DAVAO CITY CELEBRATES PASKO FIESTA 2016

There is no doubt that the Philippines has the longest Christmas holiday season in the world and the Filipinos, even those who live abroad, are known to celebrate the season with great anticipation and wondrous merriment, and the City of Davao, along with its great people, is no different.

dscf3955For the entire month of December, the city beats with exciting and cheerful Christmas events known as Pasko Fiesta sa Davao. This yuletide merriment is part of the official annual event celebrated in the whole City of Davao.

dscf3894Pasko Fiesta has become the city’s tradition of celebrating the wonders and magic of Christmas. It also serves as year-ender celebration and thanksgiving for the bountiful blessings that the City and its people enjoy throughout the year – and that include the unity and camaraderie that people of Davao enjoy.

pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20164 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20165 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20166 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20167 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20168This Yuletide Festival has also become a way of showcasing Dabawenyos ingenuity and creativity. It is during this season that the city is filled with colorful decorative lightings adorned all over in the city – from street posts and center islands to public parks and government buildings. Everywhere, you can feel the spirit of Christmas.

pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201612 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201613 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201614 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201621The most anticipated event during Pasko Fiesta sa Davao is opening ceremony that highlights the traditional lighting of the Giant Christmas Tree at the Rizal Park and the City of Hall of Davao. This annual event draws spectators to witness and take a first glance of the glittering and shimmering showcase of Christmas lights that added more festive spirit in the area.

pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201625 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201626 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201627Year after year, the historical City Hall of Davao becomes a Christmas Symbol and a Holiday Landmark as locals and tourists flock in front of the city’s heritage building to see and take photos glowing structure. It becomes a fitting venue that provide Dabawenyos the opportunity to commune together to celebrate the yuletide season and share its message of love and peace. It is a perfect spot where families can come and bond together during yuletide season.

pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201628 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201629 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201630A wide range of activities for both locals and tourist are also available throughout the entire celebration of Pasko Fiesta sa Davao. Among the most anticipated activities is the Parade of Lighted Christmas Lanterns where a variety of well-decorated holiday symbols and lanterns are on display.

pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-20162 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201617 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201618 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201620 pasko-fiesta-sa-davao-201624Pasko Fiesta sa Davao 2016 runs from December 2, 2016 to January 2, 2017. So, when you’re in Davao City during this season, visit the City Hall of Davao and get yourself that one wonderful selfie at the city’s Holiday Landmark. Christmas in Davao City is Pasko Fiesta!!!pasko-fiesta-davao-2016

From Davao City, I say HAPPY HOLIDAYS PILIPINAS!!!

THE TRAVEL TELLER #ProjectGiveBack Year 5

There is so much joy in giving.
There is so much happiness in sharing.
We count our blessings. We pay it forward.
This is the essence of giving back.
To share what we have and make those who do not have enough feel that they are blessed.
We become the blessings.
And we believe the Blessor will bless us even more!

This is what I’ve learned for four years now initiating #ProjectGiveBack. I may not that wealthy. I may not have all the treasures of the world. What I have is this humble influence to inspire others, especially those who are truly blessed, to share their blessings especially to those who need more.

THE JOY OF GIVING BACK. Photos from 2014's #ProjectGiveBack spearheaded by The Travel Teller.This Christmas 2016, we…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Sunday, December 4, 2016

With the overwhelming support of friends, benefactors and sponsor, The Travel Teller’s Project Give Back has been a huge success. With the help of my friends and volunteers, we traveled to remote communities and schools in the far-flung barangays of my hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental to bring our little Christmas Gifts especially for the kids.

