travel

Anak ng Pating Naman : No to 'Gotta catch 'em all

Did you know that the Philippines is among the Top 5 countries in the world with high shark diversity? Mostly found in the following places, 1) Donsol, Sorsogon (Whale shark feeding aggregation); 2) Manta Bowl, Ticao Pass (Manta Ray Cleaning station); 3) Cagayan de Oro (Highest concentration of megamouth shark strandings) and 4) Malapascua Island, Cebu (Thresher Shark cleaning station), the Philippines is also the only place in the world where you can dive with the thresher sharks. 

The presence of these sharks has turned some of our islands into a major dive tourist attraction helping local residents. They are considered valuable in terms  for both ecological and economic value.

In 2010, I already swam with the Butandings during one of my travel. I've seen how these sea monsters were able to charm tourists and  the economic value it brings to the  tourism industry.

JLo while waiting for Butandings
THE VALUE OF SHARK IN THE PHILIPPINE TOURISM INDUSTRY 

With over 150 species of shark listed in the Checklist of Philippines Chondrichthyes, divers and wildlife enthusiast are paying good money to view sharks in their natural habitats. Travel packages has been offered to take tourist to view, dive or snorkel with sharks.

Apart from Monad Shoal in Malapascua, divers have also encountered threshers sharks around :
  • Apo Reef, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
  • Burias Pass
  • Tubbataha Reef
  • Moalboal, Cebu
  • Apo Island, Dauin, Negros Occiendental

This form of ecotourism is rooting in having communities appreciate that the local shark species are more valuable alive than dead. Instead of opting for one-time economic benefit of harvesting sharks for their body parts used as food, beauty products and other commercial use. Many tourist are still interested to see live sharks and diving with these giants is something that they look  forward to.

Shark-based toursim provides ecomonic benefits in areas that can support sustainable tourism ventures.
 
Unfortunately, these marine animal is nearing extinction,  as thresher sharks could still be fished, hunted, and traded legally elsewhere. Anak ng pating naman oh!

There is a proposal by the following countries Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Ukraine* . and the European Union to the CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA  (CITES) which the Philippines will be voting for or against in Johannesburg, South Africa in their 17th meeting on September 24 – October 5, 2016. 
The proposal concerns the inclusion in Appendix II of Alopias superciliosus (bigeye thresher shark) in accordance with Article II paragraph 2(a) of the Convention and satisfying Criterion A in Annex 2a of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP16); and the inclusion of all other species of thresher sharks, genus Alopias spp. in accordance with Article II paragraph 2(b) of the Convention and satisfying Criterion A in Annex 2b of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP 14).


There is a petition led by the Philippines that could ensure the protection of thresher sharks because we are the only country in the world that values these sharks. If this proposal passes, all trade in thresher sharks would be required to be sustainable and would ensure their survival in the next generations to come.


As a Filipino, WHAT CAN WE DO TO SUPPORT THIS ADVOCACY?

1. Go to the website to sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/philippines-vote-yes-for-threshers
2. Pledge your support to our Thunderclap campaign!
3. Visit Malapascua Island to see the thresher shark and support the community.
4. Share this post to social media using #PHsayYES and #WORLDsayYES

LET US ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IF YOU THINK THIS IS WORTH A FEW CLICKS TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT, PLEASE DO LET OTHER KNOW ABOUT IT TOO!
SIGN THE PETITION HERE !

  #PHsayYES #WORLDsayYES 

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events

2016 Government Choral Competition

To those who were following my blog (kung meron man! :-), I am sure that you are aware that I am a part of the Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale. Aside from working with my day job, the wooden souvenir business "Wooden"  and the travel agency  "RedMark Travel and Tours" that we recently launched this year, I've been singing with this choir for more than 18 years now. 

From Soprano 1, Soprano2 , down to A1 and now a power Alto 2, (naks! oh sya ang lahat dinaanan ko na), harmonizing with your friends I guess is my best stress buster so far.

