A Baby Shower to Remember x Tips on Planning a DIY Baby Shower

Motherhood

We just had our Baby Shower & I’d like to share a few tips on planning/ organising one.

But before sharing with you tips on planning a DIY Baby Shower, I would like to express the gratitude my husband & I have for making our Baby Shower one that’s to remember.


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We have been praying for our Baby Shower… since the beginning of our journey, we have seen God’s mighty hand move & our shower was no exception. I remember praying for God’s presence to be evident & that His glory would be made known through the celebration. I mean, those who know our story & my personal story would know why this was our prayer & why I am very passionate about marriage, family, parenting & motherhood. Sounds like a cliché or as what I’ve expressed during the shower, “being OA?”. I’m sorry, not sorry. This is simply the truth, God is gracious, loving, faithful & kind. So, I will boast about who He is & how he’s been moving in our lives. This was & is a big deal because EVERYTHING we were, are & will be experiencing, in this case a celebration of life, are all because of His Divine intervention, work & sovereignty.

 

I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have today.

Our Baby Shower, a day full of His love. We felt it deep. All love languages ticked.

 

First, ALL GLORY TO GOD. We thank the Lord for this great blessing. Having a baby was a dream & a prayer request. We specifically prayed to be pregnant after our 1st anniversary & that’s exactly what happened. A dream come true & an answered prayer!

 

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Prayer Warriors in Action

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Next, I want to honour my husband & just express how great He has been during this journey. WE were both pregnant, if you know what I mean. Love, you have been nothing short of amazing!

 

Thank you to my dear sister, Gale, for organizing the baby shower, most of all, supporting us all the way, in any way.

Gale

Grateful for everybody who helped out & made the shower, extra extra special.

Primrose- Styling & Giveaways

Check out Rose Letters Cebu on Facebook for your event styling, invitation graphic layout needs & more

Primrose

 Dee- Documentation & Photo Editing

Check out Cinderella Photography on Facebook for your photography needs

 Hannah– Invitation layout & Documentation

You may message Hannah Mariel Jabines on Facebook for your graphic layout & event documentation needs

Hannah & Dee

Lenie, for assisting

Carmina, for hosting

Jesse, for taking care of registration

And to EVERYBODY who came, made time, gave gifts & helped us with the baby essentials & even those who weren’t able to come but showed some LOVE in any way, sending gifts, messages & prayers during this season. FAMILY & FRIENDS, we will be forever GRATEFUL. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives, you’ll always be part of ours. We are truly humbled by the overwhelming support. WE SPEAK A BLESSING TO YOUR LIVES a gazillion folds, IN HIS NAME, as you’ve blessed us tremendously.

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Citichurch

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ALL BY HIS GRACE

Sharing with you some snippets of the Baby Shower

So, here it is!

Tips on Planning a DIY Baby Shower:

Set a Date & Time

First thing’s first! Set a date & time. Try answering the basic questions when planning a Baby Shower or any event for that matter-  WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW. First thing’s first- WHAT & WHEN. What? A Baby Shower, in this case. When? Baby Showers are usually done on the 7th month of the Mom’s pregnancy. Communicate with the Mom- to- be some time in the 6th month when would be the best time, so that you have ample time to prepare.

Finalize Guest List

Answer WHO. Who are the ones who have been part of your journey? To the Mom, do not feel obligated to invite everybody, just because… You would know who were the ones who’ve made an impact in your journey. And this principle I keep in mind- You do not need a title nor an invitation to care for people. There will be people who will care or have shown care despite not having a title in your life or an invitation to gatherings like these. It’s your choice to invite them or simply appreciate them some other way. The right people will always stay. Communicate with Mom- to- be on the guest list before inviting.

Have a Gift Registry

Having a Gift Registry makes it very convenient for the Parents to- be & the guests. This would ensure parents are able to use the items for their baby in a way they plan to use them. And it would be easy for guests to choose their gift because they’ve been already sorted out. The first time I joined a Baby Shower, I was so clueless of what a baby would need. Thankfully, the celebrant had a registry. Totally saved me! As the planner, you may ask for the registry details from the Mom- to- be.

Choose a Theme

Choosing a theme is OPTIONAL. Nowadays, this has become popular for parties. How you come up with the theme depends on you, mainly the gender of the child. Some plan to do a gender reveal on the shower so most of the time, a baby shower like this becomes an all white party. Here are some probable factors for you to be able to come up with a theme:

*Baby’s Name

*Season the Mom is due

*Place Baby was conceived

And so much more! Be creative. Don’t forget to consult with the Mom- to- be. But like I said, this is just optional. A simple & memorable gathering is more than enough.

Make an Invite

Once you’ve established, date, time, event & theme. You may start inviting. Fortunately, inviting people has become very convenient due to social media. You can choose to give out invitations &/ or simply make an event on facebook. Announce when, time & gift registry. You may also include an “attire” based on your theme. How about WHERE? I would suggest answering that once you get a headcount. It’s best to have planned a month before the date to give time for people to adjust their schedules & make a confirmation. Announce the details as well as a deadline when each could possibly confirm so that you can set the venue. While you’re waiting for everybody’s confirmation, you may do some ocular visits & make calls to inquire. However, if you choose to give out hard copies of the invitation, you might need to finalize venue already.

Baby Shower Invite

Layout by Hannah Mariel Jabines

Book the Venue & order Food ahead

So you’ve got the headcount, now’s the time you book the venue or you may pencil book in advance. Make sure venue is suitable for the shower, consider number of guests coming & food is appropriate for the shower.

