Ticao Island,Masbate

“When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write in your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.”

After spending a wonderful time with the rock formations of Biri Island, I decided to go to Ticao Island to explore the island’s hidden gems. From Santa Clara Port in Northern Samar, I took boat going back to Matnog Port  then  rode a bus to Bulan, Sorsogon. I departed from Biri Island around 1pm and arrived at Bulan by 6pm.

Ticao Island is one of the major islands  in the Province of Masbate. It is composed of four municipalities such as San Jacinto, Monreal, San Fernando and Batuan. The island lies in between Masbate Passage to the west and  the Ticao Passage to the east facing the Bicol Region.  The island has been known to have white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, waterfalls debouche into the ocean and the snake island.

How to get to Ticao Island, Masbate

There are daily trips going from Manila to Pilar, Sorsogon through DLTB, RSL, CUL, Philtranco, Peñafrancia, Bicol Isarog, Raymond, etc) from Cubao, Pasay or Alabang Terminal with bus fare ranging from php800 to php1000 and a travel time of roughly 10-12 hours. Once you are in Pilar, take a ferry boat going to Monreal, Ticao Island. Travel time is 1.5 hours and operation hours is from 7am to 12nn daily.

If you coming from Matnog, you can either take a tricycle for php50 or php250 for special trip or take a bus and ask the driver to drop you off at Brgy. Trece then another ride another jeep to Bulan town proper. Boat rides from Bulan to San Jacinto, Ticao is from 6:30am to 1pm daily with a travel time of 1 hour for php150 (aircon) or php120 (non-aircon). Since I arrived at Bulan around 6pm, I stayed at Gotis Lodging house and got the first trip to Ticao the following day. I also had a chance to have a short tour at the town.

Altamar Beach Resort, San Jacinto

There are a lot of places to visit in Ticao Island. I started my island hopping in San Jacinto, one of the municipalities of the island. My first stop was to visit Altamar Beach Resort. This is one of the high-end resorts in the island. This is one of must stayed resort since it provides luxurious accommodation and services. Of course, since I am budget traveler, I opted to have a photo shoot session instead and headed immediately to my next destination.

San Miguel Island, Monreal

From San Jacinto, the boat directly headed us towards Monreal, another municipality in Ticao Island.  Along the way are rock formations with them same features like those in Palawan. The waves were slightly big due to monsoon winds. It is suitable to visit the island during the months of March to June. I stopped over in San Miguel Island and climbed the light house. It was so stiff  that I needed to crawl up just to get to the tower. I do not recommend this activity to those who have heart issues because of the elevation.

Halea Nature Park, Monreal

My next stop was to visit Halea Nature Park. This is a must visit destination when you are in Ticao Island. This is a secluded island but still under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Monreal. See article Monreal, Masbate.

Sitio Mababoy, Monreal

This is small community in Monreal has been very fortunate because of the white sand and clear waters. They are also lucky because they don’t get huge waves because of a small island in front of the village. I had a chance to interact with locals and took a photo with the kids swimming in the shores.

Catandayagan Falls, San Jacinto

This majestic waterfalls lies along the San Jacinto bay. It was first time to witness a waterfalls that goes directly to the ocean. Travel time is roughly around an hour from Sitio Mababoy before you reach this destination. There is no way for you to climb because the rocks are brittle enough due to the consistent flow of water.

Burobancaso Rock Formation, Monreal

This was my last destination of the day. The Burobancaso Rock formation is still under the jurisdiction of the Monreal. Most of the locals preferred to visit this place because it is a small island where can relax, cook their food and take great photos because of the rock formation. The sand surrounding the island is made up of pulvorized white corals and the water is ultra clear. I stayed for about an hour and the boatman told me that it will take another 3 hours of travel time back to the San Jacinto town proper.

