Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Celebrating Life in Capari

"I prayed and understanding was given to me; I asked earnestly and the spirit of Wisdom came to me."

Wisdom 7:7

Modest - a word that was derived from the latin word modestus. It is a word used to describe what is in the middle, an average.

The 14 kms white sand beach of San Vicente.

That is the word used to describe Capari(i). I beg to disagree.

My curiosity about San Vicente started to creep in when I heard that there is a white beach stretch in the Philippines that is not Boracay. Then news was all over that the youngest female mayor has been elected. Suddenly, San Vicente is already featured as the 4th season destination for the Survivor Philippines castaways. I was overwhelmed and I can't wait to pack my camera and leave. After all, it is my birthday.

To reach San Vicente, you will need patience and a whole of prayer - trust me, you do. I took an airplane to Puerto Princesa. I hope it was just that easy, but I have to take a trike to reach Charing Terminal. Sounds like a joke? Charing terminal is commonly known as San Jose Terminal in PP. Based on my research, San Vicente bound vans are rare, so I made sure to reserve a seat before my trip. Luckily, I was seated beside the driver so I didn't get bored to the 4 hour long drive from PP to San Vicente. 

It was like being in the front row of a blockbuster movie. There was a checkpoint - simply because of transporting mangoes in and out of one area (apparently, the mangoes were infested of some pests). The road leading to San Vicente proper was the climax. It started to rain when we entered the boundary to San Vicente. The lush forested area masked the fury of the raindrops, but the steep sharp-curved dirt road, which is now muddy, showed us no mercy. We even witnessed a motorcycle accident because of the muddy and steep road. I thought I would perform a blessing for the dying - please not while I am on a holiday.

Capari Resort.
I finally arrived after almost 5 hours of travel from PP to San Vicente. It is usually 4 hours but we were delayed due to the rain. Kuya driver was kind enough to drop me off my destination - Capari Resort. It used to be Caparii but the owners decided to drop the other "i" when they opened the resort to public.

Deluxe rooms.
According to their website, Capari is a modest resort with only 17 rooms. One can enjoy visiting for a day or stay for the night.

Mess Hall.
The modesty of the resort is obvious. This structure is all in one. The reception area, the lobby, the dining area and the function hall.

Sumptuous fresh food.
What they lack in facilities, they make it up to their food. On my first night, I had grilled sea bass with vegetable. Then on my second, yes, my birthday night, I had LOBSTERS! I know. I had the vow of poverty, but I just have to do this, only for tonight.

Beach Front Room.
When I reserved the room, I specifically told them that I wanted the only one beach front room. This is it. I never knew this, but the staff told me that this is the same room that Richard Gutierrez stayed in as well as other celebrities staying in the resort, and I am just one of them.

Afternoon in Capari.
I can feel how remote this resort is. It was just me and this speedboat by the beach after I settled in.

I was thankful that I got the only beach front room. I can just sit at my porch and then click!

“A breeze, a forgotten summer, a smile, all can fit into a storefront window.” 
― The Sun Watches the Sun

A fascination.

Boardwalk leading to the mess hall.

When the night starts settling in, there is nothing but silence and the crash of waves along the shore.

Life begins at a certain age, they say. The truth is, life begins when you want it to.
A dawn each day brings forth hope to begin a better life than yesterday. 

Fully grown coconut trees surround the vicinity which completes the beach vibe of the resort.

Survivor Tribal Council.
The season 4 Survivor Philippines tribal council which was set within the resort.

The remains of the tribal council set still lures in guests to the resort. 
It would've been fun if I can participate in one of the survivor challenges. 
Maybe, I can become the first Priest castaway.

The props used by the production team are still lying around the resort.

When not busy with what they offer by the beach, ask one of the staff to accompany you to walk up the hill for a perfect top view of San Vicente. 

On to my left from the hill top, the busy beach front of the Poblacion, to the right is the 14kms long white sand beach of San Vicente.

