Lunes, Abril 30, 2012

Easter Island, Chile

.Easter Island is the world's most isolated inhabited island. It is also one of the most mysterious. Eastern Island is roughly midway between Chile and Tahiti. The triangular shaped island (Easter Island) is made mostly of volcanic rock. Small coral formations exist along the shoreline, but the lack of a coral reef has allowed the sea to cut cliffs around much of the island. The coastline has many lava tubes and volcanic caves. The only sandy beaches are on the northeast coast. Easter Island we think of of huge stone carved figures - Easter Island Stones (or Eastern Island Stones).
The inhabitants of this charming and mysterious place called their land: Te Pito o TeHenua, 'the navel of the world.'

It sits in the South Pacific Ocean 2,300 miles west of South America, 2,500 miles southeast of Tahiti, 4,300 miles south of Hawaii, 3,700 miles north of Antarctica. The closest other inhabited island is 1,260 miles away - tiny Pitcairn Island where the mutineers of the H.M.S. Bounty settled in 1790.
Archaeological evidence indicates discovery of the eastern island by Polynesians at about 400 AD.

In 1722, a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited the island. This happened to be on a Sunday, Easter Sunday to be precise, and the name stuck: Easter Island (Isla de Pascua in Spanish).

What he discovered on Easter Island were three distinct groups of people, Dark skinned, Red skinned, and very Pale skinned People with red hair".

The Polynesian name of the island is Rapanui, which is a name given by a Tahitian visitor in the 19th century who says that the island looked like the Tahitian island of 'Rapa,' but bigger, 'Nui.'

Inhabitants are of Polynesian descent, but for decades anthropologists have argued the true origins of these people, some claiming that ancient South-American mariners settled the island first.

What many early explorers who visited the easter island found, was a scattered population with almost no culture they could remember and without any links to the outside world.

The Easter islanders were easy prey for 19th century slave traders which depreciated even more their precarious culture, knowledge of the past, and skills of the ancestors.


When we think of Eastern Island we think of of huge stone carved figures -monoliths- that dot the coastline.

They are called Moai and are carved from island rock.

The Moai are seen all over the island, and in different shapes, sizes, and stages of completion. Many Moaiare left unfinished at the quarry site. No one is sure yet as to what purposes did the Moai served, but outside scholarly research together with accumulated local knowledge, shows evidence that the Moai were carved by the ancestors of the present inhabitants.

Ron Fisher in his work Easter Island Brooding Sentinels of Stone, mentions as one explanation for the statues that "two classes of people, the-so-called Long Ears and Short Ears, lived on the island. The Short Ears were enslaved by the Long Ears, who forced the Short Ears to carve the Moai. After many generations and during a rebellion, the Short Ears surprised the Long Ears killing them all, which explains the abrupt end of the statue-carving.

Long Ears

Some of the Moai face the sea -

most face inland to watch over the villlages.

Many of the were buried up to their shoulders and thereby appearing as disembodied heads.

All of the Moai were toppled in tribal wars about 250 years ago.

Many have recently been rebuilt - starting in the 1950's.

They sit on rocky lava strewn about telling a story of fallen monuments of a long lost civilization who created them. The Moai were depictions of their ancestors. The Rapa Nui were ancestor worshipers and only had one diety - Make Make.

The Moai were excavated for the first time by Thor Heyerdahl in the 1950's and were photographed at that time.


Moai sit on platforms - ceremonial shrines called Ahu.

Ahu Akivi is an especially sacred place.

Ahu Akivi is a sanctuary and celestial observatory built about 1500 AD which was the subject of the first serious restoration accomplished on Easter Island by archaeologists William Mulloy and Gonzalo Figueroa, with excellent results. As in the case of many religious structures on Easter Island, it has been situated with astronomical precision: it's seven statues look towards the point where the sun sets during the equinox.

It is also aligned to the moon.

Ahu Akivi is an unusual site in several respects. A low ahu supports 7 statues all very similar in height and style. The site is odd in that it is located far inland and the statues were erected to face the ocean. The only site where this was done. Like other Easter Island sites the statues were found knocked off the ahu, lying face down in the ground. In 1960, Archeologist William Mulloy's team spent several months raising the statues to their original positions.

During the excavation and restoration of this site many cremation pits were uncovered behind the ahu. The pits contained fragments of bone, shells, fishing implements, and obsidian flakes. Whether sites like these were used regularly for cremations and or burials is not certain. At other sites skeletons have been found buried within the ahu structure, but these burials are believed to have occurred after the statues were toppled.

