This is an excerpt from my private Diary Chronicling my adventures in the Philippines over the past 11 years. In this case a Trip to Balut Island last year which is an Island located a few hours south of the Southernmost tip of the Island of Mindanao. It is way off the beaten path and almost no one goes to this island unless they know people on the Island. In this case, my partner Lynn has family there.
May 2 – Got up at 2:30am, showered, fixed up the condo a little, had some cereal and was out the door by 3:00am. Arrived the NAIA Airport by 3:20am, bordered at 4:45am took off and arrived Gen Seng by 7:00am. I have to Say NAIA is quite beautiful with many nice restaurants and shops along side the gate area.
NAIA Concourse by Departure Gates
General Santos Airport
Got a car to a hotel near SM and met my two beauties there. It was so nice to be back together. We then went to Starbucks in the SM and after the mall opened did some shopping for our proposed one week stay in Balut. Right across the SM is a beautiful new hotel called "Greenleaf" and I immediately thought of my friend Barry. Absolutely gorgeous place. 5,000P/nt. including breakfast, use of gym and pool and airport transfers for two.
On the other hand the "Hotel Filipino" Lynn got for us to stay a few hours until we leave tonight for 700P is an absolute dump. No matter, it has air con in the room and I can take shower before we leave.
Across from the SM is Manny Pacquio’s Gym
and close to that I saw a restaurant that said it all. Great Façade
I am so relaxed and look so much to this vacation to Balut!!!
And there is yet another beautiful place here in the way of AVANZA Mall. Another wonderful Ayala Development. They truly do build the most beautiful shopping venues
Avanza Waterfall Wall
Went to the Port at 7:00pm and the wind was howling and the channel too dangerous to cross so we waited until 1:00am to leave. We were all already sleeping by 8:30pm and never knew we had left.
May 3 – FIGHT DAY!!! Woke up at about 2:00am and the boat was chugging along in total darkness. Then got back up at first light and saw we were still two hours away from the Island.
The boat had to be the slowest I have ever been on, going at like 2 miles an hour LOL We arrived at the Balut Port at 7:00am and immediately went to the hotel owned by the Mayor & Vice Mayor. He is charging us 1,000P night but it is very nice with air con and fairly modern
We went for a walk and I happened upon the Barangay Hall and in front they had set up four TV’s so that those living in the Barangay could watch the fight for free. People here are so poor and this means so much to them.
This island is a trip in the sense that it is remote and totally roughing it for the majority of the Island tenants. Roughing it mean basically living in a bamboo shacks with really no luxuries of any kind to speak of like TV and in many cases electricity. Of course there are quite a few living in normal concrete houses, but they as well are limited. Internet is hard to come by and electricity runs from 4:00pm to 12:00 midnight. Tomorrow I am planning to do some snorkeling and then on the 6th a climb up the top of the mountain….about a 4 hour walk.
After leaving the Barangay I took a freaking motorcycle ride to the property owned by two of Lynn’s brothers. It’s like located in the middle of nowhere. The ride itself was nuts going down 45% degree stone ridden roads. NUTS!!! Her brother showed me their spear hunting equipment. Handmade Spearguns and handmade Wooden Fins. Seriously, the concept is perfect for the guns and you can only admire their ingenuity. We spend almost $200 for something that probably costs them less than $20 LOL
The band release on the bottom.
Simply aim and squeeze
Alex is going to stay there tonight with a couple of her cousins. I am now back in the hotel waiting to watch the fight.
I enjoyed watching the Fight and as expected Mayweather won. It was a close fight, but really needed a knockout by Pacquio for him to really have any real chance due to Mayweather’s style.
After the fight I decided to do some snorkeling out near the Port just to see. It felt good to get into the water and despite some pretty starfish there really wasn’t much to see. Tomorrow we are going out on Lynn’s Aunties boat and will go to some good areas to snorkel hopefully
May 4 – Had a great sleep and the plan was to go snorkeling. We loaded up the boat and headed out from Balut Port on the way first to a beautiful, practically circular white sand all around island called Ulanuban. I got in the water which was crystal clear and saw dozens of starfish. I got Alex a blue one. I then found a beautiful Cowries Shell. After about an hour of snorkeling we went to the main Island of Sarangani, where some of Lynn’s relatives were hanging out on another beautiful white beach. I had some Pancit for lunch and then found a hammock to nod off in for about an hour. We then headed back to Balut Port. The driver actually dropped in the water about ¼ mile out to snorkel in and that was really enjoyable. To be honest there is not much to see and any Bahamian Island would just blow this place away, but I love diving so just to get in the water is AWESOME!!! I just finished a wonderful shower and we are going to stay the night at Lynn’s Cousins place. To tell the truth, I am really enjoying being here. NO Internet, FB, Email, Phone……NOTHING!!!!! But it is GREAT!!!
