Beautiful Moalboal

Information for new volunteers

Thanks for your interest in volunteering with us!

We hope to put as much information in this guide to help you decide if you want to help us achieve our mission. Please read thoroughly and email us to address any concerns or share ideas.

Welcome to Moalboal!

Pronounce it “Mo-al-bo-al”, like MOW-L-BOW-L (both MO and BO are same sound as GO, “Go to the market”.

As we are in the process of redoing our website for, here is some information handy for new Workawayers. If you have any other questions, just send an email to

Getting to Moalboal

Ceres Bus

The cheapest option is the Ceres Bus, from the South Bus Terminal in Cebu, somewhere around 100 pesos each.

You want the bus bound for “Bato via Barili” or “Moalboal”.

Airconditioned buses usually run until 6PM. Normal buses (open windows) go much later. The website says 10PM, but we’ve caught later buses than that. In the evening, the non-airconditioned bus is fine, but you may want to close your window as it gets too cold! During daytime, the aircon bus can be more comfortable.

Seats towards the back of the bus feel the bumps more.

You don’t buy a ticket before you get on the bus. Just get on the bus and after it starts to move, the conductor will come and ask where you are going and give you a ticket. He will then come back later to collect the payment.

Getting off the bus – it may take a few hours for the bus to reach Moalboal. By this time, there probably aren’t many people left on the bus and the conductor will usually remember you are getting off in Moalboal. The bus can stop anywhere people ask on the highway, so you can say “Petron”, as this is the landmark in Moalboal where you will turn off the highway towards Emok’s Guest House.

The bus will generally stop once for a toilet break, though I’d recommend to go before you ride the bus and then hold it in – the toilets on the stop are not very clean.

Taxi from Cebu City to Moalboal

About 20 times more expensive, but more comfortable and becomes more cost-effective for multiple people.

Do not pay more than 2000 pesos total for this trip unless you are feeling overly generous. You can start bargaining at 1500, so that there is room for moving up to 2000. No need to pay more for gasoline or their return trip, etc. If you are a foreigner, usually, they will try to take a higher price from you.

If you are taking a taxi here, please try to let us know, in case we can co-ordinate someone to take the taxi back to the city.

Uber / Grap, etc

Currently do not have routes for Moalboal. But, what we have done, is take an Uber a short ride in the city, then negotiate if they want to take you to Moalboal for cash (same 2000 Pesos as the taxi). This usually gives a more comfortable ride than a taxi.

If you are taking an Uber/Grab here, please try to let us know, in case we can co-ordinate someone to take the car back to the city.

Where you will stay

At the time of this writing, our Eco Resort is not yet built, so we will be hosting you at our family’s backpacker hostel, Emok’s Guest House.

For those who are able to rough camp – we can accommodate more people on the undeveloped land where the Eco Resort will go. Until the first compost toilet is built, this means using a bucket and some sawdust! Showers, kitchen, WiFi, etc can still be used at the guest house, but sleeping will need to be in a tent at Bugho (the name of the area the undeveloped land is located).

How to get there?

The location is marked on this map. From the highway, coming from Cebu, turn left at the Petron gasoline station and go straight. Turn left again at the corner with the Moalboal Tropics hotel. Emok’s is on the left-hand side, just after the Moalboal Tropics. There is a sign at the gate.

About the accommodation

We call this type of property a “compound”, many of Grace’s relatives have built a house on the same land as the guest house, so it has a nice family feel. The gate says “Patterson-Villarino Compound” as well as a sign for “Emok’s Guest House”. The gate is closed from night time until early morning, but it is not locked. If you arrive late and we haven’t opened the gate for you, just remove the metal hook which holds the small gate door closed and replace it when you have come back inside. Usually, we will know when you are coming and keep it open.

Accomodation for Workawayers will be in a dormitory style room, with fans (no aircon). Grace and Leon will need to pay for this, so as not to take away from the family’s usual income by using up the rooms, this is why we want to get the bamboo houses built at the eco resort quickly, in order to host more Workawayers there. The dorm room has cold showers (warmer water from later in the day!). No-smoking inside the rooms, but you can smoke outside. The dorm room has 5 single-size beds (some are bunk beds), so approximately 5 people, but couples may be comfortable/prefer to share the single beds, so there may be more than 5 people in there.

Toilets – we have Asian style toilets – scary at first, but you get used to them. Whilst you can use toilet paper, it is not provided and so it’s the hose-style bidet or bucket or water and a small pot. Do some research online and you’ll find it’s not that bad. It’s also a much more environmentally friendly way to do what we all do everyday!


Some of the things you can use for free here:

Some of the guest house services you can choose to pay for

An overview of the staff at the guest house are:

Also 2 dogs, some turtles and a lot of fish.

Probably more than that as regulars in the guest house, along with any guests staying at the time, domestic or foreign.

Feel free to make use of the hammocks to relax outside. The mountain bikes, one black, one green should be in the garden somewhere. You can use them freely. In case anyone asks you to pay to borrow them, just do so and we’ll reimburse you when we’re back (easier than trying to explain our situation/Workaway concept to everyone :P)


Because we keep the gates open and we don’t maintain a security guard, please be on the lookout for any suspicious behaviour and alert Grace, Leon or one of the guest house staff if you have a weird feeling.

