I usually say “No, thanks” when invited to join a a trip or a vacation. The problem? it’s always about the money. I’m not stingy, more on being thrifty, I suppose. But, most of the time, the reason is I just have very very limited funds for everything, including registration budget for running events. When an opportunity comes like an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand or a vacation with free lodging and food, I’d grab it like a claw crane without losing grip. So, when I was told about a planned vacation to Cebu by my colleague and I don’t have to worry about spending money for food and lodging, I just have to be the designated driver for the whole duration of the trip. It was an offer that I could’ve refused in favor of either joining the Splendido Sunset Run in Tagaytay or the 2nd Gatorade Run in Pasay. But, I didn’t, because it would be my first time to set foot in Cebu and I think it would be a better experience. And it was. This is part 1 of a 3-part blog series that chronicles our Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu.
Day 1: The Travel
First day of the vacation (24th November) was more on travelling to and in Cebu. Without taking a leave the day before, we head straight to Terminal 4 after our shift at the office. We did not have proper sleep or rest that day and I was gonna drive for hours. There are 2 groups of Thanksgiving ‘Bakasyonistas’ from our office travelling to Cebu that day. We are the DIY Travelers or Team Bahala Na, consists of 7 persons. The other group calls themselves Travel Corp. with 13 persons in their team.
Tsong and I arrived first. Our other mates, Raph, Jheryl, and Alex arrived minutes later. Travel Corp arrived almost an hour later, and we were still waiting for 2 more members of our group, the girls, Jay and Lei. We secured our travel car whilst waiting for the girls, while Travel Corp left the airport as soon as their party was completed. Jay arrived late because of the delayed flight and Lei was scheduled to arrive before nighttime. Not wanting to waste time, we decided to drive around and visit Magellan’s Cross and Basilica del Santo Nino and meet up with Lei at SM City Cebu later.
After visiting Magellan’s Cross and eating at a nearby grocery store, we head to SM City Cebu to pick up Lei. Once the group is complete, we left and head south to Oslob. Driving to Oslob was a challenging experience considering the fact that I don’t have sleep for more than 20 hours, the road to Oslob was made up of a lot of curvy roads and uphills, and it was raining hard. It’s a good thing that I didn’t feel sleepy at all because I have to focus, it was a dangerous time to drive, and thanks to Raph’s supply of Sting Energy Drink to keep me awake. After more than 4 hours of driving and 120+ kilometers later, we finally found our home for the next 3 days, Cloud and Xky Beach Resort.
That wraps up Day 1 of the Cebu experience. Day 2 is where the fun starts.
DAY 2: Whale Watching, Sumilon Island, and Canyoneering
Woke up to a beautiful morning, that’s a good thing because we were very worried the night before that the bad weather might continue the next day and ruin our fun. Just thankful that it was a good day and a great start.
The group decided to go for the Whale Shark (also known as Butanding) Watching activity before breakfast. I stayed behind because the fee for whale watching is 500 pesos for 30 minutes. Since I don’t know how to swim and dive, and the life vest will keep me afloat anyway (losing the thrill of getting close to the whales), I decided to stay and rest a bit more. I gave my Yi Action Camera for them to use for underwater shots.
According to my mates, the whale watching is worth the money. The sight of these amazing creatures and how close you can get to them was an awesome experience. After their activity, we had our first breakfast in preparation for our next activities.
Our next destination is Sumilon Island. After a short tricycle ride from from Cloud and Xky, we boarded a boat for a 15-20 minute ride to the island. It is privately-owned with a resort called Bluewater Island Resort, but tourists are allowed to visit the sandbar area.
After more than an hour later, we went back to Cloud and Xky to prepare for our next activity, Canyoneering in Badian. My Vibram Treksport was wrecked in Sumilon Island, the rubber peeled off and I had no choice but to use slippers. Luckily, Tsong borrowed an aqua shoes from our officemate and it did not fit him, so he let me used it instead. From Oslob to Badian, the distance was more than 60 kilometers. It was a long drive and we even encountered a long line of cargo trucks occupying more than 2 or 3 kilometers of one lane (I thought it was traffic, so I stopped for a minute before realizing that it wasn’t moving). That slowed us down since motorists need to give way every time a vehicle was approaching from the other lane. When we finally reached Matutinao Church, it’s time to get nervous.
