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Sunday, 29 November 2015

My Life in Isla Verde - by Hanna

Recently we asked one of the young teenagers from our local High School to write a short story in English about what it is like to grow up on Isla Verde.  Here is Hanna's story.

It is not easy for a young person living on a small island like Isla Verde.  We are brought up to live a simple and peaceful life, but ordinary things like food and necessities are hard to find, especially during habagat and typhoon season, when rough seas and strong winds mean we cannot get across the Verde Island Passage to Batangas to shop for supplies.

Mostly we eat "tuyo", which is dried fish, and we pour "kape" (coffee) as soup for our rice.  We need to catch fish in the sea around Isla for viands and we eat kalamansi with salt and call it "dinidil".

There is not much work on Isla Verde.  So as a young girl I helped to earn money.  I fetched for other houses and with what I earned I bought food for my family.  There were times I went into the forest with my brother to cut firewood for cooking, and other logs for sale.

Because it is hard to find work in the Philippines and especially on a small island like Isla Verde, like many Filipino families, my parents went to work abroad.  During this time we were left to live with our grandmother and aunt.  They were very strict and I remember they used to scold us if we made mistakes.  It was especially hard for us when Christmas time came around.  At a time when most Filipino families are together to celebrate, we were apart from our parents.  I cried a lot, wishing I could spend Christmas with my mom and dad.  If I heard news on the radio or saw news about Saudi Arabia, where they were working, I felt scared and prayed they they would always be safe.

I study hard, and I am happy that I am one of the achievers in our school.  Even though we have to walk 5km every day to school, and it hurts my feet and legs I don't complain.  I have tried to become a much stronger, industrious and obedient girl, because I want some day to become an engineer.

Many people here just give up and give in to bad habits like drinking too much, gambling and they love to spread gossip.  I don't want to live like that and I hope never to be lazy like them.  With God's help I will continue to study harder and when I grow older I will help my family to have a better life.

I give thanks to some people who help us, guide us and care for us.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Isla Verde - a visit by Teachers from Las Pinas City - by Nanay Jo

In September I had a phone call from Darwin, who had found our resort on the Internet.  At the end of October he called again to make a booking, then recently he arrived to enjoy time at our lovely island.  With him, he brought some colleagues, Jason, RS and Ronnie.

 They crossed the Verde Island Passage aboard the St Paul and were dropped off at the front of our resort.  On the trip across to Isla Verde, they met our local priest, John Paul, who is a Franciscan.  As their school is run by a Franciscan sister, they had mutual interests and their discussions made the trip pass quickly.  Father John Paul offered to bring them across to Puerto Galera on Sunday.

 Arriving before noon they rested a while, enjoying some fresh buko juice from our back yard while they waited for lunch.  They took lunch in their kubo so they could enjoy the cool sea breeze, then around 2pm after a rest they decided to take a walk to Sawang to take some pictures and then to Mahabang Buhangin for a bit of swimming before heading back to the resort at 4pm.

 There they enjoyed a snack of Suman, one of our local delicacies.  It is made from glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and wrapped in coconut leaves, served with a cup of coffee.  Then it was time for them to be off again on another adventure.

 This time they went to Maliit Nalayag, which is part of the marine Sanctuary and is popular with SCUBA divers.  One of our locals, Alvin took them snorkeling near our Camel Rock and they enjoyed our underwater coral gardens.  Visotors love seeing the brightly coloured fish swimming in and out of the fascinating shapes of the corals and rocks.  About an hour later they came back to the resort and relaxed, telling tales of their adventure.

 They enjoyed taking pictures around the resort, posing with our statues and other landmarks.  RS said there are lots of things to see and he loved the peace and tranquility, and just watching the sea as it was calm.

 Our visitors made use of the Ofuro (Japanese hot tub) and I enjoyed watching them laughing and taking pictures of each other as they made the most of this wonderful new experience.
 The name 'Ofuro' is the polite form of Furo.  It is a part of the Japanese ritual of bathing, and the hot tub is not used for actually taking your bath, as it is generally used by several friends or family one after another.  So before you take a dip in the Ofuro, you first wash yourself by normal bathing.
 But then, the magic begins.  The Ofuro is a hot tub.  Sometimes if we can, we add a gentle scent to the water, usually with citrus leaves. With its deep sides of about half a metre, the person taking a dip is able to completely relax and let the warmth flow through the body.