Since it is my birthday, the manager, Sharon Padua was kind enough to set up a beach front lunch. The best part is, I get to blow my birthday candle on top of spaghetti. yum yum.

Ka Lui.
Any Palawan trip is not complete without visiting Ka Lui. 
A local restaurant known for eating barefoot.

Make sure that you reserve a table when planning to eat at KaLui to avoid the long waiting lined up outside.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
A century old church that has been a spiritual foundation of PP locals.

Capari is truly a modest resort - at a glance. 

I was one of the lucky few who experienced the best that it has to offer. The staffs always extend their help and go out their way just to make my stay unforgettable. They don't let the simple things to slip away. Every morning, they make sure that the lounge and a beach towel is waiting for me by the beach. Once I sat down the lounge, a pitcher of ice cold water will be brought out. Once in a while, a staff would wonder around, snooping or maybe hoping if I would need anything. 

Capari has stepped up a notch of their modesty and overwhelmed me with their service.


Finally, a modest resort does not have an in house entertainer! Squirrel! I literally squealed when I saw them one morning. The staff was excited to share that these squirrels only come out in the morning, around 6 - 7 am. Who would've thought that I will see one here in the remote island of San Vicente. Squirrel!

I have reached the Philippines' final frontier and I have survived - the nik nik bites. God must have a good reason to bring me here. To spread the beauty of San Vicente thru my lens and declare a call to preserve its natural beauty.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discovering the Solitary Sumilon Island

"If I ride on the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand shall guide me and your right hand shall hold me safely."
Psalm 139:9

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I was going on and on and on every five minutes with this phrase after an hour of sitting in the van. Kuya driver must've been so annoyed, but this Oslob,Cebu local just smiled at me and politely answers "Dalawang oras na lang po" (Just two more hours, sir). He answered as if sitting in a van for two more hours was just as easy as him smiling at me.

I am headed to a far flung island, south eastern coast of Cebu called Bluewater Sumilon Island.

Sumilon is a perfect island to get lost in many ways possible. No, this is not a Twilight Zone but an island that will continuously enchant you with its natural and unspoiled beauty.

Getting to Sumilon will definitely test your patience. It was a 3 hour drive from Mactan to Oslob. Our driver made it as comfortable as he can. He would offer water from time to time, share stories about the town we're passing by and most important is, giving in to my whims and caprice.

Boljoon Church.
This 18th century church is the oldest remaining stone church in Cebu hence it was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2000.

Boljoon church is strategically facing the sea to help protect the town during the moro raids, the time when the church was built.

This church has 28 pillars with walls the same size as its pillars. An Augustian friar, Fr. Julian Bermejo, fortified the church to protect the town and its neighborhood from the Muslims.

"Ad Jesum Per Mariam"

An authentic Carcar chicharon is one of my requests to Kuya driver. I've read that Carcar chicharon is like no other chicharon -  pork skin deep fried, dried, and deep fried again.

Puerto Sumilon - Finally! It was the first word I said when Kuya driver told me that we're already here at the dock. It is the end of a long drive but a new start for a 15 minute boat ride. Let's get it on!

Welcome to Bluewater Sumilon Island! 
After more than 3 hours and 15 minutes of travel with stopovers due to my caprice which kuya driver gleefully obliged to, I am finally at destination. Pagkahabahaba man ng prusisyon, sa Sumilon pa rin ang tuloy ko! 

There are only 7 cottages on the island. All with 2 queen beds. Imagine just how big it is. The room seems outdated but it was kept tidy and besides, it's huge! The limited accommodation assured me that I will be on solitude.

An infinity pool and jacuzzi facing the sea and Cebu island would temp you to jump in every time you're at the pavilion.

The resort offers exquisite seafood and other dishes.

Shifting Sand Bar.
A glimpse of the last rays of sun for the day signals that I have to start gathering my things and start my way back to my cottages. Another day well spent. Or it may just be I am lucky to witness the solemnity of His Ascension.

As the night falls, darkness reigns, I begun to get lost in my solitude. Only my thoughts and prayers were my companion until the sun shines.

