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Samal Island

by Sean

The religious infrastructure is not as well developed here in comparison to other areas of the Philippines. The top picture is of the Sto. Nino Chapel in comparison to some other more developed chapels in the Philippines.

Sto. Nino ChapelSto. Nino Chapel

 

As you can see, it is not as grandiose as some others. The lack of development, however, is the basis of this islands charm.

The gateway to Samal Island is the southern Philippine city of Davao, Mindanao and Samal Island is the gateway to a whole lot of fun. :) I know everyone tells you not to go to Mindanao but trust me and try this. First, pack light. Fly into Davao City, take a taxi to Sasa Ferry Warf, then a ridiculously short ferry ride to this hidden paradise.

When you touch ground on the other side walk up the dusty street asking the price of rental motorcycles as you go. You’ll find they get cheaper the farther you walk into town. Make a deal to keep one for a few days, they’re very accommodating. Coming out of the port on your hire bike, you can turn left or right. It really doesn’t matter because the road goes all the way around the island and brings you right back to the same spot. So whether to walk clockwise or counterclockwise is the only choice that you have to make. My preference is to explore at random, keeping as close to the changing seashore as possible.

You will find resorts tucked away everywhere. Some with beautiful white sand beaches and some along rocky and forbidden-looking stretches, but guaranteed whatever you’re looking for, you will find it. There is always another one just around the next bend.

Samal-Island IMG_2921

I have come across 5-star resorts with names you cannot even pronounce and little scraps of places that remind you of those end-of-the-world movies where everything looks abandoned.

Granted, there is no “city stuff” to do here but also no jeeps, no trikes, and you’ll find no nightclubs here to distract you: just peace, quiet, and the surf coming in to ease your mind.

This is a truly an awesome place to go and explore! Ride around and look for those hidden spots the tourists have not found, that only the locals know. Be an adventurer! Or, just relax, kick back, and clear your head.

Samal-Island-2 Camera 14MP-9PC

Be forewarned though, progress IS coming to paradise so you might want to go now!

This is both good and bad, of course. It seems shameful to tear up this beautiful landscape BUT…..

If you are looking to set up a business in the Philippines and want to be on the proverbial “ground floor,” then this is a good spot. Davao City is proactively promoting tourism, and that includes Samal Island. There are lots opportunities there for everything from agriculture and amusement to rooms or retail and just about anything else you can think of.

Either way it is worth a visit. It is cheap and it is safe and you can tell your friends you have been to deepest darkest Mindanao where the Boogey Man lives and survived to tell the tale. :)

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Tagaytay City

by Sean

A friend of mine once asked if I was interested in investing in a new resort development. A profitable business venture is always attractive and my friend is a very financially savvy business guy, so we got talking specifics and he told me where it was.

Tagaytay is one of the biggest vacation destinations for Manila residents. Only 50 km south of Manila, it sits at an elevation of about 600 meters making it very accessible and much cooler than the evil, sweltering melting pot that is Manila. Wonderful during a 40-degree summer day!

Beautiful, picturesque surroundings and a lovely little town so you’d think this would be an ideal asset, right? A resort in a lovely cool spot close to town.

So what’s the catch?

It sits on the edge of an active volcano. Yes, ACTIVE.

Tagaytay City Volcano

 

See the volcano in this picture? It looks pretty small and harmless, doesn’t it? Little wee volcano in a big lake, right? Well, like I said, this prospective resort will sit on the EDGE of an active volcano. That is where this picture was taken from, the edge. What you are seeing is a little volcano inside a HUGE volcano!

The Taal Volcano was active as recently as 2011 with 115 tremors recorded in one day and is considered the second most active volcano in the Philippines. The meaning of this statistic is not very clear, until you understand this is a country where 25 volcanoes are considered active. I think this would rate it as a great place NOT to go, but people flock there. It’s a tourist attraction. They build resorts, condos, shopping malls, bars and schools. It’s all there. People live there.

Mount Pinatubo, which violently exploded and decimated Angeles City & Clark Air Base in 1991, was dormant since about 1500 AD and was not considered active.

Do these people not get it? These are volcanoes and about as predictable as a Chinese firecracker.

Will they be surprised when it explodes?

Tagatay City boats

But hey, maybe you do want to go there and climb the wee volcano. Easy enough to do on a day trip and you get a little boat ride in the process!

Have fun :)

Cheers,

Sean

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