Folklore holds that its seven moai represent the seven young explorers that legend says the Polynesian King Hotu Matu'a dispatched from across the seas, probably from the Marquesas Islands, to find this new homeland for him and his people. They are among the few moai that face the sea.

These seven stone giants may well symbolize those seven explorers, but no one knows for sure. Just as no one knows what any of the moai really represent or why only a few of them face the sea.

Linggo, Abril 29, 2012

Jeju Island South Korea

Korea's Scenic and Mystical
"Island of the Spirits"
For San-shin related photos & stories,
view these sections:
Halla-san, the Great Mountain
Gwaneum-sa, Jeju's oldest and largest Temple
Seondeok-sa, newest and most radical Temple
Sancheon-dan, the Mountain-Heaven Altar
Cheonwang-sa, the Heavenly-King Temple
Namguk Seonwon, new temple with Silver San-shin
Gu-am-gulsa, the Nine-Rocks Cave Temple
Deokheung-sa, the Virtue-Arising Temple
Beobjeong-sa, the Dharma-Essence Temple
Namguk-sa, the original "South (of the) Nation" Temple
San-shin Icons in other temples on Halla-san

The South Coast
Yakcheon-sa, Medicine-Stream Temple, Queen of the South Coast

Mt. Sanbang-san and the Southwest

The North and East Coasts
Jeju-do (also spelled Chejudo) is Korea's largest Island, located well south of the western side of
the peninsula.  Above is a panorama of Jeju's natural beauty:  under a typically cloudy sky, the
1950-meter peak of Halla-san dominates its alpine slopes, above jungle-thick coastal forests
transversed by high gushing waterfalls.  The whole island is one gigantic volcano, dormant since 1007 CE, with one
main cone / crater and over 350 smaller ones (called eo-reom in the local language; some are quite dramatic).  Where the
volcanic rock is exposed, the landscape can be surreal.  Some 20 beaches of varying quality encircle Jeju-do.  The main
island is 1,810 square kilometers, half of which is still naturally forested.  Green tea and semi-tropical fruits are widely grown.

Before its conquest by Korea's Koryeo Dynasty in 1105 CE, Jeju was self-governed in a fairly decentralized way under some
tribal confederations with names like Juho, Supra, Tammora and especially 'Tamna-guk' [guk = country] -- a name once
banned in the interest of national unity, but now revived and widely used with pride, we noticed.  Conquest by the Mongols (on
their way to attempt invasion of Japan) soon followed, and they introduced the short strong horses that still run wild over the
extensive pastures.  Tame horses are now ridden by tourists (see below); Jeju is the only place in Korea where this is offered.

Jeju has long been known for its "three factors in abundance": wind, women and rocks, and its "three factors lacking":
beggars, thieves and locked gates.  In the spring of 1948, there was a tragic communist-inspired rebellion against the
illegitimacy of the American-backed right-wing government in Seoul.  It was put down with such brutality that a large minority of
all the men on the island was murdered; between ten and twenty thousand islanders met unnatural and unjust deaths.
Starting in the 1970's, Jeju recovered as Korea's "honeymoon paradise", a conscious imitation of Hawaii.  Many beautiful
resort-hotels and golf courses (and lower-cost motels and campgrounds) have been built, and It now hosts millions of
domestic and foreign tourists and conventioneers every year.  It will host the Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA)
convention in the spring of 2004.

For thousands of years, Jeju evolved its own native religious customs, similar to other northeast-Asian Shamanist traditions.
Shamans and the ceremonies they held for the spirits they intuited were central to everyday life and belief.  The mysterious,
unique, Pacific-island-style Dol-harubang [stone grandfather] statues found all over the island (one is below, with me) are the
most distinctive relic of this original culture; they have become the primary symbol of Jeju traditions (small copies are popular
souvenir items).  The other most important spirits here were and are the Halla-san-shin [Spirit of Halla Mountain] and the
Yong-wang [Dragon-King of all waters], representing the two most prominent natural features affecting the people every day.

Mountains, especially the volcanic Halla-san, were respected with regular rituals at unadorned volcanic-rock altars.  No
depictions of their spirits seem to have been made.  The mainland-Korea custom of painting colorful and complex portraits of
the San-shin was imported by Korean officials and monks during the 1800's, but didn't really flourish until just recently.  The
styles of San-shin paintings now found on Jeju-do are indistinguishable from mainland types (many appear to be by the same
artists), with two notable exceptions on Halla-san.