Last September 13, we recently joined the CSC Government Choral Competition held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and we bagged the following awards : Best in Regional Entry - NCR, 2nd Runner-Up and Best Conductor Award.


We did not make it as the Grand Champion but in our hearts we did our best and we are champions in our own rights.  Our very own version of Joey Ayala's "Karaniwang Tao" is one for the books. Our soulful rendition almost made me in tears and had chills running down my spine. Kudos to our quartet, Darwin, Leebeth, Roderick and Betchay.

Maraming Salamat po sa lahat ng sumuporta!

The Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale singing Kaya Mong Maging Isang Dakila
Photo Credit : Philippine Civil Service Facebook Page

___________________

Source : Philippine Civil Service PRESS RELEASE

Grand choir - The eight participating government choirs sang “Mabuhay Ka, Pilipino” as this year’s grand choir piece conducted by Mr. Arwin Tan of the Philippine Choral Directors Association. After which, they also gave a rendition of the "Awit ng Serbisyo Sibil"
Photo Credit : Philippine Civil Service Commission Facebook Page

For the second time, Mindanaoan choir Tagum City Chamber Chorale emerged as the grand champion of the nationwide choral competition for government agencies.

The Tagum City Chamber Chorale won over seven other government choirs from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao which competed in the 6th Government Choral Competition on September 13, 2016 held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in celebration of the 116th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary (PCSA).

This year’s anniversary theme, “Sigaw ng Lingkod Bayani: Malasakit para sa Taumbayan, Kapwa Kawani, at Kalikasan”, inspired the selection of the competition piece “Karaniwang Tao” by Joey Ayala at Ang Bagong Lumad which calls on the public to take care of every human being by taking care of the environment.

“Sinama namin ang kalikasan sa tema dahil naniniwala ang Komisyon na ang pagmamalasakit dito ay isang pangkalahatang responsibilidad—pangkalahatan, dahil walang pinipiling edad, kasarian, relihiyon, at lahi ang mga sakuna o kalamidad na dulot ng pagbabago ng klima o climate change (We considered the environment in our anniversary theme because the Commission believes that taking care of the environment is a collective duty—collective, because the disastrous impact brought by climate change knows no age, gender, religion, and race),” CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said.

Each choir sang the contest piece “Karaniwang Tao” with original choral arrangements each, along with two other music pieces.

The participating choirs are: (Luzon) Dasmariñas City Teachers Chorale, Pangasinan Provincial Chorale, (Visayas) Guimaras Capitol Chorale, (Mindanao) Bayugan City Educators Chorale, Tagum City Chamber Chorale, The Davao City Teachers Chorale, (NCR) Bangko Sentral Singers, and Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale.

Best Regional Entry winners are Pangasinan Provincial Choral, Guimaras Capitol Chorale, Tagum City Chamber Chorale, and Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale.

Following its victory in last year’s Government Choral Competition, the Tagum City Chamber Choral won again as this year’s Grand Champion (P200,000), followed by the Bayugan City Educators Chorale (1st Runner-up - P150,000), Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale (2nd Runner-up – P100,000), and the Pangasinan Provincial Chorale (3rd Runner-Up – P75,000).

Other special awards were given to Mr. Anthony Villanueva of the Pag-IBIG Fund Chorale for Best Conductor, and to Mr. John August Pamintuan of Tagum City Chamber Chorale for Best Arrangement of Competition Song.

Cultural Center of the Philippines President Raul Sunico congratulated the choirs and showed appreciation for the public servants’ increasing level of appreciation in culture and the arts.

“I am glad that people in the government are starting to recognize the important role of culture and the arts in spurring national development,” he said.

All participating choirs sang “Mabuhay Ka, Pilipino” as this year’s grand choir piece conducted by Mr. Arwin Tan of the Philippine Choral Directors Association.

Mr. Joey Ayala sat as member of the board of judges together with Mr. Jonathan Velasco, Ms. Ma. Theresa Vizconde Roldan, Mr. Ralph Hoffman, and Mr. Tristan Ignacio.