 We served dinner at 7pm outdoors at the bamboo table and our guests enjoyed their meal as the boats passed by, coming from Batangas to Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. Then it was time to relax over at the cottage swing and chat over drinks of our local Emperador brandy, after which they decided to retire to their kubo and sleep.

 When we woke at 5.30pm, our visitors were already up and at the swing watching the dolphins.  RS thought they were sharks and Neri, one of my local helpers explained a local belief to them, that when you see the dolphin breaking the surface of the sea it will rain.

 As a thank you for being great guests I made a special breakfast for them of fried rice with veggies, cold cuts and egg.  With the exercise and the fresh air they all had a healthy appetite.

 Then it was time to say farewell as Father John Paul's boat arrived to take them across to visit Puerto Galera.  So they had time to take a few more photos, pack their things and then they were away to the noise and excitement of Mindoro.

 Before they left they said they enjoyed the island experience very much and plan to recommend our resort for a school retreat and return again with family.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Jr and Joy at Isla Verde

On October 24th Joy and her boyfriend JR came from Japan for a trip to Baguio, and decided also to visit Isla Verde.  They arrived from Tabangao on the St Paul, and because the weather was nice, the captain dropped them right in front of Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort.

We welcomed them with a simple meal for lunch, then afterwards they took a short rest before heading out on a boat tour around the island.  I went with them and as it was the first time we have had guests in the resort's boat since we installed the shade canopy.  It was good to see how it felt to travel with some pleasant shade.

The sea was so calm that we had a clear view of the marine life as we travelled over patches of sand, then rock and coral, then more sand.  So many varieties of fish, swimming amongst corals that are all so different from each other.  Some corals look like roses moving in a breeze as the water currents drift around them.  Others look like giant coloured brains.  Then there are corals that are like the branches on a forest of trees.  Always when you look there is something different.  And the colours are so beautiful.  And through it all, splashes of living colour as the fish dart in and out around them with the sunlight sparkling off their scales.

Our first stop was at San Antonio where we stayed and had a swim.  JR and Joy enjoyed the blue, clear water.  After an hour we headed off to Punta Verde, but when we got there it was low tide and it would be difficult to dock the boat, so we sailed off to Mahabang Buhangin, where there is plenty of sand.  After spending some more time swimming, it was starting to get a little cool, so Joy suggested we return to the resort.

Joy had asked me to cook stir fried noodles for their evening meal, so Rose and I prepared dinner while Joy and JR took their baths.  At 7pm we served dinner on our prepared, set table and they shared some red wine with their meal on a lovely, romantic evening under the moon and stars.
Next morning, Joy woke up earlier so I gave her some morning coffee to start the day.  As we had prepared breakfast, Rose served it to them, and after they had eaten they went down to the sea wall to relax and take some photos. We saw some of the local fishermen, so I called them and Joy bought 5 kilos of fish.  She asked me to cook the fish for them. So I left them enjoying the sea breeze and the view from the swing at the sea wall, while started preparing lunch.

Of course there are many ways to cook fish, but we decided to cook some paksiw, which is fish cooked and simmered in vinegar.  And of course with a fish like the Dalagang Bukid (the Yellowtail Fusilier), which is known for its tangy and delicious taste, we chose a favourite method and cooked sarciado datagang bukid.  Fried fish with tomato egg sauce.  First, the fish is fried to enhance its own flavour.  Then the sauce of sauteed tomato and beaten egg is made.  There are family recipes for the sauce and some people like to add a little garlic, onions or herbs.

At noon I set out their lunch.  How they loved the fish, fresh and sweet, straight from the sea to the kitchen with no time lying around in a market.  Delicious!

After enjoying lunch they tok a rest in the kubo, and when they woke they asked for coconut, then went swimming and snorkelling from the end of the resort.  A short distance out from our sea wall is a favourite spot for the divers who come over from puerto galera for scuba diving.  But in the shallow water between the resort and the deeper water there is plenty of coral and lots of fish to see.
In the evening after washing off the salt water they decided to have dinner by the sea at what has become their fvourite spot, the long bamboo table.  They had some beer with dinner and just relaxed.  One of the most rewarding things about being part of a resort is seeing guests, whether they are families, friends or couples, enjoying eachother's company in this quiet island paradise.   By about 9pm though, they decided to head off to bed.  Tomorrow is another day.

