Birthday Swim 2019

I don’t usually celebrate my birthday. For me, it’s just like an ordinary day where I do my usual stuff like going to work or staying at home, binge watching movies. However this year, I decided to go for a swim because 1) I really missed it, 2) I wanted to continuously practice what I have learned, and 3) joining the open water swimming is always fun.

As usual, I joined Swimtravel PH’s open water graduation swim. Although I was already done with my classes, I chose to still participate in the activity to enhance my swimming skill, and unlike last year where I was suffering from high fever, I enjoyed our activity this time because I was more comfortable in deep water. I was even able to dive and closely see jack of fish and sea turtle.

Sunset is ❤️

Perks of Joining Swimtravel PH

1. Guaranteed learning after 5 sessions

2. Cool and patient coaches (especially coach Griin)

3. Friendly students. Some of them even became good friends of mine.

4. Chance to practice swimming in an open water, because they regularly schedule an open water event and former students can join.

5. Learning how to swim can definitely change your outlook in life. Yes, when you feel like your life is already boring, try swimming and you will realize that you can do something great that you never thought you’ll be capable of doing.

Our Itinerary

Day 1

3:45 AM – Meet-up time at Petron Buendia

4:00 AM – Departure (via Skyway and Star Toll)

7:00 AM – Arrival at the resort parking area

7:20 AM – Boat ride going to Bus Stop Dive Resort

7:35 AM – Breakfast with Unlimited Kapeng Barako

8:30 AM – Preparation

9:00 AM – Open Water Swimming

12:00 PM – Lunch

1:00 PM – Chill time

3:00 PM – Snorkeling

5:30 PM – Rest time

8:00 PM – Dinner Time / bonding with the group

Day 2

This was our free time. Some went for a swim early in the morning. Breakfast was served, plus of course we had an unlimited kapeng barako.

12:00 PM – Lunch Time

1:00 PM – free time again.

3:00 PM – Departure

6:30 PM – Arrival in Buendia

Photo Credit: Swimtravel PH
Photo Credit: Swimtravel PH

Open Water Investment: Php 2,800 but I paid less because it was already my second time. They have cheaper rate if you opt to stay in a tent.

Inclusions:

1. Fan room

2. 4 Meals (Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast and lunch on the 2nd day), PM snack, Unlimited Kapeng Barako

3. Goggles and fins for snorkeling (but you can still bring your own)

We never really had a celebration of my birthday but I still enjoyed the moment I shared with co-students and my coach. We all stayed overnight at Bus Stop Dive Resort, in Bauan Batangas and what I appreciate more about the place, aside from the beach, was the service that they offered, from food, accommodation to their friendly personnel.

This was by far the most memorable birthday I have ever had. I will definitely go back here and join future open water sessions.

New Year, New Beginning

2019 is coming in few minutes. Before I set my plans, let me recap first my 2018:

Not so good things that happened:

– Heartbreak. I had to end a relationship that lasted for 8 years.

– I decided to resign from work after being employed for a decade. I ended my employment last December 10, 2018 and spent time with family and friends till the end of the year.

– I struggled financially. I had a hard time managing my finances because of so many financial obligations.

– I started feeling weak. I almost got sick every month.

Good things that happened:

– I was able to enroll in swimming and freediving class.

– I met new people who are now my friends.

– Although not as often as before, I was still able to visit different domestic places. Thanks to people who supported my travels.

– I was offered a new job and was allowed to start after new year.

– I had 3 week vacation/rest after continuous work for more than a decade.

– I never experienced being unemployed. I am still grateful that I always get to have a job before I leave my employer.

The first 3 quarters of 2018 were the hardest ones. These were the days when I felt like I was alone. The times when I almost quit my life because I felt so hopeless and worthless. On the other hand, this was also the year that made me realize that I deserve better. That is why most of the good things about my 2018 happened during the last quarter of the year. Thanks to my family and friends who constantly give me reasons to move on with life.

Now that we are about to start the new chapter of our lives, I would like to keep track of my activities that will help me become a better version of myself. They say that it is better if we set our goals so we have something to look forward to. So this 2019, these are the things that I wish to achieve:

1. Improve my swimming skills

2. Be a certified freediver. I already started taking the course, but I will continue my training till I get the certification.

3. Participate in activities that take care of marine ecosystem

4. Support charity

5. Be a certified Human Resource Practitioner

6. Self improvement. Enroll in different trainings related to HR

7. Learn new skill

8. Invest

9. Save more to acquire a property in 2020

10. Spend more time with family and friends

11. Travel at least once every 2 months

12. Do better at work

Thank you, 2018 for all the experiences especially the challenges. I was able to get through all the trials and now, I am ready to face whatever is in store for me this 2019.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Swimming Lesson – Day 5

Ohmaygawd! I still couldn’t believe that I am done with my 5th and last session. It was December 7, 2018 when I booked my final swimming class. I honestly didn’t know what to feel that time. Part of me was happy because I made it, but I also felt sad because I got used to going on my classes every weekend, and attending my lesson was really fun.

