3D2N Enchanting Isla Gigantes Trip

On the northern coast of Iloilo in the town of Carles a hidden paradise of what we know as Isla Gigantes awaits all curious visitors. White sand beaches, clear blue waters and scallops. It’s not very easy to get here and it will take you a day to get to the island but its all worth the trip. The island was named as such as it was believed that giants once lived on the islands. Stay at least 3 days here to fully enjoy what the island has to offer

To get here you have different options. If you’re flying from Manila it’s best to go to Roxas as it’s only two hours away via Ceres Bus. Regardless of where you’re coming from as long as you reach Estancia Port before 1pm you’re good to go as there’s only 1 passenger boat plying Estancia-Gigantes route. Boat leaves between 1pm-2pm daily and to be sure which boat leaves for Gigantes, ask around.

Tip: Book the earliest flight as much as possible. Take a van to significantly cut your travel time but for a cheaper alternative simply take a bus.

1. From Iloilo (Max of 5 Hours to get to Estancia): Get a cab (around 400 pesos) going to Tagbac Terminal or take the shuttle to SM City Iloilo (50 pesos) then take a jeepney going to Tagbac Terminal. From Tagbac Terminal, take either Ceres Bus/HPQ Buss (4 hours) or UV Express Van (2 hours) going to Estancia. Fare costs around 150 pesos. From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).
2. From Roxas (Max of 3 Hours to get to Estancia): Take Ceres Bus (2 hours) going to Estancia. From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).
3. From Kalibo (Max of 5 Hours to get to Estancia): I’m not sure if there’s a direct bus or van going to Estancia but you can take Ceres Bus or UV Express Van going to Roxas (2 hours) then to Estancia (2 hours). From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).

Tagbac Van Terminal. Further to the right is the Bus Terminal

Estancia Van & Bus Terminal

Estancia Tricycle Terminal in front of Van & Bus Terminal

We checked-out from our hotel at around 8am and took a cab going to Tagbac Central Terminal. Between bus and van, we chose van for a much shorter travel time going to Estancia because they have fewer stops unlike a regular commuter buses. We had to wait though for all other passenger. We left at around 10am and arrived 2 and a half hours after. From the terminal we rode a tricycle going to the port. At the port, we hurriedly run to the nearest shed because of a sudden heavy rainfall. We waited for the rain to stop for like an hour before getting on the boat and lucky enough the sky cleared like it never rained. 

At the port, we were welcomed by Joel Decano who guided us to the boat and introduced us to our guide Joeneber. It was a slow 2-hour boat ride. Instead of just staring blankly on the horizon, we started making friends and met a very nice couple.  Meet Flo and Lea. 🙂

Flo and Lea

Since it was low tide when we arrived at Gigantes Norte, we had to transfer to a raft and balance ourselves while the boatman pushes it to get to the shore. Cool! From afar you can clearly see a mountain like pile of scallop shells along the shore.

Getting ready to ride the raft. You see that mountain of scallop shells over there?

Slowly but surely

On the raft

Along the shores of Brgy Asluman

We then rode a Habal-Habal to get to Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. We had coffee as our welcome drink under the shade of a Talisay tree. My ex-girlfriend and I together with Flo and Lea agreed to follow just one itinerary and go on one boat for our island hopping the next day. Since Joel originally arranged separate boats and guides for us, we agreed for a 2500 pesos boat fee for the island hopping instead of 1800 pesos per couple. That’s 650 pesos saving!

After the arrangement, our guide brought us to our cottage. Here, they have a fix rate of 200 pesos per head per night if you stay in a fan room. They have cottages/rooms for small and big groups. They also have a tree house and cottages facing the sea. The resort has a very wide open space ready for expansion and a mini pool.

Our Room

Mini Pool

Food Hall

Tree House

Main House – AC Rooms are here

Cottages facing the Sea

Coffee Area

Not wasting any time, we asked our guides if there’s any place we could go nearby. They suggested to visit Parola/Lighthouse. We rode a Habal-Habal then trekked for about 5mins to get to Parola. You also have the option to walk. If you’re not afraid of heights, you must go up. This is also a perfect spot to catch the sunrise.

Parola

The Light

Group Pic – Flo was too scared to stand up.

To have a group pic, we sat beside Flo

Back in the resort, they served us the below for dinner. (To give you an idea how much it cost – this is good for 2)

Sizzling Scallop 110.00
2 Sticks of BBQ Scallop 36.00
Fried Fish 40.00
Squid with Chili Sauce 90.00
Grilled Pork Chop 60.00
   Rice 30.00   
Total 366.00

Day 1 Dinner

They really serve a lot so if I were you forgot about your diet. Just let your guide know if you only wish to be served with 1 or 2 viands. You can also ask for coffee, soda or beer and they would only charge you depending on how much it cost at a nearby store. Yes I think there are 2 sari-sari store near the resort where you can buy some stuff like shampoo, soap, toothbrush and even crisps.

During our dinner we learned a lot about Flo and Lea, they were very open and it felt like we know them already for a very long time. We talked about almost anything under the sun. After dinner, instead of going inside our room we decided to take a dip in the mini pool and continued our bonding with the lovely couple. I am not sure but I think we finished past midnight.

The following day we woke up really early to catch the sunrise.

