Sunday, July 21, 2013

CALAGUAS ISLAND

CALAGUAS ISLAND

Location: Vinzons and Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bicol Region, Philippines
Coordinates: : 14°27N, 122°55E
Total Area: (not available in Wikipedia)
Blogger’s Note: Calaguas, is a group of more than 20 islands and islets which include the three major islands, namely: Tinaga, Guintinua and Maculabo where it has three barangays in the name of Banocboc, Pinagtigasan and Mangcawayan. The famous Mahabang Buhangin is located in Barangay Mangcawayan of Tinaga Island, the largest of Calaguas group of islands about eight kilometers long; Guintinua Island at six and half kilometers long and Maculabo at about four kilometers long.


View Calagua Islands in a larger map


The very relaxing sight of the paradise white sand of Mahabang Buhangin


The undisturbed beauty of the famous Mahabang Buhanging Beach located on the northern part of Barangay Mangcawayan, Tinaga Island, Municipality of Vinzons, Camarines Norte. "Mahabang Buhangin" literally means "long beach". Calaguas Island tops among the TOP TEN TOURIST GEMS of the Philippines as shown is this link.

The cottages for rent of Kagedama Properties


Tourists of the island can have an option whether to rent smaller cottages for P300 or the bigger ones at P500 of Kagedama properites. They can also have their tents but an island entrance fee of P170 is imposed inclusive of the water consumption for shower, food preparation and comfort rooms.

Newly constructed bigger and comfortable cottages at P3,500 rate per day


Unlike before that Calaguas stay offers no cottages to stay with, this time, cottages of different sizes and prices are already at your pick. There is already a supply of electricity and even stores where you can buy cold drinks.

These newly constructed big cottages are next to Kagedama cottages


Along the beach coast is dotted with coconut trees where you can buy buco fruit anytime you want from the enterprising caretakers of the cottages. You can even buy newly caught fish early in the morning from fishermen who also serve as caretakers of the cottages around.

Aerial view of Mahabang Buhangin


Trekkers and hikers will also love to scale the other side of the beach and on its peak is a rewarding scenery of the surrounding seas, islands, islets and the Poblacion, the barangay proper of Barangay Mangkawayan. It can be done in an hour or two.

Cleanliness is observed in the beach and its premises


Locals, NGOs and other tour operators are jointly imposing the rules of order and cleanliness in the island to make it the best for all tourists and guests.

The beach is quite enticing and inviting to swim and dip endlessly


The soft and powdery white sand of the coastline can also be felt by the sole of your feet when one walks through the seabed. No sharp shells. Seawater is not so salty and so it is friendly to your eyes when you take a dive. The deepness of water is so gradual and that you can swim a few meters from the coastline.

This sunset scenery of Mahabang Buhangin was taken by Jorge Cabrera


Sunset and sunrise are both magnificent in Calaguas. The serenity of the place adds up a meditative aura for people who like to put themselves in complete contemplation with mother nature.

Last glimpse of Mahabang Buhangin while on board of our chartered boat


As we boarded the boat away from Mahabang Buhangin, I felt a sense of urgency to promise to myself that I have to return to this place and even stay longer to maximize enjoyment.

Dropping by at the Maculabo Island


We are suppose to drop by both in Guintinua and Maculabo Islands but the boatman had deceived us thus only reaching the Maculabo Island after a 40-minute sea travel and another 25 minutes going back to Paracale Port.

For those who wanted tour package for their Calaguas trip, You can check this!

How to get there in Calaguas? You can check this!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BIRI ROCK FORMATIONS



BIRI ISLAND

Location: Municipality of Biri, Northern Samar, Philippines
Municipality Type: Class 5
Coordinates: 12°40"N, 124°23E
Total Area: 24.62 Square KM (9.51 square miles)
Blogger's Note: Biri is consist of several islands where other bigger islands are: Talisay, Magesang and Cagnipa. It is facing Pacific Ocean. Rock formations can be found in islets close to Biri Island, namely: Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Bel-at and Caranas. Geron is a surfing area of the island. Biri Island ranks 5th among the TOP TEN "TOURIST GEMS" of the Philippines as shown is this link.
Electricity Supply: It is available from 12:00 Noon till 12:00 midnight only but the surrounding islands do not have electric power supply. Know more about other accommodation

