What An Adventure-Filled 2017!


Wow! Sweetie and I had an icing-of-the-cake idea of how our 2017 would be. But little did we know that the level of adrenaline of our adventures in 2017 was way off the scale! Extremely marvelous! Many of our thrilling sojourns took us away from solid ground and into strange new realms of blue seas, pristine rivers, and enigmatic caves. Let us take you through the excitement that we had this year.

We started our year with a sandy adventure! Our sojourn in Laoag’s La Paz Sand Dunes had us guffawing, laughing, and screaming as we rode a 4X4 across the expansive dunes. Capping the adventure was surfing down a huge sand dune. Totally fun! You should try it!

La Paz Sand Dunes

A mutually beneficial symbiosis of human advancement and ecological preservation can actually happen! We found proof of this when we visited the gigantic windmills of the Burgos Wind Farm, which produce a lot of clean energy. The wind farm is constructed just right beside beautiful rock formations in Kapurpurawan. It is synergy of nature and technology at its best.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

We headed to Pagudpud, the northernmost town of Luzon. Let us tell you: we would love to live here! It’s a beautiful place of virgin forests, white-sand beaches, green hills, and caves. Our guide Rain even took us to an unnamed, unaltered beach! If you want both peace and adventure, Pagudpud is the place to be.

Beautiful Pagudpud

The Hundred Islands National Park is in every Philippine History textbook. After more than three decades, we finally visited this national natural attraction. The pristine islands, islets, and outcroppings are absolutely amazing! We wonder if there are dive spots here.

Hundred Islands National Park

For our Valentines date, Ma’am Rowena treated us for a stay in her lovely Nature’s Eye Resort in Guimaras. Being far from civilization, nestled in a sheltered and untouched cove, and surrounded by a colorful flower garden, it is certainly the most romantic resort we’ve very stayed in. The open shower is the best part! Just bare yourself in all unadulterated glory out there!

Nature's Eye Resort

Our Valentines adventure involved an exciting yet relaxing island hopping trip around the bay of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. We cruised on emerald-colored waters and visited coral sanctuaries, rugged rock outcroppings, untouched woods, and white-sand beaches. What an idyllic place for people who want to be away from the chaos of urban life!

Secluded beach

Guimaras perfectly fits the idea of a sweet island paradise—as luscious as the sweet mangoes the island is known for. Monasteries and sacred hills offer tranquil venues for spiritual reflection. Beaches of different personalities dot the circumference of the island. And just like in Kapurpurawan, we stood in awe in front of gigantic power windmills that produce clean energy for the entire island.

Guisi Lighthouse and Spanish Outpost Ruins

Do you remember that we won the Best Cebu Blog Award in 2016? Our prize was a stay in Richmond Hotel and a tour around Megaworld’s ultramodern Iloilo Business Park. It’s a great place for cool urban adventures and mouthwatering food trips. But more importantly, the IBP is a place for the future, offering thousands of jobs and opportunities for Ilonggos.

Iloilo Business Park
(Photo credit: Megaworld Corporation)

You know we are outdoorspeople at heart. Thus, while we enjoyed our stay in IBP, we also explored other areas around Iloilo. We enjoyed our first day frolicking in the cool waters around the sandbars of Concepcion. Bulubadiangan and Agho Islands are comprised of beautiful fine white sand. If you’re looking for postcard-perfect beaches, then you should head out to these sandbars!

Bulubadiangan Island sandbar

Several years ago, we tried to reach the summit of imposing Mt. Napulak in Igbaras, Iloilo. We didn’t succeed; a storm threatened to blow us off the mountain. Five years later, we redeemed ourselves through a second attempt. This time, we were able to reach the top of Nipple Rock; Mt. Napulak deemed us to be worthy to step on her sacred summit.

Mt. Napulak

Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort is more than just an excellent resort. It is a haven for adventure! Challenging obstacle courses, rugged ATV and bike trails, cool watersports—-there is so much to do here! Even enjoying a meal is an adventure; guests are treated to unique themed dinners that showcase the best of seafood, Filipino cuisine, and more!

Beachfront Pool at Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort

The reefs surrounding the island of Panglao in Bohol teem with rich marine life. Thanks to GoDeep Philippines and Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort, we were able to explore Arco Point. We saw delicate purple corals, a frogfish, lots of gorgonians, and interesting sponges. The best part was going inside a hole towards the wall. It was like entering into another world!

Arco Point Blue Hole

Our home island of Mactan has some of the best dive sites in the country. Along with new and old friends, we visited these dive sites and uncovered rarely seen biological treasures. We hovered along colorful reefs and were surrounded by curious fish. Diving in Mactan is easy, convenient, and affordable.

