Binurong Point (Catanduanes, PH)

Verdant, rolling terrain leading to towering cliffs and gargantuan boulders constantly pounded by enormous waves will greet you after a good 20 – 30 minutes’ walk under a forested canopy. I was in disbelief for a moment and my senses were all in awe. I had to pause for a few minutes just to digest everything my eyes were marveling at. I was at Binurong Point – one of the island province of Catanduanes’ best kept secrets (no more).

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I first saw a photo of this Batanes-like vista in Facebook posted by a friend’s friend a month ago. Since then, I have been keeping an eye on the possibility of checking it out myself. Two weeks later, it was featured in a television show. Videos were shown and that sealed the deal for me. So after my Apo Reef breakaway, I decided to make my way to the Land of Howling Wind the looooong way (since booking a plane ticket would probably cost me much).

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Prior to this Catanduanes trip, all I honestly knew about the easternmost Luzon province is that it is frequented by typhoons. But since it is summer here in the Philippines, I am pretty much confident it wouldn’t be raining.

This write-up is just 1 of several posts I am making for my Catanduanes getaway. I opted to write about Binurong Point first as a lot of my friends have been asking about it (and going over the internet, the only information source on Binurong Point is that of Go, Catanduanes).

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So how do you get to Binurong Point?

From Manila, the easiest/ fastest way is to book a flight to Virac (Catanduanes’ capital). Cebu Pacific flies every Monday – Wednesday – Friday (You can check out their website for specific time of flight). One may also fly from Manila to Naga (in Camarines Sur) or to Legazpi (in Albay). From these places, ride a bus or van that is bound for Tabaco City. Since plane tickets become pretty much pricey if you haven’t booked your ticket in advance, then you might want to do the longer route.

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Which is – by land, then by water.

From Manila (Cubao or Pasay), one can take a Virac – bound bus (RSL Lines) or a Tabaco City (in Albay) bound bus (in case all Virac-bound buses are fully booked). Travel time is around 10 – 12 hours depending on Manila traffic and how many times your bus would want to have a stop. Once in Tabaco City, proceed to the city port wherein one has several options as to which sea vessels to ride. You may opt to ride a RO-RO (which takes around 4 hours or so, depending on condition of the sea) or go for the fast craft that runs around 1.5 to 2 hours only (caution because it really is nauseating)!

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Schedule are as follow: (Fare ranges from Php150 child/senior citizen to Php300 for adult in an air-conditioned area).

Tabaco Port to Virac Port:
Depart: 0630AM Arrive: 1030AM

Virac Port to Tabaco Port:
Depart: 0100PM Arrive: 0500PM

***For fast craft ferry: The ferry departs at 9:30 a.m. from the capital town of Virac and arrives in Tabaco City at 11:30. It leaves from Tabaco City again at 12:30 and reaches San Andres at 2 p.m. Finally, it returns to Tabaco City at 4 p.m.

Tabaco Port to San Andres (Calolbon) Port:
Depart: 0800AM Arrive: 1100AM
Depart: 0100PM Arrive: 0400PM

San Andres (Calolbon) Port to Tabaco Port:
Depart: 0800AM Arrive: 1100AM
Depart: 0100PM Arrive: 0400PM
Please Note: Ferry Schedule may change without prior notice

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If your port of disembarkation is at San Andres (Cololbon Port), you will have to ride either a jeepney or a van that is bound for Virac. But if your route is a Tabaco – Virac route, then once in Virac you have the option of either riding a van or  a jeepney bound to Baras/Gigmoto or any other towns of Catanduanes that passes by Baras.

Once in Baras, ride a tricycle or a motorcycle that will take you to Binurong Point. During my visit, I was staying at Puraran (also in Baras) so I had to take a motorcycle from there. Depending on your haggling skills, range of fare would be Php 300 – 500.

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The way to Binurong Point is almost concreted with only about ¼ of the road unpaved. Upon reaching the registration site at Brgy. Guinsaanan, you will be required to pay Php20.00 registration fee and Php10.00 parking fee. A guide will be designated to you/your group. (I did have a little chit chat with the owner of the hut I stayed at Puraran. He mentioned that guide fee is at Php150.00. However, my habal-habal driver said that there weren’t any fixed amount yet so you could just give any amount).

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The trek to Binurong Point is relatively easy and quick. Depending on your usual pace, it’ll take a good 20 – 30 minute walk under a shady forested area. Once you reach Binurong, you’ll be amazed as to how stunning it is. No need to compare it with Batanes or even Ireland because Binurong has its own charm and beauty.

The personal challenge when I was there (being a photo enthusiast) is which portion of the place should I photograph first. I felt my eyes confused several times and my heart skip every time I gaze at Binurong’s splendor.

