Alon ng Pag-asa volunteers in Siargao
Philippines,  Sustainable Travel

Voluntourism Trip to Siargao Island

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I was very excited about this trip because — we were going to Siargao! Surfing, virgin islands, the famed Magpupungko Rock Pools.

This 2015 Cebu-Siargao trip is organized by Alon ng Pag-asa, a small group of travelers promoting voluntourism in the Philippines. We planned this trip as requested and supervised by a fellow volunteer, Kuya Danny whose beloved home province was Siargao. We extended assistance to school kids in Barangay Caub in Siargao. For the rest of the trip, we planned side tours.

This is what voluntourism is about — giving while traveling.

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Outreach Itinerary and Tours

We scheduled the outreach in November and we waited for airline promos from Manila to Cebu and then Cebu to Siargao, as early as June. Due to limited availability of schedule, we had a one-day layover in Cebu.

Here’s everything about our trip.

Day 1: Day trip in Oslob (Cebu)

With 24 hours before our flight to Siargao, we decided to take a day trip in Oslob, Cebu. In the wee hours of the morning, we took a bus in the South Terminal to Oslob.

We arrived in the morning and, from Oslob wharf, took a boat tour to swim with butanding (whale sharks). People can stay in the boat and watch, but I highly recommend jumping in the water. It’s a one-in-a lifetime experience.

Update: I’d done research about the whale shark tourism and apparently it is not ethical to the animals. So I encourage you to read more about why the whale shark tourism in Oslob can be harmful.

Sumilon island clear water
Team Alon in Cebu. (Photo credit to Hali)

After a quick breakfast, we then rode a boat to the posh Sumilon Island, about 15 minutes away. We beachbummed for a few hours.

To cap off our day trip in Oslob, we rode a pickup to Tumalog Falls, a tall waterfall with gentle water curtain and umbrella-like rock features.

Day 2: Island hopping in Del Carmen (Siargao)

Finally, here we go Siargao!

We stayed at Isla Verde Resort in Del Carmen, which is one a (humble) private island resort — one of the many islands in the area.

We charted a private boat and then island hopped to off-beaten places in Del Carmen: Hidden Lagoon (aka Sugba Lagoon) where there are lush islets reminiscent of Palawan: Kawhagan Island which is virgin island in the middle of the open sea; and Midway Island which is an abandoned resort with a boardwalk where we could plunge into the sea.

Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao
Sugba Lagoon. (Photo credit to Hali)
Kahuwagan Island in Siargao
Kawhagan Island: splendid and untouched. (Photo credit to Hali)
Group shot in Kawhagan Island
Group photo in Kawhagan Island.
Midway Island in Siargao
Hali and I in Midway Island. (Photo credit to Hali)

Day 3: Outreach event in Caub (Siargao)

On the third day, we went to Barangay Caub for our outreach event. We gave school supplies to 150-180 school children. We also held games, a short instructional demo on the proper brushing of teeth and washing of hands supervised by our medical volunteers, and a feeding program for both children and adults where we served spaghetti, biscuits and chocolates and candies, with tetrapacks of juice drinks.

del Carmen in Siargao
Small boats fetched us from Isla Verde Resort to the barangay hall in Caub. (Photo credit to Hali)
Voluntourism Philippines: Alon ng Pag-asa in Siargao
Alon ng Pag-asa in Siargao (Photo credit to Hali)

Our main challenge was to get past the communication barrier. Some of the kids understand Tagalog but were not proficient speakers. We asked the teachers to translate for us. Luckily, a fellow volunteer, Ate Rina, is well versed in Surigaonon and general Bisaya and helped us in talking to the children.

Alon ng Pag-asa volunteers in Siargao
Say hi! Traveler-volunteers in del Carmen, Siargao. (Photo by Hali)
Kids in outreach in Barangay Caob, Siargao
One of the benefits of being a volunteer — seeing kids happy. (Photo credit to Hali)
Outreach in Barangay Caob, Siargao
Ate Rina teaching the children in Barangay Caob. (Photo credit to Hali)

All in all, it was a fulfilling, successful outreach event.