Siquijor Island

Siquijor Island
Located in the Visayan region of the Philippine Islands, Siquijor has a population of approximately 74,000 and a 92% literacy rate, one of the highest in the Philippines. The main languages are Cebuano, Tagalog and English. 

Siquijor has a tropical climate with warm weather throughout the year.
January to May - Dry
June to December - Occassionally wet

Siquijor has a mean temperature of 27.8 Celsius (80.6 F) and humidity of 78%. 

History and culture

Lightning laced the sky in white fire.
The earth wailed in the painful, joyous sound of new life.
The ground shuddered, the seas raged.
The churning waters parted and from the ocean's womb was birth an island of rock and fire.

Thus did, according to legend, the island of Siquijor emerge from the sea. 

The Spaniards called it Isla del Fuego, the "Island of Fire", referring to the eerie glow the island gave off as galleons passed in the night. The eerie glow came from the great swarms of fireflies harbored in the numerous molave treesor "tugas" as one of its earliest name "Katugasan" suggested.

Siquijor island was discovered by Esteban Rodriguez of the Legaspi Expedition in 1565. The first parish, also named Siquijor, was established in 1783 under the administration of secular clergymen. The first Augustinian Recollect priest, Father Vicente Garcia, arrived in Siquijor in 1794. In the years that followed, the parishes of Larena (initially called Cano-an), Lazi (formerly called Tigbawan), San Juan (Makalipay), and Maria (Cangmeniac) were founded by priests of the same order. With the exception of the Enrique Villanueve, all of the five municipalities were established as parishes by 1877. From 1854 to 1892, the island was under the political leadership of Bohol. In 1892, it became a part of Negros Oriental, and in 1901, a sub-province of the province. 

There followed a period of American influence and during World War II, up to the liberation in 1944, was occupied by Japanese Imperial Forces. 

On September 17, 1971, Siquijor became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 6396. The capital which was formerly Larena, was transferred to Siquijor, Siquijor in 1972 with Proclamation No. 1075. 

The serenity of the whole province makes it a perfect get-away. It is a haven for hikers, bikers and nature lovers. The highest peak at the center of the island, Mount Bandilaan is crowned with a rain forest boasting of unexplored caves and a butterfly sanctuary where one of the biggest butterflies in Asia is found. 

The town of San Juan is home of the renowned Capilay Spring Park, a natural fresh water spring complemented with a swimming pool and park amenities. A never-ending stretch of white sandy beaches cover all 102 kilometers of shoreline surrounding the island. It is and ideal place for swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports. Its splendid array of coral formation, reef, and other marine life is a must see for scuba divers. The western part of the island gives premier seats to view the most beautiful sunsets in the region. Waterfalls in Lazi and Larena also give cooling respite from the island's tropical heat. 

Some of the historical land marks are the old Cang-isok house, the bell tower of St. Francis of Asisi built in 1870 and the St. Isidore Labradore church and convent constructed in 1891, reputed to be one of the oldest and biggest in Asia.

