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Summer is about to end, and schools will open in a couple of weeks. Our Visayan adventure, which took us to the islands of Olango, Panglao, Balicasag, Cabilao, Sumilon, Mactan, Maribohoc Bay, and Oslob, has been amazing. Let me share the rest of our experience in touring the Visayan islands.
Visayas is different not only because of the beautiful coral life, but because of the dolphins, which are a common sight. We saw a larger pod of dolphins after a dive in Cabilao, and I would say there are around a thousand dolphins in the place. The Oslob whale sharks are definitely unique, and I believe there is no other place like this in the world. While critics may say that it is not normal to feed whale sharks, it should be known that these animals come of their own will, and their safety is protected because they are not caged.
Oslob will definitely bring in local and foreign tourists, with Sumilon and Siquijor islands nearby, as well as Dumaguete’s Apo islands, where we dove five years ago. You will see a photo of a house that is owned, I am told, by two Filipino-American brothers who are doctors — a multi million-dollar home that we usually see in a Makati subdivision can now be found in Oslob. But this shows that tourists, especially our balikbayans, are now starting to invest in our country.
Tourism negosyo is the next big thing, and many Filipinos should be able to benefit from this. Recently, I shared with you the story of Justin Uy in my column “Ask Go Negosyo,” entitled “The Mango King.” Today, Justin has ventured into tourism by investing in the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa together with a Korean partner. His entry was, in a way, never planned, but he wanted to help a Korean friend who is being faced with problems to succeed in Cebu. The Imperial Palace-Cebu has 556 rooms, which is the most number among all of the hotels in Cebu. Most of their guests are Koreans, but they are slowly attracting other nationalities. Among its facilities are a mini water park and Chinese restaurant, where Justin and his brother Jason hosted us. It was truly an excellent experience.
Another entrepreneur who is into tourism negosyo is Jay Aldeguer. Jay, of course, is one of Go Negosyo’s longtime advocates and mentors. Aside from his Islands Souvenir shirts, Jay now runs a number of bancas, which provide a unique experience. As we parked in front of his place, I noticed that his bancas are swarmed by tourists, as it offers island-hopping tours that are quite hip. His latest venture is his Islands Hotel, where you can stay and enjoy the comforts of a fine hotel for only a fraction of the cost.
The food experience in the region is very important; it completes the whole experience. And you will not be disappointed with the abundance of entrepreneurs providing this unique experience, especially the seafood of Maribago Bluewater, which is in Cebu, Bohol and Sumilon islands. Mikee Cojuanco, who is known as a foodie among his friends, made it easier for us to spot the best places to eat in town.
In Bohol, the proliferation of good restaurants is definitely happening. We chanced upon CU Restaurant and Delicatessen in Panglao, which is operated by Uli Ostermayer, a German and former chef of Alona Palm (now Henann Resort). In Tagbilaran, we ate at a restaurant called Crab House, which was owned by Fernando “Boyboy” Estavilla and his wife, Margarita. He just started recently, and this restaurant serves huge crabs and stingray, which is I think something worth visiting for.
Boracay is just packed with negosyantes, with new hotels, bars, and restaurants coming up. We had the chance to see the new place of Choy Cojuangco there — Asya Premier Suites Boracay. I would rate Asya as one of the best villas to stay at. And the food is quite good for the prices they charge.
As we sailed to Puerto Galera, we had the chance to see a different resort called Buri. I did not know that buri trees are so beautiful; I only wish these trees could be transported to Makati. The owner of Buri is Aida Villaluz, who opened this resort and spa in 2001. Eleven years later, it now has 12 villas for its guests to choose from.
The dive experience would not be complete without the dive shops that provided good equipment, one of which is Pacifica Dive Shop. My wife formerly owned it before she decided to invest in a dive boat instead. Pacifica, which is now owned by Torben Bohn, supplied us with most of our diving equipment. He has the distributorship of Scubapro, which is a good brand. Likewise, dive instructor Eric Casas of Cebu provides customized dive tours and arranges places for you to stay as well. He was the one who arranged our Oslob whale shark encounter.
As we close our summer Visayan adventure, we are encouraged to see that our country has the resources that no other Asian country has. Try checking out the beautiful beaches of Boracay, Bohol, and Bantayan islands, and have your own diving experience in Balicasag, Cabilao, Apo, Sumilon, Moalboal, and Malapascua. Next year, we will venture to the islands of Coron, Busuanga, and Palawan.
Pilipinas, now is our time!