Good Morning Gigantes

Breakfast was served at 7am. They gave us coffee first whilst preparing the table for breakfast. Everything was very organised here and it’s like having your very own PA. Since we requested for a smaller portion they served us light breakfast (still with rice).

Coffee Time

Plated Breakfast

After breakfast we prepped up for our Island Hopping adventure. We started past 9am already because of our amazement with the countless number of scallop shells near the shore.

Shells Shells Shells

Jump Shot

Our first stop was Tangke Lagoon. It was a challenge for most of us to get in because of strong waves making it hard to cross a makeshift bridge from the boat to the lagoon. Going back was another story. I even forgot to wear my slippers which made it even harder for me to walk through the rocks. Inside, it felt like I was in Coron. If you don’t know how to swim, this place is perfect for you as it’s not too shallow nor too deep.

Our next stop was Cabugao Gamay Island. This is the most famous island here. I think the shape of the island adds up to its charm aside from its powdery white sand and pristine blue waters. Group shots, jump shots, selfie, wide shots, stolen shots. We did all of it here.

To even more enjoy the island, we decided to have our lunch here. We had crabs, stuffed squid and fresh coconut juice. Yum Yum! We even took a short nap under a shade of a tree. Once on the island you wouldn’t want leave. It has a strange charm unlike any other islands. 🙂

Just before we left, we were shocked to hear an explosion-like sound only to find out a fisherman threw a dynamite to catch some fish not very distant to where we were. I hope authorities are doing something to stop this madness. I’m sure they know it.

Our next stop was Bantigue Sand Bar. This served as a playground for us. The strong wind from an incoming rain triggered non-stop waves and made the water warmer. We played like kids jumping on every waves we see. We loved it so much!

Our last stop was at Antonia Beach. Whilst on the island, it rained heavily making it impossible for us to swim or snorkel. Instead, we stayed inside the kitchen of the island’s caretaker to have coffee and to eat spicy noodles. We met JayR here, a solo traveler who works in Singapore. After the rain, we immediately went to sea to snorkel and swim.  Just before leaving the island, they sold us 1 sack of wasay-wasay perfect for dinner for just 100 pesos. Nice!

Wasay-Wasay

Our next trip was supposedly the caves but because of the rain and it’s almost 5pm we decided not to go anymore. There are more than 30 caves in the island so ask your guide and try to explore at least one. Just take extra care and make sure to bring insect repellant.

Back in the resort for dinner, they served us steamed wasay-wasay, fish escabeche and adobong squid. Brrrppp! We were so full after. JayR also joined the feast.

Left to Right: Lea, Flo, JayR, Cleo and myself

For our last night here, we asked our guides to set up a bonfire near the shore. It was lovely!

Kuya Joeneber setting up our Bonfire

The next morning, we packed all our things then had our breakfast.

Breakfast – Day 3

Kuya Joeneber showed us the ancient wood coffin known as “Longon” displayed at the back of the food hall whilst waiting for the details of the amount we need to settle before checkout. In total (3D2N food and accommodation + island hopping for 2) we paid 3,480 pesos.

We were almost ready to leave but then we suddenly felt dizzy and saw the water in the pool spilling over. We heard the staff shouting and couldn’t believe we just experienced an earthquake. It was scary! What if there’s a tsunami?Aftershocks? Where’s the epicenter? What made it worst is that we have no way of checking due to lack of internet and mobile network signal in the island. Thank God we’re safe!

We left still a bit nervous but we had to say goodbye to the nice staff of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. A trip we will never ever forget. Amazing island indeed. Very accommodating staff, well-mannered guides, endless supply of scallops, fresh seafood and picturesque white sand beach. Life is Good!

JayR, Flo, Lea, Cleo and myself plus our 2 guides. Joeneber – in yellow short.

With a bigger boat this time, it only took us less than 2 hours to get to Estancia port.

Estancia Port

Oh I forgot to mention, Flo and Lea joined us on the next leg of this trip. 4 is better than 2!

Check my next entry about our Guimaras Trip: <————>

You can also check my entry about Iloilo here: Iloilo 2D1N DIY Trip

This is part of our Iloilo 5 Day DIY Trip last October 12 – 17, 2013. See detailed Itinerary and Expenses HERE.

Sample Itinerary

DAY 1
0700 Wake Up Call
0800 Check-out at Chito’s Hotel
0830 ETA at Tagbac Central Terminal via Taxi (150 pesos)
1000 ETD to Estancia via Van (150 pesos/head)
1230 Estancia Transport Terminal
1245 Estancia Port (via Tricycle 10 pesos/head)
1430 ETD Estancia to Brgy Asluman via Boat (80 pesos/head)
1630 ETA Brgy Asluman
1640 ETA Hideaway Resort via Habal-Habal (10 pesos/head)
1700 Check-in (200 pesos/head/night)
1730 Parola (via Habal-Habal 30 pesos/head/way)
1830 Back at Hideway Resort
2000 Dinner Time
2200 Night Swimming (Pool)

DAY 2
0600 Wake Up Call
0700 Breakfast Time
0830 Prep for Island Hopping
0900 Habal-Habal to Boat
0910 Start of Island Hopping (2500 pesos/boat good for 4 with 2 guides)
0940 Tangke
1100 Cabugao Island (20 pesos entrance fee/head)
1200 Lunch at Cabugao Island
1340 Bantigue Sandbar
1430 Antonia Beach (20 pesos entrance fee/head)
1630 Back at Brgy Asluman
1645 Hideaway Tourist Resort
1900 Dinner Time
2100 Bonfire by the Beach
2300 Lights Off

