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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Last Hurrah and A Piece of Heaven

Oh no. The time that we have all feared has now come upon us. The end is near. The end is very, very near. The end of Summer, that is. So rain has been pouring over us like crazy, and we might have even started to enrol ourselves already; but we can still do something about. I suggest that you do a last hurrah of sorts; do something before classes actually start. Here are some of the things that I think would make for good activities before the start of boredom (also known as formal classes).

5.) Try out a new extreme sport or hobby (like bartending!) and master it. Having this much free time during the Summer vacation will allow you to perform and practice your extreme sport of choice more often; thus, giving you more time to master it. If you decide to try out a new hobby (bartending!), it would be extra cool to actually boast of your newly-learned skills come the start of classes.

4.) Go on a road trip across Mindanao. Going on a road trip with your friends is a wonderful experience all to itself. It allows you to bond without actually doing anything but just sitting for the whole trip. Of course, the destination also counts. Look for fun, new and exciting summer destinations. Suggestions: Maragusan, Dapitan, or Siargao

3.) Throw a house party. It is better to throw a house party during the summer vacation because people are not as busy as when school starts. If you appreciate a perfect attendance; do this before classes start. Moreover, throwng a house party to welcome the start of classes or the end of Summer is just hot and will put you at the top of your class’ social ladder.

2.) Find a summer fling. There are two ways this could go. First, you can find a summer fling which turns into a full-blown relationship or extends until classes start. Use this as inspiration. Or, it could end before classes start, so you could focus on your studies. Either way, remember that flings are for fun, not for emotional attachment.

1.) Get totally wasted. Get it out of your system and make sure that you get totally wasted so you would not want to drink or get drunk ever again. Ever. This will help you focus in school once classes start.

Going Through Hell to Reach Heaven

Now, I am sure you got a wee bit curious when I mentioned “Maragusan” in my list of Summer-Road trip destinations above. And if you didn’t well, you should have, because that would have been the perfect segue to this, the second part of this week’s article.

Maragusan is actually a town in Compostela Valley. It is a four-hour drive away (including rough roads and extreme conditions (which for me, simply mean, no clean comfort rooms along the way)) from Davao City but is well worth the travel. Over the weekend, I was invited by DabTOA or Dabaw Tourism Operators Association and Ms. Editha Julian to attend a familiarization tour and Press Conference at Ms. Julian’s gorgeous mountain resort: Haven’s Peak.

Haven’s Peak was different from all other mountain resorts I have been to in Mindanao because of its location. It is literally atop a hill and it was 4000 feet above sea level. This made it extra cool during the night, and painfully cold, during the day. In fact, fog was all around the property as we marvelled at its simplistic, but aesthetically pleasing interiors, and exteriors that include two swimming pools, several cottages, an open restaurant, a cozy lobby, a viewing deck (that provided not only a view of Maragusan town proper but also a grand view of surrounding mountains that conceal the gorgeous wonders of Compostela), and several pocket gardens.

Even thought he resort is gorgeous and is a perfect place to relax over some drinks, Maragusan offers so much more than just Haven’s Peak. Because of this, the resort has partnered with the local Tourism Office to provide activity packages and tours for their guests. These activities include Trekking and Falls-Hopping; an exciting day-tour that involve stopping over some of the most beautiful water falls in Compostela Valley (naturally, this involves an allotted time for bathing in pools by the falls); Mountain Climbing for 3 days and 2 nights at Mount Candalaga; Swimming at Cold and Hot Springs; Cultural Enrichment tours at the Mansaka Village; a tour of DOLE Stanfilco Banana Plantation; and of course (because Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world is endemic in this part of the country) Rafflesia Watching.

“What about the rates?” I could almost hear your thought process all the way from the future (I am, of course, writing this a week in advance). The rates are surprisingly affordable. Their meals for example, range from about 30 pesos to 100 bucks. You could take a dip in their pool for 80 pesos per person and sleep in their Tribal Huts (good for 3-5 people) for only 1,400 inclusive of free usage of swimming pools and breakfast for two. If you prefer to sleep with a large group of people, their dormitory type rooms go for 350 pesos, with 8 people per room. Their tents go as low as 250 pesos (for single occupancy) up to 750 pesos (good for five people).

Truly, Maragusan, and Haven’s Peak is sure to be one of the hottest summer destinations from here on end. It is a wonder how this hidden mountain paradise has been hidden from pop consciousness for this long; but maybe therein lies its allure.

So if you are looking for that last summer destination, or find that you need a safe place to find solace in away from the busy city life; travel al the way through a hellish road to get to a piece of heaven that is Haven’s Peak.

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