 

 

 

In this year's "Project Give Back" of The Travel Teller, we aspire to give each recipient one bath towel that she/he can…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Monday, November 28, 2016

For the past four years, bringing these “good tidings” was not as easy as others may think. We would brave monsoon rains and tropical depression to reach our destination. We would ride dump trucks that are only capable to survive the rough and muddy roads. We would cross rivers to get to the other barangay. Four years have been very challenging. But despite all these, there is so much joy in giving back that we wanted this to continue. The smiles of the kids, their giggles, their laughter, their excitement to see us – ahhhhh, they’re just all beyond words. There is magic in sharing. There is so much love.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR! And 'tis a season of giving again. Now on it's 5th year, join The Travel Teller and his friends…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Monday, November 21, 2016

And so, this year, we continue our noble cause – to inspire those who are already blessed to share their blessings and make us instruments to bring these blessings to those who need it.

 

 

 

We are heard. The Davao Bloggers Society donated 50 pieces of microfiber bath towels for the #ProjectGiveBack…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Thursday, December 8, 2016

This year’s recipients are pupils of Bayong Elementary School, Aragon Elementary School, Baybay Elementary School and one community in Poblacion, the Purok Talisay. Like all the schools in Cateel, these three schools were hardly hit by Typhoon Pablo in 2012. Some of their pupils were among the survivors of the monstrous disaster.

 

 

 

I got two gift checks today from SM CITY DAVAO – one for #ProjectGiveBack and another one for me! 🙂 SM Lanang Premier…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Tuesday, December 13, 2016

So, this year, we invite you join us in this endeavor of making other people merrier this Christmas. BE OUR PARTNER and become a way to make our little IP brothers and sisters feel the true meaning of Yuletide Season. Contact us and we will be delighted to have you as our sponsors.

 

 

 

***First Set of Sponsors***This year's edition of #ProjectGiveBack spearheaded by The Travel Teller is supported by…

Posted by Olan Fernandez Emboscado on Friday, December 9, 2016

Our Gift Giving is scheduled on December 27-28, 2016. For your pledges, you may call or text 0939-342-3939. Salamatay gayud kamayo.

 

 

 

 

 

THE SOUTHERNMOST JEWEL OF THE PHILIPPINES CALLED TAWI-TAWI

I have so many beautiful stories to tell you about my recent trip to the southernmost province of the Philippines, the enthralling island province of Tawi-Tawi. Stories that are often unnoticed and neglected because most of the times what we hear are stories of conflict, disorder and adversities fed to us by what we hear, read and see on the news. And because of that, the real picture that reflects about Tawi-Tawi, its natural beauty, culture and people, is sadly ignored.

tawi-tawi-adventures-150So today, along with those thousands of people who were once lured to come to Tawi-Tawi, I will share my exciting stories about my wonderful experience romancing the pristine and natural magnificence of this province I consider as “the southernmost jewel of the country”.

From the charming islands and islets dotting the seas of the Province to the breathtaking peak of the Province’s tallest mountain, from the flavorful traditional cuisines to the colorful lively music and dances of the tribe, from the busy piers of Bongao to the bustling barter trade of Panglima Sugala, from the stilt houses of Badjao to the peace loving town of Simunul – amazing things that are truly and uniquely Tawi-Tawi’s.

tawi-tawi-adventures-119For many, when they hear about Tawi-Tawi, what come instantly to their minds are those negative impressions they hear about the Province. Some still fear. While others are wondering what’s in this Island province that some are lured to visit. The fact is there are people who despite the negative things they hear about these group of islands, they still find their way to face their fears, travel for miles and discover the many wonderful things about this southernmost jewel of the country. They are the brave, the adventurous, and the thrill seekers – people who love to explore the unexplored, to tell stories about places and people that are often neglected, people who love off-the-beaten-path journey.

tawi-tawi-adventures-201So those who are brave, adventurous and thrill-seekers, they are the luckiest for they are favored to see and experience a different kind of destination where nature and culture are both at their best – the best of Tawi-Tawi.

tawi-tawi-adventures-126Having said that, I considered myself as among the luckiest as I got the rare opportunity to experience the simple yet commendable lives of its people, savored the mouthwatering flavors of their tribe that reflect the richness of their culture, marveled at the many pristine natural wonders that have stuck in my head even until now.

tawi-tawi-adventures-200I’ve gone to some of the beautiful islands in the Philipines. I must say each possesses a distinct characteristic that makes it unique from other islands. And Tawi-Tawi’s are among the best example of those that are most pristine and beyond beautiful.

