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5 Things to do on Mantigue Island

Truth be told, there’s not much that can be done on Mantigue Island Nature Park off the coast off Camiguin in the Bohol Sea, about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) off the northern coast of Mindanao. BUT that may be exactly why it’s definitely worth a visit…

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That the Philippines has over 7,000 islands is a known fact – no small thanks, I suppose, to its repeated claim in beauty pageants (starting with the now infamous Charlene Gonzales’ attempt in Miss Universe). All the same, the essence of the claim remains true; this country has a lot of islands that discovering every one of them could be a big challenge, indeed…

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But facing this challenge is I’d say worth it, particularly when one’s already in the smaller – and least developed – islands. Think of Mantigue Island Nature Park off the coast off Camiguin in the Bohol Sea, about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) off the northern coast of Mindanao. There, there really isn’t much; though that may be exactly why it’s definitely worth a visit…

Mantigue, by the way, is a small island of about four hectares (9.9 acres) of greenery with a white beach of coral sand. It is known for its white sand beach, as well as being a drop-off point for snorkeling and even diving. Also known as Magsaysay Island, it can be reached by bangka (light water craft) after 25–30 minutes from Brgy. San Roque in the town of Mahinog.

Here are five things that can be done on Mantigue Island…

1. Go for a swim. The water is generally peaceful, so that going for a dip in the at-times blue and at-times green waters is not just refreshing, but even rejuvenating. If the famed Boracay can irritate (depending on the season) because of those algae, here, the water is always clear, so…

2. Visit the greenery. As an “enclosed” space, the island has a mini-forest in the middle that’s worth discovering. Much like the greeneries on some of the islands in Pangasinan (think Hundred Islands), this one here can also be enjoyed via a leisurely walk.

3. Take pics. One side of the island shows Mount Hibok-Hibok, majestic from the distance. The other sides show open waters. No matter the angle, though, this place is picturesque (thanks, too, to the fact that it’s largely untouched).

4. Mingle with the locals. There is still a very small fishing village located in the northern side of the island, and you’d be… touched by the stories of the locals – from State abuses as they are “encouraged” to leave the island, to surviving seemingly away from the “real” world, to braving the waters to make a living, to just being one with nature (very “The Old Man and the Sea”). Being socially aware while enjoying nature can be poetic, indeed…

5. Find yourself. Yes, metros like Manila, Cebu and even Davao are appealing because things are always happening there. But sometimes, that very noise forces us to get detached from ourselves – we become too busy with the need to catch up with the hustle and bustle of everything around us. So that when in a place like Mantigue, things seem to… stop. And regrouping can be possible.

So if you’re in Cagayan de Oro (another up-and-coming city) or even Iligan or at least in the vicinity of these cities, try to allocate some time to head out of the used and tested streets to discover the likes of Mantigue where rustic (and yes, rural) wonders may do you some good…

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"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." This one writes about... anything and everything.

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Top 10 boating safety tips

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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Photo by Drew Dau from Unsplash.com

This week is National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27, 2022), and BoatTests101.com would like to encourage public awareness of boating safety. One way to start is for people to take a boating safety course and get their boating license, known as the Boater Education Certificate.

Besides getting your license, here are our Top 10 Boating Safety Tips:

  1. Wear a Life Jacket – Even if you are a strong swimmer with quick reflexes, it’s a great idea always to wear your life jacket when on your boat. Choose one that fits properly and is designed for your activity. A PFD that flips you on your back and keeps your head above water is ideal.
  2. Don’t Boat Under the Influence – Any substance that impairs your ability to focus on boating should be avoided, including alcohol, prescription drugs, or other drugs (legal or illegal). Boaters under the influence cause one-third of all boating fatalities.
  3. Carry Proper Safety Equipment – Fire extinguishers, lights, flares, bailers, sound signals, navigation aids, and flags are essential for keeping you safe in an emergency. Check equipment conditions and expiration dates before you head out. If your boat is equipped with an engine cut-off device or switch, you must use it.
  4. Don’t Overload Your Boat – Your vessel’s capacity plate will advise the recommended weight of passengers and gear. Make sure you load it evenly to keep the boat stable and prevent capsizing.
  5. File a Float Plan – Let someone know your boating plans and when you will return. Have a plan to check in if your route changes and when they should call for assistance. Know how to use VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones to call for help. 
  6. Check the Weather – Before and during your trip, keep track of storms that may head into the area. Head toward shore or shelter if the skies start to turn ominous. Take an extra set of clothes in case you get wet. Bring rain gear and sun protection.
  7. Stay Focused – Conditions on the water can change in an instant. Stay alert and pay attention to your actions and the actions of other boaters, anglers, and divers.
  8. Slower is Safer – Follow posted speed signs, and slow down when it’s congested, near wildlife areas, where people are fishing or diving, and when docking.
  9. Know Navigation Rules – The BoatTests101.com course will teach you the “Rules of the Road,” including how to signal or pass other vessels.  Don’t assume the other vessels will follow the rules and be prepared to compensate.
  10. Obey the Laws – BoatTests101.com course will go over boating laws in various circumstances, but head to your state’s website to see the latest rules and regulations. Pay attention and follow any law enforcement instructions.

