Subic Beach in Sorsogon | My Piece of Paradise

Subic beach in Sorsogon has all the ingredients for a perfect summer getaway: turquoise and crystal clear water, less crowd, untouched, fine white sand, and hospitable locals. There is no wonder why Subic beach is always included on the list of the best or top beaches in the country according to travel bloggers.

Subic Beach Sorsogon
Subic Beach in Sorsogon
The weather was very favorable for a beach getaway when we leave Cebu. However, as we enter the island of Samar, the weather suddenly became gloomy which made me think of cancelling or changing the plan of going to Biri and Subic Beach.  

There was still no improvement of the weather the following day, yet we still pursue our plan of reaching the southernmost tip of Luzon enroute to Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. From Allen, we took Montenegro Shipping Lines. The water was really rowdy and unfriendly that despite the size of the vessel, you can feel the waves slamming and  the cracking sound of the wheeled cargo made me feel more nervous. After two hours of combating those gigantic waves, we reached Matnog, Sorsogon. Another thrill awaited us, as we need to get an outrigger boat that can take us to Subic Beach.

Subic Beach Sorsogon

After what happened, I did not expect that the boat ride going to Subic beach would be a smooth one. As they say, most of the beautiful places are the hardest to get to. As the boat drew nearer the island, I can no longer contain my excitement of what I saw, a white sand beach with a blue-green waters. Perfect beach getaway!

I suggest to buy your food supplies in Matnog public market as there is no available store in the island, there is one sari-sari store with limited supplies. Those who wants to go overnight, there are huts in the island for P500 per night. Since we bring a tent, we only rent the open cottage for 300 pesos. There is an electricity in the island so no worries about charging your batteries and most importantly there is also mobile signal. You may be asked to give a donation for use of the toilet.

How to get to Subic Beach

By Land - There are plenty of bus companies to choose from that plies directly to Matnog, I suggest if you take this route to get a night trip to save your time as travel time from Cubao to  takes roughly 12-13 hours.

By Air - If you are coming from Manila, you can take either Legazpi or Catarman depending on the availability of the flight schedule. If you take the Legazpi route, get a trike from the airport to the terminal and ride a bus or van bound to Matnog. Travel time takes approximately two hours. From Catarman, you need to ride a jeep bound for Allen port (45 minutes) then RoRo ride to Matnog Port (2 hours).

By Boat - From Cebu, there is only one shipping company that can take you directly to Calbayog and that is Cokaliong Shippine Lines. Then, from Calbayog, take a van Allen bound vans and travel time takes about 2 hours. Then to get to Matnog Sorsogon, you need to take a Roro.

Once you reach Matnog Port, you have to hire a boat going to Subic Beach. Boat rental is from 1500 to 2000 depending on your haggling skill.

Introduction to Scuba Diving: My First Time

Hadsan Scuba Diving
Photo credits: Glenn Cabeguin

I would say that not everyone is really attracted to scuba diving. Others just do not have the courage to try fearing that instead of meeting Nemo and some underwater denizen, they will be meeting their end in the dark and gloomy depths of the sea. Unfortunately, I am one of those people. As I have mentioned in my previous post, water is not really my element. I would rather climb thousands of feet above sea level than swimming a few feet below the surface.

I am a natural sinker with zero knowledge in swimming, so you cannot blame me if I would really feel skeptical whether I should give it a try or not. Apart from that, I have also lots of questions in my mind like 'What if the regulator quit? What if I ran out of oxygen before I could get to the surface? In short, I feared of getting drowned. Who wouldn't be? Thinking about it makes me sick and all frightened.

But then, I was so curious why people get addicted to scuba diving. I oftenly heard from friends who had gone scuba diving that under the sea is totally a different world - a beautiful world. And for that, I am taking my risk and its time for me to overcome my fear!

Before the actual diving, Sir Glenn (one of our dive master) gave us a brief discussion about scuba diving. This includes the basic sign language, and ways to equalize pressure. After signing the waiver, we went to the shallow part of Hadsan Beach for the actual demonstration.

Well, I went down for about few minutes, scared to death, breathing that air out of the tank like there was no tomorrow. Proud to say that I am not one of those freak-out first timer. I remain calm and tried not to panic. Panicking under the water is a major no-no, that is why buddy system was implemented during our diving. Our first dive basically served as a preparation for our second dive which is more deeper.

