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Davao: Libotero’s First Solo Trip Ever!
First things first. I’d like to thank Cebu Pacific for offering irresistible promos such as their PISO FARE promos. Without such, I don’t think I will be able to sustain this blog in the long run. Anyway, almost two weeks ago, I embarked on my first-ever journey alone, a life-changing journey which has given me bucket loads of learnings and memories that I will forever treasure. The trip was also witness to a lot of firsts: my first out-of-town trip alone, my first Cebu Pacific flight, and my first time in Mindanao, among others, and each one I will narrate in detail in this blog post series.
My first out-of-town trip alone, all by myself! I love to travel! I have always been curious and I’ve always had a lot of questions about faraway places and different cultures and although encyclopedias, books, magazines and other reading materials, whether online or offline, word of mouth, and geography shows on television give me an idea, travel is really the only way to experience these distinct environments. I’ve been travelling for the past 8 years and so far, I’ve explored most of Luzon, Cebu and Bohol and all that I did with my family. But then, I just can’t get enough! Every time we explore new places, my heart desires for even more! There are still a lot of places in the Philippines that I have not visited yet and I don’t expect my family to always cooperate and want to travel. I had to do a lot of convincing before they could finally say yes to a roadtrip to Ilocos, Banaue, Bicol and Baler. This year, I tried to convince them to consider a roadtrip to Cagayan Valley but I wasn’t successful. With that, I thought about travelling alone and the perfect opportunity came November last year when Cebu Pacific offered a piso fare promo for all its destinations. Even before I could book any flight though, doubts were like clouds floating in my mind. One, I’ve never flied alone. I was always a chicken. I had a fear of flying. Will I make it if I do fly alone? Two, I’ve never flied with Cebu Pacific. We were always on Philippine Airlines on our yearly summer escapades and mom always had unexplainable doubts about Cebu Pacific’s aircrafts. If ever I do fly with them, will my flight with Cebu Pacific be delayed? Those are just two of a long list of doubts that I had in my mind but then, I thought that it won’t harm me if I book flights and just do a no-show in case fear overtakes me as the promo fares were really very affordable and somehow the damage to my pocket would be insignificant. P114 for a round trip ticket? Are you kidding me? That’s equal to the fare if you take a taxi cab from Ayala Center Cebu to Pusok, Lapu-Lapu City. So, I went on a booking spree. I booked a round trip ticket to Davao for June, General Santos for July, Bacolod for August and Ozamiz for September! November 2009 to June 2010, that’s seven months of anxiously waiting for THE day when I will finally be flying alone and conquering my fears.
The Preparations. I am not new to travelling and I am not new to flying so I knew what to prepare and what to bring. The most important things are your ID and plane ticket. I readied mine and placed them in my bag a night before my scheduled flight. For carry-on baggage, liquids, aerosols and gels exceeding 100mL is a no-no so I bought small “made for air travel” containers so that I could include toiletries and other hygiene essentials in my carry-on baggage. Also don’t forget your vitamins and first-aid needs, although you can opt to buy them when you arrive at your destination. Tripods cannot be carried on board so they need to be checked-in. For a comfortable travel experience, don’t bring a lot of stuff, especially if they’re totally unnecessary! The night before my flight, I fully charged my camera and flash batteries, cellphones and laptop so that I could ready the chargers in my bag and not leave them behind. For clothes, just bring enough and not too much. If your travel itinerary doesn’t involve a lot of “physical” activities, clothes could be recycled so as to reduce your baggage. And yes, I did mention the word itinerary. Long before a scheduled trip, you should prepare your itinerary so that no time is wasted and your trip is maximized. If you’re travelling with a buddy, plan together. If you’re travelling alone, research, research, research and do not hesitate to seek help from friends who travel a lot and friends who live in the place you’re about to visit. Finalize your hotel bookings months or weeks before your trip. Buy maps (I recommend EZMaps) so it is easier for you to familiarize and navigate within a new place. Maps are really a big help as you could already visualize and cluster your target destinations even before your trip, it is another essential if you want to maximize your trip. I started preparing my itinerary for this first out-of-town trip last year but I was only able to finalize it two nights before the actual trip happened and I’d like to thank Ate Ria Jose, Winston, Feb, Shakeira, SkyscraperCity Davao and PinoyExchange forumers for helping me plan out my trip! Another thing you must not forget is CASH! Prepare some cash that would just be enough in case of a worst case scenario of having no ATMs available or ATMs bogging down at your destination. You may place your cash in an envelope in your bag. I don’t recommend placing big amounts of cash just in your wallet. My advice is to spread chunks of your cash, some in your wallet, some in your bag, some in some other places but do take note where you actually placed them as you might be scrambling around looking for your cash, that would be worse, LOL. And finally, the biggest preparation comes from WITHIN. Get enough sleep before your flight! That never happened to me as I always get too excited everytime I travel. The best thing I could get is two hours of sleep before a trip!
First Time in Mindanao. I have long wanted to explore Mindanao. But when I open up the idea to my friends and family, I’d often get blank stares. And they’d ask me, Why Mindanao? We see Mindanao on national television almost everyday for its so-called unrest. The media has been very effective in portraying a very negative image of Mindanao and so I can’t blame my friends if they advise me not to go there. But then, I have a lot of friends based in Mindanao and they are not happy about how the “national” media brands the whole Mindanao as unsafe. I asked my friends for the real picture and the truth is, while there is indeed war or conflict in Mindanao, it is limited to isolated areas and the rest and the majority of the island is totally and perfectly safe with peace and harmony-loving citizens! Mindanao is not called the Land of Promise for nothing! And to prove to myself that Mindanao is worth-exploring, I decided that my first solo flight would be to Mindanao and my choice destination was DAVAO. Why Davao? Davao is reputably the most-secure and safe place in Mindanao, thanks to their leaders and their people. It can even qualify as the safest and most livable urban area in the whole country. From my research, I learned that Davao has a lot to offer. It has an interesting culture too, being a melting pot of cultures in Mindanao and so, Davao it was for my first journey alone.