Though I don’t really have a high level of fear in heights, the thought of jumping off from high ground is a different matter. To be honest, when we finally got to Matutinao Beach Resort and prepare for the Canyoneering activity, I suddenly had butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous, even thought about backing out. But, I’m here anyway and I don’t get to experience this on my daily, regular life, so let’s just go and do it. A habal-habal ride (it’s like a scooter or motorcycle taxi) to the starting point of the activity took about 15-20 minutes depending on the rider’s speed (and they run the curvy and uphill roads like pros, almost never slowing down, giving you the sensation that you’re about to fall off). After that, it’s a hike to down to the little canyons?.. I don’t know what to call them.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of experience in using an action camera by both me (my Xiaomi Yi Cam is attached to the helmet) and our young guides (who was using a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition), we don’t have nice photos to post. Most of them are blurry, and some photos have water spots and moist blur (because I don’t know how to prevent moisture build up in waterproof casing). So, I’ll just write and describe the experience. I was very nervous to do this activity knowing that I can’t swim and even if I have a life vest, I still feel like I’m about to crap my shorts. The first jump is probably 10 feet (about the height of a basketball ring), I was scared, but I have to do it. Jay, despite having done it before (this is her 2nd Canyoneering), hesitated to jump at first. She still did and I was gonna jump next. When I finally made that first jump, it felt good and awesome. Check out the video below to see the first jump.
A running gag every time I jump is that a guide will be waiting for me below to drag me to safety. A grown man being dragged to safety by a kid. My mates are having a laugh at this. I feel like that moment in the movie “Friends with Benefits” where Justin Timberlake can’t jump off from the Hollywood sign because of his fear of heights and he had to be wrapped up and pulled by a helicopter to safety.
The 2nd jump is probably 20 feet in height. My knees were shaking a bit, I was having 2nd thoughts about doing this, and I took my time before jumping (did not jump after the count of 3). First person view of my jump at 0:47 in the video below (apologies for the blurry, water-spots on the camera. It was caused by moisture build-up around the waterproof casing. But, hey, it looks like a dream where I’m doing cliff jumps, eh).
Then there’s this cool group activity where you have to float on your back, facing up, and create a human centipede-like (no, you’re not going to connect your mouth to someone’s anus) formation by lying back and holding on to your peer’s ankle. The funniest moment is when I can’t focus, relax, and stay floating on my back, so I was turning sideways (like a dying fish or about to do a slow barrel roll) and ruining our formation. Check out the video below.
There was also some short crawls in cave-like paths and a short water slide. There’s a food stall midway during the hike where you can buy some food like hotdog, barbecue, and more.
After a long hike, we finally reached our finale jump, a 40-foot high cliff. It’s optional, all of us had a few minutes to think about doing this jump, we even took a peek below. You need some momentum to do this jump safely and you can also do it without a helmet (for maximum safety, don’t remove it). Then Raph made the first jump which also encouraged us to do it. Tsong jumped next (doing an unintentional chicken wing flap), and then Alex (who made a looney cartoon-like moment by braking at the jump point to look down below before finally doing it). Then it was my turn, nervous again and having second thoughts (I have a wife and 2 kids, you know), but deep inside, I really want to do it. So, without looking down below again, I just look straight, accelerate, and jumped. I was shouting something in mid-air, I can’t remember what I shouted, but I know it’s not rated PG-13. My YiCam ran out of juice and I was only able to capture Raph’s jump (check out the video below). Too bad, each of our jumps were unique and some are funny, and my jump could’ve recorded a first-person view of the action. Lei, Jay, and Jheryl skipped the jump and used a pathway on the other side and near the waterfall to go down the cliff.
After the last jump, we were very exhausted, there are still more jumps along the way, but we skipped it because we’re too tired, hungry, and it was already getting dark. We passed by Kawasan falls and had a few minutes to marvel at the majestic sight. Then walked more than a kilometer back to Matutinao Beach Resort where we had our post-activity meal.
It was a long and exhausting day. We had a great time, it was an awesome experience with the Canyoneering being one of the best thing I’ve done in recent times. Given the chance, I’d do it again and complete all jumps.
And that wraps up Day 1 and 2 of our 4-day vacation in Cebu. Part 2, covering Osmena Peak, Binalayan Hidden Falls, and Mainit Springs, will be coming up in a few days, so stay tuned.