DAY 3
0600 Breakfast
0730 Prep for Check-out (Total Bill: 3480 pesos)
0830 Check-out Time
0845 Boat to Estancia (80 pesos/head)
1030 Back at Estancia Port
1130 Van to Iloilo (150 pesos/head)
1330 ETA Tagbac Central Terminal

Breakdown of Expenses

DAY 1
77 Breakfast
150 Taxi Fare to Tagbak Terminal
300 Van going to Estancia
20 Tricycle Fare to Port
20 Water
160 Boat Fare to Gigantes
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
120 Habal Habal to Light House

DAY 2
100 2 Buko at Cabugao Island
140 Snacks at Antonia Beach
100 1 Sack of Wasay-Wasay
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
52 Toiletries

DAY 3
3480 Hideaway Total Bill
600 Tip
20 Habal Habal to Boat
160 Boat Fare to Estancia
40 Water
103 Food
30 Tricycle to Van Terminal
300 Van to Tagbac Terminal

Total Expenses: 6,012.00 Pesos

Tips:

  • Mobile networks are not available in the island so forget about checking your facebook or instagram. Forget about calling or texting, just enjoy and have fun.
  • Bring a nice camera with you all the time and capture every moment.
  • Electricity is only turned on late in the afternoon until 11pm then it switches to power generator. So don’t be surprised if you wake up the following day with no electricity.
  • Be sure to arrive at Estancia Port before 1pm-2pm or else you’ll wait for the next trip the next day.
  • From Gigantes Norte, boat leaves for Estancia at around 8am so make sure to tell your guides to avoid being left.
  • If you wish to stay in an air-conditioned room check with Joel first for availability. During peak season, make sure to book ahead of time to secure a good room. If you own a tent, you can also bring it and set camp inside the resort.
  • Guides don’t have a fixed income/salary so give them the tip they deserve. They solely rely on the tip.
  • Cooking Charge is up to you as well so if you have any request for lunch or dinner feel free to tell them but don’t expect any vegetable dish as they don’t really have a market to buy vegetables on the island.
  • If you sleep late, your guides too. 🙂
  • Each cottages have its own toilet and bath.
  • If you’re looking to have a massage, they have 2 local masseuse in the area but don’t expect it to be a spa-like experience. Just ask your guides if you’re interested.
  • If you are travelling solo and want to spend less, be friendly and join other groups.
  • Local water may taste weird for some so better bring your own supply of mineral/distilled water.

Schedule of ferry from/to Isla Gigantes:
Estancia Port to Isla Gigantes : 2pm (80 pesos)
Isla Gigantes Langub port to Estancia: 8:30am (80 pesos)
Carles Bancal Port to Isla: 10am (75pesos)
Isla to Carles Bancal Port : 2pm (75pesos)

From Roxas City you can take bus going to Estancia and alight in Balasan, then take a tricycle going to Carles Port if you want to catch the morning ferry.

Contact Jedden, one of the tour guide and he will assist you. +639468516513

Isla Gigantes Contact Information:

Joel Decano
Proprietor/Tourism Officer
09184685006 / 09155796612
Facebook: Isla Gigantes
Email: isla.gigantes@yahoo.com
Joel Decano is a tourism office who also owns Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. He will arrange everything to make sure you enjoy your stay in Gigantes. If DIY is not your thing, he can also create a package/itinerary for you.
Alternative Contact Information:

If you are not able to reach Joel you may contact the below that was given to me by a friend who visited Gigantes May 2014
Remia Pesta of Arjan Resort at 09199314248 or
Boy Pestaño at 09999918643 and get Glenn as ur guide.

*Arjan Resort is located at Gigantes North and is along the shoreline. They also have boats plying the route of Estancia and Gigantes North. Boat departs between 12 to 1pm. For more information please contact Remia directly.

Tara Let’s Go Asia Random Trip 1: Discovering Rizal

Ever went on a Random Trip with total strangers? Quite interesting right? Well, I know at least two people from this trip when Tara Let’s Go Asia first held their meet-up. Few days before the actual trip, I saw the below on my feeds and went through the details. There was no specific Itinerary or plan and all you have to do is to bring yourself and enjoy. The concept was new to me so we joined. It’s a chance to meet Random People and do some Random Stuff to a Random Destination.  Kewl!

We arrived just in time and waited for a few minutes then off we go. Wondering how we’re going to get to our destination? Yes! a Jeepney. An Air-conditioned Jeepney! It’s bigger than a normal jeepney, more of like a mini-bus only that it’s locally made. 🙂

Just few minutes after leaving the parking lot near El Pueblo a traffic enforcer stopped us to query what the heck the Jeepney is doing Ortigas. The jeepney rented plies through Makati area and since we’re at Ortigas it’s normal for an officer to stop a public vehicle that is out of its normal route. It’s very important if you consider renting one to have a permit, drivers know this so don’t worry.

