The Story of a SURFvivor

Buzzy Trent (a pioneer of big wave surfing) once said, “Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear…

I wrote this blog in my Multiply account about 8 years ago, then published it in my TravBuddy account 5 years back, and now I am finally reposting (with some updates) it here in my WordPress. This entry is about my 1st surfing experience, and how I survived it.  DSC_0359

During my childhood years, I used to have this uncanny fear of water (any bodies of water for that matter). But despite the alarm, I also had these series of dreams where I’d go SCUBA diving, snorkeling and surfing. I didn’t even know how to swim, and is really afraid of the thought of drowning but there goes that yearning to be adventurous on and under water. Weird and ironic isn’t it?

Fast-forward: Some peculiar years later, I found myself marveling at the sport’s illusory unfussiness as I paddle out to the sea and grasping at the sides of a surfboard, the sea rolling underneath my tummy like a hyperacidic stomach.

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I had my first taste of riding a surf board way back 2009. La Union, a province in close proximity to my place, is home to one of the Philippines’ surf spot. So one weekend, a few of my friends and I planned on a weekend getaway before the start of another grueling semester (we study and work in a university). The more pressing questions that time were – “What to do? and Where to go?” And the thought of trying to do some surfing was one of the immediate things that came to my mind. (Yes it was yet another out-of-the blue idea of Lester)… Since we can’t afford to travel far distance just to surf because of several reasons (ie time, physical fatigue it may bring about and finances), we opted for the nearest and possibly the cheapest – SAN JUAN, LA UNION! (Claimed to be the surfing capital of the north).

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During the one hour ride to SJ, I wondered how I’d fair with my 1st surfing experience. There’s no arguing that the water activity seems fun. BUT, I was quite anxious because I personally have issues on standing (moreso balancing) atop a moving object. (You now when you are born with “talipes equinovarus” or clubfoot, things like this can come as a challenge). I also had doubts about my learning curve and the ability of my lanky body to carry me against the current.

We arrived at the Se-bay Surf Central in San Juan, La Union at about 8:30 in the morning. I wasn’t sure still if I wanted to try it out or just watch my companions fall off from their boards. (Cetrin, the only lady in our group was certain she won’t be surfing. She nonchalantly said she’ll just watch us fall off from our boards. (You know friends can be really this supportive. Haha). A few more minutes of contemplating, we finally worked up the nerve to sign up for a one-hour surf lesson (Php400/hour for a surf board and an instructor). After all, this is what prompted us to get out of Baguio that weekend.

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Before going into the water, our surf instructors taught us the basics like the right way to lie on the board, how to and when to paddle out, stand up, and the like. Well, theoretically speaking, I was able to learn how to surf in ten minutes or less, but knowing is half the battle. And the battle involved far greater difficulties than just learning to conquer the waves. We were asked if we were ready and we all said “yes” dishonestly. The thought of drowning of crashing into the waves and drowning started to cloud my thought. But recalling what my instructor told me, that my leash would save me in case that happens, my spirit was momentarily uplifted.

The surf instructors then led us to the sea (The West Philippine Sea and its seemingly glorious waves) and told us to get on the board so we could start fighting the current and find a nice spot to catch a wave. I did so, trying to keep my eyes focused on the horizon ahead so I wouldn’t get giddy. What I saw was enough to make me want to start paddling toward the opposite direction: wave after wave of water that looked big enough to carry me off to the sea. To experienced (and professional) surfers, I’m sure the waves that day were absolutely nothing (as in nothing!!!), but I’ve never had to swim against waves like that in my life. True, I was relatively safe because my surfboard kept me afloat (and my leg is tied with a leash), but that didn’t keep me from being gradually more frightened with every wave that hit me. I was having difficulty catching my breath, and I was so anxious I’d fall off my board and get yanked out by the undertow. (By now you realize, my readers, how cowardice have been eating me up then).

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We were getting too far from the shore for my relief, so I asked my instructor if it was really that necessary to keep swimming out (I do not know how to swim FYI – okay I already mentioned that earlier). My heart sank when he said yes, but he speedily added that the nearer we are to the shore, the more unsafe it is because the waves come about too closely to each other. After what seemed like infinity, we finally stopped battling the waves and stayed at spot where “surfable” waves came less frequently.