During my last swimming class, I did nothing but practice freestyle. It was still hard for me but Coach Griin told me that the said skill cannot be learned in just 1 or 2 days. Practice makes perfect. What’s important is that I am improving, and little by little, I am able to do right what I am supposed to do.

Swimming is fun. It helped me not just forget my problems, but it also changed the way I look at life. Meeting people who also had the same reason as mine on why they enrolled in swimming class made me realize that I was not alone in my journey of finding happiness in life. Happiness that cannot just be found from other people around you, but happiness that comes from within you. Learning new skill helped me appreciate myself more. That’s why for those of you who are going through something, always remember that there are a lot of things that may change your outlook in life, there is still hope. Focus on your self improvement. Try new skill. Meet new people. Love yourself first, and the rest will follow.

Swimming Lesson – Day 4

Last November 25, 2018, I attended my 4th swimming lesson in Ultra. I was a bit hesitant to attend that time because I just had fever but I told myself that I had to be there because first, I already booked my schedule, second, I missed swimming, and lastly, I felt that my body was badly in need of exercise.

Our 4th session was about freestyle. I was already doing this technique even before I enrolled in swimming lesson, but I realized that I was doing it wrong. Freestyle was harder than I thought. I couldn’t glide properly and I often feel like drowning everytime I try. Water kept entering my nose and it made me feel more uncomfortable.

It took me about 30 minutes before I was able to perfect the technique. Although inconsistent, I was still happy that I was able to do it right.

One more session and I can already take my freediving class. Excited much!

Open Water Swimming

“Fight your fears and you’ll be in a battle forever. Face your fears and you’ll be free forever.” This quote perfectly described my experience in an open water swimming last November 17-18, 2018 at Busstop Resort, one of the best diving spots in Bauan, Batangas.

I have been open about my swimming lesson which is a part of my preparation for my freediving class. The main reason why I have decided to enroll was because I wanted to be more confident when swimming in deep water. Last November 17-18, 2018, I got the opportunity to join Swimtravel PH in an open water swimming so let me share with you what happened.

It was my first time joining a group tour. I mean, my first time joining alone in a tour. I knew no one from the group except for my swimming coach, but I was confident that all other joiners were friendly and easy to get along with because of my experiences during swimming class so I pushed through with the plan.

Few days before our tour, our coach, Coach Griin, created a group for all those who were joining to remind everyone about the tour. She also gave instruction on how to get to the resort via public transportation. Since I planned to bring a car, I offered service to others who are willing to join me. Unexpectedly, many of them sent me message, telling me that they wanted to join me because they were also going alone. I felt so happy because I’ll have the opportunity to get to know them a little, so at least we can be more comfortable with each other.

We left Buendia at around 4:00 AM and arrived at the resort parking area at 6:30 AM. We were supposed to start the swimming session at 7:30AM but some came a little late so we had to wait for them.

It was 9:00 AM when we officially started our swimming. Our goal was to swim to the ring buoy without any lifevest. All of us were having a second thought if we can make it because it was placed far from the shore. Apart from the distance, what also gave me a second thought of reaching the goal was my fever. I was not feeling well during that time and was just taking paracetamol for me to get better. I was feeling cold and I could not swim well, but I decided not to stop. Fortunately, I was able to reach the buoy. We all made it! Some of us kept swimming without any floater. I was trying to do the same, unfortunately, my body did not want to cooperate. I felt colder and both my feet started cramping. I had no choice but to use a floater until we got back to shore.

Photo Credit: Swimtravel PH

After swimming, I already decided to change my clothes to make myself feel warmer. I took again paracetamol. After having our lunch, we started preparing for snorkeling. That was the time when we used flippers. We were asked again to swim by pair so coach Griin can assist us. I was uncomfortable with the flippers but I had to get used to it because I also know that I will be using it when I start my freediving class.

I started swimming when it was our time. My partner was being assisted because she was scared and also uncomfortable with her flippers. I was focused on swimming and didn’t realize that I was getting far from my partner and my coach. My snorkeling gear didn’t fit me well so water kept entering my face and my eyes. I also couldn’t do treading because I was not really comfortable with the flippers. I was far both from my partner/coach and the buoy that I had to reach. I started feeling like I was drowning. All I knew I could do that time to fix my snorkeling gear was to do the backfloat, but my flippers were pulling me underwater so I also couldnt stay longer. I was already thinking if I’ll start shouting for help but I told myself that I have to do it alone and try my best to reach the buoy. I was struggling to swim, but when I already saw some of our companions swimming beside me, I started to do the freestyle until I reach the buoy. I told my coach after about it, and you know what she told me? “that’s survival training!”. Sometimes, we just thought we couldn’t make it, but if we face our fears, we will realize in the end that we can make it. She told me that I know how to swim, but my fears are stopping me from enjoying the water.

Although I was not able to do everything that I wanted to, because I was sick, I still had so much fun. Other joiners also became my friends.

I will surely join the next open water swimming. Hopefully, I am so much better by that time.

Swimming Lesson – Day 3

Yay! I’m done with my 3rd swimming lesson, the happiest session I’ve joined so far. Why? Because it was the time that I finally conquered my fear swimming in deep water without life vest and…. I met new people with the same interest as mine.