To start of the trip, our 1st Stop was Antipolo Cathedral – Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine. The Jesuits administered the church from 1591 to 1768. Built by the Rev. Juan de Salazar S.J., the church was ready for Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje in 1632. The church was greatly damaged during the Chinese uprising of 1639 and in the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1883. For three centuries now, this church has been the object of pilgrimages all over the Philippines. People go here to get blessings before going on a trip.

Just before leaving the area, two of our foreign friends tried our local kakanin known as Suman.

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Our 2nd Stop. Situated in Brgy Bombongan Morong Rizal, we went to U-Ugong Park (Bantayog ng Kalinangan). The park is owned by Mr. Rafael Pacheco, a locally and internationally recognized artist because of his paintings. Filipinos from various status recognize the extraordinary of “Mang Paeng” and is now considered as the Father of Bare- Hand Painting in the Philippines. When you visit the place you’ll see almost all of his artworks. During the early 60’s-early 80’s Uugong park was known for its beautiful waterfalls. It is a usual summer picnic location for families and friends. Uugong means echo, which has been derived from the loud echo or sound produced by the strong current flow of the falls. The place right now needs a lot of help. The used to be vibrant place now seems to be slowly decaying if no attention will be given soon enough. Mr Pacheco who suffered from stroke was glad enough to talk to us and showed us his artworks. He has a very good sense of humor.  It was truly an honor to meet him in person.

Mr Pacheco’s Paintings

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Around U-Ugong Park

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Somewhere in Tanay Rizal, we had a thrilling adventure to Tanay’s Calinawan Cave which is our 3rd Stop. Bust just before getting there, we had lunch at a random eatery. Our damage? Just roughly 40 pesos including a glass or two of Soda. 🙂

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Going back to Calinawan Cave, the cave is a 20 minute drive from Daranak Falls. The hill where the cave is called Rawang. which have been strong-holds of Filipino resistance fighters against colonizers. To get to Calinawan it’s better to bring your own mode of transportation or else you’ll have to endure a long walk unless you’re into it. Entrance Fee is 20 pesos per head and Guide Fee is 200 per group of 5. The entrance to the cave is a small stair-like passage going down. Along the way the guide will tell you different stories and show different rock formations. Living stalagmites and stalactites are still present in the cave which is a good sign. Several movie productions have been made in this caves making it popular to some. Along the way, a small black bird fell on the ground. According to our guide the bird produces birds nest which is used in making the famous birds nest soup. It took us roughly 30 minutes to finish the trek. The exit is grand, you will need to pass through the two big rock formations towering at around 30 feet.

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After Calinawan Cave, it was time to take a dip at Daranak Falls, our 4th Stop. Daranak Falls is located in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, a few minutes from Tanay market. It is a government-owned park and part of the laguna watershed. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per head for adults and 15 pesos for kids. They are only open from 8AM to 5PM. To get more information, please visit my other post here. Picnic tables are available for a minimal cost. Toilets and Shower Rooms are available for just 5 pesos per use.

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What to do after? Haha. Yes! It was time to eat… Not sure yet where until we pass by this interesting restaurant along the highway. Our 5th Stop, Kata Cafe it is! It is located at Delfin Tongohan St., cor. Manila East Road, Tanay, Rizal. Surprisingly we thought food would be expensive until we saw the menu and the food was served. OMG! It was a hefty serving for a price of small serving you’ll normally get if you buy it in Metro Manila. The food was delish and I highly recommend people to go here and try their food. The place was cozy as well. Very inviting and relaxed. Nice place for a chitchat and to hangout with friends. A nice escape form hustle and bustle of the city.

After dinner, we went to Binangonan Rizal in search for a cheap place to stay overnight until we ended up staying at Eastroad Apartelle. The place is located #8 Manila East Road Calumpang Hi-Way Binangonan, Rizal. Price starts at 150 pesos. Before ending the night, we had few beers and excellently picked videoke songs.

The following day, we’re off to an early start by having a quick breakfast. We then went to our 6th Stop, Angono Petroglyphs. The Angono Petroglyphs Site Museum is situated at the municipality of Binangonan, province of Rizal, three and a half kilometers southeast of the town of Angono. The museum is open Mondays-Fridays between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. It was discovered in 1965 by National Artist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco during a field trip with a troop of boy scouts. He reported to the National Museum the existence of a cave with drawings of a primitive quality. The Angono Petroglyphs date back to circa late Neolithic. They are located in the rear recess of a cave, carved in a rock formation belonging to the Pleistocene Guadalupe Formation. There are 127 figures engraved into volcanic tuff that was soft enough to be worked on by a denser piece of stone. Unlike other examples of prehistoric art, there is no indication that colors were ever incorporated in the drawings.

It was amazing to see this kind of stuff for the very first time. I wonder if there’s more like this somewhere else. Only time will tell and the question is when? Hopefully it’s not yet late for us to see it.

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After seeing Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, it was time to go forward to our next destination. So we arrived on our 7th destination, Balaw-Balaw Restaurant & Art Gallery.  The main concept of the restaurant is to promote the culture and tradition of Angono by way of its food and arts. It is also a home to the “Higantes” the stars of the fluvial town fiesta every 23rd of November. Entrance fee to see the Art Gallery costs around 35 pesos. It might be free if you decided to eat here. Around 100 paintings of the late famous folk artist, Perdigon Vocalan are displayed in the Museum, influenced by National Artist, Carlos Botong Francisco. Vocalan’s paintings represent Angono’s rich cultural heritage and folklore. These paintings along with intricate sculptures were also inspired by Philippine Legends that are now immortalized by his works. The collection also features works by his 2 son, Rembrandt and Andre as well as other notable Filipino artists. The Museum’s design itself is a work of art with its Spanish Architecture and unmistakable Asian flare.