On their last day after breakfast, they took some pictures of the surroundings then decided to go hiking.  We passed the new caming area that we created at the back part of the resort and they notice a lot of mango trees.  Joy asked me when it will be mango season and I explained that it is in summertime.  In mango season on Isla therre are sso many mangoes just lying on the ground that people ignore them  You don;t need to buy them, just pic nice ones from those lying on the ground.  The local mangoes are delicious and juicy.

We walked from Sampalukan to Silangan, and when we got there we saw a woman selling Balakwas, a small fish that is famous on the island,  and of course we bought some.   Jr carried the bag of fish as we continued on our hiking trip.  We passed the forest of Lucban and ended in Gabihan.  When Joy saw the sea, with such white sand, she asked me if they can go swimming  and since Fe's house (local woman) is in front of the sea, I asked permission and she allowed us to swim there.  They swam for 30 minutes and we made our way back to the resort.  While hiking we kept talking to each other,  and Joy didnt even notice when she was right in front of the bridge of the resort.  We all laughed.

I asked Rose to cook balakawas for lunch and Joy and jr enjoyed it, then they took a rest to relax after hiking.  After resting Joy took a bath while Jr went snorekling with James, one of the people who helps here at the resort.  They went to Malit na layang, which ia an interesting rock formation in the waters a short distance along the beach from the resort.  Some people think this big rock looks like a camel resting on its knees.  We like it because the waters around it abound with corals and brightly coloured fish for snorkellers to explore.

At 3pm they came back to the resort, as one of the local girls does massage and had arranged to give the couple a massage.  And if you have a relaxing massage, why not also have a manicure and pedicure, so Margie came also to attend to Joy and Jr.  Once that was done and the couple relaxed, I gave them tea.  Because Joy end Jr enjoyed the resort and loved the friendly service provided by our local residents Joy gave them a big tip, which resulted in big smiles.

On their final evening with us they enjoyed their beer with grilled fish and balakawas cooked in banana leaf.  They can't forget how delicious it tastes!  Jr sent James for another 2 bottles of Red Horse, then when they finished their beer they went off to bed, because they had to wake early to catch the St Paul for the trip back across the Verde Island Passage to Tabangao.

I woke at 2.30am and saw Joy walking down to the swing to sit by the water for the last time on this trip.  She had already packed and prepared for her departure and I made a last coffee for them.  As we were waiting for the boat she promised to come back again next year, but this time, to bring her family.
We will miss Joy and Jr,  as they were fun guests and are a great couple.

Friday, 6 November 2015

"Give your LOVE this Christmas to Isla Verde kids"

"Give your LOVE this Christmas to Isla Verde kids"

When :       Dec. 11 - 13

Where:      Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort

We are inviting  you to come and be part of feeding kids of isla and share your old toys and clothes.  Come and have fun playing games with our kids of isla.

Pls call Ms. Jo at (02) 7825833, 09164408647, for more information.

We're also on Facebook     

NOVEMBER 17 and 18 - 2015 APEC Public Sector Holiday Getaway Package

: Nov 17 - 18
WHERE : Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort

Jo has announced a Holiday Package for the APEC Special Public Sector Holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday Holiday of 17th and 18th November.
IslaVerde Tropical Friendly Resort -
November 2015 Holiday Package SPECIAL - Book early.

The package price of PHP5,500 for 4 people from Tabangao (Batangas) Includes: ,
1 night kubo accommodation (for 4 pax) with free breakfast, an island boat tour that includes swimming and snorkeling at some of Isla Verde's beaches, fishing, and visits to some of the local landmarks and a guided trek to Mt Dagit Dagit. 
(Boat transfers from Tabangao - Isla - Tabangao are NOT included in the package).
Day 1 Tuesday November 17
9am Be at Tabangao ready to catch the boat to Isla.

11am Approximate time of arrival at Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort. 

2pm  Boat tour to Sawang , Cueva, Mahababang Buhangin Tubahin, includes swimming, fishing and snorkeling, picture taking

6pm  Return to resort.

Sunset Bonfire by the sea.
Day 2 Wednesday November 18
6am Breakfast.

8am  Depart for trek to the Mt Dagit Dagit. 

1pm Back to Resort.

2pm   Depart for return to Tabangao

Breakfast is included in the package. Other meals can be ordered from Tess' Cafe.
For more inquiries pls call Jo at (02) 7825833, +6309164408647