Like a precious treasure, Tawi-Tawi is a bedazzling gem that when carefully polished, it will shine and even outshines other gems we have in the archipelago. Composed of 11 municipalities, Tawi-Tawi offers a variety of destinations that a traveler would certainly love to explore – they got caves which is said to be rock shelters in ancient times, mountain peaks that offer commanding view of Tawi-Tawi’s landscape and seascape, rich history and culture to learn from, delectable indigenous food that is served until now, hundreds of island and islets to visit and enjoy, and many many more.

tawi-tawi-adventures-202Of the 11 towns of the province, I made to visit the four. These four towns teem with different attractions that best describe the sights, the vibe and the feel of Tawi-Tawi. I must say that even with these four towns alone, one’s visit to Tawi-Tawi is assured of much delight.

BONGAO.

 Bongao is the capital town of Tawi-Tawi. It also serves as the gateway to the Province. This town is a little charmer. The most imposing landmark one can find in this busy town is the Bud Bongao. About 340-meter above sea level, it is the highest peak in the entire Province. Bud Bongao is believed to be a sacred mountain possessing special healing powers. In fact, locals including other residents from other towns would come to Bongao, hike up to the top of the mountain and pray. They considered it as pilgrimage site.

tawi-tawi-adventures-116The majestic peak of the Bud Bongao offers the breathtaking view of the Bongao town. It also offers the commanding view of the vast blue seas of Celebes as well as the beautiful islands and islets dotting the seascape. They say you’ve never been to Bongao if you have not trekked this iconic mountain. Bud in Sama means Mountain.

tawi-tawi-adventures-113Bongao being the capital town is the trade center of the Tawi-Tawi. It is also the busiest town among other municipalities. One of the most interesting trading sites in the town is the old Chinese Pier where seafood, dried fish and even agricultural produce are sold at very low prices. History has it that the Chinese Pier is the same spot where early trading with the Chinese merchants and locals took place hundred years ago.

tawi-tawi-adventures-60tawi-tawi-adventures-45 tawi-tawi-adventures-63 tawi-tawi-adventures-65If you’re flying bound for Tawi-Tawi, the town of Bongao is your gateway.

SIMUNUL.

Tawi-Tawi is where the seed of Islam was planted. It was in the island town of Simunul where Islam was first introduced in 1380. It was an Arab missionary named Sheik Karimul Makhdum who brought Islam to the island and was widely embraced by the people and was spread to the other parts of the country.

tawi-tawi-adventures-121Following the introduction of Islam to Simunul was also the establishment of the first mosque in the country. As years passed by, the mosque has gone several renovations but the four wooden columns of the original structure are left standing on the same spot, well-preserved inside the Mosque.

tawi-tawi-adventures-134 Today, the mosque is recognized as a National Historical Landmark. Every 7th of November, locals and other Muslims in the country would come to this part of Tawi-Tawi to commemorate the anniversary of its establishment. This year marks the 636th year of its establishment. The mosque is named after Sheik Karimul Makhdum and is called Masjid Makhdum.

tawi-tawi-adventures-25 tawi-tawi-adventures-54 tawi-tawi-adventures-57 tawi-tawi-adventures-58Masjid Makhdum is located in Tubig Indangan (Simunul), about 15 minutes ride by speed boat from the capital town of Bongao.

PANGLIMA SUGALA.

 Panglima Sugala used to be the capital town of Tawi-Tawi long before it was changed to Bongao. It is endowed with wide and fertile agricultural land making it as the province’s food basket. Such paved the way for the town’s traditional way of barter system called Pagtabuh-tabuh where agricultural products are offered in exchange for marine products or seafood, and vice versa.