I soon discovered that my instincts got in the way of learning to surf. And by “instincts” I mean I was just purely too afraid to let go of my surfboard. The instructor would give the surfboard a thrust when a wave came by, then tells me when to stand up. I was able to stand up, but only for a fleeting second. It was then that he must have realized that I was one of his worst (if not the worst) student ever. It certainly took a lot of effort going back to the same spot after the waves carried me closer to the shore. Meaning — I had to go paddle against the current again. I started to feel weary, especially my arms – I was too tired to paddle back properly, and I was too scared to do anything but hold on for my dear life.

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I did make a number of attempts to plunk up and surf, but I’d either be daydreaming and hear the instructor shout “TAYO!” (STAND) too late, or I’d be arguing with myself as to whether or not I should stand up. After half an hour I finally got sick of being the only one who haven’t quite learned how to surf. (My friends Monte and Sir Mak during those times were already enjoying themselves on top of their surfboards). The next time a wave comes, I told myself, I will stop doubting myself, stop asking questions, and just stand the fuck up like I’m supposed to.

And I did it! I eventually did it! I finally got up and rode a wave! Sure, I must have looked like a total idiot, especially since my total ride was interposed by a very strident “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAA!” But as soon as I found the nerve to get up, it occurred to me that surfing itself can actually be pretty easy. The wave just picks you up and takes you for a ride, and you don’t have to do anything but stand there and try not to fall. The whole thing must have lasted maybe five seconds or so, and it was right when I thought, “Oh shit, I’m falling… I’m falling…!” that I lost my balance and landed rather awkwardly into the water.

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I went back to try out again, just to make sure that I could already balance and stay on top of the board and prove Cetrin (who has been bugging me as to why I can’t stand) that my first successful balance and ride weren’t luck at all! And YES! I did it again. That is when I realized that it was just a matter of determination and concentration. “I was able to do so because I believed in myself and I wanted to make it happen”.

I was in the middle of experiencing the adrenaline rush of surfing when my instructor told me it was time. I wanted to extend my time but we had to leave now… But anyhow, I definitely would want to come back to La Union and do surfing again and be less wimpy about riding a wave.

Note: As of this writing, I have been going back to San Juan for several times now and my surfing has improved. Also, I am proud to say that I have surfed in some of the most notable surfing spots in the country like Baler in Aurora, Bagasbas in Camarines Norte, Guiuan in Eastern Samar, Cloud 9 in the world-renowned Siargao Island, and the most recent one is in Puraran, Catanduanes.

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With these experiences, I am beyond proud to say that I am a SURFvivor! Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

Catanduanes (Baras – Bato – Virac) PH

A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” — Wilfred Peterson

This is an account of my recent trip to Catanduanes — Luzon’s easternmost province. I hope it will be able to help you (my readers) in any way. If you have queries, just leave it at the comments section and I would be most willing to respond if I have the time.

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Day 0  and Day 1:

Travel from Chaotic Cubao to Breezy Tabaco City. ETD was 6PM but the bus – Alps (Php545?), left at around 6:15. I tried to get a decent sleep but damn, the aircon was way too cold despite me wearing a jacket. I arrived at Tabaco City 6:10 AM, just in time to catch the 6:30 RO-RO vessel bound for Virac (paid Php300 for AC area plus Php30 terminal fee). Purchased a ticket and lined up (a very long and slow moving line) to pay for that damn terminal ticket. (Why can’t they just sell it together with the vessel ticket???). The ETD of the vessel wasn’t followed. It was around 7AM or so when it left Tabaco Port. Since the AC area isn’t full, I occupied one entire bench and tried to catch more sleep (despite the very nausea-inducing RORO ride).

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After 4 hours and 15 minutes (11:15AM), I welcome myself to Virac – the capital of the Philippines’ Land of the Howling Wind. I initially planned of eating my breakfast-slash-lunch first since I haven’t eaten anything since last night. BUT, when I saw that the Baras-bound jeepney is already packed (and when I say packed, even the top part of the jeepney is FULL) – I hurriedly made my way to the top for some toploading action. Just when I thought it would already leave (since it is already packed with people and furniture and goods and many more), but it waited for mooooore passengers (to which I wonder where they’d be staying since, “did I say that the jeepney is full?”) hahaha. Okay 30 minutes or so and we finally left Virac with my stomach growling.  (BTW, fare from Virac to Baras town proper is Php35.00).