During the second dive, I do not exactly know the depth but I am certain that its beyond my height. I went down deeper and deeper then all of a sudden, I noticed that there was no one following me. I lost the group! So I tried to swim back and find the rest of the group however, probably due to a strong current and poor visibility I was blown to a different direction. It was really hard navigating underwater if you do not have a compass. At this moment,  I tried hard not to panic. I just kept on positive thoughts that this is going to be a wonderful experience.  But, no matter how hard I tried to entertain only positive thoughts, I could feel my heart beats fast, my ears hurt, and I am pretty aware that I am using more air. I was like one breath closer to my last. I just keep on kicking towards the shore and from time to time look at the surface to check if I am going towards the shore. Then I saw Kim and Erick who were 'freediving' at that time. Thinking that the depth of the water was already within my height, I removed my mask as well as the regulator. This is a no-no in scuba diving. Never ever removed your gears or equipment while you are still in the water. I was blown by the waves and then the next time I knew I was already grasping for air. I tried to put back the regulator however, but rowdy water won't allow me to. Thanks God that Kim was there to rescue me and I immediately put back the regulator and mask.

Although I was not able to see stunning corals that resembles like a mushroom or encounter some underwater creatures like I have seen in pictures, I am still proud of myself that I was able to conquer my fear. I also had fun watching those bubbles burst forth from my regulator. Its like I was suspended in a limbo as I watched the bubbles dancing and what took my breath away is the surface that glimmered above. That is an indication that I just conquered my fear!

If you are apprehensive and scared about your first dive underwater, but have the adventurous spirit that keeps on telling you to give it a try, then wait for my next post as I will be writing  my top tips for your first time scuba diving.

Snapshot Friday: The Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Picture

The Angkor Wat is know as the mother of all temples in Cambodia, and if I am not mistaken, this is the largest religious structure in the entire world. Exploring the temples is a truly memorable experience. What you can see in this snapshot is just the facade of the temple and once inside, you will be amazed as to how these ancient people managed to built this huge architecture without the aide of any machine.

Tip: IF you want to take a good photo of the temple, visit this complex as  early as possible. Angkor Wat is also a good spot for sunset viewing.

Details: Exposure: 1/400s | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100 | Focal Length: 35mm | Software:  Lightroom 4.0

Mt. Hambubuyog, Ginatilan, Cebu - 5th Annual Friendship Climb

Friendship Climb, Katkat Pakighimamat, Mt. Hambubuyog
The Annual Katkat Pakighimamat or Friendship Climb was first initiated or spearheaded by two mountaineering group - EWIT and ZETS. The first friendship climb happened last August 1 and 2, 2009, and this was held in Mt. Manghilao, Danao City, Cebu. This was created for the sole purpose of unifying the mountaineering groups in Cebu both the 'gurus' and the neophytes.

The first friendship climb gained good feedback which is why during the 2nd Friendship Climb (February 27–28, 2010) almost hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from different mountaineering societies as well as freelancers supported and participated the annual event. It was held in Mt. Kan-Irag and just like during the first event, clean up drive and tree planting was still practiced.

The 3rd Annual Friendship Climb (February 26 and 27, 2011) was held in Danasan Eco-Adventure Park in Danao City, Cebu. And just like the past events, clean up drive and tree planting was practiced. This is our way of helping preserved mother nature. Last year (Febuary 25 and 26, 2012), the organizers decided to bring the event outside Cebu, and it was held in Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Camiguin. I failed to join last years event because I had a solo climb in Mt. Hibok-Hibok months prior to the event.

Mt Hambubuyog Ginatilan
This year, the 5th Annual Friendship Climb was held in Mt. Hambubuyog, Ginatilan, Cebu. There was a votation as to where the the 5th Annual Friendship Climb be held. Amongst the three mountains that where pre-picked, Mt. Hambubuyog gained majority of the votes. The other two mountains were Mt. Lanaya in Alegria, and Mt. Naopa in Naga. I personally voted for Mt. Naopa because of its proximity to the city and the scenic view from the campsite.

Ginatilan is located in the southern most part of Cebu. That's around four to five hours from the City. This municipality is known for its waterfalls (Kampael, Bugnawan and Inambakan Falls). Our second saint, Pedro Calungsod was also believed as a local resident of Ginatilan.

The participants rendezvoused at Taboan Ceres Bus Terminal and departed at around 9:30 in the morning. It was already past 1:00 in the afternoon when we arrived in Ginatilan. We were all surprised when local students dressed in native attire welcome us as we alight the bus and hang some garlands on our neck. That is what you call hospitality.

Mt Hambubuyog, Friendship Climb, Katkat Pakighimamat
We had a courtesy call with the Mayor and the registration was held in Municipal Hall. FYI: this is the biggest climb in the history of Katkat Pakighimamat. From the jump off point, there were at least 4 dump trucks which we will be using instead of trekking towards the summit. We were one of the first group who arrived the summit, and immediately we pitched our tents because of the impending rain. Actually it was already drizzling when we arrived at the campsite and fog enveloped the area.

