Three Must-See Places in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental

Sunday, May 31, 2020

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We always look forward to summer because it is the best opportunity to spend precious time with my siblings and their families.

Except for important occasions, we rarely see each other because of our busy schedules.

Going out of our homes and spending two to three days in other places is a family reunion and bonding because we temporarily forget our chores back home and just enjoy the small conversations and recollections of old family stories.

Usually, we plan our summer activities such as this Hinoba-an trip two to three months in advance so that we can anticipate our spending and allocate some for the planned trip. 

We discuss our itinerary and the cost of each activity. Considering the expenses and the schedules of each one, we decide on the date.  

Then, family members are given their tasks; so that they can make the necessary preparations ahead of time.

I was appointed to book for the hotel that we are staying in Hinoba-an. Actually, I do not know much about this place.  

That newsfeed on my timeline and a recommendation from a friend gave us the green signal to spend our annual summer outing there.  

Here are the three must-see places that we visited that you should visit, too. 

1.  SEE THE BEST SUNSET VIEW IN BRAZAVILLE BEACH RESORT 

Based on the pictures from Facebook, it was a unanimous decision to stay in Brazaville Beach Resort and we did not regret it. 

This DOT-accredited beachfront resort had 6 family rooms, with a very wide common living area, a big terrace and an open area extending a few meters to the beachfront. 

We got 3 family rooms, good for 4 persons for P2,900.00 each and another room good for 2 persons for P2,200.00. 

The family room had superior accommodation.  There was a queen-size bed, which can sleep 3 persons and an extra bed for another person, a cable-installed modest-sized TV, and a decent WIFI connection. 

Our overnight stay came with a complimentary breakfast good for two persons for each room. 



2.  APPRECIATE THE STUNNING ROCK FORMATIONS AT OBONG CAVES

Thirty minutes away from the beach resort, this nature’s wonder can be accessed by car, if you are the adventurous type.  

But common means of transportation is through a motorcycle because some road portions were not concreted yet and steeped, so bringing your vehicle was quite risky. 

There was a 15-minute walk from the loading/unloading area to the cave. You may take a leisurely walk while enjoying the green scenery.

Upon reaching Obong Paradise, we were greeted with an endless view of blue waters and lush vegetations. 

Obong Paradise Beach Resort was the take-off point for spelunkers. Before entering the caves, we were required to wear a hard hat, which is available for rent at P50.00 but we took it at P40.00 per piece.

With our assigned tourist guide, we hesitantly entered a dark and narrow hole. What we saw when the light from a single flashlight was put on made us wondered in excitement.




3.  TAKE YOUR IG-WORTHY PICTURE AT SATORI CLIFF

Located right after Hinoba-an and the first town of Negros Oriental, Basay town is home to Satori Cliff, a Bali-inspired haven for those who are into extreme water sport adventures such as rock climbing and cave diving or those who want to be on the safe side such as snorkeling or skin diving. 

If you do not want any of these water sports, you may just watch the sunset, feel the breeze of fresh air and appreciate the company of your friends and family.




TWO-DAY, ONE-NIGHT STAY 

We left Talisay City, Negros Occidental at around past 8 AM on Saturday. It was a bit rainy and our plan to get the best summer outing is looming on the horizon. 

We made a side trip to Mila's in Hinigaran to buy some sweets and used its restroom. Mila’s is the famous pasalubong center in the south and has the cleanest restroom. 

After that, we had our lunch in Kabankalan; lingered a bit in the eatery because of some personal stuff. 

We safely reached Brazaville Beach Resort at around 3 PM with sunny weather, exactly what we prayed for. We traveled roughly around 7 hours, not bad because average travel time from Bacolod City to Hinoba-an is 5 hours.

We savor the sunset of what remains of our time on Saturday. Brazaville Beach Resort made a beautiful sunset dinner set-up in candlelight for us. We almost occupied the whole beach by ourselves because there were only two guests checked-in for the night.

We had a good conversation and loud laughter over Red Horse and San Mig Light. 