Buyong Dive Site

Calamay has always been one of our favorite Filipino desserts since our childhood. So we readily said yes to the invitation of Provincial Tourism Department of Bohol to Jagna’s Calamay Festival. Making calamay is a true labor of love mixed with the Filipino’s warmth. It is then garnished with a generous sprinkling of festivities.


Jagna is more than just a town specializing in a world-renowned delicacy. It’s a wonderful place full of stunning landscapes, dazzling sunrises, summer-perfect beaches, nostalgic ancestral homes, and more. Indeed, Jagna is a new backpacking destination! Visit Jagna now!

Cantagay Cliff

One of the treasures of Jagna is beneath its topaz-colored waters. We went down at 130 feet—the deepest dive we did so far—at the Cantagay Marine Sanctuary. There, we saw rare and prized black corals, which look like ethereal spirits of the sea. We also spooked a hawksbill turtle that was trying to rest. Hahaha!

Black Corals

International Pharmaceuticals Inc. helped us realize one of our fondest dreams. During the launching of their Efficascent Relaxing Oil, they allowed us to cruise the Mactan Channel in a lovely catamaran-type yacht! The afternoon featured games, interviews with the IPI executives, afternoon cocktails, a delicious dinner, and a light show.

P/Y Jokai 1

Our mountains in Cebu are not as tall as those in other places we’ve visited. That does not mean they are less significant. Our own beautiful peaks have their own charm and story to tell. An example of such mountain is Mt. Mauyog in Balamban. The brain-like, rocky summit is particularly interesting.


Mt. Manunggal is Cebu’s most historically important mountain. On March 15, 1957, President Ramon Magsaysay and 17 presidential staff along with news correspondents died here as the aircraft carrying them crashed in Mt. Manunggal’s slopes. A monument and a memorial were erected to honor the People’s President.

Mt. Manunggal Summit

Cebu’s central mountain range provides a great opportunity for adventurers who want to really challenge themselves. One weekend, we climbed two mountains and a rocky monolith in Toledo. The Toledo trilogy definitely tested our endurance, and we passed with flying colors. The trilogy was a prelude to our plan to trek the Cebu Highlands Trail next year.

Mt. Makatol

One of the must rustic resorts we’ve stayed in, the Cabana Beach Club Resort and the other accommodations around the company’s name are sure to embrace you in comfort. We enjoyed excellent service, comfortable accommodations, and authentic Italian food.

Cabana Beach Club Resort Gazebo

This small island is as beautiful as the abundant reef beneath it. Pescador Island stands as a lonely sentinel in the Taรฑon strait. It’s a home for marine birds, reptiles, and small mammals. We hope to dive here again; our last dive to Pescador Island wasn’t really a nice experience due to rough weather.

Beautiful Pescador Island

Panagsama Beach is best known for its sardine run, a massively thick cloud of sardines that hover on the shallow parts of the reef. We scuba dived at Sardine Point not just to see the sardine run but also to check out a great variety of marine life. But for us, the best part was that we encountered a whale shark in its natural habitat! It was one of the most magical moments of our adventuring lives.

Sardine Run in Panagsama, Moalboal

Freedive HQ, together with our sponsor Dynamic Sports, invited us to join them in a clinic called “Freedive for the Future.” It was a weekend of fun and knowledge. We learned about the physiology and techniques of free-diving, had a relaxing yoga session, and interviewed Thibault who is a record-breaking free-diver. More importantly, Reef-World Foundation and Green Fins also shared with us eco-friendly practices to protect and preserve our precious reefs.

(Photo credit: Hannah Bacalla. Follow her underwater adventures through her Instagram account HeartSea)

Our journey to Pinipisakan Falls with Joni of Trexplore is probably the grandest adventure we had this year. Not many people, not even locals, have ever seen this natural wonder. We endured a two-hour boat ride and hiked for two hours in a remote, purportedly rebel-infested jungle in the middle of Samar. It all paid off; seeing Pinipisakan Falls was like witnessing a magical place in a fairy-tale come to life.

Pinipisakan Falls

Above Pinipisakan Falls is Sulpan Cave, one of the most beautiful caves we have ever seen. It’s also one of the most dangerous; flooding regularly occurs here. Sulpan Cave is a dark, foreboding counterpart of enchanting Pinipisakan Falls. It’s like exploring the realm of dark elves and fairies!

Sulpan Cave

On our way home from Pinipisakan Falls and Sulpan Cave, we drifted downstream along the wild Blanca Aurora River. We climbed boulders, crawled along crevices, and tumbled along rapids. The adventure was as exciting as it was perilous. An untouched paradise, Blanca Aurora River is a place where one can really commune with Mother Nature.