Make a Program

Have about 2-3 games & consider time for eating, gift giving & messages. The whole duration of the shower should be about 2-3 hours only. If you have a lot of guests, lessen the games & give more time for messages because even if you say “keep it short”, it won’t be. I personally would rather give the guests time to say or share something than games. They deserve the time considering their support, efforts & love. But customize & personalize all you want, it’s your shower!

Make Registration something for keeps

This is another thing that’s optional. However, this would be something you could give as a remembrance of the milestone to the parents- to-be. So if you are able to stretch yourself in making this happen, it would be great!

Make updates at event page from time to time

Make or announce updates from time to time to make it interesting. Other than important details, you may post trivia’s, post maternity photos or make a countdown. Here were a few sample postings in our shower.

Delegate tasks

Make sure you delegate tasks especially on the day. After all, you get by with a little help from your friends! Here are some areas you might need delegation with- registration, documentation, host/ game master, styling, music, food & beverage & etc. Depending on the details/ ayour

Have Fun

Most of all, have fun in doing all of these things (considering that you’re close with the parents- to- be) knowing that you are blessed to be blessing the couple in their milestone.


 

Here’s hoping you have a memorable & meaningful baby shower! Hope this helps. Enjoy your journey!

Maternity Shoot x Pregnancy Diaries

Motherhood

 

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“Your story is not just your story. It is for others to learn and know. And one day you will share these experiences to others- mothers, single ladies and many more. I just feel that this season of yours is going to make you a better person for His glory. I sense the unfolding of greatness, the unveiling of His love and the showering of joy. The Lord is not done with you yet.”


This was my sister’s message in the middle of my 1st trimester. These words were the beginning of a realization for me & I truly thank God for people like my sister who continuously remind me that the life I live is His.

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This inspired me to share about what I experienced & felt during the first few months of my pregnancy. Which means the experiences & feelings each mother goes through  are different. I say “mother” because pregnancy is already part of “motherhood”, in fact, it is the beginning of it. If you’re somebody who’s expecting or who’s praying to have a baby, I hope this gives you an idea what happens during pregnancy & that you’ll be able to prepare for it.

Oh the joys of breaking the news that you’re pregnant! The day has finally come when your prayers have been answered, the future looks bright as you start pinning adorable baby outfits, maternity fashion, checking out lists of what you’ll need when the baby is out, thinking of booking a photographer for your maternity & baby shoot, planning for a baby shower & the list goes on. All of these are great & they’re a beautiful side to  pregnancy but the hard or challenging reality will get to you as pregnancy progresses. Mothers or every parent will agree that those mentioned are just tiny bits, parts or the sweet little things to motherhood or parenting.

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The first few weeks of my pregnancy were difficult. Although I hear some pregnancies are flawless, mine was one of the usual cases. Usually during the 1st trimester pregnant women experience morning sickness, excessive vomiting, swollen breasts, weird cravings at the same time distaste for some food while appetite increases, amplified urine movement, nausea, heartburn, acne breakouts, mood swings, skin discoloration, are more susceptible to illness & so much more. Some experience these for months & some even during the whole duration of the pregnancy. (If you’re a guy reading this & you’re expecting, take notes! You’re wife isn’t overreacting, these things happen!)

For me this meant, stopping work, ministry & all other activities I had in a snap! I remember my husband telling me one time that his head was aching because he wasn’t able to drink coffee, I tell him, “Just imagine how I feel?”. For a coffee lover who drinks about 3 cups a day & letting go of that in an instant, not to mention everything else my body goes through, the struggle was very real. And that’s just one. Being pregnant means sacrifice. This is just the beginning.


Shout out to EVERY MOM! You are beautiful, strong & truly Wonderwoman! I hear new moms say, “Dear Mom, I get you now”. I have only been given the starter if this was a full set course meal yet I feel you. And I just want to say THANK YOU. You are amazing!

During this time (1st trimester) we found out I had hemorrhage, which had me stay at home for a month & a half. I was usually in bed & these were the times I kept crying & I honestly tell my husband & myself “I’m tired already”. As if giving up was an option. Of course not! I often hear people say, “the baby is worth it” or “it will be worth it”. No doubt but for usual cases or even crucial cases wherein bed rest is a requirement for 9 months & the struggle is very real, I realized this… Like any other thing that we say is worth it, like marriage or whatever matters to you for the world & in this case, the baby… ________________ (whatever it is) is not enough reason to stay strong… Jesus will always be the answer, the reason. I don’t know how I’d reach this point without Jesus.

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Jesus… keeping me strong, giving me a hardworking & patient husband who was & is with me through the whole process, giving me family & friends who would communicate, encourage, visit, cook, bring food, pray with me & show any kind of support. Jesus made all of these things happen. And these things gave me so much comfort & joy during this phase.


If you’re one of those who did those things mentioned above, THANK YOU from the bottom of  my heart. You have no idea how much you’ve brought a great impact during my pregnancy. You know who you are. Your names will forever be carved in my heart.

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During the 2nd trimester, the hemorrhage healed. Answered prayer! This time, I am able to go out, however, because of everything else that comes with pregnancy; I had to stay at home more often. My husband & I had the mindset of, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. Like I said, pregnant women are more susceptible to diseases. We don’t want to risk it. Also during this time, my appetite was waaaaay better, as what most would say, the 2nd trimester is the best time. Naturally, I gained weight & there’s no shame in that. Pregnant women have to gain for their baby’s health. So when people comment about how much you’ve gained, have the confidence that what goes on in your body is no joke & if that meant being chubby or fat even, you wouldn’t have it any other way for your baby’s sake. Giiiiiiirl, YOU’RE BODY IS THE TRUE WONDERLAND. Especially during this time when you’ll be able to feel the kicks, pokes & even turns! How amazing is your body, His creation.