The following day, we got up early for the 7 AM trip to Obong Cave. It was a bumpy ride with our trusty tricycle but we arrived in Obong Paradise unharmed. 

After the registration and briefing, we explored the cave and followed the instructions of our tour guide to the letter, including his instruction to be a little noisy inside the cave. 

He did not tell us why we had to do that. I surmised, maybe it was a way of driving out the unseen creatures lurking inside the cave.  So, I was a bit scared hearing his warning.

We marveled at the wonderful sights inside, including the growing stalactites and stalagmites, which take thousands of years to form and grow. 

I feel sad and disappointed to observe the dead corrals and many writings on the wall, which indicates rampant vandalism. 

Overlooking the cave is the pristine clear ocean water which is ideal for swimming or snorkeling. While the shoreline is stony, we still manage to swim.

We returned back to the resort at lunchtime; ready to go to our last stop. We packed our belongings and paid our resort bills after takng our lunch. Then, we travelled 30 minutes from the resort to Satori Cliff. 

There was nothing we did in Satori Cliff, except to take scenic shots of the surroundings. We saw picnic sheds and high cliff with beautiful rock formations. There were interesting and sometimes amusing statements made as signages placed in strategic locations. 

We arrived back in Bacolod City around 7:30 PM, after almost 5 hours travel. Despite the gloomy weather forecast a few days before our scheduled trip, we are happy to spend the hottest and best summer ever in Hinoba-an.

Do you have the best every summer experience? Please share that with us in the comment section below.


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Three Awesome Things to do in Brazaville Beach Resort + Resort Review

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Exploring Hinoba-an is incomplete without staying at Brazaville Beach Resort. 

For local tourists coming in from Bacolod City, this is a strategic place for lunch because you will reach the place from Bacolod City at lunch time, if you start traveling from the City of Smile early in the morning.

So your tummy will tell you it is time to eat when you pass by this resort.



When my siblings and our respective families decided to visit Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental, we do not have any idea what is in store for us. 

Our itineraries were mostly based on what we read or saw on Facebook and some were recommended by friends who have been to Hinoba-an before.

But, we know for sure that our two-day, one-night stay should be in Brazaville Beach Resort. 

We arrived at the beach past 1:00 PM, so we immediately ordered our late lunch. The front desk was very accommodating, the check-in process was a breeze. 

That was an advantage when you book your stay in advance.




Since it was a lean month and rainy season, they let us occupy our assigned rooms early. Again, it is always good to travel during  off-peak period because customers are not many and you may even enjoy their promos and discounts.

Accommodation at Brazaville Beach Resort

We were a big group of around 20 persons - my siblings, and their children. We got three family rooms for four guests each room and one room for 2 guests. 

The four rooms had  a queen-sized bed each, a cable TV and a decent WIFI connection.

The family rooms, which can accommodate 3 persons had extra beds so that each family stays in one room. They have clean and crispy mattresses and blankets, too.

The bathrooms were spacious and well-maintained and the area had 24-hour CCTV system. After all, they are DOT-accredited for nothing, so it follows that they have superior facilities.




After eating our lunch and ensuring everything was in order, we checked the surrounding areas. 

The resort has 6 family rooms, with a very wide common living area, a big terrace, and a wide beachfront. The living area also serves as a dining area for guests and walk-in customers. 

On the other side, you can relax, sip a cold drink and watch beachcombers walk or play on the beach at the resort's big terrace.

On the beachfront, guests may play volleyball, stroll or run on the shoreline, or maybe chase the waves endlessly. 

Watching the sunset while having a drink is very romantic, especially if you are with your spouse.



1.  Watching the Hinobaan Sunset

My wife and I always love the sunset. In Brazaville, you can witness the best and majestic sunset view. 

It is interesting to see how the colors change from blue, red, orange then to black or blue, signaling that another day has ended. 

I really appreciate how amazing and magical the love of God is working. When I have the opportunity, I never miss taking pictures of this beautiful sight.

When the surroundings become black, I wondered how the sun slowly hides among the clouds or gradually swimming down the ocean floor.