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I went there around 4 in the afternoon. It was a good time as the sun is no longer that warm, and good enough to provide natural light to my photographs. My guide said that the best time to visit Binurong is early in the morning as the sun rises at this side of Catanduanes.  Have also noticed that the area can be a good camping ground. So I thought to myself, the next time I come and see Binurong, I’ll bring a tent a bunch of friends and together we will share the serenity of this stunning place.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan”…

 

 

 

Vera Falls (Albay, PH)

Vera Falls is a refreshingly stunning cascade located in the municipality of Malinao, Albay. This 25-meter beauty have mini waterfalls coming out of the rocks at the side of the main falls. It’s very cold catch basin is about 2 meters deep and is really clear and clean. I commend the people who manage this waterfalls because it is well maintained.

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Being tucked within the outskirts of Albay, one will feel a sense of veiled utopia after an easy downhill sauntering (which obviously needs a pretty strenuous trek back). Nonetheless, I love Vera Falls’ charm. It was our last stop for our Bicol trip and we had to cut-short our stay. I wish to get back to this waterfalls the next time I am in Albay.

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Please note that there is a parking area (with a beautiful view of Mount Mayon) near the entrance going to Vera Falls. It is a good thing that no entrance fee is collected. However, there was a person asking for donation for the area’s maintenance. The trek from the parking area to the falls is just around 10 minutes via concrete stairs. A few cottages were constructed near the falls and a small store can be found just before the entrance to the waterfalls.

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How to Get to Vera Falls:

From Manila, the fastest way would be an airplane ride to Legazpi City in Albay. Then, from Legaspi City, one may either ride a jeepney, van, or bus plying the Legaspi City-Tabaco City route. The travel time is about 30 to 45 minutes. Once in Tabaco city, go to the plaza near City Hall where one will find motorcycles or habal habal bound for Vera Falls. The travel time from Tabaco City Hall to the falls is about 20 to 30 minutes through some unpaved terrain. Alternatively, one can ride a tricycle bound for Barangay Soa and then from Barangay Soa, ride a motorcycle to Vera Falls. The tricycle terminal for tricycles bound for Barangay Soa is near the Tabaco church.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Matnog (Sorsogon, PH)

The Bicol peninsula at the eastern side of Luzon is most known for Mayon Volcano. In recent years, it has become more popular because of Caramoan (the islands where Survivor series were filmed), Calaguas (a group of islands that has matched the beauty of the island of Boracay and Palawan) and the whale sharks of Sorsogon. But, what most tourists do not know is that at the southernmost tip of the region, a small town Matnog, boasts off visit-worthy spots that will make one adore the Bicolandia more.

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Matnog, a quiet fishing town, is considered as the gateway to the Visayas as the place is just a ship away from Northern Samar by just crossing the San Bernardino Strait. However, some just 30-45 minutes away from the town’s mainland are islands with amazing splendour

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So if you are in search for a different Bicol beach and island-hopping then you might just want to mull over Matnog and what is has to offer. There are actually several sites you can visit. These are Calintaan island, Tikling Island, and the Juag Marine Sanctuary. During my visit in 2012, I was fortunate to have seen both Calintaan Island and the Juag Fish Sanctuary despite the gloomy weather.

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Calintaan Island

Calintaan Island’s most frequented attraction is Subic Daco Beach — a stretch of pink-like coralline sand touched by aquamarine waters. The water is quite deep so make sure to bring life vests or floaters both for kids and non-swimmers. Nonetheless, the water is great for swimming and snorkelling especially at areas where it is teeming with corals. One may opt to camp in this area, especially if you decide to stay overnight. Do not forget to wake up early as this side offers an awesome view of the sunrise.

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Aside from visiting Subic Beach, one may explore also the Calintaan Cave located at the other side of the island that is accessible by boat. One will be prompted to swim to reach the cave’s entrance. Within the cave is a small beach speckled with rocks with crystal-clear water.

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Juag Marine Sanctuary

From Calintaan Island, one can do some fish feeding or even swimming with numerous fishes at the Juag Lagoon. Upon reaching the area, visitors will have to ride a raft or walk through bamboo platforms in order to feed the fishes. The area is also surrounded by several islets that serve as protection from the tides of the open seas.

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Another island that one may visit is Tikling Island. Although I wasn’t able to set foot on this small island, our boatman said it shares comparable pink coralline sand with that of Subic Daco Beach.

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Reminders:

One will have to pay the tourist registration and environmental fees at the Matnog Tourism Office, located right across the Municipal Hall. The registration fee is Php 50 for Filipinos, Php 300 for foreigners, and Php 40 for senior citizens. There is also an environmental fee at Php 20. Upon registration, personnel from the tourism office can already assign a boat to your group. A boat goof for 10 people costs Php 1,600 for day trips and Php 2,000 for overnight trips.