It was sweltering hot atop the jeepney, nonetheless, I enjoyed the ride because the surrounding vista is a feast to the eyes. It was great seeing the verdant countryside of the island province and the “sea”neries dotted with beautiful rock formations and wave-battered shores — too stunning not to notice. On the way to Baras (my planned destination that day), we had to pass by the town of Bato (which is pretty much in proximity with Virac). I also saw the PAG-ASA Radar Station in Buenavista. One could easily notice it as it stands proudly atop a mountainous area.

After an hour, I arrived in the quiet town of Baras. I walked a few meters from where I was dropped off, bought a few pieces of bread and a bottle of water, then I went around to look for a tricycle. I saw one and asked to be brought to Brgy. Puraran. The driver initially said that it would cost me Php 100 to get there but with my charm and haggling skills, he gave in with Php70.00 (hahaha, kapal ng mukha sa charm). It was yet another 15-minutes of winding road travel. We passed by the jump off to Binurong Point before reaching Puraran Beach – the home of the Majestic Waves.

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My tryke driver dropped me off at a gate that says “Puraran Beach” and I paid an entrance fee of Php10.00. I had to walk a few meters to reach the beach. I went on to look for a place to stay (Okay, I really didn’t look further as I was starting to feel lethargic). So I went on to ask the front desk personnel of the 1st resort I saw (which was Puraran Beach Resort), and asked for their cheapest accommodation. It was a nipa type of accommodation that costs Php500 good for 2 persons. I went to check it out and boy, it was a good find. I also asked for their menu (since they have a resto) and ordered myself a bowl of sinigang. So while waiting for my breakfast-merienda-lunch, I had a shower and went for my usual “staring-at-the-walls-and-ceiling” moment. A few more minutes and my sinigang was served. I was surprised to see a sinigang that contains papaya. It is pretty unusual for me since as far as I know, this sour-tasting stew usually comes with stringbeans or even eggplant. Nonetheless, it was good. I like the slightly sweet taste the papaya imparted. It was a tummy-filling meal that I felt sleepy afterwards. I went to rest a bit before I decided to go to Binurong Point. I have made a separate write up on Binurong which you can read here BINURONG POINT.

My haggling skills (and charm) was put into test when my motorcycle driver told me that I will be paying Php500 for a Binurong trip (back and forth). But I insisted nicely that I can only afford Php300. (hahaha, my innate Ilocano frugality creeping in…), and so, with my therapeutic communication skills, I was able to convince Jun-Jun (name of my habal-habal driver) to give in. #WideGrin

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I spent more than an hour at Binurong. I would have wanted to camp out there for the night but I wasn’t prepared so I I had to go back to the resort. I had dinner and hit off the sack early. I wanted to re-energize myself from that long trip to Catanduanes.

Day 2:

I woke up pretty early as I wanted to see the sun rise. According to the resort owner, the beach is a good place to view the day’s first glow. But instead of waiting for the sun to rise along the beach, I opted to go to Balacay Point, a place suggested by Jun-Jun. He said that this is the best place to watch the sunrise. So I hopped on his motorcycle (yes, we already had a deal before he went home) and off we went to Balacay Point. The distance from Puraran Beach to Balacay is shorter and the road is paved all the way to the top (unlike the path to Binurong). And true to the description he uttered, the sunrise view at Balacay was majestic and grand. What a great way to start my day in Catanduanes! (I paid Php150 for the trip to Balacay and back to Puraran Beach).

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After more than an hour, we went back to the beach where the resort owner was waiting for me. I informed him that I will be surfing that morning. I quickly changed into my rash guard and surf shorts and off I went to assess if I still have my surfing moves. I will have to write a different blog for my Majestic Puraran Waves experience so that’s an “I owe you” for now.

After surfing, I spent some time bumming around Puraran’s beach.  I have come to know that there were 2 other resorts (Majestic Wave and the other one I failed to remember the name). It was around 10 AM when I decided that it was time to leave Puraran and proceed to my next destination.

Since I have become friends with Jun-Jun, he gladly accepted my offer to bring me to the town proper of Baras. (I paid him Php100). Upon arriving at the town center, I went to look for a place to eat. It was yet another breakfast-merienda-lunch moment. I had tinola and ginataang bilo-bilo. Both were really good. (I paid Php55 for the food I ate with soda). I was about to finish my food when the Virac-bound jeepney passed. I hurriedly paid my bills and ran my way to catch the jeeney. (Fare is Php30 upto Bato Town Proper).