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Pregnancy hormones kick in & I had times when I’d look to the future, would feel very emotional because the realities of motherhood or parenting would sink in. The beauty & the struggle in one scenario made me pray for God to give me a MOTHER’S HEART. An intentional loving mother who will be able to give what’s best for my child in the way GOD wants her (YES IT’S A GIRL) to be raised. Not just me but for my husband & I to be purposeful parents. As one of the mothers I know would put it, #MomOnaMission. Yes we are, yes I am. Being a parent has always been a prayer & a dream. And I do not take lightly the grace that’s been given to my husband & I. #ParentwithaPurpose. We have  this in mind, we are the keepers of the next generation, which are the world changers. A vessel for His glory to be made known in the generations to come.


We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, HIs power & the wonders He has done… so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, & they in turn would tell their children. Psalm 78:4 & 6

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Writing this as we enter the 3rd or last trimester. Physically, baby’s movements are really felt, the struggle of the weight is getting more challenging everyday, stretch marks are in & skin has been very itchy due to the continuous stretch. I also don’t mind, although I plan to let them go when baby is out. I don’t mind if this is the way my body is responding to the stretch to make room for the baby inside. These marks are beautiful marks. Truly there is growth in stretching. Very true in life. As baby grows & tummy stretches, it is not only the physical that’s doing all the action. Body, soul, mind, heart & spirit are being stretched & are grown, by His grace. And I’m really grateful for that.

This is it! Another season of experiencing Jesus. A few more weeks & we’ll be able to hold baby in our arms. Nothing but expectant hearts knowing He holds the future & that His promises are yes & amen.

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Last Christmas, our families went on a beach getaway at Club Serena, Moalboal. We took the chance to have our maternity shoot. And the 2nd setting was when we had our advance anniversary celebration at Kandaya Resort, Daanbantayan, since I am due on the same month as our wedding. By that time, baby would still be a few days or weeks old & we’re not certain we can go out to for a celebration. Nonetheless, reaching 2 years with a baby in our home would be the best gift, the best celebration yet. All glory to God. DIY photos by my dear hubby, sharing them as inspirations for your shoot too! Both locations are in Cebu, Philippines.


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Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire. Proverbs 29:17

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These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deutoronomy 6:6-9

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 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24

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Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Sightsee Sydney

Travel

G’day Mate! Whenever my husband & I travel to a place, we make sure we cover what the place we are going to is about- history, culture, food & etc. Although it is quite impossible to cover everything in just a couple of days, we try. We try to have fun & learn at the same time. Last July, we went to ‘Straya’ (that’s how locals say it), Sydney to attend the Hillsong Conference but we extended to a few days to “Sightsee Sydney”. If you plan to visit Sydney, this might help you with your itinerary.

SYDNEY

Sydney, is not the capital city of Australia neither is Melbourne, Canberra is. Going back to Sydney, it is however the state capital of New South Wales & Australia’s first city. With 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas & 15 connecting regions, it is the most populated city in Australia.

Australia has been known to be a British Colony where convicts were sent to in the early days. In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip led the first fleet of convicts to Sydney. He called the city “Sydney” in the name of the 1st Viscount Sydney, Thomas Townshed. Transfer of convicts then ended in the 19th century & since then, Australia has been transformed from a colonial settlement into a main economic & global center. After World War 2, Sydney became a multicultural city with the mass migration. Developments in Sydney took place making it one of the most livable cities in the world & has been in the top ranking for economic opportunity with advanced market economy- a fortes in finance, manufacturing & tourism. Expect Sydney to be a hub of multinational corporations & banks. Since the hosting of the 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney has been one of the top destinations to visit.

AUSSIE SLANG

Before getting on with your sightseeing, here are a few Aussie (Australian) words & phrases that might help you communicate around.

  • Barbie- Barbeque
  • Brekky- Breakfast
  • Esky- Insulated container you take on a picnic or to the beach
  • Sanger / Sambo- Sandwich
  • Snag- Sausage
  • Spag bol- Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Takeaway- Take out food
  • Tucker- Food
  • Bikkie- Biscuit
  • Lolly- Candy/ Sweets
  • Servo- Service station, gas station
  • Arvo- afternoon
  • Macca’s- McDonald’s
  • Bloody- Very
  • Exy- Expensive
  • Reckon- For sure
  • Stoked- Very pleased
  • Thongs- Flip flops or sandals
  • Woop woop- in the middle of nowhere/ remote location
  • Buckley’s chance- No chance
  • Chockers- Full/ no more room
  • Deadset – Without a doubt/ 100% sure of it
  • Heaps- Lots/ many/ very
  • Spewin’- Upset or disappointed about something
  • Mozzie- Mosquito
  • Mates rates- A discounted price given to a friend
  • She’ll be right- “it will be okay”
  • Youse- Plural of you. “you guys’’/ ‘’you all’’
  • Chemist- Pharmacy or drugstore
  • Come good- Turn out okay
  • Dunny – Toilet
  • G’day – Hello
  • Iffy – Questionable
  • Let’s go to the pictures – “Let’s go see a movie at the cinema”
  • Loo – Toilet
  • Mate – General term used for someone you are familiar with
  • No worries – No problem, that’s ok
  • Ripper – Good
  • Rooted- Tired
  • Shonky- Dubious/ unreliable
  • Smoko- Tea break
  • Sunbake- Sunbathe
  • Ta- Thank you
  • True Blue- Genuine

SIGHTS TO SEE & MORE

Sydney Opera House

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You’ll know one is in Sydney when a photo of the Sydney Opera House is posted. Named a UNESCO World Site, the Sydney Opera House was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon which opened on October 1973 to be a multi venue performing arts centre. Since its opening, it became one of the symbols of architecture in the 20th century. And it’s undeniably an eye catcher when visiting Sydney. Because of this, it receives about 8 million visits annually.