Some of today’s Photos taken on Ulanuban
We are now back at the hotel and showered and clean and will be heading up to Lynn’s Cousin place where we will sleep tonight and of course more Photo’s!!!!
I have to tell you it really is nice to be away from Internet and all that comes with it: FB, Email, chatting, etc….
Tomorrow is Fiesta and that should be fun, but I am looking forward to climbing to the peak of Mt. Balut the following day. My lungs held up great underwater today, so the hike up the mountain should be just fine.
Being here makes me miss Miami so much and I hope we have some money so I can go there this September for Lobster Season and see Danny, Steven and everyone else!!!
I have to say there is a magic to be on an Island full of fairly simple people with barely good roads BUT!!! Who really have it great….Clean Air, Lots of Fish to catch, just NATURE!!!……I really like it here and no doubt would like to have a house with all the amenities and someday maybe. Anyway, just like the idea of Alex being able to experience and hopefully appreciate a place like this.
On another note I can’t wait to see Joe. I love Joe and was not the best of substitute dads to him. Thus we have little to no communication…to be blunt he is hard on me!!! No matter I love the man and look forward to seeing him this May or June
May 5 – FIESTA Day. We went up to the property of one of Lynn’s brothers. Today marks a special occasion one in which they celebrate the new Church people in the community contributed money to build this year. This also calls for a Fiesta and everyone eats. Here are some photos of the day including some of the living conditions and surrounding areas. One thing I can say for Balut…the people are very nice, the air is clean, the water is clear and it is a very nice simple place to come to…..BUT!!! I wouldn’t want to live here LOL
Fiesta Time – Let’s Eat
Boy on his Horse
Lynn Brother Danny at Home
Local Boys Hanging Out
Lynn’s Brother Danny’s Bedroom
After the Fiesta we went back to the Hotel to shower and recharge as the plan was to go sleep in the home of Lynn’s Brother Noni. He lives slightly farther up the road than her Brother Danny who lives where the Fiesta took place. On a positive note, Noli, lives closer to the Irada Coconut Plantation and also closer to the sea where we will all go fishing tomorrow.
I agreed to stay the night despite there would be no power after midnight and who knew how hot it might be. We got there about 5:00pm and it was just so nice. Lynn’s brother was hammered/drunk and would not stop talking. I found it funny. He is so nice. I engaged in some beer drinking which really hit the spot on this rather hot evening without any breeze in the making which did not lend itself to a good night sleep THUS the beer LOL
We engaged in some talking and laughing and I was completely at ease. We had some dinner my having my spicy beef noodle soup and Lynn having a huge Clam
And soon enough it was time for sleep.
What I love about Lynn and her family is how unpretentious they are. Most live between here and Davao, but stay here most of the year for harvesting the Copra. The family has over 300 Hectares or about 750 Acres.
Irada Coconut Plantation Near Noli’s House
Even after harvesting expense I am sure it is a very nice income that lends itself to a better life than most in this fairly poor Country and yet they choose to live in these very simple homes made of unfinished concrete blocks and/or Bamboo housing and nothing glamorous for interior finishing or furnishings. Even mattresses are a luxury. They fish for their seafood and kill chickens and pigs, but little to no beef. Drinking is a major issue with the Brothers, but it is part of life and so far so good. The air is clean and the kids grow up with a nice working mentality helping around the house and learning how to do most everything necessary. Lynn grew up this way and it was a great influence on her development which came out wonderful both as a business person and a Mother. It is amazing to see 12 siblings actually get along as well as this family does. I do understand that they have managed to create major savings of their Shares and use it for their children’s education, shopping trips to Davao and building a second house somewhere. All I can say is GOOD FOR THEM!!!
Also by Noli’s house is an elementary school where their father taught for like 45 years. There are plans to rename the school after him. Franciso Irada Elementary
As for our stay in Noli’s house for the night let’s just say up until the power went off at midnight it was okay as we had the electric fan, but after that, it SUCKED.