I feel sad seeing the sun making its graceful exit.




2.  Candlelight Dining at Beachfront

As I've mentioned, the resort has a friendly and very accommodating staff. I requested for a dinner table arrangement at the beachfront. 

What we got was a table arrangement prepared elegantly, with eating utensils used for fine dining.

The canopy - an open structure with nipa as the roof was beautifully dressed in white curtains. 

It has multi-colored bulbs, serving as the main source of light at dinner time, which makes it romantic. 

There were also improvised candles on the tables fashioned out of used cooking oil.




Since I am interested in anything about the environment, I asked one of the staff - how these were made.

I was told that instead of throwing the used cooking oil to the drain, they use the fatty liquid as fuel to light an improvised candle. 

All it needs are a container for the cooking oil, a wick from old clothes and an improvised holder for the wick, maybe an excess of steel wire. 

The idea is simple, yet it gives an impact to minimize waste in the environment.

We had seafood and chicken adobo for dinner. Everyone enjoyed the gastronomic feast while at the same time, appreciated the company of family with the sunset slowly making its graceful exit.

3.  Lounging at the Beach Front

We made the most of our stay in this paradise. After dinner, most of us, adult family members were sharing stories and family anecdotes while drinking beers or shakes on the beachfront. 

It is nice that the resort has a bar on the beachfront, selling drinks and light snacks.

This is an added advantage for us, tourists because sometime we may forget to bring all our personal stuff and we do not know where to buy them since we are not familiar with the place. 

Having an in-house convenience store makes it easy for us to buy junk food, hygienic items, and even souvenir items.

Discovering Hinoba-an

They say that unplanned travel is the most exciting because you get to visit places you do not expect to be more fun and interesting.

And of course, it allows you to deal with the people and be acquainted with their culture and practices.




Aside from enjoying the magnificent sunset and the VIP accommodation in Brazaville, we also went spelunking at Obong Caves and made a side trip to Satori Cliff in Basay, Negros Oriental.

Read our Spelunking Adventures at Obong Caves and Satori Cliff  Visit:
Read Other Family Travels:
Do you travel as a big family, including the extended clan?  Please share your experience in the Comment Section  below.
                                  


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Eight Top Reasons Why You Should Eat Out at PALAWUD RESTO GRILL AND BAR

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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If you think you cannot get a good nice view of a sunset in a busy and progressive city with tall buildings all around the area like Bacolod City, then you are wrong.

The city of smiles has many restaurants that offer a scenic view of the sunset. 

Last Monday, my wife and I were looking for some furniture for a project that we are planning to put up. 

Our feet brought us to BUNZ Surplus Japan in North Bacolod, a warehouse full of used cabinets and other furniture from Japan - some are slightly used and others were quite new, along Banago Road in Bacolod City. 

Banago area is generally notorious for being a haven of lawlessness. Public jeepneys are stopping in the middle of the road to unload their passengers, shirtless men roaming the street, public market extending their store spaces up to the road and squatters making the road as their open living area. 

So, there is not much to be excited about going to this area, wherein all you see are shanties, gasoline depots and gasoline stations, old or abandoned buildings and warehouses. 

Since it was quite late for a merienda and too early for dinner, we decided to go to Palawud Resto Grill and Bar to get something for our stomach, just across the street from the surplus store. 

This nondescript structure, save for a signage and flaking paint of the cemented perimeter wall opens to a long driveway until you reach the restaurant area.

For a first-time customer, you will not realize that there is a restaurant inside this enclosed area. 

I cannot remember how many times I visited this place but I know for sure why we should visit this place more often if only to catch the sunset or feel the breeze of the ocean air. 

1. Best Sunset View 

The open-air resto-bar, just a few steps to the shoreline allows us to catch the setting of the sun, with all the magical orange, brown and grayish hues until the horizons become blue and dark. 

For a nature lover like me, this is a very romantic view, especially because there were no daughters around so we made the best of our time together. 