Tip I You may dine inside the Opera House or enjoy its view outside while having your fish & chips. Very touristy!

Address: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Schedule:

  • Monday- Saturday 9am- 8:30pm
  • Sunday 10am- 6pm

Fees: Check the Sydney Opera House website (https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/visit-us/tours-and-experiences.html)

The Harbour Bridge

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Just across the Sydney Opera House at Circular Quay is the Harbour Bridge or locally known as the Coathanger. It is the world’s largest steel arch bridge which stands 134 meters above the harbor. It’s interesting how this bridge was built by 1,400 men in 8 years. Today, it carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district and the North Shore. For tourists who are adrenaline junkies, you may do the ‘Bridge Climb’, where you are able to climb the monument & enjoy the breathtaking 360 view at the top of the pylon.

Address: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW, Australia

Sydney Tower

If the bridge climb at the Harbour Bridge is too much for you, this may be another option to have a breathtaking view of Sydney. However, if being able to see the whole of Sydney in a birdseye view isn’t a priority, you may just check out the tower from a distance. The Sydney Tower or Sydney Tower Eye stands 309 meters or 1,014 feet above the Central Business District (CBD) making it the tallest structure in Sydney.

Address: 100 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Schedule: Open daily 9am-10pm (Schedule may vary, check the website on your scheduled visit)

Fees: Check the Sydney Tower Eye website

(https://www.sydneytowereye.com.au/#)

St. Andrews Cathedral

St. Andrews Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Australia which opened in 1868. It was designed by Edmund Blacket with a Gothic Revival architecture.

Address: Cnr of George and Bathurst Streets, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Schedule: Open daily

Laneways & Art

wp-1513413293742.jpgThe Laneway art project’s goal was to revitalize Sydney’s laneways to create a livelier city while exploring its past. One of the artworks is the Forgotten Songs. It is made up of 120 suspended bird cages in the laneway located above the Angel Place accompanied by the sound recordings of extinct bird species of central Sydney. Its intention was the celebration of birds living in Sydney “before they were gradually forced out of the city by European settlement”, returning the bird sounds to the city.

“The installation explores how Sydney’s fauna has evolved and adapted to co-exist with increased urbanisation – inviting contemplation of the city’s past, its underlying landscape, and the sustainability issues associated with increased urban development.”Michael Thomas Hill

Queen Victoria Building

The Queen Victoria Building (or QVB), is a Romanesque Revival building in the late nineteenth-century designed by the architect George McRae in 1893 which was designed as a marketplace. With 30 meters wide by 190 metres long, it fills a city block by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets. It is known as an iconic heritage building of Sydney and Australia. Dating from 1898, the Queen Victoria Building has continued to operate as a market facility for over 190 years. Until today, people are able to go there to shop & dine. Outside QVB, you’ll find the “Talking Dog”.

Address: 455 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Schedule:

Lower Ground & Ground

  • Sunday 11am- 5pm
  • Monday- Saturday (except Thursday) 9am- 6pm
  • Thursday 10am- 9pm

Level 1 & 2

  • Sunday 11am- 5pm
  • Monday- Saturday (except Thursday) 10am- 6pm
  • Thursday 10am- 9pm

Macquarie Street

The Macquarie Street which is named after Governor Lachlan Macquarie is known to have the major landmarks & government institutions of New South Wales, Sydney. It extends from Hyde Park to the Sydney Opera House. Landmarks & government institutions located in this stretch include Hyde Park Barracks, St. James Cathedral, Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Mint, Government House, II Porcellino, Queen Victoria Statue, Customs House, Mcquaries Wall, Busby’s Bore Fountain, Foundation Stoner, Dorbell Memorial Sculpture, Drinking Fountain, Martin Place, John Dunmore Lang Statue, Bridge Stairs, T2 Building, Secret Restoration, Admiralty House & National Trust of Australia. That’s a lot!

Hyde Park Barracks

If you are into History, the Hyde Park Barracks will interest you. It is listed in the New South Wales State Heritage Register and the Commonwealth Heritage List, as well as being celebrated on the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of 11 pre-eminent Australian Convict Sites as amongst “the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts”. This was designed by architect Francis Greenway between 1818 and 1819 to provide lodging for convicts working for the government till 1848. Then it became an immigration depot for women who were seeking for employment to reunite with family & a female asylum till 1886. Then it became a law court & government office to 1979. Until it became a museum in the 1990s.

Address: Queens Square, Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Schedule:

Museum

  • Open daily 10am- 5pm
  • Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day

Bakehouse

  • Open daily 10am–4pm
  • Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day

Fees:

Adult $12 I Concession $8 I Family $30 I Members Free of charge I Children under 5 years Free of charge

Parliament House

Although its architectural appearance isn’t grand, the Parliament House is said to have an exceptional historical and social value since it has played a vital role of Australia’s history of the colonial government. It is the oldest public building in Sydney. Since 1811, the Parliament House and the Mint Museum are the two surviving wings of the triple wing General Hospital.

Address: 6 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Schedule: Open daily 9am- 5pm

Fees: Check the Parliament House of Australia website for more details (https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Plan_your_Visit)

Glebe

Glebe is one of Sydney’s suburbs famous for its intellectual feel & atmospheric heritage buildings besides some vintage finds at the Glebe Markets which open every Saturday. The place is surrounded by cafes, bookshops, galleries & ethnic eateries. Some of its landmarks are Johnstons Creek, Coroner’s Court, Lyndhurst, St. Scholastica’s College, Bellevue, Sze Yup Temple & the Rozelle Tram Depot.

