TRAVEL ESSENTIAL | Goodbye Dear Mobile Phone

Don’t you just hate it when you’re on the road and your primary means of contact goes dead on you. Literally. 

Fit for travel! I got this for all it’s magnificent feature. Totally for taking pictures and videos, — with auto and fine focus, perfect for macro shot (yeps!!!!), vibration and shock proofing, and with 3megapixels for it’s so-crazy-it’s-small-and-I-can-throw-it-around-and-not-feel-guilty phone. If there’s a phone that did justice for a clumsy and test-it-for-what-they-say owner– Samsung E590 was it for me!

Since I had to work, my mama and brother left early for a family trip out of town, and I was expected to catch up with them. I was at the mall where I’m suppose to meet them, when my phone went out on me. I tried to revive it. But like in movies, the doctor would say after all means were exhausted — DOA! Dead On Arrival.
What was I to do?! Get a new phone? Work my charms on someone to contact my mom? Find a little brown fox or a dove to carry my message, or build a fire and send out a smoke signal? LOL! Or travel back home, or continue the trip regardless of doing it solo, let them worry in the process, and then feel sorry later during the long sermon from my mom? 

Here were some tips I considered on the basic features that you might need to consider when shopping for a mobile phone with a travel lifestyle in mind. I, first considered functionality and hand coordination above all else (*ofcourse), then ran down the important features. Be nice to yourself, and remember — any gadget should be of your necessity and comfort.

Alphanumeric Vs. QWERTY Keys
Alphanumeric
A 3×4 grid of keys that corresponds to the number and/or letter by pressing the buttons a couple of times. Pro: This makes the mobile more compact.
Con: The pressing of button a couple of times for letter/character use for full text can be a hassle. And can be a predisposing factor for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in addition to other hand use/coordination activities.
TIP! You can always use the T9 feature. T9 predictive messaging makes it easier to compose full text faster on non-QWERTY pads.
QWERTY
The keyboard-arranged letter/characters placed on mobile phones.
Pro: Really helpful for  full text messaging. Especially if you’re using your mobile other than SMS/MMS. When I went on QWERTY, I never looked back. Really handy when doing business, updates, and lessens out the jejemon messaging.
Con: It makes the mobile wider even if the keys are drastically reduced in size.
TIP! You can choose from a wide range of models/units out there. It’s the “fitting-in-you-hands” to make you feel comfortable using the mobile less compact.

Keypads Vs. Touch Screens

I’ve long moved on. My contacts had vanished along with loads of pictures, videos, and memos on that phone. I have been sporting a new phone, and yes, I am a Samsung user, still, but have long been a convert to QWERTY keypads. I am still weighing the option on, possibly, shifting to touch screens. But my hand coordination will die struggling on that. iP is tempting — for all its glorious features but  it’s not smart for me to travel with it given my careless “Where did I left my phone moments?” and to go on the road with some flashy cellular phone, when half of the time I just throw it around (like, literally).

Features and Specifications
Here are some phone features you need to consider and what these are about, 
in a non-techy girl translation.

+++2G and 3G Network
Are your operating frequency bands. I had a hard time understanding this, but to simply sum it up — your phone specifications works on this. The supported frequency bands determine whether a certain handset is compatible with a certain network carrier. It is not an operator-specific feature. It is helpful if you are choosing a handset to use in your home country or if you are making sure your phone will work in the country you are heading to. It is best if you had both 2G and 3G network on your phone, it is helpful in network connection, and using the services it offers.
+++Wireless Local Area Network

WiFi technology falls here. It provides short-range wireless high-speed data connections between mobile data devices (such as laptops, PDAs or phones) and nearby Wi-Fi access points. You get to connect to the internet whenever there’s a Wifi spot or connection.

+++EDGE and GPRS data transfer.

High-speed data transfer = increase performance. It means it will  delivers higher bit-rates per radio channel, resulting in a threefold increase in capacity and performance compared with an ordinary GSM/GPRS connection. 

+++GPS with A-GPS support

This used to be an emerging trend but has evolved to a must-have feature to get real-time position tracking, text- and voice-guided directions, and points of interest in applications.