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Just few steps from Balaw-Balaw is the Nemiranda Art House and Atelier Cafe Restaurant, our last destination for the trip. The art gallery entrance costs around 50 pesos but is normally free for those who wish to eat here. On our way inside, one of the staff said that Nemi Miranda himself will be there. So without any second thought we decided to settle here for lunch. Nemesio R. Miranda Jr. “NEMIRANDA” was born on February 14, 1949 in Angono, Rizal, he attained his Bachelor of Fines Arts Degree at the University of Sto. Tomas. The place is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and is located at 10 Doña Elena Street, Doña Justa Village Phase 1, Barangay San Roque
Angono, Rizal.

So after seeing all the artworks, Nemi suddenly arrived and gladly accommodated us by spending 20-30 minutes of his time telling us stories, plans and developments in the world of arts, showing us his artworks and the history behind it. Wow! It was a memorable experience. He even told us that the house/art gallery itself was made of scrap wood from an old church/convent. He said he’s fond of scrap wood. He also holds art camp from time to time. A very down to earth man.

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I never thought this trip would be this much. The trip was concluded with a great meal served with fried Itik among other great varieties of local food.

This is what I love about Random Travel. You get to see places you never thought you would see and there’s a much more greater amount of appreciation. Being with people you don’t really know makes it more exciting. Everything is a surprise, a package full of unexpected things. A random trip you will truly remember. All you have to have is an open mind, welcoming aura and great appreciation of the nature and arts.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bag and go somewhere Random with no plans, just go! You’ll not only learn more about yourself, you’ll learn more about the place that surrounds you. 🙂

Happy Travels!

Gigantes Islands Travel Guide

Thanks Chito! See you Gigantes this October!!!

Liquid Druid's travel blog

The Gigantes Islands, with all its beaches, caves and rich marine life, is a real gem in the rough in the province of Iloilo.  Its sheer distance from Iloilo City and the rest of the Panay mainland however ensures that it almost always gets bypassed as a tourism destination of beach goers and backpackers in favor of the much nearer municipality of Concepcion or the more accessible province of Guimaras.

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Mt Isarog: Hiking at the Heart of Camarines Sur

Soaring at 1966 MASL, Mt Isarog is a paradise at the heart of Camarines Sur. It has rich biodiversity with its very own mossy forests and verdant crater, an overview of Bicol Peninsula, and a glimpse of majestic Mt. Mayon. Mt Isarog is the second highest mountain in Bicol.

View from Mt Isarog Peak

After 1 week of stay here in Bicol seeing once and again the jaw-dropping view of the white sand island of Calaguas and visiting my relatives and friends from different parts of Bicol, my last stop was Naga. Our group REDM or Relax, Extremely Daring Mountaineers, made this hike possible lead by Dio with help from Jojo Villareal of Kaddlagan Outdoor Shop in Naga. Jojo took care of our permit, guides and transportation going to the jump off at Panicuason. (See details of Itinerary and Expenses of this hike by clicking here.)

Since I was already in Bicol before the event, I stayed in Naga the night before.  I stayed at Sunny View Hotel and paid just 450 pesos. It was an air-conditioned room with cable TV, hot & cold shower and a comfy bed. It’s located just passed the bridge after you turn left coming from SM Naga. Their cheapest room costs just 250 pesos, perfect if you’re on a tight budget and is looking for a place to sleep.

Contact Details: (054) 473-9848 / 473-8771

Room Rates (per night)
Single Fan Room P 250
Matrimonial Fan Room P 350
Singe Air-con P 450
Matrimonial Air-con P 550
Twin Air-con P 550
Triple Air-con P 800
Family Room P 1200
Extra Person P 100
Extra Mattress P 100

Photos of are available on my other entry. Simply click here.

The following day, I met up with them at Naga Central Bus Terminal who all came from Manila. We went for a quick breakfast at a nearby food stall then went to buy return tickets for Manila then off we go!

After securing our tickets, we went to Peñafrancia Shrine for a quick stop as well as to get some supplies from a nearby grocery and market place.

 

After getting all the supplies needed and some picture-taking, we then head to Brgy Panicuason which served as the jump off of our hike. Travel time is around 30 minutes. We secured guide and fixed all our stuff before the actual ascend.

Off course non-stop picture-taking on our way up going to DENR for registration…

After registration, our trek began. The ascend was very gradual and relaxed. The only challenging part was actually seeing Limatiks (bloodsuckers). Everyone was conscious or should I say paranoid of having a close encounter with the little creature. Haha! Despite this everyone managed to stop whenever there’s an opportunity for a quick snapshot along the trail.

Limatiks were more active during the first 2 hours of trek and as you get higher the less chance of getting a close encounter. We decided to have lunch at Camp 1. The trail is mostly mossy forest-covered with big trees. Few more stops at Camp 2 and Camp 3 until we decided to stop at Camp 4 at around 5:30PM where we pitched our tent. We wanted to go to Camp 5 but water source were closer at Camp 4.