Day 4: Swimming in Magpupungko Pool and Cloud 9 Resort (Siargao)

We visited two of the most famous spots in Siargao: Magpupungko Pool and Cloud 9 in General Luna.

We had to visit Magpupungko Rock Pool first, to make sure we get there during low tide. It’s basically a natural tidal pool beside the beach. The pool isn’t clearly visible during high tide since it merges with the sea. I can’t express how much I love this place, the clear emerald waters and the way the rocks contrived to form a natural pool just beside the sea. There’s also a cliff for jumping.

Group shot in Magpupungko Pool
Hali and me with friends.

Later that afternoon, we went to a resort in Cloud 9 to experience the best activity in Siargao — surfing. Beaches in Siargao offer big, consistent waves suitable for beginner and professional surfers alike.

Cloud 9 in General Luna, Siargao
Iconic boardwalk in General Luna, Siargao.

An afternoon is a bit short to enjoy surfing in General Luna. Hali has already mentioned plans of coming back here.

Day 5: DIY Cebu city tour

We got back to Cebu and explored the city for the remaining hours.

I’m just going to say it outright: I’m not a city tour person. Neither is Hali. We love natural attractions better. Cities here in the Philippines are mostly hot and polluted, and there’s nothing much to see except old churches and buildings. Not to mention, traffic in Cebu City is as bad as in Manila. Just kidding, there will be no other place where traffic is worse than that in EDSA. 🙂

Majority of the old structures we visited were under construction (Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Nino) for fortification against earthquakes. However, our Cebu city tour was not in vain.

I enjoyed our visit in the sacred Cebu City’s Taoist Temple, located uphill in a subdivision in Cebu, and looking around the 340-year-old historical heritage site that is the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House.

Cebu's Taoist temple wishing well
With Jem, our host and tour guide in Cebu, in the temple’s wishing well area. (Photo by Hali)

Later that afternoon, we dropped by a pasalubong center for Cebu’s dried mangoes and other local delicacies such as otap and butterscotch breads. Thus ended our 5-days trip to Cebu and Siargao.

In loving memory of Danny Consigna

This voluntourism venture in Siargao is originally a project of Kuya Danny, our group’s beloved caterer.

I met Kuya Danny in our outreach in Jomalig. He prepared lunch for the whole team. I was amazed then with the way he handled the food; after 3 hours of land travel and 6 hours in the sea, the rice was still warm. The meals were complete –- from vegetables, to the main course, to dessert (his famous peach-mango creme). We were spoiled with his cooking.

After Jomalig, I saw him again in another outreach event in FAMY, Laguna, and the last time, in our pre-outreach meeting for Siargao in Megamall. He still looked well, though there was already a hint of sickness.

Siargao was Kuya Danny’s hometown. His family lived a humble life in the seas of Siargao, his father a fisherman. He told us that, as a kid, his playground was its untouched lakes and pools, way before commercialization encroached the province. In time, the islands were brought by foreign owners, and commodity prices skyrocketed. The residents were not able to catch up. Many places remained poor, and Kuya Danny eventually escaped to Manila. He wanted to give back to the place he grew up in, where despite lack of material things, his family nourished him with love.

We planned this outreach event as early as June. Kuya Danny offered to take the donations via ship to Siargao, since flight baggage is too expensive. He planned the accommodation, land and boat transfers. However, a week before the actual event, Kuya Danny messaged us to say he would not be able to come with us due to his condition. We debated whether to push through; the logistics was against us. Kuya Danny requested that we do.

Even in a hospital bed, he found us a proxy from Team Hamog, Kuya Ralph, who would take the boxes of donations to Siargao, and made sure we had proper accommodation through the help of his relatives once we get to Siargao. During our stay there, Kuya Danny even called to make sure we were welcomed and well fed. His relatives also prepared salad for us, his instructions I assume.

