Getting Friendly with the Jellyfishes at The Manila Ocean Park

I am not very fond of the ocean. In fact, I have water anxiety. I don’t have a problem going to beaches, or swimming in shallow waters, but throw me in the middle of the ocean, or a deeper part of the beach, and I’d probably die of a heart attack first before drowning. It’s just how it’s always been. I remember when I was a kid, my family would go to the beach every summer and I would cry all the time because I couldn’t swim with my brothers and sisters for fear of being stung by a jellyfish. Yeah, it was that bad.

Now that I am older, I still have that same fear. But I’ve gotten to appreciate the beauty of the ocean and its creatures. I love going to beaches (even bought an underwater camera) to take pictures of fishes, corals, and whatnot. They’re just breathtaking. And as you know, Philippines has a few of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I’ve gone to a few, but I still have a long list to cross out!

A couple of weeks back, my family and I went to the Manila Ocean Park. I’ve always wanted to go there because I’ve heard so much about it – mostly good things. I had high hopes but was disappointed when I saw how shabby the place has become. I wish I had gone when it was newer. ūüôĀ

This didn’t prevent me from having fun with my family (time with family is always fun!) and from taking pictures of the amazing collection of sea creatures they have there. Here are some:

You can check out the rest of my shots here: Raia Ajihil Photography on FB.

Rock on. RAP

Like a kid again! Visited Enchanted Kingdom with workmates

It’s been a while since I last visited this place. The last time, I think, was 5 or 6 years ago. Nothing much has changed, Space Shuttle, Anchors Away, and the Log Jam were still there. Except for a few addition to the rides, Enchanted Kingdom was still the same as how I remembered it from years ago: fun, crowded, and Christmassy. LOL.

The only difference probably is my increased fear of heights. I don’t remember being so scared, I even didn’t go in the Space Shuttle. X__X

I almost didn’t take the EKSTREME ride. I’m glad I did! It was so¬†exhilarating! And that on the lower right is Ringo, the brown turtle Reena won in the basketball game. So cute!

In hopes of winning more stuffed toys, Tracy and I decided to play more games. We didn’t win anything though, hence the look on our faces:

After that, I did some stalking! Haha..

And ate a few things…

All in all, it was a very fun weekend with friends and colleagues and their families.Here they are:

This is probably not the last time I will be visiting Enchanted Kingdom this year. ‘Til next time! RAP

Great Deal at Club Balai Isabel

Deals have popped up here and there and groupons have gained so much popularity nowadays to the delight of many, including yours truly.

One of the recent buys my friends and I had, was an overnight stay in Club Balai Isabel. If you are not familiar with the place, you can visit their website and get more information. But if you are to ask me, my favorite description is that this was the place where Oyo and Kristine (yes, the showbiz couple) tied the knot. And almost always, whenever I say that, I get a wide-eyed expression from the asker. But of course, there’s more to this place than that, and I got to experience it firsthand a couple of months back.

Again, I am not going to bore you with words, so here are some of the pictures I took:


There was probably just a couple of disappointments: 1. the lake was full of seaweeds, it was impossible to take a dip. 2. it was just an overnight stay — we didn’t have enough time to do much. But overall, this was a nice experience – a breather away from the hustle and bustle of city life. – RAP

My Birthday Trip to Thailand

In February of this year, my friend Leila contacted me and said there was a seat sale in AirAsia going from Bangkok to Krabi. I didn’t know where Krabi was, but when she said it was a boat ride away from Maya Bay, the shoot location for the movie The Beach, I immediately said yes. I mean, who can say no to that? So she booked us tickets and little did I know, it was going to be the best out-of-the-country trip I would ever have for 2011.

We were there for a week, October 31-November 05. Our first day was such a rush! We took 3 flights, was in 3 countries, and was on 4 international airports. Hah! The beauty of connecting flights. Pfft.

Our hotel was situated at Railey Beach. It was a 15-minute walk to the nicer part of the beach. So yeah, it’s safe to say that I did have some exercise while I was there. We had wanted to take a couple of tours (elephant-riding and the Emerald tour) which we cancelled due to bad customer service. We were left with just a tour of the Phi Phi islands, which was alright for me since that was the main reason I was there in the first place!

I’ve been to a few Asian countries and I never felt like a foreigner anywhere else more than I did when I was in Thailand. Communication was a bit hard because very few people speak English which is kind of exciting for me and it didn’t stop me from ordering food! I love Thai food!