Photo grabbed from Palawud Grill and Resto Bar


2. Sea-Front Dining Area 

The eating area allows the customers to appreciate the wide and clean shoreline and if you are there during high tide, you can hear the rushing of the waves or smell the salty misty air, which study shows have calming and therapeutic effects. 




3. Ample and Secure Parking Spaces 

They have sufficient parking spaces in contrast to the many restaurants located within the downtown area, wherein you cannot immediately find an empty parking space.  

If you ever find one, you will risk your car to vandalism and thief. Palawud’s parking spaces are also secured because the whole area is enclosed and you are sure that those coming in are only their customers. 

4. Children’s Playground 

Surprisingly, this is the only restaurant I know that is in a way, child-friendly. They have a swing, slides and other play tools for the children. 

When your child is bored waiting for the food to arrive or is extra active, you can let him play until he gets tired and is ready to eat. 


The children's play area provides kids to do something while they are waiting for their food


5. IG-Worthy Surroundings 

If you are fond of sharing pictures of your food adventure, then you will find so many angles here that will surely make your Instagram posts get the most number of likes, especially if the sunset is very friendly with you. 





6. Wide Selection of Food 

The food choices are varied - from meat to seafood dishes and drinks. They even have set meals or bundle meals for big groups. 

Their bestsellers are properly labeled on their menu so that if you are still undecided, you will get an idea of what food to consider. 





7. Live Singers 

Live singers and bands are serenading the guests on regular schedules - Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Listening to soft music while eating makes you eat more (I guess. . ha..ha..) You may even request them to sing your favorite songs. 

8. Masskara and Fire Dancers 

If you missed the annual Masskara Festival of Bacolod City, then you should eat your dinner on a weekend and you will be entertained by the world-famous Maskara dancers and find out why it is popular in the other parts of the world. 

While enjoying your smoothie or drinking beer, you will also be treated to a fire dance number. It is thrilling to see how dancers manage to create patterns of different lights and dance at the same time to the beat of a jungle drum. 





There are many things to discover in Palawud Resto Grill and Bar. The management is in constant hunt for ways to meet the unique needs of their guests. 

It is a place for everyone, where you appreciate both the scenic beauty of nature and the gastronomic feast. 

Do you have a memorable or romantic dining experience? Please share that with us in the Comment Section below. 


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Celebrating Milestone Amidst the Corona Pandemic

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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Today, we are celebrating the 23rd birthday of our youngest daughter, Ciara.  We are remembering this very important milestone amidst the pandemic when everyone is forced to stay at home.

At 23, she made us proud as she is slowly coming out of her shell. She earned her college diploma with Latin honor and a few months later, she landed her first job.  Recently, she also got her Psychometrician License from the Professional Regulation Commission.  I guess any parent is proud of these achievements.




How do we celebrate her birthday today when we are not allowed to go out of the house and restaurants are not available for dine-in?


Ciara is not the kind who goes for a big birthday party, but rather she wants it simple.  So, for today, we had pizza and stuffed churros from the older sister and delivered to us by Food Panda,






On the occasion of her birthday, we are SHARING this birthday message:



So, from me, Mama, Manang Kat-kat, and Manang Yan-yan, here's to another blissful year ahead. Cheers!


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My Amayszing Blog Journey: From An Average Joe to An All-star Dude

Saturday, May 16, 2020

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I never would have thought that I would find a total stranger, an online friend actually, who voluntarily showed willingness to help me when I needed it the most.

It all started when I posted in one of the online communities about my predicament concerning my blog.  You see, my AdSense application remains unapproved since I applied in 2018.  I am not aware that there is more to blogging than just merely writing and posting stories on my site.


Recently, I was surprised to receive a message from this kind-hearted lady asking if I need help.  Without any hesitation, I replied positively.  I never looked back since then.  She is now my self-designated mentor.  We even become friends on FB. Do you know who she is?  She is Maysz Adrias. She is the lady behind amayszing.com.

I cant thank you enough.  Thank you Amays.  Photo grabbed from her website with permission

This article is my humble way of expressing how grateful I am for all the help she extended to me, especially when she remotely manipulated my blog site to give way for the installation of a new blog theme design I purchased from an online shop.