+++OS (Operating System)

Usually depends on whether you’re an Android, BlackBerry, or iPhone user, there’s Windows Mobile, iPhone 2.0, and Android to Symbian, BlackBerry, and Palm. So what’s the use of it? The saleslady I asked was not helpful. But your mobile OS, actually, will reflect your lifestyle because it determines the choice of apps and phone functionality. There are a growing trend of apps for travel and photography sharing — it makes it easy to get people updated with what’s keeping you busy at wherever you’re at. But for this, also consider that Android, Palm webOS, and iPhone OS are frequently updated with new software features, followed by BlackBerry and Windows Mobile updates. Symbian is updated irregularly and installing the latest update is not as suave as the others update.

+++Camera and Video.
Camera with 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels is more than enough for a photo to use on your blog (*from my own POV). For smartphones, BB, and iPhones it can go way pass that. If you carry with you camera/s and  extra battery life all the time, and you’re the type that would rather take shots with your camera — by all means you can consider this a least priority. BUT keep in mind — the best camera is the one you have at a certain umpt!-moment! You might consider to have a phone ready for those moments, just in case!

Other features and specifications like body dimensions, sound and display, memory and data transfer, and battery life — that you can consider on your own preferences. Coming from some non-techy Pinay Travelista, I hope some of the features to consider for a travelers mobile phone comes in helpful. It sure did for me!

So how did my day ended up then? My brother decided to take my mom on a bend, and saw me looking for a phone on a shelf of one of the shops. So it saved me the trouble of  finding a fox or dove to deliver my message, or the disappointment that both my mom and brother don’t know how to read smoke signals. Did I get a new phone then? Nope. My non-techy brain did say not yet. I sulked and grieved for 3 days – for the phone that died on me on the road, before getting a new one. And it took me 3 months to put this one up. Am I happily adjusted with my new phone ? Yes but I could only wish for one thing — for it to have fine focus for macro shots the way it’s predecessor did.

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“Don’t worry so much about not supposed to.” 
– Armande | Chocolat
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INITAO Travel Guide | Enjoying the Best of this Protected Area

Attractions and Distractions in Initao, Misamis Oriental

Sand In My Feet. There are nice beaches at Initao, Mis. Or. There’s a short stretch of white sanded beach with a few beach resorts that caters to a day of fun under the sun or with accommodations to stay the night or more, and a few adventure and water sports for you to enjoy.     Midway White Beach

A Short Adrenaline Rush. Along the busy national highway is an imposing structure that is the front of the timid adventure park. A spiral staircase, canopy walks, and a zipline is a quick and bearable scare for the kids and the timid adventure do-getters.      Lasang Secret Adventure Park

Commune with Nature. A large land and sea area is a protected area that houses both terrestrial and marine flora and fauna.     Initao-Libertal Protect Landscape and Seacape

GEN. SANTOS | Sarangani Highlands

For a long overdue post, my Southern Mindanao trip still has the detailed memory lost in the workload of busy”ness”. But for the record, I had a great time there! Like super! Prior to the trip, I’ve heard how acommodating and welcoming the Soccksargen bloggers were — and yes, the rumors are not rumors but is an undeniable fact. On our tour after the two main events that got us travelling to the south, the Soccksargen bloggers prepared for us a scrumptious breakfast at the Sarangani Highlands after the Fish Port Tour. After all those fish shots and tuna talks, we were hungry and we were served not only with generous meal for the tummy but in a place where heaven meets the sea.
The Sarangani Highlands is located hilltop that overlooks the Sarangani Bay. The bay is framed with the downtown General Santos, Mt. Matutum and Mt. Parker, visible on clear sunny days, and the sky that drapes and rest on the horizons.

Breakfast was generous and quick. And what better way to make new friends with food and good ambiance to swallow our laughter in. After a while, we felt the need to get going and tour around the Sarangani Highlands.
The marriage of both stone walls, brick pathways and wood furniture is obvious and darn pretty nice to look at. Something rustic, and strong, and then paired with lush green gardens. It could be somewhere I wanted to be when I just want to escape the routine city life. It gives you a laid-back feeling without losing the much-thought-of details around the place.
Apart from this being a venue for special events, or conferences — I can imagine my granny, and the rest of the family staying and getting some family time together in a place like this.

