Becoming Nomads: Our Mini Mindanao Adventure
It has been four months now since we went back home from our mini Mindanao adventure as a family. We tested the waters of becoming true-blue digital nomads and, this time around, we decided not just to stay in one city but to tour around Eastern Mindanao for at least three weeks.
How was it? Is it really possible to do that? And up to how many degrees of difficult does it escalate when you add a toddler to the equation?
I am very blessed and thankful that I have a partner who supports me in (nearly) every decision I make. Our trip to Mindanao wasn’t really as spontaneous as it sounded; we went there to attend the wedding of a friend where our 3-year-old little girl was made part of the entourage. It was just the beginning, of course, and with my mentality, I wanted to stretch out the trip to as long as we possibly could.
We actually weren’t sure if our plans would push through until a few days before the planned departure. In fact, we bought our ferry tickets to CDO an hour prior to leaving Cebu. We could have also taken the free ticket back to Cebu but we knew that we’d have gone the 15-day limit and that we would have probably spent more if we circled Mindanao than if we departed from Surigao.
We only spent one whole day in Cagayan de Oro and stayed at a former online colleague’s house to take advantage of the free Internet connection. If there was one thing I learned about becoming a digital nomad in the Philippines, it was that Internet was super unreliable and you will have to constantly deal with signal loss and data caps. That night, we took an overnight bus to Davao City (saved us on accommodation) and then stayed for a few hours in another friend’s house for the Internet.
Our daughter was just a few months old when we started taking her to trips across islands but, in the later years, we realized that we loved spontaneous trips more. We had this thing for unplanned trips that didn’t have a clear itinerary or even a booked accommodation. Scary as it sounds when you’re traveling with a toddler but we loved the flexibility of it.
We ended up staying in Davao City for two weeks. Our accommodation was an extremely cheap transient room that allowed us to sleep, bathe, cook and work without limit — and with little dent in our pockets. During the wedding, the partner was able to befriend the caterer who offered us one whole week of stay in his house. Wow! This is exactly why we love flexible schedules!
Eventually, we had to say goodbye (can’t abuse hospitality) and moved on to Mati City. This quiet little town is yet to be flocked by crowds of tourists so finding really cheap accommodations was difficult. You’d think PHP 500 is cheap enough but if you stay there for a week, it all adds up. We did get the chance to camp by Dahican Beach but the mosquitoes were very unwelcoming; the partner didn’t even have a chance to try out the swells.
Then we moved to Cateel, saw Aliwagwag Falls and the local park and stayed there for two nights. Yep, we even got to experience their power outs which was actually still frequent in a town heavily devastated by the Typhoon Pablo almost five years ago.
We realized that we had about a day or two left for our trip. My mom asked us to go back home to look after her business so we had to cut our trip short. And, we were still in Cateel, by the way.
It was a crazy day as we took a mad dash to Northeastern Mindanao. After 14 hours of winding roads and passing by Bislig, Hinatuan and Butuan until finally reaching Surigao del Norte, we were almost to the finish line. We weren’t quite sure how our toddler survived that trip but she slept for the most part — and we had to deal with a hyperactive version of her come evening.
We could have taken the ferry to Cebu that night but we were 30 minutes late so we had to wait until evening the next day.
Our entire 22-day trip costed us around PHP 30,000 including accommodation, transportation and food for two adults and a toddler. We managed to visit a few museums and other attractions but we tried our best not to splurge. Our only pasalubong from the trip (aside from the photos and memories) was a kilo of crabs from Surigao.
While waiting for our boat trip to Cebu, we stayed at the huge and beautiful Rizal Park the entire day, carrying our backpacks.
The trip sure was a lot of fun and we learned so many things along the way, not just about ourselves and our family but also about life in general. We’d love to go on yet another similar slow trip next time but we have to face a few adult responsibilities for now. Maybe we’ll brew something huge come 2018? Who knows…