View Biri Islandin a larger map




I traveled to Biri Island by Southroad (or simply by land) through Philtranco airconditioned bus for P990 which left its Pasay Terminal at 11:00 A.M. and arrived in Matnog Port of Sorsogon Province at 3:30 A.M. (dawn) the following day which sums up to 16.5 hours of bus travel from Pasay City to Matnog. It took us 75 minutes at P120 to cross the San Bernardino Strait from Matnog Port to Allen Port of Northern Samar. We took a 12-minute ride of a pedicab at P20 from Allen Port to Jeepney Terminal with a signboard of Catarman. Though, we only have to drop in Lavezares at P15 which took us for 15 minutes only.



From Lavezares Port, we chartered a boat for P150 each with a capacity of 5 persons going to Palhugan Port of Biri Island which was for 58 minutes or one hour to be exact. It was such a refreshing morning and just around 20 minutes boarding the boat, we passed through the image of the Virgin Mary as shown in the photo above.



As we continue our boat travel, we saw at a distance through the clear morning skies Mount Mayon Volcano on its majestic and imposing perfect cone. After all, Samar is just near Albay divided by the San Bernardino Strait.



Now, we are approaching Biri Island with so much excitement seeing at a distance the Palhugan Port. It’s a typical island with hospitable folks and bystander teenagers greeting us with a good morning.



Entering the gate of our Biri accommodation, the Villa Amor --- new, clean and affordable and maybe one of the best in the island.



The roofdeck of our accommodation which is just a 10-minute habal-habal (single motorcycle) ride for P20 at Villa Amor offers such a 360 degrees scenery showcasing most part of the scenic beaches.



The bridge going to Magasang rock formation which is just a 15-minute habal-habal ride from Barangay Poblacion of Biri for P60 for a maximum of 3 persons in one habal-habal or P20 per head (roundtrip).



Approaching the Magasang rock formation after crossing the concrete bridge. The trail is rocky and wet and at some point you have to walk through shallow water.



This is a part of the Magasang rock formation. Just part of the famous Biri Rock formations.



This is still a part of Magasang rock formation. You can climb the rock formation with caution as some part of it are wet and mossy.



After spending ample time at Magasang rock formation we left and at a distance I took another farewell shot as if I do not like to leave the place. So amazing.



Far from the shore, we can see another destination. However, we need to ride in a habal-habal to get there. Thus, we took a very distant shot of Bel-at rock formation while boarding habal-habal.



The long and winding boardwalk going to Bel-at rock formation. One roundtrip of habal-habal going to Bel-at is a maximum of three persons for P45 or P15 per person.



Down the long and winding boardwalk going to Bel-at rock formation is a marsh and swampy area with mangroves abound.



Approaching Bel-at rock formation after crossing the long and winding boardwalk. Bel-at is another islet with massive rock formations.



A massive part of the Bel-at rock formation with our local guide and a friend of mine in the name of Rome Frias.



Relaxing under a massive rock formation at Bel-at rock formation. Next to his is a crystal-clear pond with fishes abound.



Climbing through the delicate part of Bel-at rock formations. It was so risky since one false move may mean piercing your skin with sharp rocks.

An aerial shot taken while at Bel-at rock formations.




After a tour in Magasang and Bel-at rock formations, I had an afternoon walk along the port in Brgy. Poblacion.



After a long afternoon walk, we returned back to our accommodation in Villa Amor and enjoyed the amazing scenery on its roofdeck with cold drinks, cakes and pastries.



The air at the roofdeck was soothingly cool and it was inviting to sleep there. While we were relaxing, we were listening to the pipe-in music until such time that we forgot everything and finally slept. It was already 6:30 P.M. when I woke up and proceed to my room.



Fresh in the morning, I stayed outside my room to savor the refreshing sea breeze just after the breakfast. All guests of Villa Amor were busy preparing for their activities for the day and that included me.