SARANGANI HIGHLANDS
Purok Wal, Tambler, General Santos
saranganihighlands@gmail.com
083-3040752

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The man who never in his mind 
and thoughts travel’d to heaven is no artist.
William Blake
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INITAO Transportation Guide | How To Get There Directions

Directions, and How to Get There Details for  Initao, Misamis Oriental:
***Fares may change depending on approved rates.
***POST DATE: April 2012
***RECENT UPDATE: September 2013
LAGUINDINGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT / CAGAYAN DE ORO to INITAO
1] a] Daily flights to Laguindingan International Airport, CDO
::: From Manila Travel Time
   Flight: ~1H 20mins
   Ferry: ~30H
::: From Cebu Travel Time
   Flight: ~30mins.
   Ferry: ~16H
 
1] b] Scehduled Ferry to Cagayan de Oro Port
::: From Manila Travel Time
    Ferry: ~30H
::: From Cebu Travel Time
   Ferry: ~16H
2]  Laguindingan Airport – Iligan City  | North Bound Bus Terminal
       :: Shuttle Rate: 50Php Pax
Bus Rate: 85PhP
          Travel Time: 20mins
3] a] Laguindingan Airport – CDO | Bulua Terminal

       :: Shuttle Rate: 100Php Pax
Travel Time: ~1 hour

3] b] CDO | Bulua Terminal – Iligan City | North Bound Bus Terminal

       :: Non- Aircon Bus ~40Phph Pax
       :: Aircon – NonStop Bus ~ 85PHP Pax
          Travel Time ~2H
      b] Bulua Terminal – Initao Terminal
       :: Non- Aircon Bus ~40Phph Pax
       :: Aircon – NonStop Bus ~ 85PHP Pax
          Travel Time ~1H

***CDO-Iligan and vice versa bus fare is presently at 85Php. A discounted fare rate for TS Sendong (Washi) affected areas/cities.

ILIGAN CITY to INITAO
1]Iligan City North Bound Terminal – Initao Terminal
       :: Non- Aircon Bus ~40Phph Pax
       :: Aircon – NonStop Bus ~ 85PHP Pax
         Travel Time ~1H

TRAVEL NOTES:
+ The non-airconditioned buses are smaller than the airconditioned ones. If you want plenty of leg room, and wants to be more comfortable with space, you might want to go for AC buses.
+ The pedicabs, or motorized transports are limited in the area. If you do see one pass you by but is already taken, ask the driver to tell other pedicab driver/s that you’re a waiting passenger. Fare starts a 8PhP, but may costs more with longer distances.

INITAO | Midway White Beach

Midway White Beach Resort is one of the many white sand beaches located at Initao, Misamis Oriental. Called Midway, it’s located halfway between two of  the cities in Northern Mindanao — Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City. Traveling to this beach resorts is exactly half the travel time to and from both those cities — 1 hour and is hard to miss. It has been the venue for conferences, overnight family sleep-overs, friends weekend getaways, and location shoots for pre- or postnuptial wedding photos.
For me, this was the neighbor beach stop for my siblings and cousins when we were pushed out of the house by  granny for staying in at home on a summer day, the overnight sleepovers during my nursing school days with IMCC CONMHA student body org. officers, the venue for strategic planning with Iligan bloggers, and the lovely afternoon photo shoot beach walk for my sister and her-then fiance.

  For someone growing up vacationing st a beachfront at my lolo and lola’s residence, sand, water, and skies are my elements —- I was at my element here.

