I threatened my best friend that I will go right in front of his house if he refuse to reply to my emails and Facebook messages.  I resorted into telling him that because I was really clueless on what had happened to him and I just received news from one of my batch mates that he will no longer work on board a ship. I sent messages one after another expressing my concern, but all appeared to be just being read or "seen" like how they say it on Facebook. So, two days after telling him that I will actually go to Mindanao, he replied. He told me that he is currently facing some personal problems and he shut himself from the outside world. He told me what had happened, why he will stop pursuing his maritime career, and why he chose to go on hiatus for quite some time. After learning his current situation, I started my long reply of consolation with these words: "Anaknampotek, kelan ka natutong magdrama?!"
        Well, to cut the long story short, I really did went to Mindanao for the very first time. Since I will be spending a week there, I also took the opportunity to meet a friend who was my text mate for almost four years (This would also be the first time that I will be meeting her in person). I thought that since I'll be seeing both of them, it would be great if we can all have a get together, set our problems aside for the moment and experience the beauty of Mindanao. It would be hitting two birds in one shot. So, right after I disembarked my previous vessel, I booked a flight to Davao for the last week of September and spent few weeks first in Bicol then Manila while waiting for that scheduled flight.

That is one hell of a durian back there, amigo.

          I could not contain my excitement when the date of my flight to Davao arrived. I am really excited mainly because of three things: a week-long escapade to Mindanao, a reconciliation with my friends (yay!) and finally knocking the senses out of my best buddy (more yay!). I left home for the airport as early as 4 o'clock in the morning to catch the 7 a.m. flight. After almost two hours of travel time to the crown jewel of Mindanao, I arrived at Francisco Bangoy International Airport (Davao International Airport) and waited for Studz to pick me up.
         Although I was expecting to start going to places once I arrive in Davao, I realized that travelling alone from one place to another would take so much time. Studz and I then decided that we will head to their house in Digos City (which is another two hours ride from Ecoland Bus Terminal, Davao City), leave my things there and just plan where to go the following day. I also kept contact with my friend Shyn from Koronadal because I plan to meet her there before I return to Manila. Lucky for us, she suggested that it would be better if we go to their place first, to suit her busy schedule. After a series of how to go to and where to ride to instructions, we all agreed to meet her at KCC Mall of Marbel in Koronadal. Now let me share some of the highlights of my escapade-turned-friendly visit  adventure.

Punta Isla Lake Resort dining cottages by the lake shore.

Tilapia Pa More! at Punta Isla Lake Resort

         I am not really a fan of tilapia, but when I tasted the dishes made from this fish in Punta Isla, I felt like I had a flavorgasm for the very first time! It may sound overrated but I really liked the taste of every tilapia dish we ordered when we dined on a cottage by the Lake Sebu in Punta Isla. Aside from that, a serving of a specific dish is already good for a small group of 5 or 6 persons. Not realizing this sooner, we apparently ordered more than what we can eat and ended up munching on the table for almost two hours. The good thing is, you can bring your left-overs to your cabin or ask assistance from the resort personnel so that they can keep the food for later consumption.

I already had a plan in mind when I saw that wooden boat.

A signboard right in front of our room in the resort.

Tilapiang chicharon, Tilapiang sisig, Tilapiang sinigang sa pakwan, Tilapia pa more!

          We already planned to stay at the resort for the night so Shyn made some reservations before we went there. Upon arrival, she talked to the receptionist and paid the required fee (we availed a double standard room, which is good for 4 persons for Php 1,100.00) . The room was one of the two rooms of the hut named "Blotik Simla" or morning star. It overlooks Lake Sebu and some distant mountain range. Just in front of the hut's porch, a rambutan tree laden with ripe fruits stood. Later at dusk, both of my crazy friends started reaching the fruits using a bamboo stick. I was about to tell them to stop, but the inner me whispered: Nice one my dear friends. May bonding activity na agad tayo. 
         Anyways, aside from food and accommodation, Punta Isla also offers a lot of things like cruises on the lake, package deals and tours, as well as cultural shows.  You can check their website at www.puntaislalakeresort.com or email them at reservations.puntaisla@yahoo.com.

Right past the giant ferns that thrive in the resort, the scenic view of Lake Sebu.

How to get there:
         Although we started out trip to Punta Isla from Digos City, I guess it would be more concise if I will start on how to go there from General Santos City. First, ride a bus with "Non-stop Marbel" sign from Bulaong Terminal(Gensan). Then, after getting off from Marbel Terminal, ride another bus with "Non-stop Surallah" sign. Once you arrive at Surallah Bus Terminal, look for jeepneys bound for Lake Sebu. Usually these jeepneys are easily spotted because you will always see a queue of people with over-sized bags (just kidding). The jeepney will stop by the market at the municipality of Lake Sebu. After getting off, ride a habal-habal and ask the driver to take you to Punta Isla Lake Resort.
        Below are the travelling fares (as of September 2015)  to Punta Isla.

