Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trip number 2: Iligan

My long overdue post.

Yes, despite travel advisories regarding going to Mindanao, we headed down south to go to J's hometown in Iligan. We decided to go to Iligan when J's Kuya told us that he'll be coming back to Philippines come Sept 08. I haven't been to Iligan and my sister and brother in law there haven't seen JB since his birth so we decided this would be a great opportunity for the whole Moldez family to be together again.

I had a lot of things to be excited for about this trip.

(1) This will be my first time to fly again in ages!
(2) This will be JB's first flight.
(3) I will finally set foot in Mindanao.
(4) I'd finally get the chance to learn more about J's roots.
(5) I was also excited with the fact that all Cebu Pacific flights are now in NAIA 3. New airport! Weeee!

My bubble burst for item number 5 as soon as we checked in. NAIA 3's system sucks. You don't put ALL flights in ONE line and expect people to rave about it. If a flight is already on its last call and some people are still in line, they'd pull out those people and let them check-in in another counter. It's a good thing we arrived less than 1 hour before our flight as we didn't have to wait in line for long since the last call for Cagayan de Oro was aired in the PA system minutes after we queued. However, some people are so mad because they were in line for about 1 or so hours only to be pulled out during the last call. And this was just 3-past in the morning. Old MIA airport doesn't look great but at least I get to check in fast.

We took the first flight (4:25 in the morning) so we'd arrive in Iligan before lunch (from Cagayan de Oro, there's a 2-hour bus ride going to Iligan). The result: a very cranky JB. We had to wake him up at around 2 in the morning to dress him. He was crying profusely while we were getting him dressed. He managed to get some sleep on our way to the airport and he was still behaved when we were checking in. However, he got really irritable when we were already in the plane. We fed him during take-off, as advised by our pedia, to lessen the impact on his ears. He was about to doze off when he finished the bottle until a man who passed by brushed off against his head. He was awaken immediately and got really cranky from then on which can be irritating to some passengers since they were trying to catch up on sleep. J & I took turns in entertaining our little boy. I even had to sing to him for a whole 30 minutes just so he would behave (mahina lang, baka mas lalong mairita ang mga pasahero. haha). A passenger who got enamored with our son tried to play with him which proved to be life-saving for us since he stopped getting cranky and finally managed to doze off to sleep.

When we arrived in Cagayan de Oro, JB was still sleeping. We were waiting for our bags when it finally dawned on me that I was finally in Mindanao! Wow. My realization sank in deeper when I heard conversations in Bisaya. Oh no! It's like going to another country. Fortunately, Bisayan dialect is not that hard to learn or to understand. However, I still had to consult with J for interpretation.

J's mistah and Ninang Irene (wedding ninang) fetched us from the airport. This was my first time to meet her as she wasn't able to make it to our wedding. We had a sumptuous breakfast in her house and I had to say she's one cool person! She's already a mother of 3 and yet she can relate to us like she's our age. Being a military wife herself, she gave me a few tips on handling the military life. After some more chitchat, we headed to the bus terminal for the 2-hour bus ride going to Iligan. JB was asleep most of the time.

We arrived in Iligan to a very excited Lola and Tita. My dad and brother in law arrived lunch time and they were equally excited as well. The whole family is complete, finally!

After resting, J decided to give me a quick tour of Iligan. We headed to the church first then went around the city where J had lots of stories with each place we went to--something I've been doing with Manila for quite some time now :P. The place looks peaceful naman, unlike what the news implies. Except for policemen in battle gear attires, there's really no air of fear or terror (thank God!). Still, we didn't tag JB along on this city tour, just to be on the safe side. We also met up with some of J's high school friends. Of course, everyone was trying to speak in Tagalog so I can relate but I told them they can speak in their dialect and I'll just try to follow. Para na rin matuto ako diba?

Come Saturday, we headed to their famous pool there--much like the Splash Island in Laguna sans the giant waterslides. We thought JB would enjoy swimming in the pool because he sooo loves bath time. We were wrong. He was crying when daddy dipped him in the pool.

Food was overflowing as my parents-in-law brought some of the specialties of Mindanao. From the famous durian to the yummy lechon. This was also my first time to swim in a looong time! It felt really good. I still miss the beach though. However, J told me that there's not much beautiful beaches in Iligan but they are famous for their majestic waterfalls! So, the next day, I braced myself for a whole day of waterfalls hopping!

Sunday morning, we headed to Maria Cristina and Tinago falls. We left JB at home with his lolo and lola so they can spend more time with their apo, plus, the 500-step stairs in Tinago would be a very hard ordeal if we will bring JB along.

When we arrived in Maria Cristina falls, it was closed for viewing because of red alert. I was a bit disappointed but J and his friends told me that Tinago falls is just as beautiful, only smaller. And so we immediately headed to the smaller falls. The stairs going down to Tinago falls was, of course, pretty easy. But I was already dreading my way up. Hehe.

half-way down: nakakangiti pa kami

True to its name, Tinago falls was indeed "nakatago". We ate the lunch we brought and then immediately took a dip in the water. Btw, for dessert, we had marang. A fruit that can be found in Mindanao and Aurora (yes, in Luzon). If you have get the chance, try it. Yummy! Especially when chilled.

When we got bored swimming, we decided to take a closer look at the falls using a balsa.