After 30-40 minutes, I reached Bato and looked for a habal-habal driver. Here I met Kuya James who agreed to take me to Bote Lighthouse for Php70 one-way. I thought it was pretty pricey but I did agree. While we were on our way to Bote Lighthouse and Sakahon Beach, we talked about politics and his life in Catanduanes. I have learned that he was actually from Dumaguete and is married to a Bato local that is why he and his family are now in Catanduanes. Kuya James was actually heart-warming and genuinely nice. I am impressed that he knows a lot about our politicians. We really had a great conversation that I hardly noticed how far the way to Bote was. The road was quite rough and even longer than my Binurong trip ( I kinda felt guilty having agreed with the Php70 price).

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We reached Sakahon Beach and I was amazed how well-tucked and pristine the beach was. I had the place all by myself. Kuya James asked me if I think I can manage my way to the lighthouse. I wasn’t certain so I said no. He led me the way to the lighthouse and I was surprised as to how challenging the trek was. And when I say challenging, the trail was steep and rocky so I had to catch my breath every now and then. My arms and legs were quite hurting then as I just had some surfing action early that morning. Despite being shaded because of the trees, the trail was still warm since it was mid-day. Moreover, I forgot to buy a bottle of water. Good thing kuya James was encouraging. I have been on countless climbing spree, but this was quite different. According to blogs I have read, the climb to the lighthouse would usually take around 20 minutes. It took us around 30 or 40 minutes to reach the place.

A few more steps and we reached the lighthouse. I was quite disappointed as I was greeted with lots of vandalism. The lighthouse per se is perched on an area that is surrounded by vegetation unlike most lighthouses I’ve been to. Still catching my breath, I decided to climb to the topmost part of the lighthouse. Well, it is already a cliché to claim but yes, the view was astonishing and all. I had a good 30-minutes of cool and relaxing stay atop. Catanduanes kept on surprising me.

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A few more minutes and we decided to go back to Sakahon Beach. The descent was easier… And so I thought, until my guide-slash-habal-habal driver said we were lost. I tried to be calm and helped kuya find the right trail. A few minutes of getting mislaid and were back on the right track. #SighofRelief hahaha. I rushed to the shores of Sakahon and dipped my feet to cool it off. Walked a few meters to take photos and went to buy some drinks at a small store I saw. Kuya James and I had some merienda before leaving the place. I asked kuya if he could bring me to the other places I have in my list and maybe bring me to Virac town. He agreed without setting any price.

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We went back to the town proper of Bato wherein he brought me to the old and beautiful Bato Church. I am impressed as to how well-preserved the church is. It is strategically located near the highway with a beautiful view of a river. I went inside the church to say some prayers and spent some time appreciating its lovely interior.

Kuya suggested that we go visit 2 waterfalls. I was already feeling tired so I just told him that we go see one – Maribina Falls. The way to Maribina is pretty easy. From Bato, take the national road to Virac. Once you’re near the Virac – Bato boundary, a narrow road with a sign that says “Maribina Falls” can be seen. An entrance fee of Php20.00 is collected per visitor. The waterfalls is 3-tiered and have shallow catch basins ideal for swimming. It was a good way to cool down after that tiresome trek to the Bote Lighthouse. A few dip and I decided to go to Virac.

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The first thing I did in Virac was to look for a place to stay. I chanced upon Marem Pension House that is near the capitol of the province and inquired for their cheapest room. I was fortunate that they have 1 available fan room that costs Php250 per night. I quickly checked it out and I find it good enough. I said goodbye to Kuya James and gave him Php500. He even asked in disbelief if I was giving him the entire amount. I told him how happy and grateful I was to meet him. I got his number and asked permission if I could publish his digits. Maybe through this means, I would be able to help him and his family. (So if you are reading this and you want an honest and nice habal-habal driver who would show you around Catanduanes, here is Kuya Jame’s number — 0912-598-7212.

After settling my things at Marem, I had a chit-chat with the super accommodating owner while waiting for the merienda I ordered. I could’ve opted to just lie down and watch TV at my room that afternoon but my wandering spirit got the better of me. So I went out and walked my way to the Catanduanes Museum (which is a minute away from Marem).

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A Php50.00 fee was collected at the museum and I was accompanied by 2 of their staff who enthusiastically answered my questions about Catanduanes and the things I saw inside the museum. They also gave me some very useful brochures on Catanduanes. I have to say that these tourism officers are some of the most approachable I have encountered in my years of traveling. Kudos to everyone!

