Waiting outside

When the water level gets too low, large boats can’t get into the Big Lagoon anymore. The boats end up outside the Lagoon and tied to a mooring buoy while their guests either kayak or snorkel + walk in.

boat outside the Big Lagoon Macy Anonuevo


PHOTOS: Fire on the beach

After welcoming the new year with fireworks, our guides and their supervisor decided to pull out all the stops and do a firedancing routine on the boardwalk. They were originally supposed to do in on platforms in the water but the Engineering guys decided to ignore their advice and installed the platforms too far away from the shore. Full moon + high tide = submerged platforms *facepalm* So the guides had to move their routine to the boardwalk. They were still great 🙂

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! (Taken without a tripod. Oh yeah.)
Spitting fire
Spitting fire
From front to back: Gading, Eileen, Oliver, and Dodong
From front to back: Gading, Eileen, Oliver, Dodong, and Mark

05 firedancers03 Macy

06 firedancers04 Macy

More circles
More circles
This is Eileen. She's the supervisor of these crazy people literally playing with fire
This is Eileen. She’s the supervisor of these crazy people literally playing with fire
09 firedancers Macy
I want to learn how to do crazy shit like this.

10 firedancers El Nido Macy


This was only my second time photographing firedancers. The first one was at my cousin’s wedding. Luckily I had a tripod this time and was able to set up before the show started.

Exploring Fuerza de Santa Isabel

After the 12 days straight of nature interpretation training in Miniloc and Lagen, we moved to Apulit in Taytay for Batch 4 of the training. It wasn’t included in our original schedule but we reconfigured it once we found out that the Pangulasian “Shark Squad” would be in Apulit and available to take over for the regular guides.

August 9 marked my first trip to Taytay Poblacion. I visited Apulit back when it was still Club Noah Isabelle but I never got to see the town because we transferred directly to the resort from CLR Airport in Sandoval. The van ride from Taytay to El Nido took two hours. Since we had plenty of time to kill, Kring, Mavic, and I left our bags in our Taytay office so we could look around.

First stop was lunch in the Taytay branch of Sea Slugs. The waiter shouldn’t have bothered giving us menus since all they had available were fries and some sandwiches. Also didn’t help that we got two orders of fries and they took forever to serve. I’m sticking with the El Nido branch from now on. Our second stop was Casa Rosa café, where we drank juice (there was no electricity yet so no blender for shakes), played dominoes, and took photos of the fort.

Third stop was the Fuerza de Santa Isabel. Known in Taytay simply as “kuta” (fort, or hideout), the Fuerza de Santa Isabel (Fort of St. Isabel) was first built in 1667 using wood by forced laborers under the Augustinian Recollects. It was rebuilt using coral rock (again using forced labor) and completed on December 17, 1738 during the term of of Governor Fernando Manuel de Bustillo.

View of Fuerza de Santa Isabel from Casa Rosa café
As you’re about to enter
An introduction to the fort by the National Historical Institute
Proof that the fort is made up of coral rocks. I’m guessing Goniopora.

The Spanish built the fort to protect Taytay from Muslim pirates (hope they tried that line with the Taytayanos they forced to build it). There are bastions at the fort’s four corners, each with a statue of the fort’s patron saints: St. Toribio, St. Miguel, St. John, and St. Isabel. The story goes that when the Muslim pirates finally stormed the fort, they smashed the first three statues but left St. Isabel’s statue intact because they believed that women shouldn’t be dragged into warfare. This is also the reason the fort’s chapel is also intact.

The chapel
View from a bastion
Up a tree
Waving flags. Unfortunately, the first flag was twisted around the pole and couldn’t fly nicely.

My only complaint about the visit is that there was minimal interpretation around the fort. If you wanted to know the fort’s story, the only signage was the one in front by the National Historical Institute. There was no English translation for it so good luck to foreign tourists. There were no docents. The only reason I’m able to share the fort’s story now is because Mavic was with us and because of post-trip Googling. How do you expect to get people to donate for the fort’s upkeep if you don’t give them a reason to?

We spent the rest of the afternoon eating and eating and eating: dirty ice cream, pork barbeque, and some chicken barbeque as well. There was practically nothing else to do. We finally left the Poblacion at 4pm and headed to Apulit. More diving, hiking, and training to come!

Taytay Tourism website

Travel theme: Sunset

Bridge over very calm water. Taken at Lio Airport, El Nido, Palawan.

I’d like to thank Ailsa for giving me an excuse to post sunset photos 🙂 I didn’t want to torture myself trying to decide which of the numerous (and equally memorable) sunset photos I’ve taken over the years to post, so I went with just the newest ones instead. I took these last August 17, 2012 when I caught the last boat to Miniloc after traveling from Apulit, Taytay via boat and bus. (The Apulit trip deserves its own series of posts).

The airport bridge is so damn photogenic! It looks good from any angle. Hmm. Now I’m thinking of doing a photo post on just the bridge 🙂

The sun and the water. Taken at low tide in Lio Airport, El Nido, Palawan.

Photos taken with an iPhone 4S and tweaked with Snapseed.

Soft corals on the wall

I willingly admit that wall dives aren’t my favorite kind of dive. I prefer wide open reef flats to hugging a wall and seeing nothing on the other side. Maybe it’s my claustrophobia kicking in: I’m also not fond of night dives, despite the amazing critters that come out once the sun sets. Despite the anxiety, I found myself fascinated by the stuff growing on the Lagen Wall. This soft coral was the prettiest of the bunch.

Photo taken at Lagen Wall, Lagen Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines with just a Canon S95.