Gensan Bulaong Terminal – Marbel Terminal
Bus, Php 90.00
Marbel Terminal – Surallah Bus Terminal
Bus, Php 32.00
Surallah Bus Terminal – Lake Sebu Municipality
Jeepney, Php 35.00
Lake Sebu Mun. Market – Punta Isla Lake Resort
Habal-habal, Php 20.00

Checking a mug at a souvenir store inside the resort.

Studz, Rish, Shyn and me. We are all prepared to go to the zipline!

The Seven Falls Zipline Experience
         After an overnight stay at Punta Isla, we headed to Barangay Siloton where the famed Seven Falls Zipline is located. It is said to be the highest in South East Asia at an elevation of more than 180 meters. There are two ziplines in the area, one is at a stunning stretch of 740 meters  and the other 460 meters. Both are definitely on the league of their own due to the picturesque views of the falls as seen from above when one starts gliding on them.

The first waterfall on Seven Falls.

         There are plenty of tourist and visitors that usually go to the zipline so it is advisable to be there as early as possible. There is an entrance fee of Php 20.00 for adults and zipline fee of Php 250.00 - Php 300.00 per person if you want to experience the amazing ziplines. They also offer photo packages that you can avail, and claim the hard or soft copies at stations at the end of the zipline.
         The zipline experience, was undeniably one hell-of-a-ride. Shyn was actually screaming on top of her lungs when we glided from one end to another. When it was Studz turn to be on the zipline, well, his facial expression was absolutely priceless. (haha!) After finishing the second ride, we took a walk to one of the falls then went to the stalls around the place and bought some souvenirs. By the afternoon, we went to KCC Mall of Marbel to have our late lunch. After a sumptuous meal, Studz and I bade Shyn and her little Rish goodbye to catch the bus to Gensan then to Digos City. It was already dark when we arrive at Studz's house in Digos. Spending a night at Punta Isla and taking a ride at the Seven Falls Zipline was indeed an experience one should try once in his lifetime.

The ride was indeed, awesooooome!

Another waterfall as seen from the zipline.

How about a dipa pose with the highest waterfall on the background?

How to get there:
         From Punta Isla, there are habal-habal drivers who offer rides to  Seven Falls Zipline. You can rent them for Php 100.00 per person (this is already good for travelling to and within the zipline area then back to the market terminal) and they can also serve as your guides to the falls.

Fourth Day: Kublai Art Garden
         I asked Studz if he knows a place near Digos called the Kublai Art Garden. As expected, he didn't know the place despite its proximity to their residence (I found out when I arrived at their house that he usually spend most of his time in front of his laptop, and he actually never went out for fun). Fortunately, his tita happened to have an idea about it so we asked her some directions on how to get there.

While taking a rest at the Kapatagan Market, I took the opportunity to taste/eat/feast on  marang fruit for the first time.

         We then decided to check out both Kublai Art Garden and Camp Sabros since both of them are in Kapatagan. However, because of the tiring travel time, we only managed to take a stroll on Kublai Art Garden.

       The Art Garden is situated on a hill at about 5-10 minutes ride from Kapatagan Market. It showcases some sculptures and artworks of the renowned Davao artist, Kublai Millan. The most prominent artwork in this garden is actually a house - a peculiar one. It resembled a musical instrument used by indigenous tribes of Mindanao, hence, it was named the Agong House.

Pine trees are quite noticeable on the way to Kublai Art Garden.

How the hell did you get in there Miss?

We noticed some names on the ornate design of Agong House's chimney.

Studz seemed to be enjoying catching dragonflies at the garden.

How to get there:

From Digos Bus Terminal, you can hire a public utility van to Kapatagan Market. You can also hire a habal-habal (if there are just two or three of you) like what we did to go to Kapatagan Market. It's an hour ride at a Tagaytay-like elevation so be prepared for the cool temperature and bumpy roads. Once you arrive at the Market, you can ride another habal-habal to Kublai Art Garden worth Php 15.00 per person.


Wanderlust meets Artistry

         I will allocate this part of my blog post to one of my friends, Faiza. I met her when we were still in grade four or five on a provincial social studies competition. We didn't have much of a conversation back then. However, to my surprise, I was able to meet her again every time I went to a competition as a delegate of our school. I noticed that she was always eager to enter the poster making competitions, bringing her oil pastels aside from being a contestant on quiz bees.
        Fast forward several years, I was able to get in touch with her via Facebook. She seemed to have honed her talent as an artist and pursued her passion on graphic designs. The pictures above are only two of the many designs she has been working on posted in society6. You can check more of her designs, mostly on ready-to-order online merchandise like art and canvas prints, shirts, Iphone and laptop skins among others at https://society6.com/faizarico.