When you get tired of your thoughts and you already prayed to all saints you know of, you can try to enjoy the non-motorized activities offered by the resort. 

You can also give in to the tempting pool.

Aside from capturing the island's unspoiled beauty. I had a share of fun with these kayaks.

A natural lagoon on the island is a perfect spot to practice rowing with kayaks.

This is my salvation. This boat saved me from the longest drive of my life and believe it or not, my savior when my being screamed to go back to the city life.

A big chunk of the island is still untouched. Curiosity crept in so I took the island hike. It's an easy trail and there are directions along so I didn't get lost. Along the way, I saw the Yamashita cave with no gold inside *frown*, and the Grotto as well.

A glorious way to start any day! Get up close to live corals without scuba diving. 
Sumilon is truly enchanting.

God's greatest gift is dawn; it is a sign for us to start over.

Sumilon has bewitched me, truly, in many ways. Now I know why my patience has to be tested before I get intoxicated by this virgin beauty. As the sun goes down, I started to get lost in the darkness. My thoughts crept in and I started to get lost. Gods must be crazy! I silently screamed at myself as I saw the DVD on the shelf. I watched it with much gusto and laughter for the rest of the night.

As the movie ended, I turned off the lights, closed my eyes and clasped my hands together, I prayed - 

Dear Lord,

I have come to Sumilon to witness another of your divine creation. You are truly the almighty. Thank you for sharing this beautiful island to me.

Thank you for sharing the beautiful corals of the sea without scuba diving - I am still a thousand pesos or two richer.

Thank you for kuya driver, he was very accommodating and gave in to my requests - now I don't have to pay another P3,000 to get a tour of Carcar and Boljoon.

Thank you for the free kayak - I toned my biceps without paying an instructor at Crossfit Manila.

Thank you because the church collection is still a bit intact.

Most importantly, thank you for bringing me here. Thank you for I got lost in many ways on this island. I never feared a single second of getting lost. I know that with you guiding me through my prayers, I will find my way.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Christianizing Lapu-Lapu

"I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

Mt. 18:3

Upon searching for exotic spices, the Portuguese navigator - Ferdinand Magellan stumbled upon an island called Zubu, thus the beginning of Spanish era and our Catholic Faith. Since then, Cebu has been a witness to many of the firsts in our history.

Porta Fidei - the "Door of Faith". In the apostolic letter of the now Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, he said that "Door of Faith" (Acts 14:27) is always open, leading us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into His church. On October 11th of 2012, the beginning of the Year of Faith begun and will conclude on November 24th of 2013.  According to link), the Year of Faith is an opportunity for the faithful to understand more deeply that the foundation of our Christian faith is "the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction".

To start our deep understanding of the Filipino Catholic faith, let's go back to how ours begun.
Nowadays, Cebu is known because of Sinulog. According to those who have experienced Cebu during Sinulog, the city turns into a massive carnival. However, it is not how Cebu got its distinctive mark on me.
I went to Cebu on the last quarter of 2011. I am not really fascinated about Cebu because I've been there a couple of times. If you're from Manila, Cebu looks the same, feels the same. What sets Cebu apart from Manila - the food and its rich history.

Still I was reluctant leaving Cebu - who wouldn't? Baby back ribs for dinner, Lechon for lunch and danggit and pusit for breakfast. When not eating, your appetite for history will be fed in an enormous serving. Have I committed the 5th of the 7 deadly sins (PALAGES)?

The food in Cebu would surely make you a pound or so heavier. Fret not, because a walking tour of the city will help you shed off those extra pounds. Start your tour at Fort San Pedro then lame your way to Magellan's cross which is already just beside Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino. A short walk along Zamora St. and Legaspi St. will take you to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Continue walking along Mabini St to Sikatuna St. At the corner of Colon St. and Sikatuna St. you will see the Heritage of Cebu, across the huge statue you will see the Sandiego-Yap Ancestral House. Make a quick stop at Shamrock for pasalubong shopping, this is along Colon St. From there make your way to Casa Gorordo Museum. This is the last stop for my DIY walking tour, now take a cab and make your way to Carbon Market for some refreshing aroma of dried fish and squid. Yummy!