After pitching our tent, dinner was prepared then finally we had a chance to eat a full meal.We had Pasta and Bicol Express. Yum! Dinner was followed by Socials where we talk about all sorts of things, experiences, plans, and to simply have some fun. Camp 4 is pretty much safe from Limatiks. Luckily!

During our socials we managed to finish 7 bottles of GSM Mojito and 1 bottle of Emperador Light but no effect to everyone. It was cold that night but pretty much manageable as long as you have jacket.

The following day, wake up call was 6AM. After coffee and light breakfast, we started trekking the summit. Trail was easy because we didn’t have any backpacks but it would be quite challenging if you have one as you have to crawl at some point and go under or over some branches or roots to move forward.

We reached the summit 2 hours after at around 9AM. We didn’t manage to see the crater view as it was all covered with clouds, we went further up and climbed the trees to see the view from the top. It was magnificent! Thank God!

Slowly the clouds covered the view so after almost an hour after few snapshots and group photos we hurriedly descended to reach the Campsite to prepare for brunch (breakfast and lunch). Some took water whilst some started cleaning and cooking.

After brunch, we started packing our things and cleaning our surrounding following the “Leave No Trace” policy. It was a bit challenging going down since the trail are slippery and are all covered with trees, you won’t see any beam of light touching the ground.

It was around 3:30PM when we reached the DENR station. Whilst waiting for the rest, we decided to go to Malabsay Falls which is roughly 15 minutes walk. Entrance fee is free of charge if you hiked Mt Isarog but if not, you have to pay 10 pesos.

We just wanted to see the falls out of curiosity but due to its grandeur and beauty we decided to take a dip on its ice-cold water. It was a relaxing feeling. The enjoyment didn’t last as we had to immediately go back to get to the jump off. After taking some photos we went back to DENR to get our things and trek back to  jump off station (GSP Camp Maria Aurora).

Due to lack of area where we could shower and tidy up, we went to Sulat Pool to clean up and change clothes before heading back to the main city. Entrance fee costs 50 pesos and cottage rental costs 150 pesos. The don’t have a descent restroom or shower room so don’t expect anything. Water is abundant as it all comes from the mountain.

We managed to leave Panicuason at around 6PM and arrived at Naga City Bus Terminal at around 6:30PM. Our scheduled departure was at 7:15PM and with so little time to spend, some decided to have a quick dinner and some just bought food. We wanted to catch a later departure but since most are fully booked we had no choice but to get the 7:15 bus

Only if we had more time to spend here…

This was my very first hike here in Bicol and is definitely going to be one of the most memorable. More than the Limatiks, cold breeze of air, beautiful flora and fauna, amazing view from the top, good friends, warm smiles and happy faces, it’s the unexplainable feeling and contentment only nature can fulfill that makes it memorable.

Camarines Sur has indeed a lot of things to offer. I know haven’t seen much about this place but simply having the opportunity to hike at the heart of Camarines Sur, you’ll surely fall in love and ask for more. Undeniably one of the best in Bicol and a must visit.

For details of the Itinerary and Expenses, click here.

Calaguas Island: The 1.9K Challenge

Among the Calaguas Group of Islands, Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga Island is the famous for many campers and backpackers. They said Boracay was like it decades ago before establishments and hotels flourished. Powdery White Sands, Crystal Blue Waters, What more can you ask for?

It was three years ago when I first laid my eyes on this wonderful island and for some reason kept me coming back every year afterwards. It was just last May when I visited this island for the 3rd time. To get here for the last 2 years I booked for a package worth 3.2K covering all expenses from Tranporation, Food, Tent and all and it was all fine but what difference would it make this time if I continue doing the same thing?

A thought came to me while at work. Why not do it as a challenge? I am sure others have tried it so why not? With the help of Simang Gala, we tried researching and asking friends for advise and finally agreed to do a 1.8K challenge. We thought it was impossible knowing how much we spend on food so we raised it to 1.9K to give ourselves some room for adhoc expenses. To make it more achievable we invited some of our friends. A lot have shown interest but only 11 of us pushed through.

May 25, we booked for the 745PM bus going to Paracale via SuperLines. Since they only have few AC bus bound for Paracale, we managed to secure tickets in the morning. It was originally just 9 of us till 2 decided to join few minutes before the scheduled departure. Lucky for them, there were 2 extra seats. Haha.

It was a long 9 hour journey with few stops along the way. The bus has spacious leg room considering the fare price is just 515 pesos. This is the cheapest way to go if you want to visit Calaguas on a tight budget, even less if you ride an ordinary bus.

Upon our arrival in the Town of Paracale, some of us waited in the Superlines Ticketing area to secure tickets going back to Manila, while other went to the Market and bought supplies. Each of us had a share of 200 pesos to cover for lunch, dinner, breakfast, snacks and booze. We then met up with Ricky our friendly boatman. He was very accommodating, he managed to secure all cooking utensils, block of ice, big ice box and our drinking.

It was half past 8 in the morning when we left the port. I was quite surprised by the calmness of the sea. I was sort of expecting a rough ride and lucky for us considering the size of our boat, it was quiet all throughout. The view was just spectacular on the entire 1 hour 45 minutes ride going to the famous long white beach of Calaguas Island in the town of Tinaga.