Rapids of the Blanca Aurora River

Following our Pinipisakan Falls-Sulpan Cave adventure, we cooled down with a canyoning adventure in Catbalogan. What a fun-filled morning it was! Our friends Harould, Fathema, and Lai joined us in this adventure, making it even more fun! There’s nothing better than sharing your passion with equally passionate friends.

Canyoning in Samar

At long last, Cebu now has established hiking and biking trails for beginners and experienced adventurers alike! Aboitizland invited us to cover Foressa Trails in the highlands of Balamban. We can’t wait to try out the trails, which are designed according to the standards of the US Forest Service.


Diving in Kontiki Reef was a romantic and nostalgic feeling because it was here where we first fell in love with scuba diving. One of the most popular and beautiful dive sites in Mactan, the Kontiki reef is a dazzling home for a massive variety of colorful reef fish. Fierce barracudas also find this dive site their hunting venue.



But our 2017 is not just limited to exciting adventures and awesome trips. We also took part in several noteworthy adventure- and eco-related endeavors.

The 400-kilometer Cebu Highlands Trail, the brainchild of bushcrafter Jing Lavilles and his team in Camp Red, is the first long-distance hiking trail in the Visayas. Sirs Jing and Jonathan executed and completed the first thru-hike of the CHT, and as documented in his blog Warrior Pilgrimage, the trail is utterly incredible! We supported the CHT through online promotion. We also provided Sir Jing with a pre-loved but high-quality backpack, which eased up his burden.

Cebu Highlands Trail

Our company PhotoUp comprises of water babies who love the sea. Because environmental conservation is part of our corporate social responsibility, we cleaned up a beach in Mactan. People should take care of our beaches and seas. Not only are they major natural tourist attractions and favorite local picnic areas, but our beaches are also habitats for a huge variety of creatures.

Throw Your Garbage Properly

We joined Project BLUE to clean up the Maribago House reef during the “Dive Against Debris” reef cleanup activity. I had the honor of hauling the biggest catch of the day—a discarded tire! As humans, we have great power over the planet. But as what Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.” We should not use our ocean as trash dump. If the oceans die, we die. It’s as simple as that.

Reef cleanup


For us, 2017 was an incredibly productive year. But our sojourns are only part of this year’s book. Your unfaltering support as readers, followers, fans, critics, and friends enabled us to accomplish some extraordinary milestones.

Our stint as brand ambassadors of the German-outdoor-equipment manufacturer Deuter was nothing short of spectacular! The experience steered us onto the path of exemplary professionalism on responsible and committed representation of a brand. As such, Deuter and Dynamic Sports were impressed by our performance. So much so that they decided to renew our ambassadorship contract. Wohoo!

Deuter Ambassadors

We have always wanted to help local outdoor-gear brands. After all, we are proud Cebuanos. Our chance came when Se7en Outdoor, a Cebu-based business that manufactures outdoor apparel, decided to trust us with their brand! Se7en shirts are super high-quality and super comfortable. They’re perfect outfits for hot, humid, and wet climes like ours.


One of the biggest accomplishments this year was having my story “Langon-Gobingob Cave: A Philippine Underworld of Epic Proportions” published in a book titled Around the World in 80 Days, published by Portugal-based company Navigator Paper! This one is a huge, unexpected step because it’s an international publication! I didn’t win any of the top prizes, but that didn’t matter. You see, it has always been my dream to publish my own fantasy and adventure novels, and this is a huge win for me. Having my story included in this book inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a novelist.

We have been given distinction from one of the world’s biggest names in the travel industry: Lonely Planet. It’s a great honor to be a Lonely Planet Pathfinder. For us, it means that we are truly becoming world citizens!

Lonely Planet Pathfinder

Similarly, we were also considered as a Home Away Travel Expert Featured Blogger by Expedia, one of the world’s largest and most popular travel booking website. Thank you so much!

HomeAway Featured Travel Blogger

This was one unexpected win. Our rock climbing photo of Chocolate Mountain in Danao, Cebu won Human Nature’s Summer Photo contest. Why unexpected? For one, we’re not professional photographers, and virtually all our images are shot using a simple digicam or a GoPro action cam. Two, our photo was not exactly summery. Most of the entries show white-sand beaches, swaying palms, aquamarine seas, and more. But wow! We surprisingly won!


“The Core of Successful Blogging” is our own casual and interactive workshop that focuses on identifying, establishing, and building the foundations of a successful blog. We successfully handled two batches of amazing and inspiring people from all walks of life. We are truly honored to have them as our audience! We would also like to thank Eric Paolo Smith and Books and Brews Cafe for accommodating us.