Mt. Hambubuyog is the highest mountain in Ginatilan and atop of this mountain is where the Divine Mercy Chapel was built.

The participants where divided into four sub-groups and each group has a specific task. I belonged to the group four where we are assigned to do the clean-up. Other groups task includes tree planting and outreach program. After the activities, the participants gathered at Ginatilan Plaza for the activities like Amazing Race and some Pinoy Games. This is supposed to be a 3-day activity, but due to responsibilities at work, we (United Backpackers) need to be back at the city the soonest. Prior to heading back to the city, we had a short dip in the pristine waters of Ginatilan.

Although I not able to join the entire 3-day activity, I can say that at 770 meters above sea level, I was able to achieved my goal of meeting new friends and making new ones. Kudos to the organizers and the municipality of Ginatilan for supporting this program.  

Biliran Travel Guide Itinerary, Expenses and Accommodation

sambawan island biliran maripipi
The island province of Biliran is the first province I visited in eastern Visayas Region. I was supposed to go to Bohol that weekend to attend a friends' wedding, but due to unfortunate events, it leads to me to make a huge detour. My experience in Biliran is full of roller coaster of adventures and emotions. Emotional because I was traveling alone and have never done solo travel in almost a year. Unlike with my previous solo travels where I felt really excited, this one, I was dubious whether I should pursue or not. Then the next thing I knew, I was already in Biliran Island.

tinago falls biliran
Tinago Falls
bagongbong falls biliran
Bagongbong Falls
The first on my list was to go immediately to Sambawan Island, but unfortunately there is no trip from Naval, Biliran to Maripipi Island on Sundays. FYI: Biliran has two main island: mainland Biliran and Maripipi Island. You may read my previous post for a detailed guide on how to get to Sambawan Island as well as for the schedule of ferry trips. It was already past 10 in the morning when I arrived in Naval Port. I stayed for a few minutes in Julies Bakeshop, take some pieces of bread and at the same time was thinking on what to do next. Since I know nothing about Biliran and I also do not have any contacts nor booked for an accommodation, I browsed the web and luckily found Marvin's of Pinoy Adventurista post about Biliran. I then patterned my itinerary for the city tour based on his post. I also hired the service of Kuya Jun Murillo for the city tour. What I like about the habal-habal's in Biliran is that It has a roof or cover that protects the passengers from being exposed to extreme heat of the sun. For my accommodation, instead of staying at Agta Beach Resort where the cheapest room is at PHP400, I stayed at El Roman Pensionne and paid PHP180 for standard room.

I was very excited on my second day in Biliran Island because I am going to Sambawan Island and this is what I really came here for. I was already awake as early as 6 in the morning to charge my cameras and cellphones since there might be no source of electricity in the island. El Roman Pensionne is just a few meters from Naval Port. Aside from the affordable room rate, I was able to save for the fare as well. With no breakfast, I boarded the Brian Claire Cruiser as early as 8:00 in the morning. I am one of the first passenger in the ferry and Roy (one of the crew who arranged my trip to Sambawan; 09065501845) advised me to stay on the second floor for me to have a better view. He even provided us a free habal-habal ride in Maripipi Island port to barangay Ol-og where we can hire outrigger boats bound for Sambawan. It was already pass noon when we arrived in Maripipi Island. There is a store near the port where you can buy supplies that you will be needing in Sambawan Island like rice, canned goods, water and some booze. After all was set, we went to barangay Ol-og which is the jump off point in going to Sambawan Island. The only guest in the island was me and three young travelers from Manila whom I shared cottage and the pumpboat. A simple chit-chats and a bottle of 'empi' wrap-up the night. At dawn, we need to go back to Maripipi port to catch the only trip going back to mainland Naval.

Mainint Spring Biliran
How to get to Biliran

Via Cebu
If you are coming from Cebu, only MV Blessed Stars of Roble Shipping ply the Cebu-Naval route. The other ferries which plies this route (Cokaliong and Shuttle ferry) have folded up their operations. Because of limited trips, you can also take the Cebu-Ormoc ferries which has daily trips (thrice per day), just like what I did, I took the Cebu-Ormoc route via SuperCat/2Go and this is inclusive of van transfer from Ormoc port to Naval, Biliran. Travel time Ormoc to Naval is 2 hours.

