride in the back of a mini bus followed to the Provincial capital of Iloilo, where we spent the night. The following day up at the crack of dawn to board the first speedboat to Bacolod, Negros Island. That was followed by a five hour public bus, quick tricycle ride, a two minute paddle through the tidal river in a tiny wooden raft then a difficult climb over the razor sharp rocks to finally arrive at our destination, Sugar Beach.

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Sugar Beach, or Langub Beach to the locals, gets its name from the booming sugar trade present on Negros, making it the Philippines’ wealthiest island. Confussingly it seemed like we were not in the Philippines at all, but more like a hot and tropical German länder due to the influx of Deutsch speakers, who flock here in their droves. You’ve got more chance of getting a frankfurter or some Swiss chocolate than any fish and chips, and if you want a sun lounger, make sure you have a can of Carling and a pretty good throw. Click here

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Wor Billet

The overall atmosphere of Sugar Beach wasn’t great if you ask me. But the odd game of volleyball, (or wolleyball as it’s called in these parts) a swim, eating my favourite Filipino dish chicken adobo, and generally having a beachy old time was good enough for me, the only worthwhile sight here being the unbelievable sunsets…

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Rambling On In Romblon

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In the Philippines, if you happen to miss your boat to one of the smaller islands, it’s a long wait for another one. We missed our bangka by 20 minutes, so had to wait 23 hours 40 minutes for the next one. We spent the day in the dusty town of Roxas, eating peanut butter biscuits, listening to very bad karaoke and getting a 70 pence haircut from a lady boy.

Romblon province is awkward to reach and a less explored region by foreign travellers, a place I was eager to visit to see the real Philippines and escape the ‘Sexpats’ of Sabang. Tablas island is the largest in the province of Romblon, and is known for its beautiful waterfalls. Garing falls was a mission to get to, we asked a local woman in the town of Odiongan how to find it so she managed to drag her nephew out of bed to take us on his motorbike. After the sweaty trek through the jungle, we arrived at the waterfall to find a large group of locals, sporting camouflage clothes and AK-47s fooling around on a vine swing. It happened to be the entire local police force having a skive. I don’t suppose there’s much crime on the island so I don’t blame the friendly bobbys.

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Romblon town, on Romblon Island, the capital of Romblon province, is so good they named it thrice. The small town shows signs of Spanish colonialism in its architecture and in my opinion, would not look out of place in rural Mexico. Over looking the town is the 17th century San Andreas fort. I expected the crumbling Spanish building to be a huge defensive masterpiece, I fort wrong…

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Local kids love their picture taken

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A short drive away from the town is Bon Bon beach. The crystal clear waters were perfect for swimming, and we were the only people there. It brought back memories of the strange role play game I used to play in primary school with a friend of mine which went by the name of ‘Andy Cole and Barry Venison, stranded on a desert island’…

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With Romblon island being so small, it felt essential to circumnavigate, and the only way to do this was by motorbike. We drove through many barangays, along remote beaches, through the marble carving centre and eventually back to Romblon town. There was nothing like the Sea breeze in my face and lush views of the surrounding islands. During the ride I found out that Romblon is home to a rare species of invisible bird, that sits on your shoulder and tries to tell you how to drive a motorbike while squawking in your ear the whole time, strange that…

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San Pedro Beach

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The third main island of the Romblon group we were to visit, Sibuyan, is nicknamed the ‘Galapagos’ of the Philippines, for its diverse range of flora and fauna. They say Sibuyan has more unique species of plants and animals than any other island of its size, this is largely due to the fact that it has been cut off from the rest of the archipelago since the beginning of time. Sometimes this still felt like the case, I wouldn’t call it ‘off the beaten track’ as there was no track to get off in the first place as Sibuyan doesn’t have a proper road, it was hard work even just finding the most basic amenities in the town of Magdiwang…

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San Fernando (can you hear Paddy Mcguiness’ voice from Take Me Out, ‘you’re off to, the isle of, Fernando!’) was the last port of call in Romblon. We got a lift from a local man to the mighty Cantingas river where we spent an hour or so jumping into the refreshing water from one of its platforms. We were then invited along to the local cockfighting rally, a very different way to spend my Sunday afternoon, sucking on ice pops and watching two chickens destroy each other. For the record, this is not the first time I have seen this, as anyone will know if you want to see some cocks fighting, just nip down to Sunderland on a Saturday night…

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Where’s Wally?