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How To Get To Matnog, Sorsogon:

Fastest way is to ride a plane (one hour) or the longer but cheaper way is to take a bus (8-10 hours) to Legazpi City. From Legazpi City in Albay, you have two route choices: direct from Daraga, Albay or via Bulan, Sorsogon.

Legazpi City to Daraga, Albay to Matnog, Sorsogon: Take a jeepney to Daraga (5-10 minutes) and tell the driver to drop you off at the intersection where Matnog-bound buses pass. The bus trip from Daraga to Matnog may take three to four hours. The bus will drop you off right by the municipal building in Matnog, which is right next to the port.

Legazpi City to Matnog via Bulan, Sorsogon: Go to the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal and board a van or bus going to Bulan, Sorsogon. Travel may take 2.5 hours. Tell the driver to drop you off at the intersection before the town proper where Matnog-bound public vehicles pass. From here, wait for buses or jeepneys going to Matnog. These will drop you off at the port.

One may also take a bus from Manila that goes straight to Matnog — inquire at Philtranco, Raymond and Amihan (Cubao, Quezon City). Travel period can take about 13-15 hours so it’s advisable to travel at night.

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Don’t be a wasted soul. Be ‘juan”derlust…

Borobangkaso Islet (Masbate, PH)

“Islands are metaphors of the heart, no matter what poet says otherwise.” – Jeanette Winterson

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Island-hopping is probably one of the primary things you got to do when you live in an archipelago of 7, 107 islands dotted with gorgeous shoreline.

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Living in the Philippines my entire life has made me a beach lover. Ironically, I am not an avid fan of swimming in the open sea. I just love walking and bumming around the beach despite the sweltering heat of the sun. You see, the sun and I get along pretty easy.

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Seemingly floating around the Masbate Strait is a small island, which features a distinctive rock formation that looks like a pile of books from afar, as its centrepiece. Borobangkaso Islet is one of the stop-over if you happen to do an all-day island-hopping in Ticao Island, Masbate Province.

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From among the places we did see during that one fine day in Masbate, the tiny island of Borobangkaso captured my heart. You see, I have a soft spot for rock formations. And the islet itself seems untouched and yet to be discovered. Our quick stay in the islet made me depart to the self-possession of nature.

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Despite the looming gloomy weather that afternoon, my friends and I had an awesome time taking photos of this picturesque piece of land. I promise to return to this place sometime in the future and spend more time.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be a wanderlust. Take it easy ebriwan. Roamulofied out.

Macolabo Island (Camarines Norte PH)

I love the sea’s sounds and the way it reflects the sky. The colours that shimmer across its surface are unbelievable. This, combined with the colour of the water over white sand, surprises me every time. – John Dyer
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It was a sunny day at the Paracale port. The scent of the ocean and the sound of it made me feel it is indeed summertime. That day’s destination is a small island at this side of Camarines Norte – Macolabo Island.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Macolabo Island is a barangay of the town of Paracale and is a part of the Calaguas group of islands The island serves as a major stop-over going to Tinaga Island (it is where the famous long beach “Mahabang Buhangin” is located). The island is about four kilometers long. Locals reside on parts of the Island with farming and fishing as their main source of income.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

This write-up highlight’s this piece of paradise near Calaguas (the more famous and frequented beach in Camarines Norte. (I will have a separate blog for my Calaguas trip). Just a 45-minute boat ride from the town of Paracale, this island welcomes its visitors with its fine, white sand and clear, turquoise to emerald green sea water.

Despite being a side-trip to Calaguas, the beauty of Macolabo will surely capture a beach bummer’s heart. Being small in size, the island can be explored in a matter of few hours. I love how clean the beach is – very ideal for swimming and snorkelling. There is also a part where big smooth rocks add up to this island’s charm. Caution though – be sure to wear your life vest on since the water in Macolabo is deep and the sand sinking deeply as well.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

If you decide to stay here overnight, you can pitch your tent. (Most people though, would stay at Tinaga Islands).

Macolabo mayb not be as awesome as Calaguas, but to me, its charm is more than enough to be admired and be part of my favourite islands list.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

How To Get To Macolabo Island:

Make your way to Cubao where Superlines and Philtranco buses are. They have direct bus trips to Paracale. However,if the scheduled trips to Paracale differ from your planned trip, you may take a bus bound for Daet and tell the driver to drop you off at Talobatib. From Talobatib, ride another bus to Paracale then take a tricycle from Paracale town to Paracale port. Approximate travel time from Manila to Paracale is 10 hours. Fare ranges from P500-P800.

Once in Paracale, hire a boat to Macolabo Island. Approximate cost would be from P1000-P1500.GE DIGITAL CAMERA