I ended my tour around 5:30 pm and stayed overnight in the island because the last trip going back to Bulan, Sorsogon from Ticao Island is at 1pm. I toured around the San Jacinto town proper and slept by 9pm. It was indeed a fun experience exploring  the must the small islands and nice beaches. It was exhausting but worth it.

I also would like to thank the general manager of  Ticao Island Electric Cooperative Inc. (TISELCO) Ricardo Largo for assisting me with the boat and for providing food and accommodation.

Contact Information:

  • Ana Carolina del Mundo – 09109950239 (Tourism Head of Monreal, Masbate)
  • Margie Villahermosa – 09087272104 (Tourism Office of San Jacinto, Masbate)

Travel Expenses:

  • Bus Fare (Matnog- Bulan) –  Php 100
  • Gotis Lodging House (Bulan, Sorsogon)  – Php 300 (fan room for 2 pax)
  • Boat Fare  (Bulan to San Jacinto) – Php 150 (aircon)
  • Boat Fare (San Jacinto to Bulan) –  Php 150 (aircon)
  • Island Hopping Boat – Php 2, 500- 3, 000 ( Good for 5)
  • Tour Guide Fee – Php 500

Monreal, Masbate

“It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return but what is the most painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let the person know how you feel.”

Exploring the different places in Masbate has already been part of my travel check list. From Matnog Sorsogon , I rode a bus going to Bulan, Sorsogon where daily trips are available then to San Jacinto, Ticao Island. Though the island has been featured in several travel platforms but it is totally different when you experience first hand and at the same time, getting to know the culture, food and the people.

The Municipality of the Monreal is a 4th class municipality in the province of Masbate. It is located at the northern part of Ticao Island below Burias Group of Islands. Monreal is known to be a hub of marine life because of the presence of undisturbed coral foundation. There are also small islands located that the northerly part such as Mababoy Island, San Miguel Island, Paltalban Island, Puro Island and Cagpating Island. These islands are composed with white sand shorelines and blue waters.

How to get to Monreal, Masbate

From Manila, ride a bus from Cubao, Edsa Pasay or Alabang to Pilar Port in Pilar, Sorsogon. The usual travel time is within 10-12 hours with a bus fare of php 800 to php 1000. When you are in Pilar Port, you take a ferry boat to Monreal Port in Ticao Island for about 1.5 hours. The boat fare is php 120 and terminal fee of php15 per head. When you are already in Monreal, you can coordinate with the municipal tourism office for boat rental.

Monreal is part of the Ticao Island with four other major municipalities such as San Jacinto, San Fernando and Batuan. Since Masbate as a region is already rich in marine life, it is expected that its districts also has the same thing. The municipality is known to have magnificent rock formations along the coast of Bagababoy and San Miguel islands. As we navigated from one island to another islands, you can see from boat how amusing their sea beds are. According to the locals, dynamite fishing has been banned in the province in which the corals have started to restore has become a breeding ground for different types of fishes.

Tourism has also played a big part in the municipality’s economic status due to the presence of the rock formations, white sand beaches, clear waters and bountiful marine resources, the locals have started to be engaged as tour guides and boatmen as a temporary source of income. Boat fee ranges from php 2,000 to php 2,500 good for 5 person and a guide fee of php 500.

San Miguel Island

This island is situated in the northern most part of Monreal which is near to Claveria, Masbate. You can find a Tombolo from the Italian tombolo, derived from the Latin tumulus, meaning ‘mound’, and sometimes translated as ayre, is a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar. Once attached, the island is then known as a tied island. The shoreline moves toward the island due to deposit of sand where wave energy and longshore drift are reduced, therefore deposition of sand occurs. Once attached, the island is then known as a tied island where an old lighthouse was constructed served a guide to navigators. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombolo

Halea Nature Park in San Miguel Island

This nature park is located on the order side of San Miguel Island facing the Bicol Region. When you are in Ticao Island, this is a must visit local destination because of its fine white sands and blue waters. This area is also known as a shark sanctuary wherein visitors are allowed to feed but needed not be underwater.  You will need to pay an entrance fee of php 25 per head and cottage fee of php 100. Children are free of charge.