The whole experience was a blast! We snorkeled and swam with the fishes. It was a breathtaking experience, literally! Haha… I am scared of the underwater. It’s a fear greater than any fear I have, but I have to say… it was really beautiful down there!

There are just so much more to say, stories to tell, so little time. So I’m gonna let the pictures speak for themselves.

Guimaras Island Trip with Good Friends

Just a couple of posts back, I was marveling about how Potipot Island is my favorite beach in the Philippines. It still is, but Guimaras Island comes a close second.

Before heading to Iloilo, I knew nothing about Guimaras except that it is known for its sweet mangoes and that in 2006 it was affected by what was dubbed as the worst oil spill to ever happen in the Philippines.

I immediately searched the net for pictures of the island and what I saw got me excited. My friends and I were able to book a very cheap flight (P900, round-trip) via AirPhil Express two or three months earlier. It really helps to have friends who are always in the know about the latest seat sales.

My friends planned an itinerary for all of us which included an island-hopping to see the sunset over at Baras Island, a trip to the lighthouse ruins in Guisi, and shopping for mango delicacies at the famous Trappist.

We arrived at Raymen Beach Resort around 3pm and scheduled a boat for island-hopping right away. We wouldn’t wanna miss the sunset!!! We ordered food to go and at about 4pm, we were on our way.

Just so you know, because of not-so-nice weather in that afternoon, we didn’t get to experience the awesome sunset. But that’s not to say we didn’t have a good time during island-hopping because we did! OMG, we so did!

First off, the waves were awesome. I am not one to be so wild and crazy about an unstable boat ride, but for the first time, on this trip, ¬†I wasn’t as nervous. I welcomed the waves as they splashed onto my face, and heck, even my¬†unprotected¬†camera! There was just something so awesome about the whole ride. My friends and I didn’t even speak so much to each other. We were just there, staring towards the islands as the boat crawled slowly to our destination, careful not to go against the waves too much.

Our first stop was the sift research area. I’m sure they have a better name for it, I just didn’t do my homework and write it down for this purpose. Forgive me? This area is where they keep the fishes for research. We saw Mike, the largest lapu-lapu I have ever seen in my entire life! It was about the size of an adult human being. I am ashamed to say that I did crave for sweet and sour lapu-lapu that time. I’m just human.

We saw other sea creatures there as well and I took a picture of some.

After that, we went to the turtle-shaped island. It really looked like a turtle and I kept telling my friends: “hala, mukha ngang pagong!” (It really does look like a turtle!)¬†and they all reply by saying: “neng, kaya nga turtle island eh!’ (That’s why it’s called Turtle Island, duh!)

After that, we went back to the resort and had sweet and sour lapu-lapu for dinner. LOL. And since my friends all came from work and hadn’t slept for 24 hours, we called it a night.

The next day, we scheduled a tour of the lighthouse ruins in Guisi. As we were walking towards the entrance, we saw this view:

We were in awe. Who wouldn’t be? It was breathtaking and we couldn’t wait to go down there and experience it for ourselves. But first, we headed over to the ruins.

I fell in love with the place almost immediately. The textures, the patterns, all a photographer’s dream. I wished I had a model with me during the trip so badly. I had so many shots playing in my head.

It could be a great venue for a prenup/engagement shoot. I had two of my friends, a real couple, pose for this shot.

After taking pictures, we went back to the port where the hidden beach was and took more pictures. We wanted to take a dip, but the beach had huge rocks and so we decided against it. And that concluded our last day in the island.

All in all, this was a very nice trip. I spent less than P5K, and that includes the airfare. If you’re wanting to book a trip, tag your friends along. The more people you can come with, the less money you’re going to spend. Just make sure you bring along people you can enjoy with. Nothing spoils a good adventure than a sucky travel buddy. HAPPY TRIP!!!

Tacsiyapo! De-stressing in Tarlac

Last Christmas, I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with my friend’s family. Having no one to spend the holidays with (not that I celebrate Christmas anyways since I’m a Muslim), I grabbed the opportunity to go on a trip with them to Tarlac.

It was Christmas Day when they all decided to go to church at Manaoag in Pampanga. It was my first time there. They heard mass while I loiter around outside taking pictures.

After the mass, we all headed to the Isdaan Floating Restaurant.

Isdaan Floating RestaurantThe restaurant itself is extravagant in design. Aside from the nifty huts floating on the water, you will see lots of huge animals carved on stones scattered all over the place. It was a nice dining experience. Something I will surely repeat some time soon.