G A L L E R Y

(Click to see photos as you go through the blog)

Luna Park

If you’re with kids, just around the city you can visit the Luna Park. It is an amusement park with rides, shows & attractions & it has NO entrance fee!

Address: 1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061, Australia

Schedule: Its operating hours vary. You may check the Luna Park website on your scheduled visit (http://m.lunaparksydney.com/opening-hours)

The Rocks

 Very rich in history, The Rocks is one of the top tourist spots in Sydney. It is hard to miss specially that it is located by the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, just beside the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Rocks has gone a long way from having a reputation as a slum where convicts arrived & where sailors visited prostitutes to a tourist historic area. Today it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, hotels, bars, museums & galleries.

Must Try I Here you can find the famous Pancakes on the Rocks which is known for their pancakes, of course! Another reason why it’s famous because it’s open 24/7.

Heads Up I Take note that shops, restaurants & malls generally close early in Sydney so this might be on your list especially if you get hungry after a long day of touring the city.

Address: 4 Hickson Rd, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia

Sydney Fish Market

Seafood you say? One of the things you do as a tourist in Sydney is visiting the Sydney Fish Market & indulging yourself, not just to see food, but to eat a lot of seafood! It is the biggest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere & the 3rd biggest in the world, in terms of variety. 13,500 tons are traded nationally & internationally every year. Make sure you visit for your seafood fix.

Address: Bank St & Pyrmont Bridge Road, Sydney NSW 2009, Australia

Schedule:

  • Open daily 7am- 4pm except Christmas day
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant dinner service is open until 11pm

Taronga Zoo

Just a ferry away from the Circular Quay, visiting the Taronga Zoo with about 4,000 animals is one of the refreshing things to do in Sydney, especially with kids! There are many ways in going to Taronga, but riding a ferry is probably the best way as it allows you to well, ride a ferry along the harbor getting a different view or angle of the Sydney Opera House & Darling Harbour Bridge. You simply ride the ferry at the Circular Quay Wharf 4 then in less than an hour, you get to Taronga!

Address: Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia

Schedule: Open daily including Christmas day from 9:30am- 5pm (Best to check the closing time on your scheduled visit as it may vary)

Fees:

  • Adults- Gate Price $46 / Online Price $41.40
  • Children (4- 15 Years) Gate Price $26/ Online Price $23.40
  • Infant (Under 4 Years) Free
  • For more details check the Taronga Zoo website (https://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo#whats-on)

Must See I QBE Free- flight Bird Show or the Seal Show.

Tip I Get a map & check the animals you want to see first before you start wandering around especially if you want to have animal encounters. Make sure you go early to the scheduled time of the shows to get good seats.

Bondi Beach

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Approximately 45 minutes from Central Sydney, you may enjoy the iconic Bondi Beach. Bondi is an Aboriginal word which means water breaking over rocks which is why its known for surfing. But if you’re not into surfing, you may simply enjoy the view during sunrise & sunset, through a stroll/ coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee or picnic, having coffee, fish & chips or like in our case, have churros by the beach.

Getting There / Getting Back:

  • By Bus I Go to Alfred Street in Circular Quay & ride the bus numbered 380/ 333 (destination of the bus should show NORTH BONDI, DOVER HEIGHTS, WAITRONS BAY or BONDI BEACH). You may ride the same bus in going back to the city (destination of the bus should show CIRCULAR QUAY).
  • By Train I You may ride in stations Central, Town Hall, Martin Place, Kings Cross, Edgecliff to Bondi Junction. Then switch into a 380, 381, 382 or 333 bus for a 15-minute ride to the beach. You may ride the same bus to Bondi Junction then from there, switch to a train going back to Central.

Must Try I We didn’t have much time to explore around Bondi but we tried  San Churro which were recommended by our friends who lives in Sydney. Churros with assorted dips, coffee plus the view. Ah!

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria is one of the places tourists love to visit for some food trip cozy experience. It’s a rustic-like courtyard with a café serving freshly roasted seasonal blend and single origin coffees & artisan pastries, a potting shed serving drinks & a garden where pizza, burgers & other charcoal grill offerings are served. There are also shops, food stalls & a play area for kids.

Must Try I Chargrilled Lamb topped with Garlic & Chili Sauce paired with Rose Lemonade.Coffee & Pastries, for sure!

Heads Up I The place gets crowded. A little patience will go a long way to get your seats.

Tip I Should you have time for shopping, there are a lot of outlet shops in Alexandria. Check your maps for all of them!

Address: 7a/2 Huntley St, Alexandria NSW 2015, Australia

Schedule:

Café

  • Monday- Friday 7am- 4pm (kitchen closes at 3pm)
  • Saturday- Sunday 7:30am- 4pm (kitchen closes at 3:30pm)

Potting Shed

  • Monday- Thursday: 11:30am (kitchen closes at 9pm)
  • Friday 11:30am (kitchen closes at 10pm)
  • Saturday 11am (kitchen closes at 10pm)
  • Sunday 11am (kitchen closes at 9:00pm)

The Garden Bar

  • Monday- Friday 8am- 2pm
  • Saturday- Sunday 8am- 3:30pm

Wood Fried Pizzas

  • Monday- Wednesday Closed
  • Thursday- Friday 11.30am- 2pm
  • Saturday- Sunday 8am- 3pm

The BBQ

  • Monday, Thursday, Friday 9am- 3pm
  • Tuesday- Wednesday 11:30am – 3pm
  • Saturday- Sunday 8am – 3:30pm

Blue Mountains

If you’re into some nature tripping, Blue Mountains is a place for you. Although we weren’t able to visit this place during our trip due to time constraints, this should be part of the places to see when in Sydney. It is called Blue Mountains because they look ‘blue’ from Sydney. This is the result of the eucalyptus oil’s mist (products of eucalypts or gum trees that make up the Blue Mountains) refracting light, making the haze look color blue from a distance.  It is famous for the three sisters sandstone rock formation. The place is filled with forests, waterfalls, gardens & a magnificent view that will surely take your breath away! If you don’t have a vehicle going there, you may book a tour or ride a bus going to Katoomba, from there you may ride a bus to get to the Blue Mountains. This will take approximately 3 & a half hours so expect the whole journey to at least 1 whole day should you go back to the city.