On this early morning visit, we went off to check out this stretch of beach just before the sun rises. Since the location of the beach actually faces a bit to west, sunrise is never at it’s grandest than the sun down here. The sun may not have shown up as we wanted it to, but it did not fail us either. The light shyly creeps up from the slowly fading darkness that turned the place in calm blue. Somehow, it was a bit romantic just like that.
The stretch of beach has both smooth and coarse sand, and lined with different beach resorts in the area. Midway White Beach Resort, however, offers sleeping quarters from suites to dorm types, function rooms, and water sports recreational facilities like banana boat rides, jet ski rental, a even offers a zipline from the cliff side to the shallow waters. But most of all, if I’m not out with friends or family for some gathering or work related stop overs, a beach walk here early in the morning is a must.
And with that, we saw an elderly on a wheelchair being pushed by her daughter to the shore just enough for calm waves to hit her feet. Her grandchildren then sat around her feet, covered these with sand, and just played there. Growing up with a granny close by, this was a heart stopper for me.We ought to do that sometime, bring people close to our hearts outdoors — even when if they can’t get there on their own feet.
TRAVEL NOTES:
+ Bring your swimwear
+ Bring your own snorkeling or diving gears
+ Waterproof cameras if you’re up for a swim
+ Early morning walk. The beach is not that long enough for a run, but you can do several trips though — dami lang dogs!
+ Keep updated on detailed post on Midway White Beach Resort accommodations.

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    “I am humbled at what I saw for I realized 
    that what I have in life pales in comparison when gleaned upon their lives 
    because for what I lacked in patience, they have in abundance, 
    for what I lacked in determination, they have in utmost disposal; 
    and for what I lacked in humility, they live by it each day.”

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    INITAO |

    After the short adventure thrill we had at the Lasang Secret Adventure Park, we went to visit the adjacent protected area of the Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape. the whole national park covers a total area of 1,300.78 hectares of land and seascape. the land area covers 50.58 hectares of protected forest, and an adjacent 1,250.28 hectares of  protected waters.

    The national park is called “lasang” that means forest is traversed by 2-lane national highway that connects Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City.

    The national park is open for family and friends with some cottages, picnic tables, and gazebos in the area  for some outdoor time spending. The area, however, does have obvious traces of human presence. I just hope that the national park will be strict in the allowing of food or drinks within the vicinity and have it’s proper disposal of waste. The environment is well preserved and protected but some visitors just don’t are not as nuts as some in
    What my fond memories from this protected area was the biology sampling we did. We also explored the caves, and the pathways along the forest. Native pigeons, and doves, serpent eagles, megapodes, and other different species of birds are seen here, making this place ideal for bird watching. Along with birds are also different species of bats 
    There’s this little path off the road that leads to the seaside framed in large boulders of rocks. The sea waves were partially calm when we got there. This was a really nice spot. We had bits of moments all to ourselves here. And because I came too close to the water, the waves hit hard on me, and got me wet a bit. 
    Alex says, the sea is playful, and that they usually call out to people to try the waters that way. I never thought of it that way, or maybe because I always gave in and played with them every time.
    TRAVEL NOTES:
    + You can bring family and friends here for some picnic.
    + Respect the area and help in preserving the environment by NOT leaving trash around. Tend after yourself.

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    “There’s this saying: in an all-blue world, colour doesn’t exist… 
    If something seems strange, you question it; 
    but if the outside world is too distant to use 
    as a comparison then nothing seems strange.” 
    ― Alex Garland, The Beach
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    INITAO | Lasang Secret Adventure Park

    Pardon this very late post. I’ve been in trance between wakening and hibernation. No. I don’t do or call it beauty sleep — for the love of sleep, more than beauty, I call it hibernation! LOL! But there was a weekend intended to spend time with travel blogger friend Doc Wendell that took me out of my weekend bed covers. He delivered a talk during the Business Compendium for the MSU-IIT students. And ofcourse, we had to be there too, but was mostly looking forward to a Sunday off for Initao.

    The Lasang Secret Adventure Park is located at Initao, Misamis Oriental and is part of the Initao-Libertad Landscape and Seascape Protected Area. My fond memories of this area was during our sampling days in Biology, armed with sampling bottles and canisters, and other quintessential stuff “biologists” would bring. This was a baby’s crib for us, we had a few overnight stays, spelunking adventures, and at lot of skin rashes for me — but we learned a lot in this fenced up sanctuary. 

