TRAVEL GUIDE | Interesting Things to Do In Surigao City

Heading out for #TravelMindanao destinations, Jam, Alex, and I met at  the bus terminal and started of #TravelMindanao travel advocacy from Iligan City. We met late afternoon for a ~10H travel to Surigao City. It would be long bus rides for us, and that we would be having dinner in transit, as well as try to get some shut eye along the trip before tackling our short but interesting list of things to do in Surigao City.

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SURIGAO CITY | Where To Stay In Surigao & Accomodation Guide

The plan was just a short stay at Surigao City, before heading off to Bucas Grande. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our Bucas Grande trip with the threat of Super Typhoon Haiyan, and extended our stay at Surigao City. Most of the accommodations by the second night was fully-booked making it hard for us to find where to stay in Surigao and accommodation guide to help us. Good thing we were lucky enough to that the Surigao City Tourism Office was helpful in finding us some places to stay.

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SURIGAO CITY | How To Get There & Transportation Guide

Surigao City is accessible by Air, and can be traveled by land from Luzon, and Visayas via Samar-Leyte route with two points where there’s water crossing via RoRo. But here is a detailed Surigao City how to get there and transportation guide for land transfer via bus from the Northern, and Southern Mindanao to Surigao City. Surigao City is accessible from two jump-off starts: Cagayan de Oro, and Davao City.

Continue reading SURIGAO CITY | How To Get There & Transportation Guide

BIRI ISLAND | Travel Guide

Biri Larosa at Biri Island, Northern Samar has intrigued me enough to have up on my dream destinations list. And it did not fail me. Looking back on that trip, I wished I had more time, more prepared, and less recklessly brave. However, I learned a lot from that trip, and it got me to accept the kind of traveler I was. Yes, I would go back to Biri Island, a week stay would not be enough, it deserve a longer visit.

HOW TO GET THERE
Missing the Cebu City – Calbayog, Northern Samar ferry, I had no choice but to take another best route for me. I was lucky enough though to have travelers friends who knew the other routes for me to get to Biri Island in one piece. The Cebu – Ormoc – Tacloban – Catarman – Allen route may have not been the quickest way to get there, but it got me there. HERE is a detailed outline on directions, and how to get to Biri Island from Cebu, southern Luzon, and north-western Mindanao.

BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Biri Island would be on the dry months. Check the weather before heading to Biri Island for any weather disturbances. Attempting to visit it on the last quarter of the year will be challenging. The waves at the San Bernardino Strait can be rough, and you might even get wet during the 1H crossing.

WHERE TO EAT
You can ask the resort to prepare a meal for you, and/or your group. You can find some sari-sari stores if you are not much of an eater, and rather munch on them not-so-healthy snacks. The only eatery you can find in town is Mila’s Eatery near the town plaza. You can get a full meal of a cup of rice, 2 viands, and a drink for ~50PhP, but do not expect too much to variety of viands.

Villa Amor Panoramic Shot (click to view)
WHERE TO STAY
I never compensate budget over safety when traveling by myself, especially in places where there not much of accommodations to choose from. By the time I got to Biri Island, I had to admit that I was far from the exploratory type that sometimes I am, and just told the guide to take me to a good resort. He took me to Villa Amor which was accommodating to solo female travelers who slept in half the day from sheer exhaustion.
ACTIVITIES
  • Visit the rock formations, and get to swim at their tidal pools.
  • Sunrise/sunset at the rock formations, but do bring your flashlight, if you must.
  • Mangrove forest visit.
  • Scuba Diving in +20 known dive sites.
  • Stand up paddle is available in some resorts.
TRANSPORT GUIDE & TOURS
Tour Guide Fee is at 300PhP/day
Round Trip Fare of 80PhP/Pax to the rock forations from Poblacion
You can opt to cancel out the Tour Guide, and asked to be fetched on a particular time when you get back from the rock formations.
Recommended tour guide Kuya Jun Giray with contact number : +63 928 830 9396

TRAVEL NOTES

  • Electricity is from 12nn – 12mn.
  • I had my laundry done there at the resort, laundry was charged at 250PhP, regardless of number, or total weight of garments.
  • The eatery will close early, it is best you have your meal early before it closes, or food serving runs out.
  • It is best that you wear the right footwear. The rocks can be slippery, and expect to get your feet wet getting to the rock formations.
  • Bring you snorkeling set, and/or waterproof camera. There are tidal pools with interesting marine environment, and safe enough for you to swim, and not be bothered by the trashing of the waves from the Pacific.
  • Keep your gadgets safe, and bring your dry packs with you.
  • No cellular network coverage at the rock formations.