It was a jaw dropping view, though this was my third time here it feels like seeing it again for the first time. A big Wow!

We immediately jumped off the boat and walked along the white soft powdery sand sparkling under the heat of the sun. It was an amazing feeling. We chose a nice spot under the trees which served as a shed under the torturing heat of the sun. We rented a cottage which served as our cooking/dining and resting area.

Not wasting any time, some pitched their tents, some started cooking and well the rest just stared blankly at the horizon.

After preparing food and pitching our tents, we then had our lunch.  Yum!

So whats best to do after eating? Sleep… Haha.. It was siesta time for most us. Life is a Beach!

It was time to hit the beach and do lots of cam-whoring, haha.. super excessive..

Whilst some are having some fun, Simang Gala busily prepared our Snack. Pancit!

Much to our surprise, a sand castle was made near where we were staying. We waited for some people to finish having their pictures taken there then we took the spot. It was Free!

Time flew so fast that we didn’t notice it.

Just before sundown, dinner was prepared for everyone to enjoy. Guess what?

I don’t remember how much I ate. It was delish!

After dinner, we then had our socials near the shore. We had some few drinks, lots of laughter and endless storytelling. In the middle of all the happenings, a big surge of wind came, then the stars disappeared. Imagine whats next. Yes, the rain.. It took a while for the rain to stop until the following morning. Some even managed to sleep in the cottages. We thought of the rain as a blessing after seeing how wonderful it is to wake up seeing the beach.

Not even done with Breakfast, some headed to the rocks for more pictures.

And so a vibrant breakfast was served. Dig in!

After breakfast, it was time to hit the water again. Heaven!

Yes they were using umbrella. It was scorching hot!

Oh well, after all the fun it was time to leave. A place you’ll definitely comeback. A place you’ll always miss. A place where you’ll find peace and happiness. A place you’ll fall in love with over and over again. Yes, this was my third time and it won’t end there.

Saying goodbye is hard once you set foot on this paradise. So it’s definitely a till-we-meet-again. Agree?

So we thought it’s over. Our nice boatman offered to bring us somewhere before heading back to Paracale. We tried asking but he doesn’t seem to know that name of the place.

We immediately jumped off the boat wearing our life vest. Hahaha. I love the beach but I still don’t know how to do threading in the water. LOL

It was all fun. Around the island, you’ll get to see colorful starfish, big and small coral formations, blue jellyfish and sea urchins. We even had our lunch on the boat. Yes, the rice and dried fish was cooked whilst we are on board. Cool!

She doesn’t want to leave…

Oh well, we really needed to leave to catch the last trip to Daet. Yes, my Bicol trip is not yet over. Whilst the rest of the gang are all booked for Manila, me and my girlfriend are going to spend the rest of the week in Bicol.

In order to tidy up, we went to Malayan Tourist Inn.  This place is just near where the buses stop and it’s in front of a gas station and van terminal.

With so little time, since the last van going to Daet leaves at 5PM and all shower rooms are being used,  Ate Karina of Malayan Tourist Inn openly offered her house for us to take a bath. Her daughter even brought us to their house via motorbike. It was the quickest shower we had ever. In just about 5 minutes we’re back. Haha!

We repacked all our stuff as quickly as possible but then we were told that the last van already left. So what now? Ate Karina gave us option to get a bus or tricycle passing through Talobatib then get a bus going to Daet. Luckily another passenger was left who was also on his way to Daet so we took the chance and left.

Check the continuation of our adventure after Calaguas on my next entry.

Indeed 1.9K is definitely possible specially if you’re on a tight budget. It was a bit hard for some of us to stick to the planned budget but that’s where we had so much fun. Imagine the urge of buying tuna for dinner, a big No. Imagine buying loads of booze and soda, a big No. Adhoc expenses in the island, also a big No. But it was all OK. Everyone enjoyed every single minute of the trip, we all gained new friends, experienced something new, faced some of our fears and realized that there’s more to life than work.

Total Expenses = 1870 Pesos / Head
1100 Bus Fare vv / Head
400 Boat Fee / Head
150 Resort Entrance Fee / Head
20 Brgy Tax Fee / Head
200 Food (5 Meals) / Head

Contacts:

Ate Karina: 09157959350 (for accommodation and bus reservation in Paracale going to Manila) – Ate Karina can try to help you book for a ticket back to Manila during peak season. Try their restaurant, food is really nice. You can also take a shower for just 20 pesos or even get it free. ☺

Kuya Ricky: 09127365717 (boatman) – you can get a boat for as low as 3K depending on the number person. Kuya Ricky can also take care of your cooking utensils, drinking water (you just have to pay 50 pesos/5 Gallon), block of ice, icebox and grill at no extra cost. Text him for help.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 0 Day 2
1945 ETD Superlines Cubao 0700 Wake Up Call
Day 1 0730 Prepare Breakfast
0530 ETA Paracale Terminal 0830 Breakfast Time
0600 Market 0900 Free Time/Swim
0730 Secure Tix for Manila 1100 Break Camp/Tidy Up
0830 ETD Paracale Port 1200 ETD Calaguas
1015 ETA Calaguas Island 1230 ETA Unknown Island
1100 Prepare Lunch 1400 Lunch
1200 Lunch 1530 ETD Unknown Island
1400 Swim/Free Time 1645 Paracale Port
1600 Merienda 1700 Shower/Tidy Up
1630 Free Time 1800 Dinner
1800 Prepare Dinner 1945 ETD Paracale Port
1900 Dinner Time Day 3
2100 Socials 0400 ETA Manila

Cagayan Trip: The Unexplored Beauty of Nangaramoan Beach

Nangaramoan Beach. a highly recommended place to relax, unwind, escape from city life and feel the wonders of nature. This is located in Sta. Ana, which is at the tip of the province of Cagayan. The beach is very accessible via commute (quad-cycle) or private vehicle because of the newly cemented road leading to the beach area.