    Lasang Secret Adventure Park is Misamis Oriental’s adventure surprise for its’ visitors. The protected area is split by the national highway, as the road curves along with canopy of trees framing the highway. and despite the high speeding vehicles passing by, an adventure and commune with nature is a stop-by midway between both cities Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

    So we went into the adventure park that offered spiral staircase, a canopy walk, and a zipline to cap it off. Priced at 250Php, it was not bad. It was the virginal zipline for Doc Wendell, we were okay to not push through had he not wanted to. But he braved up and went for it. It was epic to see it in his face trying to push the idea out of his head until the harness and line faces him. Lasang Secret Adventure Park was fully operational last August 15, 2009 and is managed by the Region 10 Provincial Tourism office.  

    There was a short trip through the protected forest. It was informative of the our guide to show and point out some interesting flora and facts about. And yes, Jam and I were, oh-ah — bio geeks alert. I would’ve liked it more if we were walking on the ground than on the walkway that leads up to the bottom of the spiral staircase. Then again, placing that walkway also helps in preserving and lessens visitors disturbing the area.

    A few steps we came upon the brightly colored red spiral staircase. It was a nice sight as the foliage takes up most of the spaces around it and only pockets of sunlight would pass through. Doc Wendell went on ahead while I stalled Jam and Alex every once a while to take eye level shots. If you’re afraid of heights or easily get seasick, piece of advice: DO NOT STOP. If you do, you will actually feel the staircase move and sway with the movements you make and the wind hitting the structure.
    The spiral staircase has 74 steps, five rounds, and lands on the first pad 100ft. above the ground. There are 5 suspended walkways, 3 of which goes to one direction which are 30, 60, 120 ft length. You have to walk  back on these 3 to the main pad, and off to another 2 walkways which are 60, and 100 feet in length to end up at the zipline launch pad. And yes, I stalled the group, yet again, as I would stop at the middle of the walkways to get some shots. Blogger mode turned ON — hmft! I was scared, truly was, but had some exhilarating moments of realizing how far up we were that I just had to take in the moment, and get some shots of it. Don’t we all do that? =)
    The zipline was short but I always get jitters just before the lunge off the launch pad. I would have this constant battle of whether be pushed off or let myself jump off the pad or basta! I just hate that part. LOL! Before I took the zipline though, I did ask if the line can be controlled, and if it was okay that they give me a short stop midway. And they said, yes! So somewhere in between the launch pad and the landing area, the ground far from my feet, the canopy above my head, and dangling midair– I yelled, STOP! Just to get a few seconds or so or more for some shots! I knooooooooooooow!!! Ahahahahaha.. I don’t like suspended on a line, but the adrenaline and the excitement pushes you to do some crazy stuff.
    This was a simple trip out that taught us to push fears away, get scared but face it still, laugh anxiety off, and take a bit more from the experience. Not all ziplines are the same, and not all experiences gives you the same level of adrenaline — this one taught me, it’s okay to get scared, and sometimes some crazy stuff pushes that fear off. 

    TRAVEL NOTES:
    + Look for monkeys! We didn’t get to see one, but was told there are some on the premises.
    + Brave up! and take more from the experience!

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    “People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, 
    something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate.
     But happiness is the result of personal effort. 
    You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, 
    and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. 
    You have to participate relentlessly.” 
    ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
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    Great True Love

    Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

    People sometimes find it hard to understand, how travelling becomes ones lifeblood. And sometimes, people don’t get it, how something like constant walking, running, flying, or going from one place to another becomes fulfilling when you’re always on a constant go.

    You have to become so attached to it to recognize it, feel it, and live with it.
    I can not expound any further. You have to feel the same way about being comfortable with your restless feet. To let it take you to where you want to go. Whether or not how much of the place you know about, or you’re just letting the time, and that “inner voice” tells you what road to take, and when to take it. To understand that travelling is not just an activity, or a past time. Neither is it a phase or a trend that someone is just caught up in. It is a one great love affair, a lifestyle, and an element that makes up an awesome individual the person he is. If you take that away from him, you’ll take the awesomeness along with it.

    She could not have written it any better. I’ve stressed this out for more than a couple of times already. When the travel bug bit you, and you caved in, most likely, you’ll be burning, inflamed with passion for the road, the discovery, the lessons you get, the uncertainties that keep you on your toes, and the all knowing feeling that —- that is you, this is you. 
    Travelling, is to a traveler, will always be his greatest love affair.