This activity looked easy on picture. Pero sa actual, ang sakit sakit sa mata and J and the other guys bruised their hands sa kakahila ng tali. I wish I brought my goggles so I would have appreciated the falls up close. Of course, we had a grand time taking pictures of ourselves because of the beautiful view.

Before sunset, we packed our bags and I readied myself for the climb up. It was a wake up call to my already dormant muscles. :P

On our way back home, they all showed me the top view of the Maria Cristina falls. At least man lang daw yung tuktok makita ko. While we were taking pictures, we saw that there were some people taking pictures in the viewing deck of the falls. We thought that they are now allowing people to come in. We tried our luck again but the guard there told us that viewing is still not allowed. Since it's already our second time, J pulled some strings so we can get in. Luckily, we did! Yey! Finally. And i wasn't disappointed with what I saw.

They have so many plans to improve Maria Cristina. They are planning to include activities such as white water rafting, kayaking, zipline and cable cars so as to attract more tourist in that area. J and I were so excited with this plan. We initially wanted to go white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro but due to budget constraints, we weren't able to do so. Hopefully, this dream will become a reality on our next trip back to Iligan and hopefully, peace will finally settle in Mindanao so people will be enticed to go on vacation there. Sayang kasi talaga yung ganda ng lugar.

The next day, we were set to go back to Manila. We brought home lots of goodies from my MIL. During my stay, I really enjoyed their pinakurat na suka and so MIL gave us 3 bottles! Yey! Pinakurat na suka is my newfound favorite condiment. =)

Our 5-day vacation was packed with a lot of activities pero bitin pa rin. While waiting for our plane, J & I decided to extend our vacation to 15 days when we go back to Iligan next year. =) Maximize!

There, it took me 3 weeks to compose this very long post. Hehe. When things finally clear up in Mindanao, I encourage you all to consider Iligan as one of your vacation destination. Promise, it'll be money well spent. =)

More of our Iligan Vacation here!


mommy kiel said...

wow, ang pinakamalayong narating ko ay baguio pa rin, hehe. pinakurat is a staple in our home :)
it's easily available at all grocery stores, the filipiniana section :)

berna said...

kung hindi pa ko pumunta ng mindanao, hindi ko pa madidiscover ang pinakurat. haha

mommy kiel said...

ang sarap no!
nung first time ko rin natikman yun, araw2 ang niluluto kong ulam yung puwedeng isawsaw sa suka para lang mkakain ulit ng pinakurat :)
the best yan sa lapid's chicharon :)

berna said...

talaga? makabili nga ng lapids sa sweldo. =) sarap talaga. nung una,kala ko magaling lang gumawa ung byenan ko ng sawsawan. un pala, pinakurat!

soloops said...


Wow, ang ganda ganda ganda talaga ng Mindanao, and totoo, exag. naman kasi ang news lagi.

You love waterfalls pala. Madami din sa bicol niya, someday, I'd like to show them to you and the girls, sana naman bago tayo mag retirement age, haha./

Pinakurat-my officemate who is from Gensan introduced that to me. Sarap siguro niyan sa bagnet, nagutom tuloy ako.

Natatawa ako sa photo niyo near the falls, I can just imagine na halong tawanan at hirap yung na experience nyo, which is what I miss most about nature trips.

berna said...

hi kim,
yeah. ang ganda talaga. kaya nga talagang nasasayangan ako kung hindi man lang to maeexplore ng mga kababayan natin dahil sa takot.

uy, magandang plano yan. i haven't been to bicol and would realllly want to explore the place. =) plus, i heard, masasarap ang pagkain dun. =) sana magkaron tyo ng time.

travelling is my high talaga. lalo na ung mga nature trips. i stopped mountain climbing na kasi pero if i get the chance to do so, i'll go in a heartbeat. =) maybe when our kids are older, sama sama tyong mag-nature tripping diba? =) mala-dyan castillejo. hehe

soloops said...

uy, that's a great idea. Tagal ko nang hinihingi yan k Jun, yung road trip from luzon to mindanao. Natawa lang siya sakin, kasi hello, mil. daw asawa ko, aside from mahirap makapag bakasyon, di pwedeng sumuot sa kung saan saan. E that happens to be my passion.

Yes, masasarap at maanghang ang mga bicol foods. I hope to someday share bicolano cuisine to you and the girls.

I used to go on mountain climbing din, that was way before I met my husband. Natawa na naman siya kasi sa payat ko daw noon at sobrang lampa ako, di siya naniniwala that I have climbed up Mt. Mayon. grrr.

berna said...

wow! naakyat mo na ang mt mayon?! astig! =) funny, when i was also at the height of my climbing adventures, lampayatot din ako.

baka pag retire na sila pwede na ang luzon to mindanao road trip. =)

soloops said...

Mt. Mayon ang nai type ko, what I meant was, Mt. Isarog, ang hanggang dun lang naman kami sa waterfalls near the top. Sorry, na overexcite kasi nakahanap ng kapwa lakwatsera, hehe.

Di naman kaya pag retired na sila, may mga arthritis na tayo haha.

berna said...

mag-flanax na lang tyo pag tanda natin. haha. =)

kala ko mt. mayon nga. pero sarap ha. may waterfalls sa taas. i miss climbing. =( masarap kasi mag-muni muni habang umaakyat e.

soloops said...

tama berna, tsaka parang gusto ko mag climb na kasama mga mister kasi may tagabuhat ng backpack pag pagod na tayo, and mga expert mga yan sa survival in the mountains. hehe. Tama bang gawing PA mga asawa.

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