You might like to read the rest of the BIRI ISLAND posts here:
Solo Travel But Not Really
Biri Island, and the Series of Unfortunate Events
Of Ruggedly Handsome Rock Formations, and More

List of Accommodations
How To Get There
Travel Guide <<< you’re here

BIRI ISLAND | Of Ruggedly Handsome Rock Formations, and More

I was supposed to finish this blog series ages ago. But travels, over travels that came after this had me handicapped in that part of the brain in charge for any understandable prose – if there was but any, ofcourse. But Biri Island left me good memories if we leave out the misadventures I had getting there. The landscape was only familiar from the textbooks I read about it during grader years. And even it’s print on books did not prepare me of how alien I would feel out there. So when I did get to Biri Island I quickly asked the habal-habal driver I already contacted a few days earlier to go directly to Biri Larosa, or the rock formations after a check-in at a resort.

HERHERE

HARD, AND UNYIELDING.

Biri Larosa is a protected landscape, and seascape area, and probably the reason why I wanted to visit it as well. Protected areas have regulations on foot traffic, and human disturbance on certain areas. And that also means that preservation of these natural wonders is practiced, and are managed by the local community. The rock formations were the obvious stand-out even from afar but in near proximity, they not only take my breathe away, they send chills down my spine.


Both wind, and water  carved, and gave personalities to each of the rock’s facade. Layers of rocks, and sedimentation can be observed; smooth, and sharp surfaces looked as if wind, water, or whatever forces smoothed, or cut through it.

WILD, AND CRAZY.

Standing on Magasang Rock, I peeked at a side that overlooks Magaspad rock, and the crazy waves the beat the slabs of rocks below.


OF DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES.

There are six lined rock formations, Magasang; Magaspad; Makadlao; Puhunan; and Caranas, that faces the San Bernardino Strait, and it’s harsh waves. The first two I got to visit, and really took my time checking it out. Makadlao, however, was only seen from afar with the strong waves that stopped me from going near it. The last three, I got to visit the day after.
Magasang Rock

 

Magasang Rock
Magaspad Rock
Magaspad Rock, and it’s tidal pool
Magaspad Rock’s tidal pool, close-up.
Magaspad Rock with slippery surface leading to it.
Makadlao Rock from afar.
On Magaspad Rock
I was dwarfed, as a grain of sand would in the landscape of these rock formations. Biri Larosa was rugged, and handsome, and it took to my liking. I could stay there, and pretty much make it my playground if it did not leave me awestruck  most of the time. It was a sight, cliche as it may sound,  for sore eyes.

A SEA OF GREENS.
Apart from the seascape, of which I have not dived in on this trip, and the rock formations, there’s a pathway that snakes along the sea of foliage of mangrove trees on the way to Bel-At Rock. This is part of Mangrove reforestation implemented last 2007, and was funded by Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation that aimed to contribute to the regeneration of mangrove ecosystem in this island.
The project covered 546 hectares of protection, and enhancement planting in 39 hectares that also established a community-based mangrove management system.
EARLY MORNING WALKS.
My guide asked if I can get my sunset shots before the sun totally goes out. His daughters were graduating from daycare centers pre-school program, and he extended the invite I got from his wife, and mother-in-law. So I cancelled the sunset walk, and spent my night in a community affair, and some local dancing. Good thing my guide picked me up at the resort early having remembered my request for an early walk at the rock formations. He took me to the last two rock formations which were Bel-At, and Caranas Rocks.

Puhunan Rock from Bel-At Rock.
Silhouette of Caranas Rock from Bel-At Rock.
When the sun came out, the guide led me to check out Caranas Rock closely. I was tempted to swim in one of it’s tidal pools there, the waves were too wild hitting that side of Caranas Rock, but did not. I spent half the morning going around the rock formations, knowing that humans are but visiting creatures there. Anything alive, and thriving there took the beating of the water, and the winds, and some occasional weather disturbances. It’s a place one could only  marvel from a distance, come close to it for a while, and wander around in the briefest one could. I, then, headed back to the resort for some rest time. It was a quick Biri Island visit, and I would rather have stayed longer. But all things, like a crazy beautiful Biri Island visit, had to end.