This bustling trade is popular not only in the town of Panglima Sugala but even in the other towns of Tawi-Tawi. Every Saturday, farmers and fisher folks would converge in the Batu-Batu’s public market for Pagtabuh-tabuh. Even merchants from nearby towns of Bongao and Sapa-Sapa would come to buy the local’s product sold at very low prices.

tawi-tawi-adventures-66 tawi-tawi-adventures-69 tawi-tawi-adventures-72 tawi-tawi-adventures-74 tawi-tawi-adventures-75tawi-tawi-adventures-82Local delicacies are also available at some sari-sari stores in Batu-Batu Market. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some stores selling bawlo, junay, putli mandih and other traditional delicacies of the Tawi-Tawi.

tawi-tawi-adventures-203The province’s biggest mosque is also situated in the town. It is called Masjid Kapunan.

SAPA-SAPA.

Beautiful islands and gorgeous islets abound in the waters of Sapa-Sapa. Most of these islands remain untouched, some are even uninhabited.  Sea beds of the shallow waters are pure white sand. When hit by the sunlight, the waters turn blue to green. At one glance, it looks like a large magnificent swimming pool. Cruising onward, groups of islets that seem to sprout from the seas are sights to behold. If only I had the luxury of time, I would hop from one islet to the other just to relish these southern jewels of the country. The most famous island in entire town is the Panampangan Island.  It is a small island surrounded entirely by fine white sands. Adjacent to the Island is a white sand bar. During low tide, this sand bar serves as a way to access the gorgeous islets nearby.

tawi-tawi-adventures-123Adding to the gorgeousness of these islands are the stilts houses of the Badjao that have stood still and sturdy against the tides of Tawi-Tawi crystal clear waters. Since time immemorial, the seas of Tawi-Tawi have been the Badjao’s sacred home providing them everything they need. I wish one day, in one of my visits to Tawi-Tawi, I will have the chance to live in one of these stilt houses even for one day. I think it is beautiful.

tawi-tawi-adventures-27 tawi-tawi-adventures-32 tawi-tawi-adventures-35 tawi-tawi-adventures-42 There are other countless amazing destinations to discover in Tawi-Tawi. Sadly I only had a very little time. Three days are not enough to explore more of what this gorgeous group of island has to offer. Wandering around seeing these unblemished splendors is something that my heart rejoices even to this time of writing. In fact, I will run out of words to describe the things that I saw and experienced the whole time that I was here. I even told myself how lucky I am to be given this great opportunity to be in this place seeing and doing all these things that truly speak the beauty and culture of Tawi-Tawi. I wish everyone has the opportunity to see and experience Tawi-Tawi the way I do.

tawi-tawi-adventures-205It is beyond beautiful.  So fear not my friends. Come to this southernmost part of our country and be charmed by the splendor and beauty of this amazing Province.

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The Provincial Capitol of Tawi-Tawi

The Provincial Capitol of Tawi-Tawi

My heartfelt gratitude to the awesome people who made my trip to Tawi-Tawi very remarkable. Shouting out my thousand thanks to Secretary Ayesha Mangudadatu Dilangalen of Department of Tourism – ARMM for this invitation to experience the vibe and life of Tawi-Tawi. Same goes to her awesome DOT-ARMM team who works hard to promote ARMM as an amazing destination to explore. Also, to other Regional Secretaries of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao I met during this trip, thank you so much. You are all #ARMMazing.

tawi-tawi-adventures-131MAGSUKOL to the Provincial Government of Tawi-Tawi headed by Governor Rashidin Matba. Thank you for sharing to us your precious time and for letting us see and appreciate the beauty of Tawi-Tawi. Thank you for your warmth and hospitality. May your tribe increase.

TAWI-TAWI is truly a jewel of the south waiting to be discovered. Magsukol TAWI-TAWI!!!

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CAMPAWAN CURTAIN FALLS: Davao Region’s Widest Waterfall

Among the five provinces found in the Davao Region, the Province of Davao Oriental is considered as the Water Wonder.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-33White sand beaches are dotting the shorelines of the Province. A number of beautiful islands can also be found here. It also boasts of its unspoiled lakes, pristine riverine system and even hot springs. And when it comes to waterfalls, Davao Oriental is the place to be.

