After much deliberation on where to go on a 4 days vacation last November 2010, we finally decided to explore Bantayan Islands in the northernmost part of Cebu province. Before reaching Bantayan Island, you need to travel 3 to 4 hours via public bus from North Terminal near SM Cebu to Hagnaya Port and another hour for Roro ride to Santa Fe wharf. After a long tiring trip we checked-in at Budyong Beach Resort which offered us not only a friendly rate for beachfront room but a beautiful place in the middle of huge coconut trees good for relaxation we longed for after spending hours on the road. Second day of our stay in Bantayan Island we got the chance to explore its neighboring island called as “Virgin Island.” If Bantayan Island boasts of long shoreline, white sand and calm blue waters, Virgin Island has more serene, pristine white powdery sand and having clear blue-green waters. We really had a great time relaxing and exploring the island. It was a fun- filled day because we enjoyed the beauty of the place and we had a great time eating fresh seafood feast. In addition to our wonderful experience was the chance to meet new Korean friends who are having their school break vacation in Bantayan Island from studying English language in Bacolod. After having fun talking, swimming and playing volleyball in Virgin Island, Young, Sab, Daniel and Yelana asked us to join them on a side trip to Ogtong Cave resort which we agreed on. We then rode our respective boats and the fun continued as they waved their hands on us and signaled that they want a boat race, haha. After several minutes the waves started to pile up that caused panic to one of our friend that is why we decided to dropped off first our stuffs at Budyong resort and then went on to Ogtong Cave via pedicab. The pedicab ride costs us 100pesos for a 2–way ride and our driver patiently waited for us outside the gate of Ogtong cave. It was a hilarious and thrilling ride because of the “Amazing race” we insisted and every time there’s a sloped road we need to go down the cab.
|pedicab ride to Ogtong Cave|
When we arrived at Ogtong cave resort, our Korean friends were already there enjoying the swimming pool. At the reception area we paid 100 pesos per head for the entrance fee and usage of their pool (strictly swimming attire is observed) and then we started to roam around the resort. Ogtong cave resort is a peaceful relaxing place with good facilities and a private house with pool for honeymooners. The main attraction at the resort is the Ogtong Cave that looks like a concave pit with small water lagoon. Unfortunately from the day of our visit, cave swimming is not allowed anymore because of some DENR issues. Instead of being sad, we then enjoyed the resort’s facilities together with our Korean friends. It was a pleasurable moment of non stop conversation and recreation we shared with them until dusk.
|Ogtong Cave unswimmable|
|overlooking the beach with sandbar at Ogtong Cave Resort|
Before returning to our respective inns Yelena, Sab, Daniel and Young told us that they are overwhelmed with our hospitality, they really had a great time and they never expected to have Filipino friends like us. As a sign of gratitude they invited us once more for a karaoke night that we instantly accepted.
After dinner, we have prepared ourselves for one hell of a karaoke night with the Koreans. We were very startled to know that as early as 7pm our Korean friends are already waiting outside Budyong resort so we immediately ran to the gate to take them to our cabana. They eventually came by surprise with two reasons: 1 is to inquire if there are available rooms so they can stay with us for one day and 2 is to fetch us to unwind at a local bar. Unfortunately we’re scheduled to go back in Cebu City the following day that’s why they cancelled their plan to checked-in at Budyong. Upon seeing our room they were amazed to know that we were like brothers and sisters sharing the same cottage and sleeping together which definitely shows true Filipino values and we're proud of it! After few minutes of story-telling and laughter we rode a pedicab to this creepy isolated Karaoke bar which was recommended by a girl named FC, native of Bacolod which we’ve met on Virgin Island. Good thing is our pedicab service waited for us just outside the bar if in case we need to go back immediately to our inns. Even though the place is somewhat weird and creepy we continued the fun and belt out some songs which our Korean friends really enjoyed doing. Yelena enjoyed singing Bed of roses with the help of our friend Eric while Daniel and Young having a fun conversation with us and Sab was delighted on a free English tutorial from our two boys, indeed it was one hell of a fun-filled night.
Time to say goodbye and everyone is saying their words of farewell, “You always take care,” “Thank you!” We will surely miss you!” “Thanks for the good time!” these are the words that soared in the silence of the night. They’re so overwhelmed and thankful for making their vacation extra ordinary, likewise to us. Before parting ways, we exchanged contact numbers and email addresses assurance of a continuous communication in the future. They also invited us to tour in their country anytime we want and if in case they return from Korea they wanted to explore the Philippines more with us. Just recently, Yelena texted us that they already finished their English studies and ready to go back in Korea to pursue their respective jobs; Yelena as a nurse and Daniel as a businessman. It feels so good to have friends like them and until now every time we reminisce about our Bantayan Island trip we are still in awe knowing that we befriend them unexpectedly. This trip is incredibly wondrous not only that we’ve got the chance to see the beauty of the place, the adventure we made, the hospitality felt from Cebuanos, but the chance to know deeply Korean culture and tradition shared to us by Yelena, Sab, Daniel and Young; memories and true friendship we once created.