My group has no idea of what is the best destination next in our trip and activities for the day. We went to the Tourism Office in Poblacion just opposite the Catholic church and we were told to try Punta rock formations. With this, we hired a habal-habal being three only in the group and headed to the place. The photo above shows the entry to Punta rock formations.



Surprisingly, what I enjoyed in Punta rock formations are not really the rock formations but rather the big and geyser-like water formation where the seawater ejected spouts upward and down to the rocks. The waves were playful enough to give our digicam the opportunity to capture good shots with them as our background.



After having lunch in poblacion of the town of Biri, we headed to this verdant and aqua-marine blue beach coast in the island of Suliran which is just a 10-minute boat ride from Palhugan Port. This is uninhabited and undisturbed since there is no beach resort yet erected here. But mind you, being here offers a total privacy and one can even go naked if he wants. The rich background of trees is a part of Cagmanipis Island.



Part of Cagmanipis Island just across Suliran Island for around five minutes away. It has rich mangrove sanctuary. Like Suliran island, Cagmanipis is grown with coconut trees and can be a great source of buco fruit. In fact, our local guide harvested some for us for free.



Walking around Cagmanipis Island, one can see the rich biodiversity of mangrove aquatic life and various small species of fish can be seen thriving inside the roots of mangroves. The beach front of the island has strong current and may not be ideal for kids for swimming.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

MOUNT PULAG CLIMB

MOUNT PULAG
Location: Provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Entry point: Babadac Ranger's Camp
Exit point: Babadac Ranger's Camp
Coordinates: 16°36'10"N, 120°53'32"E
Elevation: 2922 MASL (9,586 feet)
Days required / Hours to summit: 3 days / 3.5 hours
Specs: Major climb, Level III, Strenuous
Important Description: The third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon as it is dubbed to be the "Roof of Luzon". It is one of the most well maintained "premier" National Park in the country.


View mount pulag in a larger map


Taken at Mount Pulag's summit during Day Two's sunrise


The suggested Itinerary in Ambangeg-Ambangeg (Babadac Trail) is shown below:

Day 1

08:00 P.M. - Assembly time Victory Liner Pasay Terminal
09:00 P.M. - ETD to Baguio City

Day 2

03:00 A.M. - ETA Baguio City
03:30 A.M. - ETD for Kabayan, Benguet through jeepney transport
05:30 A.M. - Ambuklao Dam
06:00 A.M. - Breakfast (Karinderya)
07:00 A.M. - ETA DENR (Orientation/Briefing)
08:30 A.M. - ETD to Babadac Ranger's Camp
10:00 A.M. - ETA Ranger's Camp
10:30 A.M. - Start Trek to Campsite
12:00 NN - Lunch (on trail)
01:00 P.M. - Resume trekking
02:00 P.M. - ETA Campsite

Day 3

04:30 A.M. - Wake-up call
04:45 A.M. - Summit assault
05:45 A.M. - SUMMIT
08:00 A.M. - Start Descend
09:00 A.M. - Campsite Breakfast/Break camp
10:00 A.M. - ETD to Ranger's Camp
01:00 P.M. - ETA Ranger's Camp
02:00 P.M. - Late lunch
03:00 P.M. - ETD to Baguio City
06:00 P.M. - ETA Baguio City
09:00 P.M. - ETD to Manila

Day 4

03:00 A.M. - ETA Manila

The house at Ranger's Camp where climbers used to cook for their meals before and after the climb


This was my second time to scale Mount Pulag and yet more memorable. We left in Victory Liner Terminal in Pasay at 10 P.M. and arrived in Baguio City at 3:30 A.M. From Baguio, we boarded a jeepney for Babadak Ranger’s Camp and passed thru Ambuklao Dam at 5:30 A.M. We had breakfast at Jangjang Eatery along the highway located in Sitio Bangao, Barangay Ambuklao, Municipality of Bokod, Benguet Province at 6:12 A.M. and was in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Protected Area Office/Visitors Center of Mount Pulag National Park in Ambangeg, Daclan, Bokod, Benguet for briefing and orientation at 7:20 A.M. conducted by the gorgeous, wacky, humorous and fashionable Protected Area Superintendent, Divorcee Emerita Albas. The rough and exhausting jeepney trip continued and we arrived at Babadak Ranger’s Camp at 10:06 A.M. where we had our early lunch, actually a packed lunch bought in Jangjang Eatery. Trekking started at 10:55 A.M. using the Ambangeg/Babadac Trail.