Our outreach event for children in Barangay Caob in Siargao was successful.

Two days after we were back from Manila, Kuya Danny passed away.

I think Kuya Danny merely waited for the culmination of the outreach event, his achievement, a final request. I hope his soul rests in peace, knowing that even in the face of illness he still found a way to push this project through.

Volunteers in Siargao outreach
Alon ng Pag-asa joined with Team Hamog to bring happiness to the children of Barangay Caob, a project of Kuya Danny who lived in Siargao. (Photo credit to Hali)

Kuya Danny was an active volunteer and organizer of outreach events. He had a successful catering business. He was thoughtful and humorous, with a strong sense of justice.

This is for you Kuya Danny. I hope we made you proud.

Here’s a video of our event:

Do you join voluntourism events as well? Let us know your story in the comments below!

What to read next:

Visiting Siargao soon? Don’t forget to read these guides:

Here are the rest of our voluntourism trips:

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  • Cai Dominguez- Travelosyo

    Hi Kat,

    If you know upcoming activities like this. Which is traveling with a purpose please contact me at would love to join this act of giving and kindness. Thanks for sharing your itinerary. I have a friend who will do the same so I will share this article. 🙂

    • Kat

      Hi, Cai! You can follow our group for updates. You can find our Facebook Page here:

      Though I want to keep everybody updated myself, the list of people who’re requesting that I message them for upcoming outreach events is getting long and I’m afraid I can’t keep up. 🙂 Thank you so much for your interest.

  • Aika Loraine

    Very meaningful travel. I adore people who help kids and values their need of good education. Bammmm. That’s a very nice view of the beach. White sand.

  • Ainie Callora

    I’m sorry to hear about your Kuya Danny. It looks like he just made sure that you guys are well settled and the plans to visit Cebu-Siargao will be successful before he leaves. I’ve been to Cebu but I have never visited Siargao yet. The place looks lovely! I agree to go for a swim while whale watching. I’ve tried it and it was very awesome!

  • Marge Gavan

    Wow, you’ve done so much in your trip. I’ve never been to Siargao though I am planning to go there of course. I’ve been to Cebu but back then I didn’t know anything about Oslob so I missed it. I will use your itinerary as a guide for my trip there.

    I’m sorry about the passing of Kuya Danny, he seems like a wonderful person.

  • Jaymee Sajenes

    I never thought that Cebu and Siargao is magestic. As I browse through your blog posts I am starting to pursue traveling. All the photos you took are eye candy but the one you captured at Magpupungko Pool is amazing. I also admire you that you can do outreach events while traveling.


    Hey NICE! I have been to Cebu several times pero I have never visited Siargao… Sorry about Kuya Danny pero he is the epitome of people in the provinces who extend themselves for others.

  • Darlene

    I’ve always wanted to go to Siargao because of Magpupungko. And those are parts of Cebu I haven’t explored yet.
    I definitely agree about voluntourism. Nice of you guys to contribute and do an outreach there. I’m sure you have made him proud. My condolences.

  • SofarsoSabine

    Wow! Whale watching. That must be something else! I’ve been swimming with dolphins but whales are absolutely fascinating!!! I would love to do that! I love snorkeling a lot 🙂
    The paradise that you’re describing makes me feel to travel so much!

  • maerose007

    I’m sorry to hear about your caterer. My condolences. I’m sure he is proud of how you shared your experiences in Siargao, the volunteering, and everything. I’m glad that you’ve found someone to travel with. Been traveling solo in and out PH, and was hoping to find a more permanent travel buddy as well. 😛 Cheers to more travels for both of you!

    • Kat

      Oh, Kuya Danny was not our caterer per se, in that we didn’t pay him for helping with food preparation and all. We just fondly call him that because he had a catering businesses and he used to led feeding programs for the children (and us).

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