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Dive Junkie

I couldn’t get out of Angeles fast enough, the final straw was when I witnessed someone with a striking resemblance to Brains from Thunderbirds escorting a young Filipino rent boy out of the hotel, I never knew I could regurgitate a slice of pre-cooked toast from 7/11 so fast…

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I’ve mentioned it before but let me briefly explain the term ‘skin tax’. A local person would pay maybe 20 piso for the trip to the bus terminal in a tricycle, a westerner would be expected to pay a lot more than that in most cases. I understand that by Asian standards we are rich compared to many locals, it’s when in places like Angeles, where the drivers are used to charging a ridiculous fare that I get frustrated. It becomes more about the principle than the money, subsequently the five kilometre walk to the bus station, with all our stuff in the baking heat was a sweaty one. Thankfully the 80 pence we saved was enough to buy us a couple of ice creams at the end…

Puerto Galera is Spanish for ‘port of the galleons’. Situated on the island of Mindoro a few hours by bus/boat from Manilla. The area of Sabang, to be exact, doesn’t have a nice beach or many attractions, but we were here for only one reason, scuba diving.

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The open water PADI qualification is something that I’d wanted to do for years while travelling, but most of the time just ended up getting drunk instead. Sabang is a drinking town with a diving problem, so I had to make sure the same wasn’t going to happen here…

The PADI open water course took three days and I really can not sum up the awesomeness of diving. Scary, weird, awkward, different and robotic are some of the words I would use to describe the way I felt when I first tried on the diving gear. Once in the water though, it all makes sense and those words become relaxed, beautiful, amazing, floating on the moon, the opening montage of For Your Eyes Only… Finally a certified diver, we loved it so much we decided to stay in Sabang for longer and dive some wrecks, instead of getting wrecked and staring at exotic fish than staring at the sun. Seriously looking forward to doing some more soon. Sadly cameras don’t work underwater, but sometimes it’s best to live for the moment behind a dive mask, other than a viewfinder. From this moment on,fish are friends not food…

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This week Like the wheels is approaching a milestone of 2000 views. So to celebrate we’re having a massive giveaway! The first person to comment on this post saying ‘I Like The Wheels’ will receive a special postcard from yours truly, sealed with a kiss…x

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The Good, The Not Bad, And The Ugly

Departing Chungking mansions, bags in hand to head to the airport, there was still time for someone to try and sell us a room, even though we were clearly leaving, comical. The short flight from Hong Kong to Clark airport, North Luzon island, took just over 90 minutes. Clark was originally the main airbase of the US forces in the Philippines until the eruption of Mount Pinatubo back in the 90s…

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Pinatubo from the sky

After a few short hours in the Philippines we went from a jeepney (the national symbol of the Philippines), to a bus, to hitching another jeepney, to a moter cycle with side car until we arrived at the small settlement at the base of the volcano, Santa Juliana.

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From the back of a jeepney

Pinatuno literally blew it’s top in 1991, with catastrophic consequences on the surrounding area. The top was reduced by 300 metres in height sending lethal volcanic ash all over the shop, then shortly after, a typhoon hit turning the ash into a soggy lahar, transforming Angeles and nearby towns into one giant swamp. To the locals, it was like waiting for a bus, nothing came in years then two natural disasters happened in one day, hundreds of people died and many were more injured. There is no sign of Mr Lava Lava today though, the 14 Km round hike takes you past the small village of natives, through the rugged valley that the lahar flow created and eventually to the crater lake, which has filled with water over the years. Knackered by the end, but overall the trip was good…

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Aetas village children

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Picked up some snacks from a stall before heading back to Angeles city, everything I asked about seemed to be 6 pisos, ‘how much for the biscuits?’-6, ‘how much for the coffee?’-6, ‘how much for for these oily peanuts?’ -‘erm… 6. This guy should just rename the shop, EVERYTHING’S 6 PESO, considering there are 65 piso to one pound, I guess that’s not bad…

We spent one night in Angeles city to break up our journey out of Luzon. Angeles city has one purpose only – sex tourism. After seeing something of such natural beauty, we then came face to face with the complete opposite, a place so rupulsivly vile created by the hands of man. It is because of Clark airspace that Angeles is what it is today, as the American soilders opened up a market for prostitution in the area. There’s no sights in Angeles, unless you consider hundreds of Lou Carpenter from Neighbours look-a-likes walking hand in hand with girls a third their age – at best, something on your must see list. There is no other way of putting it, Angeles is just downright ugly…

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The Cactus loves hiking

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