Martes, Abril 24, 2012

Guimaras Island, Philippines

Guimaras Island is a favored destination by both foreign and domestic tourists because of its picturesque beaches, waterfalls, springs, off shore islets, and its famous mangoes, which is considered one of the sweetest in the world. Guimaras is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest and youngest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros.
Iloilo is the primary gateway to Guimaras. The island province is 15 minutes by motorboat or ferry from Parola and Ortiz Wharf in Downtown Iloilo City. A roll on – roll off (RORO) facility is available four times from Monday to Saturday and two times on Sunday from Iloilo to Hoskyn, Jordan.
Most people associate Guimaras with its mangoes, which is the island’s most important product and the Philippines’ best export quality mangoes. They are grown in mango plantations spanning more than 8,000 hectares thoughout the island, which create an awesome verdant landscape and the characteristic ambiance of rural life in this “Mango Country”.
Guimaras mangoes are considered as one of the sweetest in the world and the only mango variety in the Country certified as pest-free by the U.S.Department of Agriculture. The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jams and other delicacies. The best time to enjoy Guimaras’ mangoes is during the Manggahan Festival held every May 22 to commemorate the province’s charter day.
Guimaras is also well known for its white sand beaches, pristine seas, and secluded off shore islets. Among its most popular destinations include Alubihod Bay with its calm waters, and Guisi Beach, where visitors could enjoy the province’s natural beauty.
White sand beaches, multi-colored corals, fish, and other marine life are also found in Igang and Tando Bays and Taklong islets. For those who opt to relax in a secluded and luxurious destination, there’s Costa Aguada Island Resort in Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island Resort, and Isla Naburot.
Due to Guimaras rugged terrain and interesting natural blessings, the island also offers its visitors the opportunity to share the excitement of adventure. Guimaras is a great place where visitors can do mountain biking, rappeling, paintball and war games, and island hopping.
There are many theories on how Guimaras got its name. Available historical documents can attest that pre-Spanish Ilonggos had knew Guimaras as “Himal-us” though some Spanish historians had written that Guimaras may have been named after after a peninsula in Portugal called Guimaraes, or from names of places in Spain such as Guimaron in the provinces of Leon and Galerea, Gimenia in Catalonia, Gomera in the Canary Islands, and Guimaraon in another province. On the other hand, Ilonggo folklore reveals that Guimaras, formerly known as Himal-us was named after the ill-fated romance of Princess Guima and slave Aras, who betrayed the tradition tribe to enkindle their forbidden love. They were able to ride a small raft and escape Aras’ arranged marriage by her father to another nobleson. Unfortunately, they disappeared in the raging seas, never found again, and from then on, people seemed to hear the repentant father’s calling of the lover’s names “Guim-Aras” echoed in the wind during stormy seas, thus, the name Guimaras.
During the Spanish Era, the beautiful sceneries in the island and abundant resources struck the Spaniards.  They’ve built small settlements in Guimaras and left imprints on the island that, today, have become heritagedestinations. Visit historical landmarks like McArthur’s Wharf, 18th century Guisi Lighthouse, Punta Blanco Target Range, Navalas Church and Roca Encandata.
Most of the people of Guimaras could speak and undersand English though their main dialect is Hiligaynon and Kiniray-a just like Iloilo, which is not surprisding since Iloilo had dominated most of Guimaras’ history.
All the towns and most baranagys within Guimaras are accessible by land transport. However, three island barangays can only be reached via pumpboats and about 10 inland barangays are only accessible by using four-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles due to poor condition roads. There are a wide variety of accommodations available in the island from inland resorts, mountain resorts, beach resorts, and island resorts.

Siargao Island, Philippines

Siargao Island is the premier surfing destination in the Philippines nestled in the pristine and preserved backdrop of the Surigao del Norte paradise. Fed by the mighty waves of the Pacific Ocean, this island presents itself as the Philippine alternative to Oahu and Tahiti.
Siargao Island is situated west of Surigao del Norte and is the biggest of the islands belonging to the province. It is approximately 800 kilometers southeast of Manila. This island of roughly 200,000 people boasts a well-preserved wetland of mangroves (the largest in Mindanao) in the west and south, and a sprawling coastline composed of white sand beaches and unspoiled lagoons in the east which faces the Pacific Ocean. The most important town and port of entry is Dapa located south of the island. Other municipalities include General Luna, Pilar, Del Carmen, Burgos, San Benito, San Isidro and Santa Monica.

The island maintains a simple and laid-back economy, lifestyle and culture. The locals rely mostly on copra farming, seaweed propagation and tourism as their sources income. They speak Surigaonon, just as the rest of the province, but English and Filipino are very well understood. Being a haven for surf-loving tourists, the locals are very friendly and hospitable, and have remained loyal and pious in their local traditions and belief systems. With the development of its road network, jeepneys can now take locals, tourists and goods around the island, but the ingenious invention called habal-habal (a motorcycle fitted with iron grills at the sides) still continues to carry passengers between towns. For those who want to hop on the island’s assortment of islets, boats are available to take you one island at a time.
The birth of tourism in the island came with the publishing of Surfer magazine in the United States on March 1993 when American photographer John S. Callahan wrote a feature on the island after a visit the previous year. His various photos and awesome description of the island’s excellent surfs and breaks has helped place the island in the international surfing scene. Prior to Callahan’s feature, various surfing enthusiasts such as Steve Jones, Tony Arroza and Mike Boyum have made extensive explorations of the island’s breaks and surfs.
The town of General Luna in the southeast tip of the island is the prime destination of surfers in the island. To the north of this town are a dozen of breaks that have become popular in recent decades such as Cloud Nine, Tuesday Rock, Ventura, Tuason Point and Pilar Point. New surf sites have also popped up, with names that show the creative side of the surfers who named them: Cemetery, Stimpies, Pacifico, etc. Most of these breaks cater to both right and left handed surfers. The provincial government sponsors the annual Siargao Cup to the delight of local and international surfers.
But aside from surfing, the island also offers other tourism spectacles and water-related activities. Spelunking enthusiasts may want to try the luminescent Silop cave or the labyrinthine tunnels of Mapawa. The submerged Suhoton Cave in Bucas Grande Island (southwest of Siargao) leads to an enchanting lagoon of islets and can be accessed only at low tide. The mangroves that cover the west and south of the island create unique water-streets, perfect for boating and kayaking. The waves being fed by the Mindanao current to the east of the island are not only perfect for surfing but also for sailing, parasailing and kite surfing. The Santa Monica Falls in the town of the same name has crystal clear waters flowing from an unspoiled, virgin forest source. Snorkeling and scuba diving sites include Guyam and Daku Island just off General Luna. The islands are also rich in marine life which makes it a game fisher’s haven. Large game fish such as sailfish, blue marlin, tangigue, yellowfin tuna and morang are abundant in the area.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to go surfing in Siargao is from July to November, when the easterly Mindanao current feeds the islands with waves that come from one of the deepest parts of the Pacific. This is the height of the surfing season in the island. If you want to get a glimpse of the other islands around Siargao, then extend up to March or May to get the perfect conditions for island hopping. For game fishers, game fishing season is on August. An annual game fishing competition is sponsored by the provincial government during this month.