Since my schedule was 9am and the pool closes at 11:30am, I had the chance to practice breaststroke and other techniques that were taught during the previous sessions. It was an exciting day but what made it more fun was the opportunity I had to meet new people who suddenly became my friends. I first met Ate Weng who travelled all the way from Pampanga to take the class. We were on the same schedule so we had the chance to talk about random things while waiting for 8-9 am class to end. I learned that we have the same objective why we are taking the class, and that is to join a team that helps promote and preserve the marine ecosystem, and to learn water survival techniques (well, that is apart from achieving our travel goals). After our swimming lesson, Ate Weng and I decided to go home together. That was also the time when I met Ome. I gave both of them a ride to their destination (SM Megamall and Victory Liner Pasay). I enjoyed sharing my swimming experiences and I also loved listening to their stories. I realized, after, that gaining new friends is always one of the perks of engaging into a certain outdoor activity.

Groufie with Ome, Ate Weng, and Coach Griin (photo credit: Ome)

I still have 2 more sessions left before I start my freediving class, but before that, I’ll be joining the open water swimming this weekend in Bauan, Batangas. Although I wasn’t able to join the swimming preparation that was held last Saturday, Coach Griin thinks that I can still do it because I am “pabibo” on water (lol!).

Kurokutok Nature Park

Hey guys! Guess what I just discovered. There’s a nature park and resort in Cawag Zambales that’s perfect for you and your loved ones! The place is called Kurokutok Nature Park. According to their friendly staffs, the place was used to be open to public, for free, however, because of the growing number of guests, the owner have decided to make it a business to help maintain the resort.

Kurokutok is a nature-friendly resort. They have 11 small to average sized spring water pools, including kiddie pools. You can also swim on a mountain stream. This is great for those adventure seekers who love nature.

How to get to Kuro?

We tried using waze to Kuro unfortunately, the map seemed inaccurate. But here’s a guide on how you can reach the place. We used the shortcut road to avoid traffic in some areas.

Kuro is only few miles aways from Subic Bay Freeport Zone. If you are coming from Manila, you may head to SBFZ and exit in Kalaklan Gate. From there, head straight to Subic Market.

You may also opt to buy food in Subic Market. That’s what we usually do when heading to a resort in Zambales, to ensure freshness of meat and veggies.

Once you enter Subic Market, set your waze to Club Morocco then straight to Govic Highway.

There is a small signage on Sitio Cawag going to Kuro. When you get there, you will notice a public pool along the road. Nah! That’s not yet Kuro but it could be your guide going to the place. Few meters from the public pool, you will see a rough road on your right side. That’s the way to Kurokutok Nature Park.

If you are traveling via public transport, you have the option to ride Victory Liner to Iba Zambales, or Olongapo City then ride a blue jeepney. Your drop off point could be PNP Subic. From there you may ride a tricycle going to Cawag – Kurokutok Nature Park. There is no public transportation directly from Kurokutok so you might need to talk to the tricycle driver and ask if you can be picked-up. Take note, Kuro is quite far from the main road.

Is There An Available Parking Space?

Yes, parking lot is located near the entrance area.

How Much Is The Entrance Fee?

📍 Entrance Fee for day tour is Php 200.00 per head (9am – 5pm). Senior Citizen can avail 50% discount. toddlers are free. Your entrance is also free if your birthday is within 3 days prior to or after your visit to Kuro (you have to present an ID with date of birth).

📍Entrance Fee for overnight stay is Php 400.00 per head. Check-in time is 2:00 pm and check-out at 12:00 nn. Again, senior citizens, toddlers, and birthday celebrants have discounts. Fee is inclusive of tent, and other basic necessities (pillow, blanket, etc.).

How Much Is The Accommodation?

📍You can avail their cottage for as low as Php 800.00.

📍 For day tour, you can have their room for Php 1,500.00. No limit on number of guests since you will not be staying overnight. We booked this room so we can secure our stuffs while exploring the resort.

📍 The room that we availed costs Php 2,000.00 if you are going to stay overnight. This is good for 4 pax. In excess to 4, you may choose to get another room or pay the Php 400.00 fee, with tent. 2 pax is free if you are traveling in a group of 10 or more and will be staying overnight.

What Are The Resort Amenities?

📍 Swimming pools and mountain stream

📍 Common kitchen with Php 100.00 fee. Utensils are also available

📍 Common rest rooms and shower rooms

📍 Canteen

📍 Function Hall

📍 500 meter zipline. Fee is Php 100.00 on your 1st ride and Php 50.00 on your succeeding rides.

📍 Trekking

Is Walk-in Allowed?

NO. Walk-in guests are not allowed. Never try your luck because you will not be accommodated. You need to have your reservation. Kurokutok maintains the nature and the beauty of their resort that is why they always limit the number of their guests.

How To Reserve?

Reservation is simple. All you have to do is send them a message on their facebook page.

Here are more shots from our tour to further show you how awesome the place is.

Edit:

My sister and I, together with her friends, visited Kuro, and we noticed some improvements to the placs: