Tag: asia

Complete Steps in Applying for a Japan Tourist Visa (for Filipinos)

Dreaming of traveling to Japan and experiencing its unique culture, beautiful scenery, and great food but worried about the seemingly troublesome visa process?

Here, I’ll be sharing with you the complete process of applying for a Japan single-entry tourist visa (both without a guarantor & with a guarantor living in Japan at the time of the application). Please remember that I am not giving you any assurance that you’ll be granted a visa by just following these steps. This post is just to give you an idea on the process and hopefully increase your chances of getting approved.

Getting a Japan tourist visa might sound so difficult and intimidating, but trust me, it’s really not as long as you comply with the requirements and follow the instructions well. I’ve been granted three times and the process each time was very smooth. The preparation might take a bit of time but once you’ve applied, you only have to wait for 2-5 days to get the result.

Note: Again, this is only for those who are visiting Japan as a tourist or visiting relatives/friends/partner (without a guarator & with a guarantor living in Japan at the time of the application). For other types of visa, please go to the official website of Japan Embassy in the Philippines or visit any accredited travel agency.

Step 1 : Gather all the necessary requirements.

1) Philippine passport
– Must be signed, not broken, and has at least 2 blank pages
– Must be valid for 6 months prior to your travel date
– Remove the passport holder.

2) A duly accomplished Visa Application Form.
– You can get a copy of the application form from here and print it in A4 size OR get it at any accredited travel agency where you will submit the requirements.
– The information can be handwritten or typed. If handwritten, write legibly.
– Avoid any erasures. In the case of making a mistake while writing, don’t use a corrector pen. Just cross out the word/s with two lines and write the correct info on top of it or on the sides.
– When filling out, make sure to put N/A on all the parts that are not applicable. DO NOT leave any blank.
– Once you’re done, don’t forget to sign it.

Note: On the form, you will be asked to write your airline and the name of your hotel. This doesn’t mean you have to book in advance and submit your plane ticket/hotel reservation. The embassy doesn’t require those. What you have to do is just to write your intended airline and hotel name if ever your visa is approved.

3) ID Picture
– 4.5 cm. x 4.5 cm. with a white background (just visit any photo center at your nearest mall)- Write your name and birthdate at the back of the photo and paste it on the application form.
– You will be needing only one photo but prepare two just in case.

4) PSA Birth Certificate
– Must be issued within one year by the PSA Main Office or any Serbilis Outlet Center nationwide
If your PSA birth certificate is unreadable, submit it along with your birth certificate from the Local Civil Registrar.
In the case of Late Registration on your PSA birth certificate, submit a Baptismal Certificate with the complete address and contact number of the church, your high school or elementary School Record (Form 137), and School Yearbook (if possible).
If you don’t have any record in the PSA, secure a Certificate of Non-Record from the PSA and submit it along with your birth certificate from the Local Civil Registrar.

Note: #4 is not required if you have been granted a Japan visa before and you can submit your old/valid passport with the used Japan visa.

5) Marriage Certificate (if married)
– Must also be issued within one year by the PSA Main Office or any Serbilis Outlet Center nationwide.

Note: #5 is not required if you have been granted a Japan visa before and you can submit your old/valid passport with the used Japan visa.

6) Daily Schedule in Japan (Taizai Yoteihyo)
– See samples and download the form here in Japanese or English.
– Make it as simple and short as possible.  Don’t make it sound complicated.
– For columns that have the same answer (e.g. staying in the same address for a few days), just write “same as above”.

Tip: If you’re looking for a cheap accommodation while staying in Japan, I recommend Agoda or Airbnb.

Agoda – You can book without paying in advance and you can even cancel weeks or days before your arrival date without any charges.
Airbnb – For first-time users, sign up through my referral link to get Php1,000-Php2,000 off your first booking.

Without a guarantor

* Techically falls under Visa for Tourism

If you will shoulder all of your expenses, you have to submit these requirements in addition to nos. 1-6:

7) Bank Certificate
– Must have a validity of 3 months from the date of issue
– Make sure to submit a Bank Certificate, NOT a Bank Statement.

Note: Your Monthly Average Balance is stated in your Bank Certificate so it’s NOT a good idea to suddenly put a large amount of money just for your application. Doing this might lead to a denied application.

8) Income Tax Return (Form 2316)
– Get the latest one and submit it in a clear photocopy.

With a guarantor living in Japan (family/close relative)

* Techically falls under Visa for Visiting Relatives (up to 3rd degree)

Your guarantor/sponsor should send you the following requirements and you have to submit them in addition to nos. 1-6.

7) PSA Birth Certificate
– Your family or relative’s birth certificate to prove that you’re related to each other. Please refer to #4 for additional info.

8) Guarantee Letter
– You can download the form here in Japanese or English.
– Must be completed and signed by your guarantor/sponsor

9) Invitation Letter
– Download the form here in Japanese or English.
– Must be completed and signed by your guarantor/sponsor
– Basically explains why your guarantor wants to invite you (e.g. sightseeing, reunion, wedding invitation, etc.)

10) Family Registration (Koseki Tohon)
– Only applicable if your family or relative in Japan has a Japanese spouse or relative
– Must be issued within the past 3 months

11) Residence Certificate (Juminhyo)
– Should state all family members
– Must be issued within the past 3 months
– If the guarantor is your relative/family’s Japanese spouse or relative, they must send you both of their residence certificates.

12) Copy of Residence Card OR Special Permit Resident Certificate of your family/relative in Japan
– Must include both front and back

13) Income Certificate (Shotoku Shomeisho)
– from the City Hall

14) Tax Return Certificates with Gross Income (Nouzeishomeisho: Form 2)
– from the Tax Office

15) Tax Income Copy (Kakuteishinkokusho Hikae) OR Bank Certificate (Yokin Zandaka Shomeisho)
– from the Bank
– Must be issued within the past 3 months

Tip: Although they can choose either one of these, it’s always a good idea to submit both as these documents will determine how capable they are of supporting you during your stay.

Note: Submitting a Withholding Slip (Gensenchoshuhyo) instead of #16 is NOT acceptable. Also, make sure that the Tax Income Copy (Kakuteishinkokusho Hikae) includes the gross income amount.

With a guarantor living in Japan (partner/friend/distant relative)

* Technically falls under Visa for Visiting Friends or Distant Relatives (beyond 3rd degree)

Your guarantor/sponsor should send you the following requirements and you have to submit them in addition to nos. 1-6.

7) Proof of Relationship
– In addition to photos of you together, your guarantor must also write an explanation letter about your relationship.

8) Guarantee Letter
– You can download the form here in Japanese or English.
– Should be completed and signed by your guarantor/sponsor

9) Invitation Letter
– Download the form here in Japanese or English.
– Should be completed and signed by your guarantor/sponsor
– Basically explains why your guarantor wants to invite you (e.g. wedding invitation, sightseeing, to get married in Japan, introduce to family and friends, etc.)

Note: For those getting married, apply for a 90-day visa as it will take a lot of paperwork to get married in Japan and you will be mostly spending time visiting government offices and waiting for your documents to be mailed at your given address.

When applying for this one, make sure to prepare a lot of supporting documents about your relationship (e.g. photos together, visa stamps to prove that you’ve traveled together or lived in the same country for quite some time, and the like).

But please remember: Unless you actually intend to get married during your stay in Japan, DO NOT use this as a reason just to get a 90-day visa. And DO NOT ever commit in any marriage-of-convenience act. The embassy has their ways to check whether your relationship is real or not.

10) Residence Certificate (Juminhyo)
– Must state all family members
– Must be issued within the past 3 months.

11) Copy of Residence Card OR Special Permit Resident Certificate
– Only applicable if your guarantor is a foreign resident in Japan
– For Japanese guarantors/sponsors, no need to send any of these.
– The copies must include both front and back.

12) Income Certificate (Shotoku Shomeisho)
– from the City Hall

13) Tax Return Certificates with Gross Income (Nouzeishomeisho: Form 2)
– from the Tax Office

14) Tax Income Copy (Kakuteishinkokusho Hikae) OR Bank Certificate (Yokin Zandaka Shomeisho)
– from the Bank
– Must be issued within the past 3 months

Tip: Although they can choose either one of these, it’s always a good idea to submit both as these documents will determine how capable they are of supporting you during your stay.

Note: Submitting a Withholding Slip (Gensenchoshuhyo) instead of #16 is NOT acceptable. Also, make sure that the Tax Income Copy (Kakuteishinkokusho Hikae) includes the gross income amount.

Step 2 : Choose an Accredited Travel Agency.

The embassy doesn’t accept direct applications anymore so you have to find an accredited travel agency who will process your application for you. Although the embassy doesn’t require any fee in issuing a Japan Visa, the travel agency will charge you for the processing fee which ranges from Php800-Php2,000 depending on the agency. For a complete list of accredited travel agencies, please refer to this link.

In my case, I have only used Friendship Tours – Cebu Branch. They have assisted me three times (all approved), so I personally recommend them for those applying in Cebu. They check all requirements carefully, answer questions well, and guide you in filling out the application form to make sure you won’t make any mistakes.

Step 3 : Wait for the result.

Aaand there you go! After all the hard work in preparing your documents, all you need to do is wait for the result. If you follow the above steps correctly and submit all the required documents, you will most likely get the result in just 2-5 days.

In any case where the embassy requests for additional/supporting documents, the travel agency will call you so make sure to keep your lines open all the time.

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Complete Steps in Applying for a Japan Tourist Visa (for Filipinos)

Olango Island: An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

Olango Island - An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

Known for its wildlife heritage, this paradise is located offshore from Mactan Island in Cebu, Philippines.

The Olango Island Group comprises of Olango Island and its neighboring islets namely: Sulpa, Gilutongan, Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an, and Camungi.

Olango Island - An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

It is about 1,030 hectares large and is a great destination for people seeking peace and relaxation. With its scenic environment, it continues to attract both local and foreign nature lovers.

If you are a huge fan of the coastal environment, this place has ports around where you can catch a good view of offshore coral reefs, flatlands, and the sunset.

Olango Island - An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

Scuba diving is also a fun activity you can do while visiting Olango Island. For advanced scuba divers, Tingo Point is a popular dive site to see thresher and hammerhead sharks as you swim down a sandy slope.

Olango Island - An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

For a more relaxing experience, there are numerous resorts to accommodate your swimming and other aesthetic needs.

Listed below are the two most popular hotels in Olango:

You can also check for more hotel deals through Agoda.

Olango Island - An Underrated Paradise in Cebu

Visiting Olango Island between September to March, especially during the peak seasons of November and February, means you get to see the oodles of migratory birds coming from China, Japan, Siberia, and Australia. What more! You can opt for a kayaking experience and get a perfect glimpse of the birds and wildlife on display.

Indeed a great way to spend your day!

HOW TO GET TO OLANGO ISLAND

  • From Punta Engaño Port. Ride a jeepney or taxi to Punta Engaño and have yourself dropped off at the port beside Movenpick Hotel (formerly Hilton Hotel). From the port, hop on a boat going to Olango Island.
  • From Angasil Port. Ride a jeepney or taxi to the port near Mactan Newtown Beach (formerly Portofino Resort) and hop on a boat going to Olango Island.

Both rides take about 20-30 minutes and cost Php15 including the terminal fee.

Enjoy!

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Olango Island, Mactan, Cebu, Philippines

Fall in love with Chichibu: A Beautiful Mountainous City in Saitama

So yes, we took another road trip to Chichibu, Saitama, Japan; and this time, in spring!

You can read my previous post here when I first went on a road trip to Chichibu in autumn last year. I’m so in love with this place that I can’t even begin to describe. Chichibu is so peaceful and beautiful. The people are so warm and everything is just exciting.

Going to Chichibu would take about two hours by car or by train from Tokyo. It is a city in the westernmost part of Saitama prefecture and is surrounded by forests and mountains.

Mt. Bukou (武甲山)

One of the most famous hiking spots in Chichibu is Mt. Bukou (武甲山). It is composed of limestone and stands at 1,304 meters high. A large part of it is used for mining, resulting in its unique shape. Legend has it that Prince Yamato Takeru, the son of the 12th emperor of Japan and one of the greatest soldiers (武 ) in his time, removed his warrior helmet (甲 ) and put it in a room made of rocks inside this mountain (山), thus the name.

Address: Chichibu 368-0001, Saitama Prefecture

Fall in love with Chichibu - A Beautiful Mountainous City in Saitama

Hitsujiyama Park (羊山 公园)

Another famous attraction is the Hitsujiyama Park (羊山 公园). In spring when flowers are in full bloom, this park is covered with Shibazakura and Tulips in different colors. There are also a lot of food stalls in the park where you can buy delicious street food while strolling around.

Address: 〒368-0023 Saitama Prefecture, Chichibu, Omiya, 6360

Website: http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp/flower/shibazakura/

Fall in love with Chichibu - A Beautiful Mountainous City in Saitama

Chichibu Muse Park

Chichibu Muse Park is another picturesque spot you shouldn’t miss.  There, you can go cycling, play in a big children’s park, see a garden full of colorful Tulips, buy ice cream (yay!), watch fireflies, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountains overlooking the whole Saitama region.

Address: 637-2 Kuna, Chichibu City, Saitama

Website: http://www.muse-park.com/

And of course, our road trip wouldn’t be complete without having a little barbecue party in the woods while listening to the birds chirping and the relaxing sound of the river. We spent a night in a big house right in the middle of the forest before heading back to Tokyo the following day. It was another exciting experience I’ll never forget.

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Fall in love with Chichibu - A Beautiful Mountainous City in Saitama

A Road Trip to Chichibu in Autumn (Saitama)

A Road Trip to Chichibu in Autumn (Saitama)

To escape the busy streets of Tokyo and enjoy the autumn leaves more, we took the most spontaneous road trip to Chichibu, a city in the westernmost part of Saitama Prefecture surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests.

Chichibu is just a two-hour drive from Tokyo (we set off from Hachioji). You can also take the train via the express Seibu Ikebukuro Line. From Ikebukuro, it takes about an hour and a half to get to Chichibu station.

While on the road, I couldn’t help but be amazed. This city boasts natural beauty and peaceful rural villages. I never expected seeing more.

Everything was just so beautiful — the mountains, the autumn leaves that were slowly changing colors, the orange trees which I saw for the first time, the smiles of the people. No words.

It was definitely ‘love at first sight’ and Chichibu will always be one of my favorite places in Japan. I’m so in love with it and I’ll definitely come back in spring and see more of its beauty.

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A Road Trip to Chichibu in Autumn

What Is It Like To Attend A Japanese Wedding?

What Is It Like To Attend A Japanese Wedding?

So what is it like to attend a Japanese wedding and what are the DOs and DON’Ts?

I was invited to a Japanese wedding by one of my Japanese friends. She was my student for several months at a language school in the Philippines and though we have already built a good friendship along the way, it still came as a wonderful surprise to me when she asked me to go to Japan for her wedding with all expenses covered. It was such an honor. That experience will always be special to me.

Japanese weddings fall into two categories: the Traditional Shinto and the Western Style. My friend opted for the latter. It was very formal, grand, and impressive.

Some Facts About The Western-style Wedding:

01 | Only the invited guests can attend.

It is very common for the bride and the groom to only invite the person who is acquainted to them. So, even if you have a spouse or kids, if the invitation is only for you, you shouldn’t bring your family along with you.

02 | The wedding ceremony and the reception are usually held in the same hotel.

Contemporary wedding hotels in Japan usually have their own wedding chapel and sophisticated banquet halls for this kind of event.

03 | The bride changes her dress twice or three times.

This is called Oiro Naoshi (お色直し) and is the most anticipated part.

04 | Each guest receives a gift set from the married couple as their way of saying ‘Thank You’ for attending their wedding.

These tokens are usually found under the tables in the reception hall.

Tips When Attending A Wedding In Japan:

How to respond to an invitation:

The invitation is usually sent out several months before the wedding and you have to send it back before the date stated in the invitation letter to confirm your attendance. In my case, I just exchanged private messages with my friend because she understood that I had to get a visa and it might take a while.

What to wear:

Men usually wear black suits with white ties. DO NOT show up in a white suit as this can only be worn by the groom. In other cases, suits with neutral colors like brown, gray, and navy are also acceptable. This also applies with ties in addition to gold, silver, or plain striped. DO NOT wear a black tie as this is only worn when attending a funeral. Shoes must be black.

Women should wear knee-length dresses made of shiny fabric like silk or chiffon. The colors must be anything plain such as beige, brown, blue, baby pink, or maroon. Wearing a white dress is a big NO-NO! Only the bride must be seen in white as this is her day. Don’t forget to wear a plain-colored shawl if you wear a sleeveless dress. It is also a must to wear stockings and closed toe heels.

What to bring as a gift:

And no, I am not talking about the usual gifts we bring to a wedding like a blender, a rice cooker, porcelain plates, and whatnot. I’m talking about money. Yes, it is a culture in Japan to give new, crisp, and unfolded bills as a wedding gift. You have to put them in a money envelope called Goshūgi Bukuro (ご祝儀袋) and the amount depends on your relationship with the bride or the groom.

Please note that even numbers such as 4, 6, 8, and the like should be avoided since these numbers are related to the idea of “splitting up” and the number 4 is connected to “death”. The number 9 should not be on the list too because it indicates “suffering”. And as for the number 2, although it is an even number, it is acceptable since it means “pair”.

Here is a guide on how much you should put in the money envelope:

• ¥20,000 — for acquaintances, friends, and colleagues (You have to prepare one 10,000-yen bill and two 5,000-yen bills so the total number of the bills would be 3.)

• ¥30,000 — for friends and colleagues

• ¥50,000 — for very close friends and company bosses

• ¥100,000 — for families and close relatives

NOTE: Holding a wedding ceremony is not compulsory for a marriage to be legal in Japan. Couples who wish to get married only need to report at their city hall and comply with all the paperwork. Receiving the Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage confirms that they are finally legally married. So a wedding ceremony only serves as a celebration and can be done before or after getting the certificate. In most cases, couples do it several months or a year after.

If you happen to be invited to a Japanese wedding in the future, don’t miss the chance. It is a very exciting experience you will always cherish.

Enjoy!

Have you attended a Japanese Wedding? Share your experience in the comment section below!

Quick Facts (Japanese Wedding)

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What is it like to attend a Japanese Wedding

Discover Singapore

Discover Singapore (things to do in singapore).jpg

This small but beautiful country has all the reasons to boast itself in terms of convenience, cleanliness, food, and of course, people.

The moment you arrive in Changi airport, you won’t wonder why it has retained its title as the best airport in the world for three consecutive years. The entire airport is huge with theme parks in every floor. It is mostly carpeted with literally all the things that you need like a strong wifi connection, sleeping and waiting lounges, desktop computers, massage chairs, restaurants, luxury shops, and a lot more.

Singaporeans can also speak English well which makes it easier for tourists to communicate with them and ask for assistance whenever necessary. They’re pretty kind too. There were several times when I had to ask for directions and all of them were very helpful to even walk with me to my destination. See? I made new friends. That’s the beauty of traveling.

Orchard Road, which is the Singapore’s main shopping street, is also a huge tourist attraction lined with high-end malls, hotels, restaurants, and bargain stores. This one-way boulevard is clean and beautiful with double-deckers, expensive cars, and beautifully-designed taxi cabs passing by.

At night, if you want to have a couple of drinks, you can head to Clarke Quay where many bars and night restaurants are located. You can walk around or just sit on a bench enjoying the view of the river in front of the famous Marina Bay Sands.

If you would like to revive childhood memories, you shouldn’t miss the Universal Studios located in Sentosa Island. It was one of the highlights of my trip. As they say, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

Enjoy!

Discover Singapore (things to do in singapore)

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Discover Singapore

Top 10 Places To See in Baguio: The Summer Capital of the Philippines

Also known as the City of Pines, this mountain city’s cool temperature even in summer is the reason why it has been one ofthe top destinations among local and foreign tourists, thus making it the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Baguio was also once called as the Little AmericaMost places in Baguio were named after the Americans who used to govern the city. When you look around, most buildings are American-inspired that you wouldn’t think you’re in the Philippines. Getting around Baguio is also very cheap and most of the tourist attractions don’t require any fee.