Pilipinas Got Talent first season winner Jovit Baldivino and the Silly Peoples Improv Theater rendered intermission numbers, while broadcaster Kara David and comedian/actor Garry Lim served as the Masters of Ceremony.

The competition was organized by the CSC Regional Office No. 4 in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


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redmark travel,

Spelunking in Sumaging Cave

As we are getting closer and closer to the mouth of the cave, I started to feel scared. The sight of dark abyss and the trail of uneven steps that lead underground is enough for you to weaken your spirit and back-out. The trail down the deep, dark and cold cave may be scary, but it is worth to give it a try.


Perhaps one of the reasons that compelled me as first-timer in caving despite the lack of experience is my thirst for seeing an unfamiliar environment and to experience its magnificent limestone formations. And the only way to satisfy me is to take the adventurous rugged trail down the BIG cave.

The guides started to prepare the lamps that will light us during the exploration. While preparing, the head guide gave us an orientation and the to-dos and not-to-dos. Yes, I can still remember ABC and DEF. ABC stands for Always Be Careful and DEF stands for Don’t Ever Fall. hmmm! Sounds "hugot" to me!

Our group is composed of 12 individuals with the age range from the mid-20s to early 60s. The guide told us to fall in line with the weakest link first.
The Sumaging Cave Adventure Team is brought to you by RedMark Travel and Tours

As we are about to enter the cave, the guide explained to us that there are 3 stages of caving.

Ang pagbaba!
To the bat cave! The path going down the cave was slippery. Holding the slime-covered rocks which you need to hold onto to attain balance is better than holding your boyfriend's hand. Ok, I admit! I pretended that the slime on my hands was just moss, but it was actually bat  poop and pee. Eeeeew!!! Now I know the use of the gloves  for sale at the souvenir shop near the registration area. I should have bought a pair.

The watery part
At this stage, the guide would ask the group to remove footwear. Walking barefoot allows you to have more balance and allows you to move freely without slipping. You can rinse your dirty hands and feet in the cold water.

"Ang Pulikat!" bow. Make sure makapag stretching ng unti para iwas pulikat

The buwis-buhay part
The buwis -buhay stage is where  your YOLO spirit will be put to test.  We slide, crawl and rappel to move from one place to another. In this stage also where the guides will show off their superman abilities. Guides will be  your human ladder to make the difficult phase less frightening. 

Expect to hear this kind of conversation during this stage:
      Guide : Ma’m kanang paa sa balikat ko, kaliwang paa sa binti ko.
     JLo     :  Hindi ko abot. Hindi abot ng paa ko yang shoulder mo.
     Guide  : Unti nalang mam 1 inch nalang.
    JLo     : maikli nga
    Guide   : slide pa ng unti
The more challenging it gets, the more you are excited to see the rock formations such as the King’s Curtain, Crocodile or Sharks head, the King and Queen and other marvelous limestone formations.



The King's Curtain

Going back  is also another challenge. It involves more rock climbing and rappelling that requires more flexibility. Despite of all the "buwis-buhay" stunts that we did for this tour, it is all worth it in the end. 



This experience made me realize that,  "It is truly not the destination, but the journey that matters."

Cheers!

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redmark travel,

Sagad sa Sagada!


This “Sagad sa Sagada” Eco-Adventure tour is so surreal that it felt like I was dreaming.  Samahan nyo ako sa aking munting kwento. Tara byahe tayo!



We started the tour at the viewpoint of Banawe Rice Terraces (as seen on the old 1,000 peso bill). It was not my first time in Banawe. I was only 19 years old when given the opportunity to teach computer education in Nueva Viscaya and Ifugao. After 2 decades, I came back reminiscing that stage in my life when I was just starting to build a name for myself. Looking back, I can say that my 19 year-old-self did well.








After checking in at the George Guesthouse, we prepared ourselves for the next activity, which is spelunking.

Conquering Sumaging Cave is indeed a challenge and surviving it without an injury is something I can be proud of. The sight of dark abyss and the trail of uneven steps that lead underground is enough for you to weaken your spirit and back-out. But what motivated me was my thirst for seeing an unfamiliar environment and to experience its magnificent limestone formations. And the only way to satisfy me is to take the adventurous trail down the deep, dark and cold cave.