You might like to read the rest of the BIRI ISLAND posts here:
Solo Travel But Not Really
Biri Island, and the Series of Unfortunate Events <<< you’re here.
Of Ruggedly Handsome Rock Formations, and More

List of Accommodations
How To Get There
Travel Guide

BIRI ISLAND | How To Get There

I was supposed to take the Cebu City – Calbayog, Northern Samar but I missing the ferry had me take the longer route instead. Below are some of the possible routes you can take depending from you start/jump of point. The guides below will show you points where Allen, Northern Samar is a stop-over because there are no accommodations available at Lavezares, I stayed at Allen instead of Catarman, Northern Samar for the night.

 

Matnog, Sorsogon – Allen, Northern Samar
– Ro-Ro Ferries ( 2H) 120 PhP/Pax
Allen – Lavezares, Northern Samar
– Tricycle ( 20 mins) 20PhP/Pax
Lavezares – Biri, Island
– Outrigger boat/Banca (1H) 50PhP/Pax or not more than 100PhP/Pax for special trips
Cebu City – Calbayog, Northern Samar
– Ferry 12H/ Overnight) 850PhP/Pax/Economy; 990-1,050PhP/Pax/Tourist
– additional 10PhP/Pax for terminal fee
Calbayog – Allen, Northern Samar
– Jeepney (2H)
Allen – Lavezares, Northern Samar
– Tricycle ( 20 mins) 20PhP/Pax
Lavezares – Biri, Island
– Outrigger boat/Banca (1H) 50PhP/Pax or not more than 100PhP/Pax for special trips
Cebu City – Ormoc City
– Fast Craft ( 2H) 740PhP/Pax
Ormoc City – Tacloban City
– Fast Craft Shuttle (4H) free for passengers bound for Tacloban
Tacloban – Allen, Northern Samar
– Van (6-7H) 350PhP/Pax
Allen – Lavezares, Northern Samar
– Tricycle ( 20 mins) 20PhP/Pax
Lavezares – Biri, Island
– Outrigger boat/Banca (1H) 50PhP/Pax or not more than 100PhP/Pax for special trips
Catarman – Lavezares, Northern Samar
– Jeepney (30-45 mins.) 50PhP/Pax
Lavezares – Biri, Island
– Outrigger boat/Banca (1H) 50PhP/Pax or not more than 100PhP/Pax for special trips

 

TRAVEL NOTES:
  • Dup Tours, D’ Turbanada and Grand Tours are the van transport operators I became familiar with. They have some van terminals, so you get to have your bladder, or meal break.
  • You can opt to stay at Catarman, and travel to Lavezares for the Biri Island jump-off.
  • If it is your first time to travel from Tacloban, Leyte – Northern Samar, I suggest you take an earlier travel time, and make sure you’re traveling in daylight still.
  • This travel notes, and figures were from my trip before ST Haiyan hit the provinces of Leyte, and Samar. But you can work on making it your baseline for budgeting.
  • There are available flights to Northern Samar, but should you prefer land, or sea trip, do study other possible routes.
  • There are bus lines, and routes that cover Leyte-Samar, you can opt to travel by bus if preferred.

You might like to read the rest of the BIRI ISLAND posts here:
Solo Travel But Not Really
Biri Island, and the Series of Unfortunate Events
Of Ruggedly Handsome Rock Formations, and More

List of Accommodations
How To Get There <<< you’re here.
Travel Guide

 

Of #TravelMindanao

We were joking about setting up a trip around Mindanao when we found that we enjoyed each others company during the Iligan Bloggers Society | Waterfalling Adventure Tour 2.0 | #ExperienceIligan. It was nothing serious, but being the travel-thirsty people that we were are — the joke was made a reality when we started planning for a roadtrip around Mindanao.
I wish it there was an interesting story behind the #TravelMindanao travel advocacy. But no, there isn’t. Just a bunch of crazies who wanted to travel around the always misunderstood island Mindanao, and influencing people to do the same.

 

We figured that the project in itself was massive in it’s undertaking, and potentially big in influencing social media, and online users. We launched the project in the same pattern as #ExperienceIligan but on a wider, and bigger scale. #TravelMindano has  foresight of getting the attention of travel enthusiasts, weekenders, and vacationers to try visiting, and traveling to travel destinations in Mindanao.
It is social media call for action — to TRAVEL to MINDANAO.
It became more than the people behind it, or the project in itself — it became JUST Mindanao. We hope that people would use the hashtag, and to share the call for action, and get people to travel to Mindanao, or around Mindanao. Because this giant of an island has a lot of travel destinations, but it does not get too much attention because of the negative stigma it has with the peace, and order in some areas. We get it, but you can not forsake the sum of the whole for the little part of it. What we are saying — there is more of Mindanao worth traveling to.