Hunter Valley

This is one of the places we missed, that should be on the list, during our last visit to Sydney. This is a place for the wine lovers! It is Australia’s oldest wine region. Here you may explore vineyards with fresh & exceptional wine paired with gourmet food. You may also enjoy its scenery through riding a hot-air balloon or skydiving. Ah! Both on our bucket list! If you don’t have a vehicle going there, you may book a tour or ride a bus or train to Maitland, the main transit point of the Hunter Valley. Which will take approximately 3 & a half hours so expect a whole day trip should you go back to the city. Another option is by plane from Sydney to Cessnock or to Newcastle which is the nearest main town to the Hunter Valley. It is best to have a vehicle or to book a tour for a hassle free experience.

Hillsong Conference

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Well, this should definitely be part of the list since this is the reason why we came to Sydney. It has always been a dream to visit Sydney because of this. Hillsong Conference is not a place, by the way! It is usually held at the Qudos Bank Arena. It is an annual 4- day conference hosted by the Hillsong Church, held every July & is attended by about 20,000 delegates across the world as well as renowned speakers like Rick Warren, Christian bands & worship leaders- Hillsong United, Taya Smith, Brooke Fraser, Lauren Daigle, Kari Jobe & so much more! For more details, check the Hillsong website (https://hillsong.com/conference/sydney/)

A dream come true. God knows how grateful we are & how much our hearts are full.

ATTEND HILLSONG CHURCH SERVICES

wp-1513480200634.jpgIf you want to attend Hillsong Church Services, you may check the schedules in the different campuses at their website (https://hillsong.com/sydney/). Best to have reserved seats as services across the campuses get full especially during the conference season. Visit their website & click “Plan a visit”, go to “Concierge”, fill out the details then you’re good to go! All the details are at their website. Despite the reservation, be early still. Main service is at the Hills campus. They provide a free transportation from the Parramatta Station & Blacktown to the Hills & back, right after the service. Just check details under “Courtesy Bus”.

TIPS & MORE

  • Get an Opal Card for free with a minimum load of $10 & download the Opal App to get around Sydney. This can be used for trains, ferries, buses & light rails.
  • Download the tripview app for transport timetables.
  • Schedule far destinations, which cost more in transportation on Sundays, as maximum spend for that day is only $2.50.
  • Sydney provides a FREE BUS that operates every day around Central Sydney called/ numbered 555. It runs every 10 minutes from the Central station to Circular Quay & back through Elizabeth & George street. Check photo for the direction of the whole loop. Schedule: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30am- 3:30pm, Thursday 9:30am- 9pm, Saturday- Sunday 9:30am- 6pm.
  • 555map
  • The whole loop takes about 30- 40 minutes to cover. Photo from http://www.broketourist.net/shuttle-bus-555/
  • Get a sim card for communication, data usage & getting around Sydney. You may purchase it upon arrival at the airport. Make sure your phone has an open line.
  • Take note that most of the shops, malls, stores & restaurants close early or by 5pm in Sydney.
  • Join a free walking tour to explore the city. (Check http://www.imfree.com.au/sydney for details)
  • Check online deals ahead of time to score discounted tickets.
  • For shopping, visit Pitt Street, QVB, Strand Arcade, DFO Homebush (Chemist for perfumes & Priceline for makeups), Birkenhead, Surplus Shops- K- Mart & Target & for Souvenirs- Paddington Markets.
  • Check link for Sydney Trains Operating Hours (http://www.sydneytrains.info/stations/pdf/Hours-of-Business.pdf)
  • If you are in hurry to get to a place, Uber is very convenient in Sydney.
  • Don’t forget your TimTams! Another sweet treat to try is Coles Ultimate Chocolate Chip & Cinnamon Donuts.
  • VERY AUSIE FOODVegemite – A famous Australia spread to go on toast, perfect with butterLamington- Typical Australian sponge cake covered in chocolate and coconutMeat Pie- A popular Australian snackPavlova (pav)- Popular Australian desert, meringue and cream topped with fruitSausage roll – Favourite Australian snack consisting of seasoned minced meat encased in pastry, perfect with tomato sauce on top
  • Go- to food: Nando’s, Thai Food.
  • YOU CAN COUNT ON COFFEE. (Aussies are big on coffee so expect coffee goodness all the way)COFFEE TERMS (AUSTRALIAN/ US)Short Black- ExpressoLong Black- AmericanoFlat White- Latte No FoamLatte- Latte
  • Mocha- Mocha
  • Cappuccino- Cappuccino
  • If you’re attending the conference, you should try the NACHOS sold at one of the stalls there. Yum!
  • Check the CBD STORAGE WORLD SQUARE for luggage storage. See website for details (http://www.cbdstorage.com.au)
  • List of Museums (without fees) you might want to visit:

White Rabbit Gallery (Open Wed- Sun from 10am-5pm)

The Rocks Discovery Museum (Open daily from 10am-5pm)

Royal Botanic Gardens (Open daily from 7am- sunset)

Sydney Observatory (Open from 10am- 5pm)

Manly Art Gallery (Open Tues- Sun from 10am- 5pm)

Reserve Bank of Australia (Open Mon- Fri from 10am- 4pm)