This is It! The moment has finally come. The BIG DAY! The night before my first flight alone, I wasn’t able to get much sleep. I was very excited. I just kept rolling on my bed. I also still had doubts and fears in my mind and then I feel asleep and a few hours later, my alarm rang and woke me up in the middle of a dream, LOL. So, I got up, took a shower, ate breakfast, double checked my bag for my ID and ticket and left the house two hours before my flight. I was expecting mom to send me off to the airport but I forgot that it was June 15, the first day of classes for my brothers who are high school freshmen. Waaaa! I’d have to commute to the airport! That’s too much for a first time lone flier. LOL! So, from home, I took a pedicab or “trisikad” to the main highway. (I live in a far-flung barrio, LOL) Do try to recreate the scene in your imagination, I was in a pedicab with all my luggage, I felt like a tourist, haha! At the main highway, I waited for a few minutes before a vacant taxi actually passed by. At almost 10am, I was already at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
At the airport. As I arrived and unloaded all my baggage at the airport, I was panting, haha! I was so used to having my brothers carry all my stuff for me, such a spoiled brat! But I was all alone and I had to face it. First security check, I readied my ID and plane ticket. I went through without a hitch. Check-in counters, I readied my ID and plane ticket once again, and laid my check-in baggage at the counter. I totally forgot that I got a GO LITE ticket which means I couldn’t check-in any baggage or else I’d have to pay a penalty. I opted for the latter since my baggage was quite heavy so I was led to another counter and there I paid a penalty of P400. After paying, I went back to the check-in counter and I finally got my boarding pass! Next, terminal fees! Prepare P200. Next, final security check. Remove shoes. Different airports have different security standards. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to remove all metals from your body like belts, coins, wallets, jackets, etc., in some airports. I then proceeded to the metal detector and I saw raised eyebrows. Oh shoot, I didn’t notice that I passed through the women’s line. LOL! Finally, with all security checks done, I could relax and refresh before the flight!
My First Cebu Pacific Experience! At the pre-departure area, I bought some snacks and drinks and then I proceeded to the restroom to deposit all the liquids for a comfortable flight but then, I was so shocked when I heard the boarding call for my flight! Waaa! No time to breathe! LOL. That was 30 minutes before my scheduled flight. Cebu Pacific boards that early! (PAL allows passengers to board at least 15 minutes before the flight schedule) I am such a noob, haha. So I panicked and ran to the boarding gate and presented my boarding pass. As I approached the mouth of the aircraft, I was greeted with smiles by the Cebu Pacific crew. That left me a nice first impression. Inside the aircraft, the differences between Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines were obvious. First, their cabin crew is casual, while PAL’s cabin crew is quite formal. Second, before they close the cabin doors, Cebu Pacific’s cabin crew go scrambling around with their clickers to do a head count. I’ve not observed such practice in PAL. Third, PAL plays a video of their aircraft’s security features while Cebu Pacific does a live demo. Fourth, it was refreshing to hear a female voice in the public address system. PAL usually has male “announcers”. Fifth, Cebu Pacific does not serve inflight snacks but they are available for a price. Sixth, and this one amazed me, Cebu Pacific sells their own souvenir merchandise such as stuff toys, die-cast aircraft models and tote bags. Seventh, Cebu Pacific holds in flight games! LOL! During my flight, they had a “show me” game. They gave away 3 Centrum gift packs, one each to the first person who was able to raise a mirror, a dollar and a jacket. Haha! And finally, when we landed, they announced the exact number of minutes the flight was ahead of schedule. LOL. Statistics freak much? Now, my flight experience. I was supposed to be seated by the window but I was surprised when I someone else took my place but I didn’t complain. I just took the aisle seat as taking the window seat might be too much for me to take. Normally, I’d sit beside my mom and panic and hold her hands during take-off but I realized that I was alone, ALONE, ALONE. So I just relaxed, chewed some mint and prayed for a smooth flight. A few moments later, I didn’t realize that we were already about to land in Davao. I was very surprised as I was calm and composed all throughout the flight, very much different from all my previous flights. I guess I’ve already conquered my fear of flying. Sometimes, I’m really just too negative and with my first solo flight experience, I’ve learned to stop having too much negative thoughts as these will prevent you from doing new things and doing what you want. Anyway, HELLO DAVAO! HELLO MINDANAO! This travelogue will be a series of blog posts for the next few days and each new post will be indexed below.
P.S.: Alright, 1st out-of-town travel alone, 1st Cebu Pacific flight, 1st time in Mindanao,… this post also makes it to the record books as my longest blog post ever! )
- Davao: Libotero’s First Solo Trip Ever
- My Hotel Davao
- Statue of David and Baywalk
- A not-so-productive 1st Day in Davao
- Eden Nature Park
- Philippine Eagle Center
- Puentespina Orchid Garden
- Malagos Garden Resort
- Davao Crocodile Park
- Tribu K’Mindanawan Cultural Village
- People’s Park
- Davao City Hall
- San Pedro Cathedral
- Gaisano Mall of Davao
- CTres Buffet Restaurant and Piano Bar and Blugre Coffee
- San Pedro Street at Night
- Davao International Airport
- Bye, Bye, Davao!