GETTING MY SITE INDEXED IN GOOGLE

Imagine, my site was invisible for more than a year.  I never had any organic traffic.  

Knowing how important for a site to show up in a search query, she helped me understand Google Search Console and she patiently guided me throughout the whole process of indexing and submitting my sitemap to Google.

FIXING THE LOOSE END

It is very difficult for a site to get approved by Adsense.  What is even more difficult is the fact that you have to figure out what is wrong with your site. 

Fixing the back-end dashboard of my site, especially the blog's settings took a lot of time.  She was happy to help someone struggling with strange-sounding names such as ad.txt or custom ad.txt.

THE NEW THEME DESIGN

This is the most challenging part of my blogging journey – changing the design of my site.  This is an alien work for me.  

To be honest, I am in my 50's and are not familiar with so many tools on the internet, more so on social media.  So, that means I do not know about html codes.  Changing my blog's designs requires a little bit of background in html codes.  

Knowing my inadequate knowledge about this technical skill, she volunteered for a team viewer session that lasted for about 3 hours.  

She never complained and is more than willing to answer my queries. Just look at how beautiful this blog's layout is.  She was also the one who recommended where to get a decent design for a reasonable price.

SUBMITTING THE ADSENSE APPLICATION

Submitting the AdSense application is a breeze.  But fixing on the issues AdSense found on your blog is a different thing.  

Without any specific issues, you have to work on every aspect of your blog – from content to design and back-end.  While I am waiting for my Adsense approval, it is good to know that someone helped me submit the AdSense application correctly.

As a newbie-blogger, I still have a lot to learn.  Without meeting this lovely and kind-hearted lady, my blogging journey would not have been as enriching and fruitful as before.  

I am hoping that she will remain patient and helpful.  When the time comes that someone will need my help about blogging, I hope I am as experienced as she is by then, I could return the favor so that I could make one happy soul as well. 

And by the way, don’t be tricked by this article’s title, I am still an average Joe.

If you want to know Amaysz on a personal level and check her content, please follow her social media accounts:



Did you experience getting help from a total stranger or someone you only knew  for the first time?  

Please comment your experience in the Comment Section below.  It is nice knowing that in the midst of our busy lifestyle, we still encountered helpful souls willing to make our life a little bit easier.
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The Best Nature Trek and Spelunking Adventure at Obong Caves / Hinobaan, Negros Occidental

Sunday, May 10, 2020

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For a city dweller like me, life can be stressful.  Going on a long road trip is a good way to escape from our busy schedules. Traveling south of Negros Occidental, particularly in Hinoba-an is probably a good ide.ea to relax and just enjoy the scenery of green trees and mountain ranges along the road.

Exploring the beaches and other tourist attractions in Hinobaan is incomplete without visiting Ubong Caves. So, let us find out why tourists keep coming back to this famous natural wonder of Hinobaan. 

How to get there.

Hinoba-an is the last municipality in the southern side of Negros Occidental.  If you are coming from Bacolod City, it would take you 4-5 hours by public transport and 3-4 hours by private car to reach the place. 

It is best to arrange for an overnight stay in one of the beaches there to maximize the long drive you took.  During our trip in Hinoba-an, we stayed at Brazaville Beach Resort.  

There are many water activities you can do while staying on the beach plus they have nice surroundings worthy of an Instagram photo.

Please read our beach experience in Brazaville here:  BRAZAVILLE BEACH RESORT: ONE OF THE HIDDEN GEMS OF HINOBAAN

To get to Ubong Caves, you have to take a 15-minute  tricycle ride.  Tricycle to non-Filipinos is a three-wheeled motorcycle that can ride other passengers, other than the driver.  

Aside from the public commute, you have another 15-minute hike to reach to Obong Beach Paradise, which is the reception area and the starting point for the cave exploration.

Another cave is accessible only through a motorized banca.  So if you are the adventurous type, you may rent a banca and enter the cave from the sea.