The highest waterfalls in the Philippines and considered as one of the most beautiful is found in Davao Oriental, the Aliwagwag Falls of Cateel. Now adding to the list of the most beautiful falls in the entire Davao Region is the CURTAIN FALLS located in Barangay Campawan in the town of Baganga.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-28CAMPAWAN CURTAIN FALLS has come to fame when the doors of tourism in the eastcoast of Davao Oriental opened last year. For many years, this water wonder was kept preserved and only the local residents living nearby got to enjoy its natural beauty. But with its tourism potential, the roads going to Campawan were cleared and widened giving the way for other locals in nearby towns to come and see the town’s hidden water gem.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-16When a number of photos of Campawan Curtain Falls broke out in social media, many have mistaken it as Tinuy-an Falls found in Surigao Del Sur because of its similarity to the later. Like Tinuy-an Falls, Campawan Curtain Falls boasts of its wide water curtain extending to a width said to be the widest in the whole Davao Region.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-1 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-2 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-7Being situated in the heavily forested hinterland of Baganga, getting to the Curtain Falls entails a long travel from either the town proper or from the town of Cateel. The road is not yet concrete and others may find it uncomfortable. But the green and forested sides that can be seen along the way assured fun and adventure. From the parking area, you need to cross a river and walk for about 5-10 minutes to get to the area of the falls. And the moment you get there, the unparalleled view of the waterfall will keep you in awe as you marvel at its magnificent beauty.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-8 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-9 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-12 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-13 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-14The absence of modern developments around the waterfalls plus its remoteness from the highway promised that Campawan Curtain Falls is still a natural beauty to behold. Unlike Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park, there are no concrete developments made in the area yet. Although there are stores and cottages, one can tell that the place is still unspoiled retaining its natural splendor.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-20 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-25There is no entrance fee. You only pay for parking fees in the area where owned privately. The cottages can be rented as low as 150 pesos. If you’re going there and you intend not to rent a cottage, that’s not a problem. There are shaded places where you can leave your things and enjoy the scenic view right in front of you.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-27Taking a natural shower under the falls and swimming in its shallow basin is among the best way to enjoy the waters of Campawan Curtain Falls. Getting closer to the cascading water is very easy and accessible. Everyone who goes there take time to come closer to the falls and enjoy its cascading waters. If you’re into selfies, go to one side and take that selfie shot for yourself.

Campawan Curtain Falls is now considered as one of Davao Oriental’s must-visit destinations. So, when you visit the eastcoast of the Province, include it in your list of places to see. In fact, most of those who visit Aliwagwag Falls, they also make way to visit the Curtain Falls. Doing so, you get to see and experience not only the highest waterfalls in the Philippines but also the widest falls in the whole Davao Region.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The best way to get to Campawan Curtain Falls is through the towns of Baganga or Cateel. Both towns can be reached by taking a bus or van from Davao City via the Compostela Valley Road or Mati City Road. Buses and vans are on daily schedule located at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT). When you get to Baganga or Cateel, you can take a habal-habal and tell the drivers to take you to Campawan Curtain Falls. You can hire the habal-habal for Php 500.00 for one day.

CHURCH HOPPING IN ILOILO PROVINCE (Video Blog)

There are so beautiful things to describe about the Province of Iloilo. But there’s one sure thing I guess every local would agree – a trip to Iloilo Province will not be complete without paying a visit to its most prized religious assets and that is Iloilo’s imposing colonial-era churches. During my quick visit to Iloilo Province last year, I only got to visit three churches. Knowing that the province houses some of the grandest churches in the country, I vowed that in my next visit to Iloilo, I will make it a point to include the churches that I missed last year. Luckily, I made it this year.

Here’s The Travel Teller’s Church Hopping in Iloilo.

These are just some of the churches we visited in a day. I know there are many other churches in Iloilo that deserve to be included in this vlog. Someday, I’ll go back there again, explore more of its towns and marvel at their churches that have undeniably shaped the history of Iloilo Province and its towns.

churches-in-iloilo-province-copy