After a 13 hour flight, a few hours layover in Cebu, and another short flight, we were finally in Manila. Leaving the airport I took a few photos of people.
Just as I had been told, Manila was full of traffic. Cars and pedestrians were weaving through self invented lanes, many of them coming less than an arms reach or closer to our own van as we exited the airport in a slow crawl.
Many people served as a constant reminder of the prominent reality of poverty in the Philippines.
We arrived in Bonifacio Global City before noon where we were staying at a condo that would serve as our “home base” while we were in the Philippines. Bonifacio Global City (or BGC as most call it) is one of the newer financial districts of Metro Manila. The area has a history of both Filipino and American military usage before being bought by the Bonifacio Land Development Corp creating the continuously growing modern skyline that it is today.
A few weeks before, I reached out to Angela Martinez, a local model to do a shoot the same afternoon after we arrived. We were really busy the rest of the week so it was the only time I was available. Here’s a few pictures from the set that I liked. She’s a pretty cool girl, one of the many friends I am thankful to have made during the trip. Check her out on instagram @angelasburgers.
We planned to fly out to the island of Palawan the next day. That night however, we ended up going to a nearby club to hangout with some of Jamie’s cousins. The hangover that greeted me the next morning was intense to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown up that much for years. One of the most outstanding memories for me was eating a banana at the airport after trying to keep all kinds of other foods down the whole morning and failing. After eating that banana I started feeling just fine, and just in time for boarding too. That banana basically saved my life.
We arrived in Busuanga, Palawan after a short hour long flight. The Coron countryside is beautiful. Endless grass fields framed by rolling green hills and mountains with hand built houses and huts strewn about.
We weren’t going to make it all the way to our destination on land. One of the most common vehicles for transportation in Coron are boats. We got on to a large double outrigger and started down the river.
The river was outlined with forests of mangrove trees, giving it a swamp like feeling. No alligators, but funnily enough the rivers are home to dugongs.
Our destination was a secluded resort called El Rio y Mar. Pulling up to the dock, the employees gathered waiting for us and sang a welcome song.
After planning out the next days trip and having some dinner, we turned in to our cabins for the night. The awesome thing about the cabins there was that they were all made of wood and bamboo, holes in the gaps of the wood to the outside and all, but they had a bathroom inside as well with a shower. I will say that certain wildlife did manage to squeeze their way in, especially during the night. At one point I saw a rat run across one of the wooden beams above us.
Our room for the next three days. They did a very good job of making it look nice.
The next morning I took a walk around our cabin to check out the surrounding area before we got on a boat for our snorkeling trip.
They had these floating massage stations sitting out in the water where they would take you out on a boat if you schedule an appointment.
I have to hand it to the employees of El Rio y Mar, their hospitality and enthusiasm went pretty much unmatched our whole trip. They are all actually locals who live along the river and countryside we passed by to get there.
Finally, we arrived at the twin lagoons, our first stop on our trip.
This spot is very famous for snorkeling and has been featured in a bunch of videos online so it was really cool to see. My sister Jackie is working on a video that will include all the snorkeling footage from my GoPro.
After 5 different stops at snorkeling areas, we headed back to the resort. This had to be one of the most awe-inspiring things I got to see in the Philippines. The area was so secluded, the water was so blue and clear, and the fish were fearless and abundant. Along with the green ridden limestone mountains peaking out of the water, it was an amazing feeling to just float in the water and relax.
We only stayed for a couple of days, but I will never forget this little vacation within our vacation. It was amazing to see these few nearly untouched pieces of the earth where simple living is enough and the days somehow last longer than usual.