Spelunking may not be for the faint-hearted but it is truly rewarding.

Shark's Head
<Read details of our Sumaging Cave Exploration here>

Day 2 of the tour involves a lot of trekking and hiking.  I thought it was easy, but I had a hard time because of the weather. I was about to give up during the 2km trek along Fidelisan Rice Terraces going to Bomod-ok Falls. It was cold and windy and the rain keeps on pouring which makes it even harder to walk. I slipped in the mud several times and I felt l was running out of breath. I was really cold and quivering inside.

But my YOLO spirit is telling me not to give up. Sabi nga ng guide “Ginusto nyo yan.”

Trekking 
Lo and  behold! When we reached the Bomod-ok Falls, we were all like children excited to play with a new toy. All the exhausting knee-jerking long walk was replaced by fresh and energized feeling after seeing the falls.

Bomod-ok Falls
This adventure is not for everyone. Bring your YOLO spirit and unleash that Conqueror in you.

The following day, our wake up call was at 4am to prepare ourselves for the sunset viewing at Kiltepan. Waking up before 4am was also a challenge after all the strenuous activities the last 2 days. We don't want to miss that sun slowly rising up above the sea of cloud. 

Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating and it was a fail. "Singing in the rain lang ang peg."






ACCOMMODATIONS

There are a lot of guesthouse and inns that you can book prior to your visit. I suggest to still book in advance or book a package through your favorite travel agency. Sometimes D-I-Y-ing will make you feel disappointed because there were times that the Sagada Tourism Office will not allow you to proceed with the activities for there were instances of shortage of tour guides.

FOOD

You can google search “where to dine in Sagada?” and you can read articles on the list of the Top 10 restaurants there. Unfortunately, during peak season, these top restaurants are not ready for tourist. It will take you a minimum of 1 to 1.5 hours to wait for your food. Please manage your expectations.


To manage your time, I recommend to order in advance. By doing so, you don’t need to wait in line and stress yourself waiting for your orders.

Are you ready to conquer Sagada? Check out the itinerary below and book your tour through RedMark Travel and Tours.

ITINERARY

Day 0
9:00 pm        -     Assembly / Estimated Time of Departure from Manila

Day 1
6:00 am        -      Estimated time of Arrival in Banaue
-     Breakfast
-     Banaue View Point (as seen in the old 1,000 peso bill)

7:30 am        -      Estimated time of departure to Sagada
10:30 am      -      Estimated time of arrival in Sagada
-     Check in
-      Freshen up

12:00 nn       -      Lunch
2:00 pm        -      Lumiang Burial Cave
-     Sumaging Cave (includes : rock climbing, rappelling and swimming)

Day 2
6:00 am        -      Call time
-      Breakfast

7:00 am        -     Bomod-ok Falls
7:30 am        -     Drop off
                     -     Start of Trek
      View of Fidelisan Rice Terraces
      Fidelisan Mines View
      Bomod-ok Falls

9:00 am        -     Estimated time of arrival at the falls
      Swimming

10:00 am      -     Trek back to drop of

12:00 nn       -      Estimated time of arrival at the hotel
-      Lunch

2:30 pm         -     Town Tour
                             (Saint Mary the Virgin Church, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins)

5:00 pm        -       Sunset viewing at Lake Danum

6:30 pm        -       Back to Hotel

Day 03
4:00 am        -       wake up call

4:30 am        -       Sunrise viewign atKiltepan View Point
6:30 am        -        Back to the hotel
         Breakfast
         Souvenir hunt

11:00 am      - Lunch along Halsema Road

12:30 pm      - Drop at the Philippine Highest Point

2:30 pm        - Estimated Time of Arrival in La Trinidad Strawberry Farm

3:30 pm        - Estimated Time of Departure from Baguio

10:00 pm      - Estimated time of arrival in Manila




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