Solenn & Mikael: Loving the ‘Isla’ adventure

JP Mitog - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Solenn Heussaff and Mikael Daez are seasoned travelers, having been to several countries and cities around the world. Yet, whenever they have the opportunity to travel around the Philippines, they always make the most out of it.

“I’ve been to many places around the world and in the Philippines, but what is amazing with our country is you get to discover new places every time you travel,” shares Solenn.

“We live in a country that is so beautiful and can offer so many surprises. We may not be a big country but there are many adventures to experience here,” agrees Mikael.

Today, Solenn and Mikael explore further the beauty of the Philippines as they take on another escapade via Isla, the GMA News and Public Affairs summer special featuring select Philippine island destinations that definitely can rival some of the world’s best. 

Airing on GMA 7’s Sunday Night Box Office (SNBO), Isla showcases the exceptional features of six of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands including El Nido in Palawan, Siquijor, Danjugan Island in Negros, Oslob and Sumilon Island in Cebu, Apo Island in Dumaguete and Lobo in Batangas. Solenn and Mikael unveil the unique features of each island, both on the beach and away from the surf.

“We have 7,107 islands and I don’t think anybody has ever been to every single one of them. Through Isla, we want to share our experiences in those islands to the Kapuso viewers,” says Mikael.

For the first destination, Solenn goes on a luxury get-away in one of the oft-cited best resorts in the world: El Nido, Palawan — known for its natural wonders such as limestone cliffs, caves and hidden lagoons.

“I have been to Palawan several times to dive and explore the Blue Lagoon, but still I can never get enough of the place. I’m still amazed when I kayak through the small lagoon. I have many good memories of the place,” shares Solenn.

Mikael, on the other hand, visits Dumaguete and discovers why the province is called the City of Gentle People. Here, Mikael takes a dip with the friendly sea turtles in Apo Island.

“It felt surreal to see that I was so near the Philippine Sea Turtle. I only heard about this wonderful sea creature back in grade school and high school. To be beside it — just a few inches away from it — was simply amazing,” enthuses Mikael.

The next stop for Solenn is the wild island of Negros Occidental, known locally as Danjugan Island. Solenn reveals, “I have never been to Danjugan. The only lagoons I knew and heard about are the ones in Palawan. I never knew we also have some amazing ones in Negros Occidental. I was also impressed to see the enormous, unexplored bat cave which is home to millions of fruit and insect-eating bats.”

In Siquijor, Mikael is enchanted by the famous white sand of Salagdoong Beach and its natural springs. Despite its mysterious reputation, Siquijor remains a must-see destination by virtue of its rich heritage and traditional folk healing.

“Siquijor is such as beautiful place. Some call it the Island of Fire because from afar you can see the island is ablazed because of the fireflies. People should pay no attention to the island’s reputation and include it on their travel list,” encourages Mikael.

On the other hand, Solenn, who is a certified medic diver, couldn’t believe that there exists a good diving spot just a few hours away from Manila aside from the usual sites in Anilao, Batangas. When she visited Lobo, Batangas, which is one of the 18 bio-diversity hot spots in the country as identified by the DENR, her passion for scuba diving was reignited.

“I’ve been to Batangas countless times, but I’ve never even heard about Lobo until Isla. Aside from diving, one can take a boat and explore the beautiful mangroves where you can catch a special type of mud crab. I got to cook it the traditional Batangueño way,” shares Solenn.

In Isla’s final destination, the program shows viewers what it is like to get upclose and personal with one of the sea’s gentle giants, the whale shark, in Oslob, Cebu. The island offers a variety of activities for adventure-seekers — from swimming, to kayaking to rock climbing — proving that in Cebu, there’s never a dull moment and there’s always a sight to behold.

“The encounters with the animals were pretty amazing. I would always travel for culture, food and sites, but I seldom have experiences with animals. These are pretty cool experiences. If you’ve seen my Instagram, I was swimming with turtles and whale sharks,” boasts Mikael.

When asked what travel wisdom they can share with the Kapuso viewers, Mikael answers: “Just go for it, try new things. When you travel, you never really know what to expect. Traveling forces you to grow. It puts you outside your comfort zone because you are far from home and you need to adapt. That is how you gain a new perspective on life.”

To which Solenn then concludes, “Do a research on your destination. Mingle with the locals because they know where the magic is. But I implore tourists to clean up and respect the environment. Some people take our beautiful places for granted and think that there will be someone to clean up after them. I wish people will read and be aware of how their actions can hurt the environment.”

Isla, the GMA News and Public Affairs summer special, airs tonight at 10:45.

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