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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IT WAS a beautiful sunny day when we arrived in Ozamiz city. It felt so great to be sun-kissed in a place that I was visiting for the first time.

Of the three major islands in the Philippines, Mindanao is probably the one I’ve frequented the least. But whenever I’m there, I’m always amazed by its unique beauty.

I’m blessed to have been given opportunities to travel around the country due to work the past few years. But on one of the rare personal trips that I made, I didn’t pass up the chance to visit Ozamiz city.

Aside from the very affordable plane promo fare and the reasonable hotel rates, the idea of visiting a place called “Dolphin Island” was too hard to resist.

I must admit, I hardly knew anything about Ozamiz city. I wasn’t even sure at first how it was spelled--Ozamiz or Ozamis. It was also embarrassing that it was my husband Saar, an Israeli, who told me about it. He loves the place so much, he calls it “Awe-zamiz.”

And he had more than enough reasons to. Dolphin Island is truly awesome. We swam with the dolphins and fed them. It was like being in a dream.

To get there, one can take a tricycle or a motorcycle-for-hire. But for big groups or families with children, it is advisable to rent a jeepney.

Dolphin Island is actually in the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park or Moap (pronounced Mowap by the locals). Once you get to the park, you purchase a ticket for a motorbanca that will take you to the island.

There is a carenderia that sells food but you can also bring your own. There are also goggles, snorkeling equipment and lifejackets for rent. You may also opt to come prepared and bring your own equipment.

At first, a guide will somewhat “introduce” you to the dolphins in shallow water. He will give you a piece of fish to dangle so the dolphins can come and eat it.

There is no reason to fear these cute mammals since they don’t bite. According to, “even though dolphins have 100 teeth, they don’t use them for eating.” They use their teeth to get the fish, but then swallow them after. They can consume up to 30 pounds of fish per day.

Of course, you have to make sure you don’t hurt or hit them. Moap is a government facility that promotes the protection of marine animals.

Dolphins also seem to be extremely intelligent and friendly. They are known to have interacted with humans for as long as they have existed, the website added.

Since I’m not a good swimmer, I wore a lifejacket and swam on the surface. Still, I got a chance to touch the dolphins. My husband and our two good friends, Ben and Ofri, are all good swimmers, so they were able to swim with the dolphins underwater.

Action packed

After having an amazing time with the dolphins, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest. We needed energy for a night out in the city.

We went to M Bar for some drinks and dancing. The place was packed. On Wednesdays, they have karaoke night, which is also a crowd drawer.

Just 45 minutes away from the Ozamiz city airport is the Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel and Adventure Park, which is in Tangub city, Misamis Occidental. We decided to go there the next day.

There, one can find “the longest and highest ziplines in Asia” at 1,500 and 2,000 meters long.

For P600, one can enjoy the zipline, then get a buggy car ride after and take home a certificate with souvenir picture.

Saar, Ben and Ofri all went to enjoy the very long and heart-stopping glide over the mountains while I stayed behind--contented with my role as their official photographer.

The three came back with big smiles and an experience in the Philippines they will never forget.

As I watched them, I wished deep in my heart that more people, especially Filipinos, came to visit these places.

I remembered the famous line, “huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan” (one shouldn’t be a foreigner in his own country) and understood why someone had once said it. I couldn’t agree more. It’s truly our loss if we don’t explore the many awesome places in our country.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.


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