Ulan-Ulan Waterfalls (Biliran, PH)

When we were young, there were times when my sister and I would storm our way out just to take a bath under the rain. And it was fun… it was a different feeling getting soaked, half-naked without any pretentions. Of course, we can no longer do that now that we are adults. I mean we still can if e want to minus the half-naked thing.

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The introduction I made has something to do with the rain. When I have visited the province Biliran, one particular sight I enjoyed the most was a visit to Ulan-Ulan Waterfalls in the town of Almeria. “Uan” in the local dialect means rain. It was named such because the water cascade appears to be rain shower – like.

The jump-off to the waterfalls is located in a barangay called Sampao. First, one would be required to ride a 20-minute habal-habal (motorcycle) and do a more or less 30-minute trek to reach the waterfalls. The trail is pretty easy except for some parts that could be really muddy when it rains.

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Upon reaching the falls, I was so excited to get wet by its flow. True to its name, it does look like a pretty heavy rain shower. The falls is about 90 feet high with a catch basin that is quite shallow. The verdant surroundings add up to the natural charm of the waterfall. I enjoyed taking a shower despite the freezing cold water. A lot of unusual frogs and dragonflies abound the area that made me happy taking photos.

Truly, Ulan-Ulan Falls is one of Biliran’s must-see nature secret. From here, there are other trek worthy waterfalls like Recoletos and Sampao Waterfalls.

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How to Get to Ulan-Ulan Falls:

From Manila, fly to Tacloban City in Leyte. From Tacloban, you have several options to get to Almeria, Biliran. The most frequent, and conducive way is to hire a van although there are also public transports like jeepney or taxi that will take you to the van terminal and get on a van to Naval (Biliran’s capital). Once in Naval, hire a habal-habal for a faster means of transport to Brgy. Sampao. There is a registration site where you can hire a guide. There are no standard fees for guide. The trek will also start from that area.

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

Chocolate Hills (Bohol, PH)

The Chocolate Hills are unique geological formation spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers in Carmen, Bohol, Philippines.  It is said that there are around 1200 (or more) hills which are covered with grass that eventually turns into brown during the dry season looking like undulating chocolate kisses. To date, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country.

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The rolling terrain of this spectacular mounds in conical and surprisingly in an almost symmetrical shape has drawn the attention of both local and foreign tourists. These karst hills are said to be made of limestone, each with a range of 98 to 164 feet in height.

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This Philippine attraction can be visited anytime of the year as they will be just as spectacular during the rainy season as during the dry one. The thought if standing atop one of the hills maybe pretty delightful however, no one is allowed to climb the hills. Nonetheless, a great way to marvel at these natural beauties is through a viewing deck put up by the local authorities. I believe that this is also a great means of preserving these wonders. The viewing deck is accessible by stairs so one should be patient enough to walk their way to the area.

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How to Reach Carmen, Bohol:

From Manila, fly your way to Tagbilaran City, Bohol’s capital. If by boat, access points are in ports around Bohol like Tagbilaran, Tubigon, Jagna, Ubay, Talibon, and Jetafe which are connected to Cebu, Manila, Leyte, Siquijor, Negros and even some Mindanao provinces. The most popular option is to get to Cebu city via the airport and from there to take a 90 minute ferry to Tagbilaran.

Once in Tagbilaran City, take a ride to the central part of the island, to the town of Carmen. Most common way tourists do is to rent a car or a jeepney in Tagbilaran. If you want to ride a scooter or a small motorbike you will be able to rent one for a day for 400 pesos.

Recommended Place to Stay in Bohol: The Barn

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Talahid Beach (Biliran, PH)

Talahid Beach is perhaps one of the most popular and frequented beach in mainland Biliran province.The beach, which is located in the town of Almeria, is lined with several resorts and it faces some islands like Dalutan and Capinahan Islands.

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The beach may not have fine white sand (rather, it has pebble to coralline like sandy shoreline) but it possesses a calm and crystal clear water that is difficult to resist. Moreover, the beach becomes magical both in the morning and in the afternoon as the sunrise and sunset can be both viewed from the area.