Magellan's Cross.
Aside from discovering new spices to bring home to the King of Spain, one of Magellan's goals was to spread Catholicism. Upon docking, Magellan ordered to for a Christian cross to be planted instead of the Spanish flag.

The irony of Church.
When you visit beautiful churches of Cebu, notice the existence of Catholic religious images and the Chinese images that are visible outside the church. Even the old churches in Manila has them.

The irony of Faith.
Spirituality vs. Religiosity.

Sto. Nino de Cebu.
On April 24, 1521, Magellan gave this image of Sto Nino to Queen Juana wife of Raja Humabon, as a gift for her baptism thus the beginning of Filipino Catholic Faith.

Fort San Pedro.
A tri-bastion fort that has been a witness to our country’s milestones.

Fort San Pedro.
I don't know what this is but it looks interesting. What is more interesting though is the fact that Fort San Pedro was once the nucleus of the first Spanish Settlement of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.

Fort San Pedro.
Since construction in  May 8, 1565, Fort San Pedro has been a major part of Spanish era, American era, Japanese era and our present time. Isn't it fantastic to be standing on the very same ground that has been a part of the major happenings in our country, if only this canyon could talk.

Nuestra Senora de la Cotta of Cebu.
Known also as Our Lady of the Fort and Our Lady of Remedies.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
The seat of Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu.

Heritage of Cebu.
 A local artist, Eduardo Castrillo sculpted this tableau related to the history of Cebu.

Yap San Diego Ancestral House.
One of the oldest houses in Cebu where you can find artifacts from the family who owns this house.

Casa Gorordo.
The home of the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu - Juan Gorordo.

The best pig ever! Ever! Ever! If you're in Cebu, be kind enough to bring some for me. If you will be eating at one of their branches, make sure to try their Kamias shake, a refreshing drink that also washes away the "umay".

Casa Verde.
Here's another favorite, every time I'm in Cebu City, I always visit Casa Verde at one of the most popular malls. I always order, what else, their succulent and cheap baby back ribs!

Carbon Market.
Smell it to believe it.

Crimson Resort and Spa.
A deluxe beach resort located at the island of Mactan.

The resort has an amazing worth mentioning 3-tiered infinity pool.


Just appreciating the beauty of God.

Our spirituality is the trellis on which our faith thrives and reaches heights.

Eat like a king.

I don't mind being transported around the resort with this peculiar native trike. It's more fun in Crimson!

An outdoor spa.

Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will be at rest?
Psalm 54:7

The resort has a total of 40 villas and 250 guestrooms.

A simple gesture by room service that will make you smile.

This bath can be another guestroom in the villa that I stayed in.

The resort's lobby.

Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave.  It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation.
Jack Kornfield

Sunrise is the start of a new day, a new hope and a new life.

On March 31, 2021, the Filipinos will celebrate its 500th year of Christianity. Up to this day, we are still the only catholic nation in Asia and we are proud to be.

Five hundred years after Magellan's discovery of our islands on 1521, have our faith grew? Have we moved on from being nominal catholics?

Since the beginning of our faith, we have been tagged as nominal catholics - from the Latin word "nomen, nominis" which means "name". We are catholic only by name, usually known as KBL - Kasal, Binyag, Libing. Our faith is strong but simple. We shamelessly express our Christian faith in public and we try to be faithful to our religious duties and devotions but often do not understand its meaning, much less do we put into practice what they really mean. "We are sacramentalized but not evangelized."

With a new leader, Pope Francis I (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) and a renewed faith of the people for the church, the Year of Faith is a privileged occasion for us to know our faith, deepen our faith, live our faith, celebrate our faith, and share our faith.

As I conclude my stay in Cebu, I thought to myself - I only did three things here in an island where Magellan could have christianize Lapu-Lapu . . .

Eat. Walk. Pray.