The main means of transport in the Philippines is either flying or taking a bus/ferries to travel inside an island and hop to other islands. So we tried the bus/ferry thing. We traveled fromKalibo to Iloilo, then from Iloilo to Bacolod, then from Bacolod to Sipalay, then from Sipalay toDumaguete City, then from Dumaguete to Cebu City.
Traveling by bus in the Philippines deserves it's own post, but I'll squeeze it in here. Generally the ruling principle is that no self respecting bus or mini bus driver will move until the vehicle is filled up to overcapacity. A bus will generally have 3 seats where in Europe it would be 2 seats and in the space between rows of seats there will be another reclining chair or even just a backless stool. So the bus will be literally full before it leaves.
The driver always has an assistant who collects money from passengers and generally regulates letting people out and letting people in. This assistant will bang on the rails in the bus every time someone needs to get off and the driver hearing this sound will stop immediately, and he will arrange more stools for new passengers, sometimes literally shoving them inside. 150km distance takes about 5 hours just because the bus will stop every time there is someone getting off and on the bus and that can be 10 times in 1km. This can become quite annoying.
Most of cities are very similar to each other - standard cities in the Philippines: crowded, dusty and hot. A normal street would include a church, some fruit and roasted pork stalls, chickens running across the road like retarded, bunch of kids hanging out on every corner playing card games for money, dusty old bike or shoes repair shops, local eateries, phone shops, hair salons, tricycle drivers sleeping in their vehicles or in hammocks hanging wherever it's possible to hang them.
Dumaguete is a bit different - it's a student city and has a very cool vibe. The central market is amazing - piles and piles of fruit in one section, piles and piles of fish, meat and seafood in another. And Dumaguete is also one of those places where tricycle drivers or sellers at the market won't go crazy about trying to rip you off - you'll pay 8-9 pesos for a tricycle ride and 30 pesos for a papaya - fair price.
Be sure to visit and stay at Harolds Mansion - backpackers and divers favorite hub - nice cheap rooms ($10) with airconditioner, wifi and cable tv. In addition there is a roof top terrace where the owners regularly organize BBQ parties. All you need to do is to want to have a BBQ party, they'll drive you to the central market where you'd buy what you want to grill, they'll teach you how to make the famous Filipino sauce/marinade Adobo (soy sauce, garlic, chillies, lime) and they'll grill for you. Awesome!
Cebu is also a bit different as it's much bigger. In general it's a very active city with a lot of partying and dining. The city is full of strip clubs and Go Go bars, the entrance is free, the show is not that great, but it's worth visiting.
Be careful about being overcharged by tricycle drivers in cities like Iloilo and Bacolod, they will try to tell you that where you need to go is much further than it is in reality, shop around and repeat agreed upon price several times before getting in.
Thats it about the cities, next - Sugar beach!