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There are 3 well-established resorts in the area.

Resort Contacts
Agta Beach Resort +63 927 150 0335, +63 920 583 0480, +63 936 970 2476 or email at
info@agtabeachresort.com
Coco Grove (Talahid Beach Resort) +63 917 826 9321
VRC Resort +63 (0) 9164665809;  vrcresort@gmail.com

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These resorts may arrange your tour within the island like island-hopping tour to Sambawan Island, Maripipi Island, Capinahan Island and Dalutan Island. You may also trek you way to the many waterfalls of Almeria (and Biliran in general) like Ulan-Ulan, Recoletos and many more. If you wish to do various water activities like snorkelling, SCUBA diving, kayaking and paddle boarding, you can just let the resorts staff know.

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How to Get to Talahid Beach:

From Manila, fly to Tacloban City in Leyte. From Tacloban, you have several options to get to Talahid, Almeria, Biliran. The most frequent, and conducive way is to hire a van although there are also public transports like jeepney or taxi that will take you to the van terminal and get on a van to Naval (Biliran’s capital). Once in Naval, ride a bus to Kawayan and get off right at the top of the Talahid Beach where most of the aforementioned resorts driveway are. You can also hire a habal-habal from Naval for a faster means of transport to Talahid.

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

Guisi Beach & Lighthouse (Guimaras, PH)

Guimaras  –  one of the smaller island provinces in the Philippines, has been dubbed as the Philippines “Mango Country”. Visitors who flock their way to the more touristy Iloilo and Bacolod cities, would perceive Guimaras as a potential sidetrip.

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I was fortunate enough to have visited this province on 2 occasions (2012 and 2013). My desire to visit Guimaras wasn’t prompted by my taste buds’ yearning to savour their popular mangoes, but, by my wanderlust soul to visit some interesting sites I have read over the internet.

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And so during my 1st visit, I decided to check out the seemingly picture-perfect Guisi Beach in the outskirts of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. I hired a habal-habal driver to take me to this tucked destination.

Guisi Beach is a stretch of white sand (though not as whote and as fine as other beaches) with luxuriant palm trees dotted with some interesting rock formations. The water of the beach is an inviting shade of blue and green, despite not as crystal clear as other beaches I have been to. Nonetheless, the beach itself has this unique charm that will keep you drawn.

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When I arrived there, it was exactly how I have seen in it photos. Really picturesque! I personally love the rocks at one side of the beach. Also, I was fortunate because there weren’t many people then. A local mentioned that during the weekends, many locals flock their way to this beach. There are a couple of resorts within the area from which one could choose from in case you intend to stay overnight.

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After spending some time at the beach, my guide-slash-habal-habal driver suggested that I go and see the ruins of the old Guisi Lighthouse (formerly known as Faro de Punta Luzaran). I was happy to know that there was more to the beach. After a short walk towards a hilly site, the imposing ruins of the lighthouse greeted me.  This old lighthouse was built during the Spanish-colonial period. I asked permission to climb the top portion despite the obviously rusty tower. I was quite apprehensive while making my way to the top as the tower may no longer be that sturdy.  When I reached the top, I found myself opening my mouth but speechless. The view of Guisi Beach is indeed more than rewarding.

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Where to Stay near Guisi Beach:

Guisi Clearwater Resort:

Address: Guisi, Dolores, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: +639195636688

Room Rate: Starting from 700 php

Kenyama Beach Resort:

Address: Guisi, Dolores, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: 0998-3084049; 0939-9175495 (Smart); 0906-2709157 (Globe)

Website: http://kenyamaresort.jimdo.com/

Room Rate: Starting from 1200 php

Raymen Beach Resort:

Address: Alubihod, Poblacion, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Philippines

Contact No.: +63 33 396 0252

Website: http://raymenresort.com/

Room Rate: Starting from 600 php/room

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How to Get to Guisi in Nueva Valencia:

From Manila, one can reach Guimaras by plane via Iloilo (being the nearest).  Once you arrive in Iloilo, take a cab and tell the driver to take you to Ortiz Wharf (the motorboat wharf bound for Jordan). If you are coming from Cebu, travel by sea, (choose between Cokaliong Shipping Lines or Trans Asia Shipping Lines) for a 12-hour travel going to Iloilo.  Once you arrive in Iloilo, take a cab and tell the driver to take you to Ortiz Wharf.  You may also opt to take a jeepney to save money. Ask locals which jeepney passes by Ortiz Wharf.  Then Take the motorboat from Ortiz wharf going to Jordan.