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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Destinations

Airbnb launches ultimate designer getaway in Phuket’s iconic heritage mansion

The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

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Filipinos planning their first overseas trip in two years after borders reopen on April 1 can now snag themselves the perfect holiday, as Airbnb launches the ultimate designer stay in Phuket’s palatial Governor’s Mansion – the island’s largest icon of Sino-Portuguese baroque architecture.

As the country gears up for its biggest cultural festival, Songkran, one group of four lucky guests will get to soak up the vibrant festivities with an island getaway of a lifetime, only on Airbnb. The majestic Governor’s Mansion will be bookable on airbnb.com/governorsmansion for only Php2,500* for a two night stay from 15-17 April 2022, welcoming overnight guests for the first time in more than 50 years. Bookings open at 9AM PHT on April 5, 2022. Travelers from Thailand or any of the countries that currently allow international travel to and from Thailand can apply — the Philippines included.

Guests will be hosted by popular Phuket-born model-actress Patricia Tanchanok Good who rose to fame in one of Netflix’s most popular Thai dramas last year, Girl From Nowhere 2, and national ambassador for royal Thai cuisine and Blue Elephant founder, master chef Nooror Somany Steppe. Programming for this special stay is supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The 119-year-old Governor’s Mansion welcomed many out-of-town dignitaries and remains one of several neoclassical heritage mansions on Phuket today. The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

On the second floor, renowned Thai designer Saran Yen Panya has created a memorable, visually stunning space that pays homage to Thailand’s rich heritage and buzzing contemporary design scene. The stay features statement pieces by Yothaka – widely revered as Thailand’s master of design – in addition to bespoke handcrafted items by up-and-coming designers Kitt Ta Khon, Masaya, Sumphat Gallery, Thaniya and Mo Jirachaisakul, paired with Phuketian antiques from some of the island’s most distinguished homes and museums.

Guests will be immersed in a quintessentially Phuketian experience, including:

  • A personal welcome at check-in by Thai superstar Patricia ‘Good’ Tanchanok, who will share her favourite hidden gems in Phuket and tips for exploring the island
  • Exclusive access to a two-bedroom suite on the Mansion’s expansive second floor, including a private reception lounge and living room
  • A bespoke, multi-course ‘Songkran’ tasting menu prepared and hosted by master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe
  • A scuba diving and snorkeling adventure around the sparkling reefs and islands that dot the Andaman Sea
  • A gibbon rehabilitation social impact experience in Phuket’s last rainforest

“Thailand is an extraordinary country with unparalleled warmth and hospitality, and some of the most beautiful destinations. As more of us begin to travel further from home and for longer durations, we are working with our Host community to welcome the world back to Thailand safely. We are delighted to add the majestic Governor’s Mansion to our collection of unique stays throughout the Kingdom,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“Songkran is a special moment for all Thais, as we give thanks and celebrate the dawn of a new year. As Thailand reopens, we are incredibly thrilled to partner with Airbnb to warmly welcome the world back to our country. We invite travellers from around the world to experience the “Amazing New Chapters” of Thailand under ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022’, with this iconic stay that shines a light on some of our finest Thai designers; as well as Phuket’s natural wonders, unique heritage and architecture, and delicious local cuisine,” shared Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

For more reasons to book that flight to the Land of Smiles, check out Airbnb’s first-ever Travel Guide to Thailand — spotlighting the hottest and most underrated destinations across the country, delicious gastronomic specialties and the most extraordinary Airbnb Stays for an incredible overseas getaway.

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Free COVID-19 test and travel protection top incentives for international travel

As more overseas destinations ease travel restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit neighboring countries for leisure with COVID-19 protection and incentives on top of their minds.

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As the pandemic situation evolves, Filipinos are keen to start travelling again with free COVID-19 tests (57%), hospital care (51%), and flexibility in changing travel plans (37%) as the key considerations driving travel decisions, according to Visa’s 2021 Global Travel Intentions Study. Earning rewards or enjoying last-minute offers are now secondary benefits behind measures thapt provide protection and reassurance.

As more overseas destinations ease travel restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit neighboring countries for leisure with COVID-19 protection and incentives on top of their minds.

Dan Wolbert, Visa Country Manager for the Philippines and Guam, said: “These findings reflect the changing outlook Filipinos have on traveling as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We have seen a rebound to travel in many parts of the world as borders open, and Filipinos are optimistic about traveling again.  Similar to other markets, Filipino travelers are conscious about following safety protocols and also want to feel that they have a sufficient access to health protection in the event that risks happen to them while they are abroad.”

The study found that Filipinos want travel insurance that protects them from COVID-19 related risks including the cost of medication and treatment (59%), quarantine charges (52%) and hospitalization room charges (41%).

The study also found that 56 percent of Filipino travelers are keen on vacationing in another country as part of a travel bubble set-up. With travel bubbles, there are less chances of contact with individuals who may have come from areas with high infection rates.

The top five international destinations that Filipinos want to visit once it is safe to do so are the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and Thailand. Meanwhile, Hawaii and South Korea are also generating interest, followed by Australia and Dubai.

The post-pandemic travel landscape will also involve an increased preference for cashless payments, with 63 percent of Filipino travelers expecting to go cashless because of the safety and comfort it brings. Among their top preferences include mobile payments (34%), as well as credit (24%), and debit card (31%) payments.

“As we see the number of COVID-19 cases trending downwards in the Philippines and the government’s decision to start opening our borders, we share the optimism of Filipinos that the road to recovery is beginning,” added Wolbert.

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