After the museum visit, I walked my way to the very beautiful Virac Cathedral. The dome of the cathedral would immediately catch one’s attention. Once inside, you will be much more amazed with the stunning and intricate ceiling. This has to be one of the most beautiful church ceilings I have ever seen. There was an on-going activity when I was there so it was just a brief stop to say some prayers and just enough to admire how lovely the church is.

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It was almost 5 in the afternoon when I asked some locals which place I should go to if I want to watch the sunset. The unanimous answer I have elicited is Mamangal Beach. So I looked for a tryke driver who can take me to this beach. Most of the drivers I talked to turned down and said it was quite far until I was able to convince one. I had to pay for Php120 (it was originally Php150) for one-way since it was already late and they claim it to be far. So off we went to see the skimboarding beach of Catanduanes – Mamangal.

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And wow, it was a pretty long ride. I think it took us 30 minutes or so. The beach is tucked away from the town center. We had to pass by some rough road. At first I was worried I won’t be able to catch the sunset.  Maybe the driver sensed that so he hurriedly drove his tryke. Hahaha. We arrived at Mamangal, just in time before the sun drifts. Actually, there was enough time that I was able to skimboard a little, admire Mount Mayon from this side of Catanduanes and capture a number of photographs.

It was already dark when we headed back to Marem. I immediately went for a quick shower before I went out to eat dinner. I have read that one of the places to try for a cheap, good food is Café de Au. The café is near Marem so I decided to walk my way. I guess the write ups I have read are true since it was quite filled with people dining when I arrived. I tried their binalot na adobo (with cabbage) and mango shake. What a delightful surprise.

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I walked my way back to the pension house and called it a night. Twas a tiring but fulfilling day.

Day 3

I woke a little later than my usual waking time. I would have wanted to watch the sun rise at their boulevard but the sleepy head in me wanted to stay in bed. Besides, it was drizzling that early. So I just went down to their in-house resto and ordered their home-made tocino. It was actually good. I would have wanted to try their home-made tapa but it was already sold out (that early!)

After breakfast, I prepped up myself and decided to go and see the Twin Rocks Beach at Igang, still in Virac. I went to the market and looked for the tricycle bound for Igang. Fare was Php20.00. The travel time was around 15-20 minutes. At Twin Rocks, there is a Php50.00 entrance fee. But if you wish to use other facilities like swimming pool, or do activities like kayaking and rock climbing, a separate set of fees apply. I spent almost the entire morning just bumming around Twin Rock’s beach. It was quiet despite a number of people frolicking the area. It was almost noon when I decided to go back to the town. I asked for the frequency of tricycle passing the area and the guard said it was quite rare during that time of the day. But I guess luck was on my side because the manager of the resort is off to fetch some visitors at the town so they told me to ride with them. Yehey!

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Back in Marem, I pavcked up my things and bade the super friendly staff goodbye. I went to the jeepney terminal to catch the trip bound for San Andres (a town north of Virac). The travel from Virac to San Andres was around 45 minutes and the fare is Php35.00. Upon arrival, I immediately went to buy my ticket first (Php220 – RO-RO, non AC as the AC area is already full). While waiting for the vessel’s departure time (1PM), I went to visit the church of San Andres. It was yet another lovely church. I feel happy and fortunate to visit these beautiful, old churches we have in the Philippines.

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And before embarking on that 3-hour boat ride, I first satiated my palate’s wanting to eat halo-halo. The vessel left San Andres Port at around 1:15. It was a breezy and smooth ride compared to that vessel ride going to Virac. I opted not to sleep because I wanted to see Mayon Volcano as we approach Tabaco City. At first, Mayon was fully covered with clouds. But, as we get nearer, Mayon slowly peeped and showed a bit of its grandeur. We arrived at the Tabaco City Port at 4:30 PM.

Since I haven’t eaten my lunch yet, I went to seek for a restaurant that can satisfy my hunger.  I decided to visit the Tabaco Church first (which by the way is equally awesome as with the churches I have seen in Catanduanes). Near the church is a resto where I had a hearty late lunch. After which, I was about to go to the bus terminal when a Cubao-bound bus passed right in front of the restaurant. I hailed the bus and yey! I was on my way home (Php850.00)!!! It was yet another 12-hour grueling bus ride.

Thank you Catanduanes for that super awesome trip!!!!! Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust! Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

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”…