Dakak Park and Beach Resort

Dakak Park and Beach Resort is the closes place to paradise one could ever experience, with it's beauty and serenity. Dakak started operation on 1988, was conveniently positioned in the southern part of the philippines and surrounded by mountains in its west. Situated at Taguilon, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte, Dakak tactfully eludes the typhoon belt, making it an ideal all-season destination for travelers. Dakak is the first five-star resort in Mindanao with an "AAA" accreditation from the Department of Tourism, located along a private 750 meter white sand and beach. From the original 2 (two) cottages, it has expanded into 64 cottages with 128 fully-furnished rooms in native duplex type bungalows of bamboo and nipa leaves with capiz shell window panels; and three (3) Family Pavillion with 30 family rooms and one (1) Presidential Suite. Through the years, Dakak recieved various recognition locally and internationally among whoch are the Kalakbay Award for Resort on 1989 from the Philippine Deaprtment of Touris; 16 International Award for Tourist; Hotel and Catering Industry on 1991 from the Trade Leaders Club and Editorial Office Madrid, Spain; a certificate of excellence by the Prestigious Resorts of the World on 1992; and has participated in the Dream Incentive Contest theme for the Philippines that has won the "Best Showcase 1997" in the Incentive Travel and Conventions, Meetings Asia (IT&CMA) last December 1997. Dakak Park and Beach Resort continously strive to carry out it's mission - "an abundance of recreational activities and entertainment, warm filipino hospitality and environmental friendly ambiance."
Dakak's accommodation consists of 158 fully furnished rooms built in native duplex bungalows made of bamboo and with capiz shell window panes and family pavilion rooms. There 64 Bungalows with 100 Deluxe Rooms; 16 Prime Deluxe Rooms; 12 Beachfront roomsl there Family Pavilion with 30 rooms and one Presidential Suite.
  • Bamboo Cafe, al fresco coffe shop serving ala carte and buffet meals 24 hours
  • Cockpit Bar, open 24 hours
  • Pirates Disco Bar with in-house band and Ballroom Dancing
  • Tai Restaurant, serving Chinese Cuisine and Buffet Meals
  • Fishpond Seafood Restaurant, serving the freshet seafood cuisine
  • Karaoke Beer House, with billiards and bowling alley
  • Cultural shows staging five times a week.
  • Island Tour: Experience Island Hopping at Aliguay or Silinog and enjoying the natures gift with the sight of Dolphins, aschool of fish and colorful corals
  • Fishpond Tour: Have your lunch served at Kinilaw ug Inihaw sa Fishpond Restaurant - a fish farm 10 minutes away from the resort, passing through the Antipolo-San Pedro rivers - serving seafood delights such as prawns, crabs, milkfish and oysters.
  • Historical Tour: A visit to Dapitan City will not be complete if one cannot stopover at the famous Rizal Shrine where Rizal stayed as an exile. Take a tour at the city's well-known Spanish Houses, a century old cathedral and at the Punto del Desembarco de Rizal where Rizal landed.
  • Cove Hopping: Visit neighboring beaches, explore a fisherman;s village, discover the bat cave and indulge in a swimming spree in the sea.
  • Sunset cruise: Enjoy the beautiful sunset while cruising with the outrigger-boat.
  • Cockfight Tour (Tuesday,Saturdays and Sundays only): Place your bet and try your luck in the favorite pastime of the Filipinos which started three centuries ago
  • Night Tour: Visit Gloria de Dapitan and Gloria's Fantasyland for some amusements and bars.