At first, the trail was just gradual. It was a long walk but refreshing due to cool weather.


Mount Pulag Climb is actually a major climb. It is Level 3 and strenuous and it is dubbed as the “Roof of Luzon”. The entire mountain is located within the municipalities of Buguias, Kabayan and Bokod in Benguet; Tinoc in Ifugao and Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya where it is characterized to have deep ravines, gorges and steep terrains. Mount Pulag has been a part of the folklore of the various mountain tribes for generations. It is believed to be the home of forest spirits who protect the ethnic tribes and assure bountiful harvests. Four of these tribes, actually, reside within the park --- Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Kankaney and Ibanag. These tribes consider Mount Pulag as a sacred place not only because it is the resting place and playground of their gods and goddesses but also they bury their dead. In fact, the Kabayan side of the park is frequented by visitors because of the mummy caves and burial grounds of natives residing at the foot of the mountain.

Then we passed thru shady area grown by pine trees which made our trek very relaxing.


While taking short rest of five minutes to regain our lost energy


With its uniqueness and majestic beauty, climbing this mountain is a feast for one’s senses. It is the home of the nation’s rare and endangered species of fauna including the cloud rat, cock’s pita, serpent eagle, Philippine deer, Philippine pig, and the Luzon mountain racket-tail parrot. It also has a collection of rare, endemic species of flora particularly the high altitude types like the dwarf bamboo and different kinds of pine trees, mosses and grasses. Its slopes are covered with pine trees and grassy meadows.

Everybody was excited to witness the unfolding beauty of the scenic Mount Pulag at sunrise. (Photo taken by Dada Macusi)


On the other hand, we had more than three hours trek leading to Camp 2 where we pitched our tents and have to stay for an overnight. Pitching tents and beyond was fun as we wander the beauty of the surroundings grown with a rich and rare variety of flora. Grinding cameras followed leaving us in extreme awe as we put our overwhelmed senses in great appreciation of what is in store for us. Our dinner and socials was quite freezing and we almost decided not to go out from our tents to have dinner. Food for dinner which was cooked and served by the organizer was superb, namely: menudo, tinolang manok, coleslaw and unlimited rice. We like the coleslaw of Kenneth for its taste can edge out the commercially prepared coleslaw of KFC outlets. Dinner was indeed great with great company and a great organizer’s cook whose intention is beyond customer satisfaction. Being surprised with such a set-up, we stayed longer for dinner to sip more hot soup of tinolang manok; savor the meat and vegetable mix of menudo and chew freshly prepared coleslaw with accompanying wine.

And lo and behold!!! as the moment of truth unfolded to our naked eyes, the sea of clouds!


Socials was held after dinner which lasted till 12 Midnight with a drinking spree coupled with the getting-to-know-each-otherconversational exchange. It has been a tradition that socials should be done with a moderate drinking party. Though, with the presence of the spirit of wine, our group was still manageable and wholesome discussing topics ranging from travels, mountain climbing, spelunking, work and career, hobbies, interests, sharing of insights with a little of green jokes ideal in mature conversational exchange. Green jokes are meant to inject humor to warm up our freezing adrenalin. The venue for the socials was just an open tent giving us a temporary roof to shield us from thick mists. The night then was freezing at 4 Degrees Centigrade, still moonless and the color of the night was completely pubic black. Most of us had chilled because of extremely cold temperature. Chilling has detonated the power of snoring to some of us and instead moaning as if extremely suffering from pain and illness became more evident.

Everybody was excited and a lot of climbers showed up looking for the best angle they can capture the scenery at its best.