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Travel time from Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Wharf  is around 15 minutes and the fare is Php 14. Once you arrive at the wharf, you can arrange for a shuttle or multicab at the tourism office which is just a few steps away from the arrival area. However, if you are alone or maybe just with another person, you can take a habal-habal. Travel time takes around an hour and the lowest fare for a group is Php 900.  The habal-habal ride takes a shorter travel time and fare differs depending on your haggling skills.

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I left Guisi with a smile on my face and my heart beaming with joy. There is no qualm the lighthouse and the beach of Guisi  are some of Guimaras’ must-see destinations. So, don’t  be a wasted soul, be  ‘juan’derlust.

Gems of Guiuan (Eastern Samar, PH)

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”  – William Shakespeare

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My interest in visiting the southernmost tip of Samar Island came about when I first saw an article saying that it is home to a great surfing spot as it faces the Pacific. I became more eager to set foot in this town when I have learned that it is the hardest hit during the Yolanda catastrophe. I wanted to know how the people are and how much damage was caused. Located at the eastern most side of the Philippines, Guiuan is a town frequented by (strong) typhoons. It is part of Eastern Samar, one of the 3 provinces that comprise the entire Samar Island.

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So the next time I was in Tacloban, I made my way to this seemingly quiet seaside town. Going to this town was not as difficult as I thought since it only took me a van ride away (around 4 hours of travel time). Upon reaching the town, Imy friend and I quickly grabbed something to eat before haggling with a tricycle driver who will take us to 2 of Guiuan’s most visited places.

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Our first stop is the famed Calicoan Island, established to be Visayas’ surfing hub. One will pass by some very scenic views despite the obvious remnants of typhoon Yolanda. Upon reaching the main surf area, I was amazed to see various shades of blue – azure sky, cerulean waters with beginner’s waves, and some rock formations along the shore. There were several locals surfing. The view of the Pacific was just lovely. This popular surf spot in Calicoan Island is said to feature what they call the “Jurassic Waves”. (I am not aware though why they called it such).

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After visiting Calicoan Island, we then went to Pagnamitan Bridge and its natural pools. The bridge serves to connect the island of Calicoan and mainland Guiuan. One would immediately gaze at the natural “swimming pools” below it. According to a local, the depth of these pools can range from 3ft-7ft or even more depending on the tide. Water was really inviting but I had to contain myself as I did not bring with me extra clothes. So better luck next time. Hahaha…

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It was a short visit to Guiuan. Nonetheless, it was great seeing those 2 places. I love how not touristy the place is. Moreover, I am happy that the people and the town itself has improved since Yolanda. I would love to visit the place again in the future and see more of its beauty. And oh, did I mention that the sunset is just magical at this side of the Philippines. Well yes, truly magical.

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How to Get to Guiuan:

From Manila, ride a planeto Tacloban City (nearest) or Cebu City. From Tacloban City, you can ride a van going to Guiuan. There are two well-known companies that ply to various places in Leyte and Samar — Duptours and Van Vans. The usual fare is Php150-180. It will take you 3-4 hours to reach the town of Guiuan. One may also opt to take the bus (Silver Star or Eagle Star) in the bus station near Farmers, Cubao. The fare is usually 2000-3000php one way. This will take you on a very long, 24hours (more or less) ride to reach Guiuan.

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From Cebu, one can take the Supercat to reach Ormoc City in Leyte, then ride a bus bound for Tacloban; and finally, a van or bus from Tacloban to Guiuan. Once in Guiuan, rent a tricycle for a fixed price (you have to negotiate with the driver. Prices depend as to how many places you want to see and visit).  If you are in for a surfing action, visit the local surf club “headquarters” located at the Calicoan Villa.

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