 

How do you sell out a misunderstood island that has the natural resources, is culturally diversed, and a tourism, and travel destination potential? Well, travel to it. *winks*  Below are some of the travel destinations that I got to travel with team, and there are more posts, and updates from the rest. Check the travellers behind this, they are some of the coolest travel blogging personalities I met!
Visit the www.travelmindanao.org, and follow #TravelMindanao in social media sites to check out what we did on a +30 days on the road! Better yet, join us with this travel campaign by sharing your photos from your travels anywhere in Mindanao using the #TravelMindanao hashtag — we promise to give you love back in return!

Biri Island, and the Series of Unfortunate Events

A missed ferry.
I missed the Cebu-Calbayog, Northern Samar ferry – the first of the many of the signs that one would’ve read as a bad one. But I was too stubborn, and just took it as a challenge. Yes, I prayed when I bought a ticket that would make me take the longer route the next morning. It was probably the only thing that kept me safe the whole time — my brain cells were too fried up for a trustworthy decision. And oh, common sense. It seemed like the only thing that did not waver how ever long, and haggard my travel has become. I should’ve been traveling elsewhere but I woke up too early, and thought I might take the most out of my stay. I toured Leyte, both Tacloban City, and neighboring municipality of Palo. Afterall has to get to know, or least take a glimpse of the place, sleep a night, and eat prepared food to be counted as a visitor.

A pick-up line.
I took one of those vans that ferries passenger from Tacloban, Leyte to Allen, Northern Samar a good 8-9 hours. If you ask me, I would rather just apparate, and get it over with. But I had to argue with some local guys who did not see my point why I was not keen on seating sandwiched between the driver, and another passenger in the front seat. So, instead, I sat at the last seat with the boxes of deliverables after I got disgusted like some solo female travelers would hearing worst pick-up lines from local men offering, uhm, their goods? I fairly find my travels around the country safe, sometimes locals can sometimes be so, uhm, comfortable giving egoistic, but uncomfortable side comments, and remarks.

 

The Reprimand.
Remember how your parents ever tell you never to speak to strangers? It does not always work on travels. Not when you’re alone, and do not know any better. At around 8-ish in the evening still in the van and traveling to Allen, Northern Samar, we passed by Lavesarez. Lavesarez is a small town before reaching Allen, and the jump-off town for a boat ride to Biri Island. I asked the local boy beside me if it was smart to get off the van, and stay there the night. An old man siting in front of us overheard my question, and reprimanded me for traveling alone, and not researching my trip well. He said that there were no inns, or pension houses at Lavesarez, and I might as well sleep at the street that night — alone, and unguarded. He then instructed the driver to drop me at the front yard of an inn at Allen. I did say, “thank you po.”, and kept quiet to myself.

 

By morning I head off back to Lavesarez from Allen. I was too early for the passenger outrigger boat for Biri Island. I’ve already secured a seat from one of the operators of the boat, and decided to have my breakfast. Some locals sat beside me, and entertained me with early videoke of songs in Bisaya. More than an hour of that, I had to excuse myself, and found that there were no passengers on the boat yet. Another guy came up to me, and offered a special ride but meant twice the rate of the regular passenger boat. I said yes.

 

To my dismay, it was a really small boat, and there were only two of us passengers. The other passenger was a guy who worked for a government office at the island. He explained that special trips are boats that would deliver some goods to the mainland, and would ask for passengers on the way back for them to earn the least for that trip.

 

 

 

 

And the boat engine died in the middle of the sea.
At the middle of the transit, the engine’s noise suddenly stopped. It knocking, somewhat clicking noise as the bangkero tried to revive the it to no avail. By this time, I was swearing under my breathe which I rarely, a blue moon thing, do even when I am really mad, or frustrated at something. So I guess I was tipping off the mad-at-self scale.

 

21 minutes. Freakingly floating on waters known to be harsh, and unforgiving even in good weather. I checked my phone, and there was no cellular network signal from both Globe, and Smart. My only consolation, maybe, was to be greeted with calm, and small waves that day. And waiting  out for another boat to pass by was only bearable because the other passenger kept me distracted. Until finally another passenger boat came and tugged the one I was on.