What to see.

There are three caves they collectively called Ubong Caves.  With a tour guide, we explored the first two caves by entering a very narrow hole, you won't realize that it was a cave opening. 

At first, I was hesitant about going through a dark alley,  not knowing what lies inside.  I continued knowing that I am in the company of my family.  We were briefed not to leave our assigned group.  

We were also advised to make sounds,  maybe to ward off some spirits from joining the group or other insects and animals, especially snakes from attacking us.

Sadly, the cave's wall was in a state of destruction  There were many writings on the walls and limestones were dead.  But, others are still surviving, forming rocks reaching up to the ceiling. 

Some formed interesting shapes and figures.  Thankfully, as the tour guide told us,  the ecosystem in this area is still alive because of the presence of growing stalactite and stalagmites inside the cave.

Moreover, we saw thousands of bats clinging on the ceiling.  They made sounds when lights were trained in a colony.  

Bats are helpful in the ecosystem because they spread seeds that will grow as trees in the future and they eat insects that are dangerous to humans.

The most interesting part of the tour was when we went to a corner where large rocks formed like the shape of a wild pig and a whale.  It was stunning because it appears like the real figure of the animals.

We finally went outside the cave through a very wide entrance, almost 50 feet high facing the sea.


This amazing rock formation is the most photographed of all.


This stalactites is so massive, it reaches to the cave's floor.


What to do.

Aside from caving, you may also swim or go snorkeling because the waters are pristine and crystal clear.  

I saw different species of fish swimming near the shoreline. You can dive during high tide inside the third cave.  

For overnight visitors, you may inquire from Obong Beach Paradise if they can accommodate you.  

At night,  you may build a bonfire, watch the sunset and have dinner by the beach.  At dusk, you can watch bat flying out of the cave to hunt for food.

Where to stay.

Aside from Obong Beach Paradise, you may opt to stay in one of the beach houses lining the coastal area.  

I advise that you should arrange for your accommodation in advance so that your itinerary can be accordingly scheduled. 

Most of the beaches have a Facebook page where you can access to book your transaction.


Obong Paradise serves as the reception area of spelunkers.

Where to eat.

Upon booking your accommodation, you may also inquire from the resort counter if they are serving meals.  

You should immediately know where to eat upon your arrival in Hinobaan because you are hungry by then.  

Three hours without putting something in our stomach is hard for others.

Trivia

During the war in 1942, one of the caves in Ubong was used by the late Major Jesus Villamor as a hideout to track down the movement of Japanese invaders in Negros Occidental. 

He served as the contact person in Negros Occidental of General Douglas McArthur, who was at the time based in Australia.  

Villamor Airbase in Pasay City was named after him to honor his heroism.

Travel tips

  1. Bring a flashlight and camera.
  2. Wear comfortable attire as you need to walk a lot.
  3. Do not touch the limestones.  The acid in your hand could harm the growth of the rock.
  4. Take a lot of pictures.
  5. Dispose of your trash properly.
Final Thoughts

Obong Caves are considered nature's gifts.   Hinobaan is lucky to have these caves which took so many years to form.  

We always have to preserve what nature has given us.  


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Newest DIY Samgyupsal in Bacolod City That Will Satisfy Your Korean Dish Craving

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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Want to eat Samgyupsal at the convenience of your home? But you can't because of the lockdown? 

You may now satisfy your Korean food craving by placing your order for a DIY Samgyupsal (others spelled it Samgyeopsal) delivered to your home.

The RAMX Meat shop and Sodam Korean Restaurant team up to bring to you this Korean dish cooked right at your dining table.




The package cost P599.00 and includes 1kg pork in samgyupsal cut, 1 kg charcoal briquettes, 500 gram Kimchi, 100 gram Ssamjang (soybean sauce), and 40 gram sesame oil sauce.

Samgyupsal is our favorite Korean meal which consists of unmarinated pork belly meat with spicy condiments grilled in front of the diners.

You may visit their FB Page RAMX MeatShop for orders.


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