Top 10 Places You Should See In Baguio City

01 | Burnham Park

Burnham Park is the very heart of Baguio City which was named after the American architect and urban planner, Daniel Hudson Burnham, who also designed the city. Here, you can do activities like boating, cycling, skating, and a lot more. This park also has a lot of sports areas and gardens.

02 | Camp John Hay

Camp John Hay, officially known as John Hay Air Base, was a recreational facility for the U.S. Armed Forces and was named afterPresident Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, John Milton Hay. Now, the place is more of a commercialized area with shops, restaurants, cafes, and some activities to do like golfing and trekking.

03 | Mines View Park

Mines View Park is one of the most favorite attractions in Baguio. It has an observation deck where you can have a spectacular view of Cordillera’s mountain ranges and Benguet’s gold and copper mines, thus the name. Here, you can also take photos with Baguio’s St. Bernard dogs and beautiful horses.-

04 | Wright Park

Wright Park was constructed in honor of Governor Luke Edward Wright who once served as the Governor-General of the Philippines. It is famous for its long reflecting pool lined with pine trees which is known as the Pool of Pines. This is where you can also do horseback riding and choose from hundreds of horses.

05 | The Mansion

The Mansion is the official summer residenceof the Philippine President. It is off-limits but you can still take photos with it in the background. The Mansion is just right across Wright Park and is great when you just want to take a long walk while enjoying the cool air, the flowers, and the trees.

06 | Strawberry Farm

Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad is one of the most exciting places to visit in Baguio especially during the first quarter of the year. You can pick fresh strawberries and buy them for around $10 per kilo. Aside from strawberries, you can also buy vegetables in the farm for a veeery cheap price. And lastly, make sure you don’t leave without treating yourself with some strawberry ice cream. It’s friggin’ gooood!

07 | Bell Church

Bell Church is a Taoist Church with a lot of dragon statues around and is considered as Baguio’s hidden gem. It has a number of pagodas and beautifully-designed gardens. If you’re looking for peace and serenity, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

08 | BenCab Museum

BenCab Museum houses the art collection of Benedicto Cabrera, a Filipino painter who was awarded as the National Artist for Visual Arts in 2006. The museum also has a cafe which serves homegrown coffee and delectable sweets.

09 | Ifugao Woodcarver’s Village

Ifugao Woodcarver’s Village is where you can buy great souvenirs carved by the Ifugaos. From BenCab Museum, you can just drop off this place on your way back to the city proper.

10 | Philippine Military Academy

PMA is the Philippine’s military school of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is the training ground for future officers.

How To Get To Baguio

From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), head to Pasay, Cubao, or Caloocan Bus Terminal and take a Victory Liner Bus to Baguio. It takes about 7 hours to get there and the fare is around $20.

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Baguio City, Philippines

A Weekend in Moalboal

A Weekend in Moalboal (Cebu, Philippines)

Just a few weeks after my Malapascua trip, I headed off to my next beach destination — Moalboal Island located in Cebu, Philippines. I was invited by one of my best friends to stay in her house with her beautiful family.

It was such a fun weekend. We celebrated her sister’s birthday, went gleaning, and had an endless chat session.

Moalboal (pronounced as mo-ahl-bo-ahl) is just 2-3 hours away by bus or by van from Cebu City. It has two main beach destinations: Panagsama and Bas Daku, both of which offer easy access to Pescador Island, a famous diving spot which is located just a few kilometers off its coast. For scuba divers out there, you shouldn’t miss Pescador.

We opted for Bas Daku as Panagsama beach doesn’t have white sand. Bas Daku has a long coastline with white sand beach and an array of beachfront hotels and hostels. Going to the center of town from Bas Daku is also very easy and takes only a few minutes by tricycle.

If you’re planning for a quick weekend getaway, Moalboal is one great choice!

Enjoy!

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A Weekend in Moalboal Island (Cebu, Philippines)