Museum of Contemporary Art (Open daily from 10-5pm, 9pm on Wed)

Art Gallery of NSW (Open daily from 10am- 5pm, 10pm on Wed)

Government House (Open Friday- Sunday from 10:30am- 3pm)

Anzac Memorial (Open daily from 9am- 5pm)

Asian Art Gallery (Open Tuesday- Fri from 11am-5pm & Sat- Sun from 11am-4pm)

  • List of Museums (with fees) you might want to visit:

Australian Museum (Open daily from 9:30am- 5pm/ $15 Adults, Child FREE)

Powerhouse Museum (Open daily from 10am- 5pm/ $15 Adults, Child FREE)

Museum of Sydney (Open daily from 10am- 5pm/ $12 Adults, Child $8)

Susannah Place Museum (Open Sat- Sun from 10am- 5pm/ Adults $12, Child $8)

Justice Police Museum (Open Sat- Sun from 10am- 5pm/ Adults $12, Child $8)

Sea- Life Aquarium/ Wild- life Sydney (Open daily however schedule may vary, check website for details (https://www.sydneyaquarium.com.au/plan/opening-hours/) Adults $40, Child $28)

This definitely won’t be our first & last. We’ll be back to attend another conference & see more of Straya. See you later, Mate!

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Seize Siargao

Travel

Just when we were about to land, the plane turns then my husband goes…

“look out, you’ll never see that in other countries”.

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And on the same day he says “let’s book tickets every time there are promo fares”.

EVERY TIME?

It is impossible not to love Siargao.

Some say this island has a magnet. I agree.

So what’s in this beautiful island? As much as I want people to discover for themselves, I just can’t zip it. This is how stoked this place is.

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Maps from Google

SIARGAO

Situated in the province of Surigao del Norte is the enchanting Siargao, a tear- drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea with approximately 437 square kilometers land area. Siargao is known for its waves & is dubbed as the Philippine’s surfing capital. It is composed of municipalities of Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, San Benito, Pilar, San Isidro, Santa Monica and Socorro.

WHAT TO DO & WHERE TO GO?

THINGS TO EXPERIENCE IN SIARGAO

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Although Siargao is famous for surfing, for me, you get hooked to Siargao not just because of surfing but because of the whole island life experience.

SURFING

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With a lot of surfing spots, it is known to be the surfing capital of the Philippines. One of or the most famous surfing spots is CLOUD 9 which has a reputation of reaching up to 9ft & thick  with hollow tubes making barrels in surfing.

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Boardwalk

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That’s Reel, the husband, gracefully gliding his way through the waves while I stare in awe from afar. Do you see me?

Cloud 9 is where the provincial government of Surigao del Norte holds the Annual Siargao Cup during September where the waves get really big. Surfing conditions are divine from August to November.

Surf Spots Cloud 9, Caridad, Cemetery, Guyam Island, Jacking Horse, La Janoza, Mamon, Antokon, Anajauan Island, Pacifico, Pansukian Reef, Pilar, Rock Island, Stimpy’s, Tuason’s Point & many more.

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You’ve got to get rid of the voice that’s screaming, you can’t & listen to that still small voice that’s saying LET GO. Let Go & Let God. 

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Eyes here! Check out the Surfing & Diving Spots.

ISLAND HOPPING

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Naked Island

Offshore, there are 3 islands to go to- the Naked Island, Daku Island & Guyam Island. The naked island is as it is- naked with lush sand bar while Daku & Guyam Islands are covered with dozens of coconut palm trees. Three Islands have equally pristine sandy beaches surrounding them.

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Serene waters captivating my soul

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Daku Island

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You can get fresh buko juice at Daku Guyam Island for P30

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You don’t want to mess around a guy who’s having a vaction

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Guyam Island featuring Lea Carla

DIVING

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Photo from Carla Pesquira

Although Siargao is famous for surfing, diving does not take a back seat & does not fall far from the known surfing spots in the Philippines. Dive sites near Daku & Naked Island are Casulian, Pilar Twin Rocks, Shark Point, Blue Cathedral, Puyo and Seeco Reef. You can also do free diving.

FOOD TRIP

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Indulged on Bren’s Chicken TV. For orders, you may contact him at 09324120431

You will never go hungry in this island, you will always have something awesome to eat. My husband & I couldn’t try all of them but here were some of the places we went to dine. If you’re on a budget, you can shop at the market & at the grocery store for ingredients & cook them at the place where you’re renting. Gladly we have a chef- friend who blessed us with his passion.

If you’re on a budget, buy food at the Market & cook ’em! Fresh catch & very affordable.

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F&B at Kermit’s is SUPERB! And the ambiance is just perfect. My favorite from this trip.

Got their Fish Kebab, Gnocchi Pasta, Focaccia Pizza, Mojitos & Pina Colada EVERYTHING WAS GOOOOOOOOOD

Chill Place & Yoga Area at the back of Kermit

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If you’re looking for something healthy & hearty, SHAKA is the place to be

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Shaka’s BAKUNAWA BOWL, a mixture of quinoa, natural yogurt,island fruits, granola & honey

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Morning Fix- COCONANA, a mixture of banana, honey, chia seeds & coconut milk

MAGPUPUNGKO ROCK POOL

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Who needs a manmade pool when you have this natural wonder in this place? About 39 minutes from General Luna, you’ll be able to experience the Magpupungko Rock Pool. Make sure you visit during low tide or else this beauty will be hidden by the bounty of water from the sea.

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SUGBA LAGOON

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Sugba Lagoon is about 58 minutes from General Luna. There you can swim, paddle board, take photos & videos or simply chill. We weren’t able to go there at this time. Now that’s a reason to come back!

