After a few days exploring the island of Siquijor, I made it to Dumaguete and checked into Bungalow Hostel.


I had been recommended Apo Island and immediately signed up for a day trip to do a few dives with some turtles.


Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


That night the hostel took us to a restaurant called True Love Café, which is a Jamaican style restaurant. The food was pretty good but I got chatting to the owner who told me all about the work he does for schools who are in dire need. He’s originally from Jamaica and then spent a bit of time in London before coming here.


He’s building a canteen & kitchen for a school up in the mountains and it costs just £500. £500! All he requires is the donors. It’s incredible the amount of thought that goes into it as well. There’s no easy way to say this but up here kids tend to eat and wipe themselves with the same hand. And because they are unable to use toilet paper (due to the lack of a sewerage system) the chances of becoming ill are sky high! Unfortunately cleaning yourself with your hands is the only option so he decided to change the way the kids eat and buy them all a plate and a set of cutlery. He also built a library and opened it up the kid’s parents to come in and use it. His plan is to work on 1 school at a time and eventually leave it to become self-efficient along with its own chicken farm for food etc then move onto another project.

David Simpson about to plunge in the water head first in Apo Island, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


Paddy, a mate I know from London recommended this spot but it turns out he didn’t actually get to visit. I had signed up for a day trip from Dumaguete  but in hindsight wish I had decided to stay as it looked amazing. Waking up everyday and going for a snorkel with some turtles sounds pretty good! That’s how easy it is as well, all you need to do is look out to sea and you see all their wee heads coming out of the water.

Turtle underwater among corals in Apo Island, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete
David Simpson diving with a turtle in Apo Island, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete

Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


The dives were ok but we ended the day with a snorkel and it was so much better. The only place I have been where snorkelling was better than scuba diving. I was the last 1 from the boat to see a turtle, as every time one came up for air, by the time I got my sh*t together it had disappeared. Then the next time I dived in my snorkel and goggles fell apart! Managed to catch up with 1 eventually and they are amazing.

Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


Checked into a hotel today as it costs the same as a hostel and rented a bike to check the place out. Dumaguete isn’t the best town in the Philippines but you always find something interesting. Came across this park where there was a delegate giving a speech to the public. Dumaguete has more expats than you’d normally see but this place hadn’t one westerner there until I arrived. Again, everyone’s very curious about me and some even came over for a chat. I had a family come and say hi and after 2 hours of talking they offered for me to join them for dinner haha.

Dumaguete City Hall in Dumaguete, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete

Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


The next day someone added me on Facebook and it was one of the girls from the family. I couldn’t understand how she found me as I don’t remember giving out my second name. She told me she typed in David and searched for 45mins! Bless her.


I gave off about the lack of beaches in Dumaguete and she recommended a nice sandbar in the middle of the bay somewhere just north of the city. I arrived and it was a disaster. You need 8 people for a boat and even if we did have 8 people they said they weren’t running today haha. She called her cousin and they knew of a place near her town of Bindoy. Apparently it’s not as good but I there hasn’t been a beach I haven’t liked here!

Approaching the building on stilt at Manjuyod Sandbar in Dumaguete, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete
Building on stilts at Manjuyod Sandbar in Dumaguete, Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete

Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


For a place not used by foreign tourists it was pretty special. There is a shallow part of the sea about 30mins out on boat and they’ve built a building on stilts there which was cool. There is a room or 2 there if you want stay the night. We grabbed 6 bottles of red horse and snorkelled for the day with homemade wooden goggles. Red horse is their brew out here, it’s made by San Miguel but leaves a feeling in your throat like that of a shot of whiskey! Not to mention the bottles are 1Litre haha


I knew Aileen lived up in the hills and managed to talk my way into an invitation. I just wanted to see what life was like there. It’s a long drive up there but once there it was pretty crazy! The houses are literally just tree huts and once I got there all the kids were super curious. Aileen actually moved to Manila for school when she was 13 and you can tell the difference between her and the others that have stayed.


  • PEOPLE – 9/10
  • BACKPACKING – 7/10
  • WEATHER – 8/10
  • THINGS TO DO – 7/10
  • FOOD – 6.5/10
  • VALUE –  8/10


Just chilled for the next few days but as there was very little to do I made for Cebu again as I was heading to Brunei and Australia. After getting the boat to Cebu I checked into Rajah Park Hotel which gave me a room with a broken AirCon unit and had a strong scent of tobacco but it was cheap. Sometimes you just need to compromise! Got an early flight in the morning to Brunei so didn’t want to sleep too much and instead save it for the plane. Don’t ask why I have decided to go there.

David Simpson holding up a banner with the local kids in Philippines. Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete

Turtles at Apo Island & Dumaguete


Took a walk for some food then to the shop for a few snacks. A girl came over and started talking then all of a sudden, another shouts over, ‘don’t talk to him, that’s my husband!’ Well I’ve never met either of them before and before I knew they were knee deep in a shouting match, similar to the last time I was here. Anyway I left them to it and took off for bed for my 3am wake up call.


Apo Island was excellent but I really enjoyed visiting the mountains and seeing how people live in some places yet still manage to be the happiest people I have met.


Brunei, country number 35! Click to read.


This episode is part of The Philippines Series. Click to view episode1.

Question Time

  • Have you ever been to the Philippines?
  • What’s your favourite island?
  • Did you visit Dumaguete or Apo Island?

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