Keep your valuables safe, just like at any backpackers/hostel. We can’t provide any insurance or be responsible for any loss of property, but in emergencies, we’ll always do our best to help you.


We have Wifi at Emok’s. It is never amazing, but it can be good. It can also be really bad!

You can get a pre-paid SIM card to put in your phone for data. The Smart company seems to have the better reception here. You will need to subscribe to a data plan – if you do not, the data cost is too high and you will quickly use all the credit. An example at the time of writing is the GIGA50 – 1GB of data for 50 pesos. This only lasts for 3 days. Then there are options for higher data that lasts a longer time. The SIM card can work in any size phone (so long as your phone is not locked to a certain overseas provider).

If you are a digital nomad and require a better internet – we can rent you a 3G/4G/LTE modem, with it’s own SIM card, at a reasonable cost. 4G coverage is improving in this area due to the tourist market.

What you will eat

Food! We all like it!

In addition to providing somewhere to sleep, in exchange for your volunteering with us, we want to keep you healthy!

We generally try to eat healthy, vegetarian food, but are not hardcore vegans – we can eat meat, dairy, pizza, etc, but the main is vegetarian.

We do have a budget for food, especially when our volunteer numbers are high, so we buy mostly local, in season fruit and vegetables, supplemented with some carbs in the form of rice/noodles. We’ll often do a big pressure cooked pot of soup or curry. We’ve got pretty good at making tasty vegie burgers, too! Breakfast is usually very simple coffee/tea and bread or sweet potato, with the occasional green smoothies or fruit.

Quick tip for cheap and decent food outside – morning or lunchtime, the food at the “Karenderia” is good. Vegetarian dishes for 20 pesos and meat ones about 40. It is in front of the big church on the main road in town and is a little stall, with 10 to 20 different dishes of food on display/in pots: Other Workwayers have found even cheaper food they like opposite the CTU university on the main road, with dishes from 10 or 15 pesos.

Opposite the road from the church is a big vegetable market one street back. The vegetables are cheaper and better quality there than the 2 supermarkets in the malls. You should be able to cook things at the guest house.

What will I be doing?

Read more about our vision and Eco Retreat activities here

This is what Workaway is about for most people – going somewhere to have new experiences, learn things and give back the skills and knowledge that you’ve gained in life.

We tend to focus on on environmental and social things here – wanting to clean up waste already existing and move forward with a “low-footprint”.

Key activties:

Here’s an example of things you may be doing as a Workawayer with us:

Whatever skills you bring will surely be of help, along with different perspectives and solutions to the challenges we’ll face.

Who will I be working with?

Along with Leon and Grace, you’ll likely meet and work alongside other Workawayers from various countries. Here’s our current calendar, with approximate dates people will be volunteering, along with a link to their Workaway profile:

Beautiful Moalboal Volunteers Calendar

If we’re hosting you at Emok’s Guest House, you’ll likely be meeting even more global travelers, who are here for diving or exploring Cebu.

Things to experience in Moalboal and surrounding areas

Our priority projects

As we are starting to have Workawayers camping at the undeveloped land in Bugho, we’ll need to ensure that they can comfortable sleep there first and foremost, then improve the toilets. Showering and cooking can still be enjoyed at the guest house, but these will be next on the list to be able to do properly at Bugho.

We’ve started building trails to better traverse the land and get to points of interest, like the toilet, camping areas, vegie garden and compost. There is still a lot of trail building required (good exercise!).

Vision and approach

We would like to see Moalboal as an example of how the world can work in a good way. What do we mean by “good”? I like the definition of evil as “that which causes unneccessary suffering”, so see good as the other side of that. An example is dumping plastics – it is unpleasant to the eye, the nose and eventually, causes us to suffer ill health effects.

We would like to see all people here enjoying life by being healthy, productive and having a sense of purpose (just as we want for ourselves!).

Whilst the traditional ways of life here may have been idyllic, we cannot deny that we are living in an age where almost everyone has a mobile phone, consumes plastic wrapped unhealthy food, is exposed to toxicity in their water and air and often struggles to feel positive about life.

Understand and empathy (not blame)

The first time you come and do a cleanup, it feels great – you see some immediate results! The next day or week, you may come back to find more garbage has been dumped, it can be crushing to your spirit. One response is to blame – “Why do these people throw their garbage on the ground?!?”. Just because we may have been fortunate enough to grow up in a society with cleaner streets or had the opportunity to learn about the toxicity of plastic, does not automatically transfer the same knowledge to other people.

It is usually not with any ill-intent that someone here would throw some plastic on the ground or burn a pile of trash containing plastic. We all see situations differently and being able to try to understand from the other person’s persepective, should allow us to advance further towards our goal of eliminating plastic waste than by blaming or only seeing things from our own perspective.

Whilst building bamboo huts and growing vegetables make us sweat and are a step towards achieving the Eco Resort we dream of, the more challenging and thereby exciting work, we think is the community building and education aims.

Conflict resolution / deciding to stop your volunteering early

Volunteering with us is on a day to day basis. If you ever feel it’s not for you or you want to move on to something else before the scheduled end of your volunteering, please feel free to do so. There should be no feeling of indebtedness on either side.

What to bring

These are mostly recommendations, you can get by with just the clothes on your back. Even if you lack those, there are 2nd hand clothing stores in town (ukay ukay), where you can find shirts for 10 to 20 pesos.

Current schedules