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Photos by Bren Fuentes

SOHOTON CAVE

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Approximately 2-hour drive from General Luna to Socorro is another beauty- Sohoton Cave where you can swim with the stingless jellyfish!

Photos by Bren Fuentes

ROAD TRIP

With the scenic views & a-ok roads, you with family & friends would surely enjoy going around the island on a leisurely bike or motor ride or exercise through cycling or running. You can bring your own bike/ motorbike or rent them. Daily rental for bikes are P150 per person & P500 for motorbikes.

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Photo by Carla Pesquira

SPA/ MASSAGE

Massage areas are just around the vicinity & you can also let the masseuse go at your place where you’re more comfortable. We got ours for P400 each.

Other things you can do are Yoga/ Sup Yoga, Kayak/ Paddle board

siargao-50Yoga Centers are available here & there. You may ask the resort personnel where you can do your Yoga, I saw one at Kermit & at the Boardwalk in Cloud 9. As well as renting a kayak to go island hopping or paddle boarding around the beach just before reaching the area where the waves break for surfing.

EVENTS

Team Matanjak Represent at the Acoustic Night in Buddha

There are daily activities in the island, there’s an Acoustic Night at Buddha every Tuesday. Here are some of the events happening in the Island. For other information on the happenings in Siargao, you may check Siargao Classifieds & Siargao Events on facebook or check hashtags on Siargao online.

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY

Love to take photos & videos? Whether your goal is to take fashion, sports or travel & having models as your subject or landscapes, Siargao is the place to be. You will see a lot of photographers & videographers around the plus photos online. Talk about FEED GOALS. Here are some of the photos that made me swoon.

Surfer Beauties- Aping & Ikit Agudo

Aping & Ikit in Action- Known for Dancing in Long Boards

Sister Goals

Sunrise & Sunset Shots of Bren Fuentes

Beach Bae- Lea Duhaylungsod

Awesome Shots by Gaps Sabuero

For more interesting shots, follow them on instagram.

WAKE BOARDING

Another attraction that’s soon to rise! Check Siargao Wake Park for updates.

INTERACTION

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My Surf Instructors, Bren & Papa P

This I believe makes a big difference to your Siargao experience. Well, you could say you can do all of these things to the other parts of the Philippines or in the world for that matter but all of the above plus the interaction that you get is the cherry on top.

The moment we got to Siargao till the end, we felt the warmth of every soul, local or tourist, we’ve encountered.

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Good food & good company! 

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Dinner & Hang Out at Matanjak

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Team Matanjak

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Saying our “see you’s”, not our goodbyes

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Here are your options:

Air
DIRECT TO SIARGAO
Fly directly to Siargao via Cebu. All direct flights are currently via Cebu through Cebu Pacific Airlines (www.cebupacificair.com) with approximately 50 mins. back & forth.

SURIGAO CITY TO SIARGAO
Fly to Surigao City then ride a ferry to Siargao.

BUTUAN TO SURIGAO TO SIARGAO
Fly to Butuan then ride a bus to Surigao City then ride a ferry to Siargao.

Sea
FERRY FROM SURIGAO TO SIARGAO
Ride a ferry from Surigao City to Siargao.

There are many ferries or the Roll-on-Roll-off (RoRo) that travel from Surigao City to Siargao that connect to the Dapa Port in Siargao which cost approximately p210- p350 per person. Ferries accommodate cars & trucks. Travel usually takes 2 to 3 hours depending which vessel you’ll ride.

  • Montenegro
    Surigao to Siargao- leaves 12PM
    Siargao to Surigao- leaves at 6AM
  • MV Fortune Angel
    Surigao to Siargao- leaves 11:30AM
    Siargao to Surigao- leaves 5:30AM
  • MV Britphil
    Surigao to Siargao- leaves 6AM
    Siargao to Surigao- leaves 11AM
  • MV LQP
    Surigao to Siargao- leaves 6AM
    Siargao to Surigao- leaves10:30AM

FERRY FROM CEBU/MANILA TO SIARGAO
Ride a ferry from Cebu or Manila to Siargao (via Surigao City)
From Cebu, you may ride Cokaliong Shipping Lines (www.cokaliongshipping.com) or Cebu Ferries Corporation (www.cebuferries.com) which is an overnight trip. When you arrive at Surigao City take the next ferry to Siargao.

Cokaliong Shipping Lines Schedule:
Mon- Sat
7PM- 6AM

From Manila, you may ride Manila Superferries (www.superferry.com.ph) which takes approximately 30 hours to get to Surigao. Then, when you arrive at Surigao City take the next ferry to Siargao.

Land
Ride a bus from Davao & Cagayan de Oro via Butuan and Surigao City

24 hour Bus services are readily available in the places mentioned. Once you get to the bus terminal, check the daily schedule.

Airport/ Pier Pick- up Transfer Service

If you booked in a resort, most likely you’ll have transfer services already, you may check with them. If not, they will recommend transfer services or you may contact the numbers below. Fee is P300 per person but if you’re on a private trip/ transfer it’s usually 1,500.

  • Dodong Digman- 09215111009
  • Elmer Mantilla Nogera “Capitan”- 09287572585

WHERE TO STAY?

siargao86Nowadays, this question is very easy to answer. You can just google them then boom, you’ll see the list of resorts in Siargao. If you want a luxurious experience you can stay at Dedon but if you’re on a budget, no worries! Siargao is relatively affordable. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stay in General Luna because there are a lot surfing spots nearby but if you wanna get on the big waves, you may stay at Cloud 9.

We stayed in MATANJAK. We were blessed by our friend, Bren. This was his wedding gift to us. Horray! Blessed even more to encounter warm people there.

For inquiries you may check them on facebook- Matanjak Guest House.

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