The Core of Successful Blogging

The Lapu-lapu City College invited me as a resource trainer and speaker for a creative writing workshop. My talk centered around career outlets in creative writing, preparing themselves to go out in the real world, what employers and clients expect of them as a professional writer, and more. It’s always a huge honor for me to share my knowledge of creative writing, much more if my audience is an aspiring group of graduating college students who are preparing themselves to walk on the road of success.


And we were able to do everything above because of you!

Yes, that’s right! You! How could we have done this without you, dear readers, viewers, and followers! Adrenaline Romance has been in cyberspace for 5 years, and you have never abandoned us! We would have never made it this far without you. As what we said last year, we do not exaggerate when we say you are our inspiration. That is absolutely genuine, and we could never thank you enough for it. Just check out our impressive stats below!

  • 1,486,471 blog views
  • 1,364 blog followers
  • 3,683 Facebook followers
  • 3,875 Twitter followers
  • 2,847 Instagram followers
  • 202 YouTube Channel Subscribers

And look at those SEO numbers below. Those figures are all based on pure, natural, organic traffic. That means, no paid traffic of any kind is involved.

  • Domain Authority: 33
  • Page Authority: 44
  • Google PageRank: 4/10
  • MozRank: 5/10

2017 was a jam-packed year for us in our adventures, family lives, and professional and personal advancements. However, we have a strong feeling that 2018 would be an even better year! Excitement burns deep with us on what’s in store for us in the upcoming Year of the Dog (and yes, we’re dog lovers)!

Get ready! Clean your backpacks, re-sole your trekking shoes, fit those shirts, and prepare those plane tickets. Come with us for another 12 action-packed, adrenaline-pumping, fun-filled months!


About Gian and Sheila

Rock climbers. Mountaineers. Sweethearts on adventure. Adrenaline Romance is a photoblog that belongs to a loving couple who has an eternal lust for adventure. The blog contains experiences, tips, itineraries, and other useful information regarding adventuring in the Philippines and beyond.

32 comments on “What An Adventure-Filled 2017!

  1. Pictures are Stunning! Just inspired me to plan for next trip . Thanks for Great Information.

  2. What an adventure and what a life! I looks like youโ€™v achieved some incredible things over the past 12 months! Looking forward to seeing what amazing adventures you have in 2018! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a great year you had – good for you! And the destinations you ventured are so diverse – certainly no boredom here. I particularly like the underwater activities – the pix are stunning, I feel like taking a bath right away – and the waterfalls. I wish you many more exciting trips in 2018 – have a great year!

  4. And I thought my 2017 was excellent but you guys had a blast! Love reading your adventures and here is to 2018, keep smiling ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Whoah! That was really an adventure packed year! Kudos to Team Sweetie! Happy New Year. More adventures this 2018! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Wow, there are some wonderful places you guys have visited this past year. Wishing you more happy adventures for 2018. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. wow seems like you had an amazing 2017! You’ve seen so many wonderful places and achieved many goals. I wish you many many amazing trips for 2018! Philippines seems like a wonderful country I hope ill get to visit it soon!

  8. I really want to try the 4×4 ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Šโคโคhopefully sooner

    I wasn’t able to read it from the top to the bottomย cuzย iย can’t stop my drowsiness, maybeย iย will continue reading this tomorrow

    Happy new yearย MA’AM/SIR


  9. I remember reading a lot of these posts over the past year. I really enjoyed reading them and following your journey. I really enjoyed the hikes I feel the most. We enjoy hikes and when we see others hiking we feel like we are with them enjoying the moment.

  10. Far from civilization, in amazing secluded place, what great vacations you had in 2017! And such an adventure filled year. I hope 2018 will have all the more in store for you. Can’t wait to hear more stories of your travel around the world.

  11. Wow, 2017 was certainly an adventure filled year for guys! Congratulations on reaching so many milestones and also for all the awards and acknowledgments. Wish you guys make many such amazing memories in 2018 along with achieving many more awards!

  12. OMG under the water is so spectacular!! I tried once scuba diving and i loved so much. but unfortunately no time to do it again. nice sharing!

  13. You had a really adventurous 2017. Greetings for 2018.

  14. That was indeed a breeze of an year.You have unearthed some really valuable gem of places in the Philippines. Jagna is my favourite though. Great to see your story featured in Navigator Paper stories last year, are you participating this year too?

  15. Continue being an inspiration. All the best for Team Sweetie in the next years to come! ๐Ÿ™‚

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