After an hour or so boat ride from Palaui back to Sta Ana, we went straight to Dampa Seafoods & Restaurant where they gave us free breakfast again.

We wanted to visit one of the famous beaches in the area so we asked them for recommendation. We only wanted to get direction on how to get there until they’ve decided to join us. Yes! Another free treat! Not only we got the chance to go there free, they also brought with us food for lunch. Fresh Sea Foods! Haha! Big Thanks to Tito and Tita.

It was a quick and easy ride because of the newly paved road leading to the beach. Once you get there, you’ll fall in love with the place.

Untouched… Peaceful… Clear...

Tito immediately spoke to the resort care taker to give us discount. I think we paid roughly 400 pesos. We started preparing for Lunch where we had Grilled Fish. Few hours after we arrived, Tita and Tito together with their kids decided to leave. Still full, we rested for a bit.

The sun on its peak, some of us decided to explore the beach and seriously get tanned. I don’t know how long we were out walking along the beach and exploring the caves and rock formation but we definitely enjoyed every minute of it.

More Pictures of Nangaramoan Beach

Just before sunset, we decided to cook for dinner. Cleo our official chef prepared for us Gatang Sitaw Kalabasa and Fried Tilapia. Whilst cooking, Simang Gala and I decided to visit the last marker we know. 651!

It was a bit dark already when we came there and barely noticed it. Haha! Just after few shots, we decided to go back.

Back at the beach, dinner was ready. We ate loads! It was a yummy treat!

After dinner, we had socials. We rented a Videoke machine to make the night more fun while having few shots and munching on a specially prepared Spicy Sizzling Pork by Cleo.

We didn’t sleep at all only to realise it’s almost 3 in the morning. Our service was early but because of the heavy rain around 3AM, we didn’t manage to prepare and fix our things up. It was a chilly morning when we left at around 5AM.

Last Photo taken before we left the beach.

We arrived in the van terminal at around 6AM and officially left Sta Ana going to Tuguegarao at 630AM.

The adventure continues as we travel back to Tuguegarao and visit Piat and Callao Cave. See full story on my next entry.

Mt. Isarog (Panicuason Trail) Itinerary and Expenses

Brgy. Panicuason, Naga city, Camarines Sur
1922 MASL – Major climb
Difficulty Level as per PM 5/9
Estimated Budget: Php 2000-2500

See details below:

via Mt. Isarog (Panicuason Trail).

Mt. Mayon via West Face Baligang Trail

Mt.Mayon is a Major Major climb (9/9 rating)
Trail Features: Treeline to Cogonal to Rock Scrambling w/ Sulphuric fumes at the Summit

see Mt. Mayon via West Face Baligang Trail.

Daranak Falls

Daranak falls is located in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, a few minutes from Tanay market. It is a government-owned park and part of the laguna watershed.

♦ If you are going by private vehicle, just follow the road going to Laguna from Antipolo. At the Daranak-Tanay junction, turn left and head straight uphill. You will see a sign “To Daranak Falls” at the left side of the road. You have to turn left here. It’s hard to miss since there are several fruit stands on both sides of the road which sell fruits in season. Once you have turned left, just go straight, passing by several farms (poultry and hog) which you will notice by the smell =). Check you brakes as you will pass by rocky steep roads. You will arrive at the parking area of Daranak at the end of this road. You have to pay for parking, entrance fee (about P20/person) and cottages (about P350 for a small one). Overnight stay is not accommodated.

♦ If you are going by public transportation, you can ride a jeep or FX to Tanay in Araneta center (Cubao) or in front of StarMall (Edsa cor shaw blvd). Get off at Tanay market and take a tricycle (or jeep if you are a large group). You will normally get the tricycle for P150/trip (max 3 passengers). You can bargain for the return trip as there are no tricycle waiting near the falls. You will have to take a hike to the main road to get a ride back to the market.
Batlag falls is situated near the top of the falls. You will have to pay a separate entrance fee though.

Additional Info:

From EDSA Starmall: There are vans (GT-express) that are lined up near starmall. The fare is around 70 pesos. Travel time going to Tanay is around 2.5 hrs.
Daranak Falls is Open from 8am-5pm, 7 days a week, No overnights
Entrance: Adult-20 Children-15 Picnic Table/Shed -100

Batlag Falls is offering overnights
Entrance Fee: Adult-50 Children-25
For overnight: Adult-150 Children-75

Picnic Shed-350 Cottage-250

Related articles

Mt. Damas Traverse

Summit Camp

View From Trek Start Point

Falls

Lunch Time!

This climb won’t be possible without the help of Chad Torres and Game-Nest. Thank You!

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course… Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek… LEAVE NO TRACE!

via Mt. Damas Traverse.