Via Tacloban
Major carriers (Cebu Pacific and AirPhil) serve direct flights to Tacloban City. From Tacloban, there are shuttle vans or vhires as well as buses plying the Tacloban-Naval trip. Travel time is 1.5 to 2 hours.
Roble Shipping, Inc. 43-C Escario Extension, Cebu City 6000 Telephone: (032) 255-3871, (032) 254-0583 Fax: (032) 416-6117 Booking Offices: Naval Telephone: (053) 500 7898 Cebu Telephone: (032) 255-5904, (032) 255-1849

Top things to do in Biliran

1. Island Hopping (Sambawan and Higatangan Island)
2. Chasing Waterfalls (Tinago, Casiawan, Bagongbong, Tomalistis)
3. Sight seeing (rice terraces of Sampao, Iyusan, Caucab)
4. Beach bumming (Agta Beach resort, Higatangan Island, Sambawan Island)
5. Hot and Cold Spring (Masagongsong, Naval Spring and Mainit)
6. Mountain Climbing (Tres Marias, Maripipi)
7. Caving (Lovers Cave and Ka Ventong Cave)
8. Food Trip (Special Suman)

Sample Itinerary (Biliran-Sambawan)

Day 1
05:30-07:30: Cebu to Ormoc via SuperCat/2Go
07:30-0930: Ormoc port yo Naval, Biliran
09:30-12:00: Staycation at El Roman Pensionne
12:00-13:00: Lunch
13:00-17:00: City tour (Chasing Waterfalls)
17:00-18:00: Dinner

Day 02:
06:00-07:00: Preparing for Sambawan Island
07:00-08:00: Strolling/familiarization of Naval
08:00-10:30: Boarded Brian Claire Cruiser
10:30-12:30: Travel Naval to Maripipi Island
12:30-13:00: Last minute buying of supplies
13:00-13:30: Travel Maripipi port to barangay Ol-og
13:30-14:00: Waiting time for our boatman
14:00-14:20: Barangay Ol-og to Sambawan Island
14:20-15:00: Cook for lunch/dinner
15:00-18:00: Beacheneering/Photo Ops
18:00-03:00: Socials

Day 03:
03:00-03:20: Sambawan to Barangay Ol-og
03:20-03:50: Depart to Maripipi Port
04:00-06:00: Maripipi to Naval Port
06:00-08:00: Travel Naval to Ormoc
08:00-08:30: Breakfast at Ormoc Port
08:30-13:45: Familiarization Ormoc
13:45-15:45: Ormoc to Cebu

Maravilla Beach Tabuelan

maravilla beach tabuelan
and the tradition continues...

we may not see each other that often, but when we do its just like the old times...

Our short jaunt to Tabuelan, that is in the northern side of Cebu last July 13-14, 2013 marks our 1st year of friendship, and as 'United Backpackers.' We were also there to celebrate Erchell's birthday. By the way, last year we celebrated his birthday in Tingko Beach of Alcoy.

Our first ever getaway was in Funtastic Island Medellin that was on the 1st day July 2012. It all started in an online forum and just decided to have a meet-up for us to know the real person behind their forum usernames. There was no awkward moments, in fact we felt that we've known each other even before we see each other. After our trip in Medellin, we always make sure that we will find time and wander around the province of Cebu. We have almost roamed every nook of the province may it be the beaches in Cebu or the mountains - been there! #BugiroRah. Our first outside province trip was in Pangasinan where we spent a night in one of the hundred islands and had a side-trip at the city of pines - Baguio City. Some also went to Mindanao last holy week, unfortunately I was not able to join that trip. Apart from that, we have also organized a tree planting at Buhisan Watershed Park in Toong, Cebu.

maravilla beach resort tabuelan
Enough of the flashback and lets go back to what this post is all about - Maravilla Beach in Tabuelan! If we speak of northern Cebu, the only thing I have in mind is Camotes and Bantayan as the best beach getaway. I first heard about this unspoiled beach in Maravilla Tabuelan from Mark's blog Triptabai. When I was informed by Steph that we will be spending Erchell's birthday at Maravilla Beach, I easily nodded even before I've checked my work schedule.

We rendezvoused at Cebu North Bus Terminal where we hop a van bound for Tuburan-Tabuelan. Just inform the driver that you will be heading to Maravilla Beach so that he can drop you at the junction from the hi-way going to the beach. Travel time is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours and fare is PHP150. I was not able to see any store or market near the beach where you can buy your supplies, so better buy your goodies/food in the city. There are only 1 room available (PHP600) and maybe less than 10 cottages.