 

We got off at a beach because the small island port was inaccessible that day. The tour guide I contacted 2 weeks prior to the trip greeted me with a huge grin, and asked if I wanted to take a rest after getting stranded getting there. I laughed, and told him I wanted to see Biri Larosa and shake off whatever bad luck that was following me. True enough, the trip went smoothly when I got to the island.

 

Would I have changed any of it if I could? That trip was reckless, I could’ve just went home after the tiring Cebu province tour. But it was during that trip when I was more afraid of how my family will be at lost if something were to happen to me. It scared me, but not enough to stop me from travelling. Just enough learn decisiveness, and ditch reckless, and unplanned trips, and go back to the organized ones. So no, there are good things one gets even from the unfortunates events during a trip. For me it’s not focusing on the bad things that happened, but be thankful instead of the good ones that did.

You might like to read the rest of the BIRI ISLAND posts here:
Solo Travel But Not Really
Biri Island, and the Series of Unfortunate Events <<< you’re here.
Of Ruggedly Handsome Rock Formations, and More

13 Lessons Learned in 2013 Travels

 

Last year was an awesome year. Apart from travels, there are other things in 2013 that I am thankful for. Here’s a lottle, a little but a lot, bit more things I learned in during my travels, and adventures in 2013.

 

  1. Planning travels, and involving your family on your plans makes it easier for them to sleep through the night.
  2. Health is a priority that even budget can not curb.
  3. There should ALWAYS be “extras” even in budget traveling. You will never know when you need extra cash should you find yourself stranded.
  4. Intuition is like a voice of another person looking at your situation at a different angle. Listen to it.
  5. Being fearless is never always courageous, sometimes it’s also plain being st*pid to getting you in trouble.
  6. An umbrella can be used as weapon when you do not have anything on  you. Think Padawan.
  7. You do not have to be an excellent swimmer. You just need to learn how to float, and try not to swallow water while you’re at it.
  8. The best conversation starter is, actually, a smile. A genuine, and not a sly one. Then again, who knows.
  9. “No.”, is a complete sentence which is also best to follow with a “Thank you.”
  10. Locals no matter how accommodating, are also suspicious, but will amused if you try to speak in their own dialect, or language.
  11. Genuine friendships are accidents designed by the universe.
  12. Love is a decision.
  13. Happiness is a choice.
So I want another great year — a different kind of great than the ones I have had. The kind that would not outdo the previous years before because I believe those years were stands outs in their own. I want another standout, another kind of year that would help me grow to become what is intended of me. And this time, I understand that there is more to bravery than jumping of high cliffs.

PHILIPPINES | 2014 Official Holiday Dates

The Malacañang Palace has released via the Official Gazette PROCLAMATION NO. 655 declaring the Regular Holidays, Special (Non-Working) Holidays, & Special Holiday (for all schools) for YEAR 2014.

Planning for your travel schedules for the year 2014? Here is the list of the dates that are officially declared as holidays for the year.

REGULAR HOLIDAYS
New Year’s Day – 1 January (Wednesday)
Araw ng Kagitingan – 9 April (Wednesday)
Maundy Thursday – 17 April
Good Friday – 18 April***
Labor Day – 1 May (Thursday)
Independence Day – 12 June (Thursday)
National Heroes Day – 25 August (Last Monday of August)***
Bonifacio Day – 30 November (Sunday)
Christmas Day – 25 December (Thursday)
Rizal Day – 30 December (Tuesday)

SPECIAL (Non-Working) HOLIDAYS
Chinese New Year – 31 January (Friday)***
Black Saturday – 19 April
Ninoy Aquino Day – 21 August (Thursday)
All Saints Day – 1 November (Saturday)
Additional special (non-working) days – 24 December (Wednesday) – 26 December (Friday)***
Last Day of the Year – 31 December (Wednesday)

SPECIAL HOLIDAY (for all schools)
EDSA Revolution Anniversary – 25 February (Tuesday)

Section 2 of the Proclamation states, “The proclamations declaring national holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha shall hereafter be issued after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations, whichever is possible or convenient. To this end, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) shall inform the Office of the President on which days the holidays shall respectively fall.”

 

Based on the issued Proclamation, there will be four long weekends to expect in 2014 (*** long weekends).
Hope that helps you plan ahead for your travel schedules for the rest of the year!