One of the many charms of this place is the Tacsiyapo. It became really popular years ago and I remember clearly saying to myself that I’d love to go there someday. (I was still in the call center industry then and had a lot of stress to deal with. LoL). And after several years, I made my first trip, Christmas of last year.


What is Tacsiyapo? If you have not heard of it, it is a ka-Pampangan equivalent to the Tagalog word bwiset, walanghiya, etc. It is a wall to vent out the stress you get from work, from a good-for-nothing boss, from an ex who left you for another woman, and the list goes on and on. They are effectively written on a big wall and all you have to do is aim that piece of ceramic at it while shouting tacsiyapoooo!!! at the top of your lungs.

The things you throw at the wall is not for free. Depending on what you want to throw, the price can range from P30-P2000. The television set was, I think, P2000 so we settled for a mug each.

Regardless of whether you’d want to go there to relieve stress, or to eat, Isdaan will definitely not disappoint. It’s a great place to dine with your family and friends. HAPPY TRIP!!!

Potipot Island is Better than Boracay, Hands Down.

Many people, locals and foreigners alike, are in awe with the beauty that is Boracay. I have to admit, I was one of those people, until I got there. This is not to say that the island is ugly, because it is exactly the opposite.

What turned me off was the multitude of people that flock there. It was crowded, busy, and just not the way I would want to spend my vacation. It was worth one trip, nothing more. A lot of people are telling me to give it another chance, maybe I will, but not anytime soon. No sir.

So, in my quest to finding a nice beach where I could relax and not have to bother with a lot of people, I found Potipot Island. Well, I didn’t really find it. It found me. Haha.

I’ve been to this island twice, and on both¬†occasions, I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re looking for a less expensive, less crowded, more peaceful vacation, you should go to this place.

You should know that there are no hotel accommodations on the island. The last time I was there, they had built cottages along the beach, but I’ve never had the chance to try them out and stay in the island overnight.

We stayed in a resort in Candelaria, Zambales called, Isla Vista. Their group packages range anywhere from P4000-P9600 for groups of 8-22 people. You can get more information on their website which I’ve linked in the beginning of this paragraph.

Potipot Island is a 5-10-minute banca ride away from Isla Vista. The boat rides are also available through the resort with a choice of a smaller or a bigger banca.

The resort offers facilities for cooking, although you will need to bring everything you need to cook your food as they don’t have cookware and all that stuff. Which is better, in my opinion, for hygienic purposes.

I’d certainly come back to this island. In fact, I recommend it to friends who are looking for places to go on a vacation. And I suggest you do too! HAPPY TRIP!

Discovering Playa La Caleta (Now Oyster Island)

About two months back, my friend and I were looking for a great travel deal that could get us to a beautiful place not far from the metro but wasn’t too costly either. We were kind of in a celebratory mood and wanted to give ourselves a treat; to unwind and relax. After a few days of searching, we found Playa La Caleta.

Playa La Caleta is a remote island in Bagac, Bataan. It was pretty easy going there by public transportation. We took a bus going to Bataan, and from there, we took a jeep going to Bagac. Our tour guide Michael Apostol met us in the terminal, and together we rode the banca to get to the island.

If you’re looking for a place to just get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is the perfect place for you. Cellular signal is close to none in the island, there is no electricity- just the calming sound of the waves and the wonderful scenery. What more could you ask for?

Be prepared to go camping as there are no hotel accommodations available in the island. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag/mat with you. If you don’t have any, one will be provided by the ever-reliable tour guide.

You may be thinking: “what makes this different from any other camping trip?” And I have an answer to that. THE FOOD!!!

Michael’s idea is to have people enjoy the atmosphere of a camping trip without having to worry about preparing your food. It was like having a hotel experience sans the hotel.

There are other activities you can do in the island to while away your time. You can go on a hike or go biking in the mountains, snorkeling or fishing, island hopping, boat cruising, among many others. For photographers, it is also a perfect location for a shoot. In fact, it is also known to be one of the shoot locations for the television series Dyesebel.

Your budget can range anywhere from P1800-P2750 for a 2D1N stay and P3000-4250 for a 3D2N stay. The more people you can tag along, the less money you spend.

If you’re loving the place so far, and you’re thinking of going there with your friends or your family, make sure to do it now as there are news of closing the island to the public soon. HAPPY TRIP!!!


I took a lot of pictures during this trip, but I unfortunately lost all of them (well, except the one on this post) when I moved my blog.

To book a trip, contact:

Tour Organizer/Adventure Consultant/ General Manager
Contact Nos. 0908.6474895 | 0915.4411875 | 0922.7908874