It was already sunset when we arrived at the beach. What I like about this beach is its calm and solemn place because it is less crowded compare to some beaches in Cebu. The sand was really fine which really feels good in my feet and vast. Unfortunately, we were not able to taste the water in Maravilla Beach because it was low tide at that time. Immediately, we prepare our foods and pitch tents. In terms of safety, I can say that the place is safe because there are locals maybe barangay officials roaming around the beach and there are also post near the cottages.

Of course, a trip especially in the beach won't be complete without the booze. After dinner...well actually even before the dinner was served some of us started drinking 'Empi Lights' already. Anyways, we are in the beach and where else is the best place to get drunk - Beach!
Maravilla Beach Tabuelan
Photo Credits: FunkSean

Our restless feet aren't satisfied with just visiting Maravilla Beach. So we headed to the next municipality which is in Tuburan, where the famous Molobolo Spring and Marmol lies. Initially, we plan to visit Marmol , but since this include heavy trekking and we might not able to catch the last trip going back to Cebu, so we just decided to visit Molobolo Spring. Stay tuned for my next post which is about Molobolo spring.

Spending Family Vacation in Boracay | Guest Post

The famous Boracay island in the Philippines would not be award-winning if it only catered to vacationing individuals. Of course, the beautiful island, so known for its powdery-white sand, accommodates families of all sizes. There are a lot of activities to do and sites to visit on the island, but brothers and sisters who want to treat their entire family to a fun-filled vacation better plan out the trip in order to make it more worthwhile.

Boracay Island Philippines

Cheaper plane tickets
Caticlan Airport in Aklan is only an hour away from Manila. Although this is the fastest transportation to the island to date, ticket prices are steep is bought at their regular rates. So, when planning a Boracay travel with the whole family, the best money-saving tip is to book flights months—or even a year—before. This allows extensive shopping for the best ticket deals, which can give savings of around 2K or 3K per ticket from the regular 3K to 5K.

Remaining travel
Upon landing at the Caticlan Airport, there are a couple of trips more via boat and tricycle. The tricycle trip to Caticlan Jetty Port follows after landing, and this costs between Php50 and Php80 for three passengers. Then, there follows the boat trip to Cagban Jetty Port, for which an individual passenger expense of Php200 has to be paid. Upon arrival to Cagban, a tricycle can be rented for Php100 to head to the family's booked accommodation. It should be noted, though, that prices may vary due to taxes and other fees.
Boracay Island Accommocation

Accommodation of all kinds
Boracay does not discriminate in terms of budget. High-end resorts in Boracay are available at Station 1, but for cheaper accommodation for the family, decent but more affordable Boracay beach hotel resort are available at Station 3. There are inns, villas, and homestays available for smaller families willing to share a room or two and sacrifice space temporarily. It must be noted that some accommodations are located farther from the beach, but this distance may be compensated by their cheaper price.

Activities in land and water
The main point of going to Boracay with the family is to bond while doing various activities. Hence, the biggest chunk of the vacation budget must be allotted to these.

One famous land activity is the buggy and ATV ride that costs Php250 per person. This lets one travel the island for one hour, with stopovers at the Everland Aviary Farm and the Ocean Tower (formerly Mt. Luho Viewpoint). For these two attractions, Php90 needs to be shelled out for the entrance fee. A breathtaking 360-degree view of the island is offered at Ocean Tower, making it an indispensable part of anyone's trip to Boracay. Afterwards, the family—especially with small kids—can visit the Happy Dreamland.

Water-related activities are also must-tries. Zorb, Banana Boat, parasailing, and paraw sailing are some of the best to experience. These activities cost around Php250 per head. Surfers in the family or those who want some elevated action can go to Bulabog Beach to ride some tough waves.
Boracay Beach Philippines

Nightlife to get wasted
After viewing the picture-perfect sunset from the island (and after sending the kids to the hotel), the fun can be continued at any of the bars and restos that run along the beach. The mesmerizing fire poi dance is a must-see. The entire family can dine on a variety of cuisines from sundry countries, and conversations can be continued over liquor and while dancing to some upbeat music. If Boracay morning is full of purely fun activities, then after-dark Boracay resembles an untamed party animal just out to satisfy its entertainment desires.

Of course, the family should not forget going to the D'Mall for some souvenirs to take back home. And if ever the trip becomes so enjoyable that going back comes to mind, looking for a house for sale in Boracay during spare time is a good idea. Thus, next time, everyone would have a comfortable place to stay and could focus more on the taking in the island's delights.

About the Author:
I am Kit Cruz. I write articles about the paradise island in the Philippines named as Boracay, to educate people what this world class beach can offer. Giving away some valuable traveling tips, news, guides and reviews of the best beach resorts and hotel in Boracay for accommodations as well as the Boracay Real Estate for property investments.

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