Day 2 was the most awaited moment where we had our wake-up call at 3:30 A.M. Though, extremely cold, nobody has resisted to wake up out rightly for we have to trek for 1 ½ hours leading to the summit. Clad in thick and layered clothing with flashlights and headlamps, ungurgled mouth, unfixed hair and entire appearance, we trailed to the wilderness with the moon above us emitting not so bright light just enough to supplement our flashlights and headlamps. The stars were not as many as I normally see in the sky. Along the established trails were dwarf bamboo, mosses and grasses. Trekking at dawn was less exhausting since the air was crisp and the serenity of the environs adds up to the mysticism of the mountain. As we approached the summit, we noticed that sizable trekkers were coming from different directions highly expectant of what will unfold in the next few moments. Though still dark when we arrived in the summit, everybody was seemed to be very excited. Code of silence was evident and the clicking of cameras can be heard instead. There was an Austrian family who stayed in the summit equipped with only sleeping bags but the rest of the climbing enthusiasts were 95% Filipinos. The crowd at the summit can be roughly estimated at almost 500.

mountain slopes and clouds blended into one majestic scenery




Gradually, the silhouette of the sun appeared until the sunrise gave a glow of golden hue of yellow and its color variances. The view was absolutely majestic --- as if the sky looked like God’s palette, as He was about to finish painting the dawn into a bright morning. Clouds besieged the lower part of the summit particularly the ridges near its saddle giving such a magnificent scenery somewhat a sea of clouds. There was a 360 degrees panoramic view. We felt victorious having felt we conquered the summit of the THIRD highest peak of the Philippines at 2,922 meters above sea level or 9,610 feet above sea level. As per record, the first two highest mountains are in Mindanao which are both inactive volcanoes with Mount Apo in Davao as the highest peak at 2,954 meters or 9,692 feet and followed by Mount Dulang-Dulang at 2,938 meters or 9,637 feet located in Kitanglad Range. Our eyes have feasted with the magnificent beauty around us. Everybody was occupied grinding their cameras. We were like in heaven with the heavenly clouds within our horizon and the serenity of the place adds up to our golden moment savoring every minute of our stay in the summit. IT WAS SUCH A PERFECT MOMENT! We felt so close to Our Almighty Creator.

This shows God's glory as a Mighty Creator!!!!


This photo was taken by Mr. Vincent Ray Endonilla


Finally, we have to let go of this moment and decided to descend going back to Camp 2 where we pitched our tents. A sumptuous breakfast awaited us, namely: Spam, Corned Beef, Dilis, Scrambled egg, Hotdog, Coffee, Hot Chocolate and unlimited fried rice. Breakfast was Service De Luxe considering that we were up in the highlands of Mount Pulag. We had our break camp at 9:00 A.M. Trekking started then at 10:00 A.M. and arrived in Ranger’s Camp at 1:18 P.M. where we had our late lunch there. We left the Ranger’s Camp at 2:20 P.M. and travelled back to Baguio City in a jeepney though we had a stopover in the DENR Protected Area Office/Visitors Center. Finally, we arrived in Baguio City at 7:24 P.M. We had our dinner in SM Baguio and left Baguio City at 10:40 P.M. boarding an airconditioned Victory Liner Bus No. 46.

Our group returned to our campsite for our breakfast and break camp later


Part of the our side trip where we stopped along the highway still a part of Benguet


As we summed up, this great experience in Mount Pulag, we can say, that this became all possible with the mighty hands of the organizer who cradled us for utmost convenience. It was so well organized that not even one untoward incident was encountered by us. The organizers, indeed, has TOUCHED OUR LIVES. It was like having a home away from home that made this climbing so comfortable and convenient. Somewhat like a FAMILY in the midst of chilling environs. We just love it. To commend for this, our main organizers are: Mr. Kenneth C. Taguilaso who can be contacted in his mobile phone at 0917666000 or email address at kennethtaguilaso@yahoo.comand his brother, Peter Glenn C. Taguilaso with mobile number at 09163571131 and email address at busingot_89@yahoo.com. Along with the organizers were the core group members who were as accommodating as the aforementioned, namely: Glenn Glindro, Apple Bucayo, Mark Stephen Endonilla and Vincent Ray Endonilla. TRY TO AVAIL OF THEIR PACKAGE AND THE REST WILL BE HISTORY!!!!