Mababoy Island

This island is located in between Monreal mainland adjacent to San Miguel Island where a small community of Masbeteños is residing named as Sitio Mababoy. The island has been inhabited by a small local community with a total population estimated to less than 50 families. Fishing is the main livelihood among the locals. I had a chance to get along with the locals of Sitio Mababoy and took some pictures with them.

Puro Island

This is Small Island located near Cagpating Island but not inhabited by the locals. A sand bar is formed during low tides. There were small cottages constructed within the island but I am not sure if there are still operational. We stopped over in the island and had lunch. It is advised that during the island hopping, you can to bring food and water because it will take at least a whole day to enjoy each destination.

It was indeed an amazing adventure and to  top it all are the easterly waves which was more exciting. I realized that how fortunate the locals of Monreal because of the wonderful rock formations, crystal clear turquoise waters with white fine sands.

Contact Information 

  • Ana Carolina del Mundo – 09109950239 (Tourism Head of Monreal, Masbate)

Tikling Island, Sorsogon

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”

This was my last destination of the day. Right after Juac Island and Subic Beach, we went to this small island located along San Bernardino Straight. This island is just  20 minutes away from Calintaan and Juac Island.

Part of my expedition in Matnog, Sorsogon is to visit Tikling Island. The island is famous because of the pinkish sand due to the red corals. Though there are a lot of pink beaches in the country but this is the nearest to Manila.

How to get to Tikling Island, Sorsogon

Tikling Island is part of the municipality of Matnog, Sorsogon. It lies along San Bernardino Straight which is the route going to Northern Samar. It can only be access through boat and there are no daily trips to island.

From Manila, there are daily bus schedules from Manila directly to Matnog through DLTB, Philtranco, Goldline, Raymond Bus or RSL/Amihan/ Peñafrancia. Travel time is between 14-15 hours. The bus stations are located along Edsa Pasay or LRT Buendia. You can also check their websites for the schedule.

You can also take the Bulan, Sorsogon Route. You just need to tell the driver to drop you off to Brgy. Trece, Bulan then take a tricycle going to Matnog with fare of php50 or php 250 for special trip. If you depart from Manila by 3pm, you will arrive in Bulan by 5am the following day.

If by plane, you can book a flight from Manila to Legazpi or Naga then go directly to their provincial bus terminals then look for a bus going to Matnog, Sorsogon.

Pink Beach in Tikling Island

I have been to a lot of white sand beaches but the shores of Tikling Island fascinated me a lot not only because of its pinkish appearance but it’s a like remote area where there are no cottages, no commercial establishments and apparently the perfect place to unwind, reconcile with nature and suitable to clear your mind.

There are a lot of pink beaches in the Philippines such as Sila Island in Northern Samar, Pundaguitan Beach in Cape San Agustin, Davao Oriental and one in Sta. Cruz Island, in Zamboanga City. So what causes the sand to be pink? Foraminifera or forams are members of a phylum of amoeboid protisits and most are marine which they live on or within the seafloor sediment. Thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by foraminifera (tiny marine creatures with red and pink shells) that live in the coral reefs that surrounds the beach blends with the sand

Though Tikling Island is privately owned, tourists are still welcome to explore. Tourists do not need to pay an entrance fee but only donations to the care takers of the island. Part of the island hopping package offered by Alex Geneblazo is to visit Tikling. I also saw a family of wild boar in the island. I was amazed that they are harmless and domesticated. I spent less than 2 hours in the island because I needed to catch the next boat ride going to Biri Island, Northern Samar. But I will definitely go back and will spend a night in the island.

Island Hopping Boat Fee

  • Day Tour –  Php 1, 650 ( group of 10)
  • Overnight – Pho 2, 650 (group of 10)

For Solo Traveler

  • You might wanted to contact Alex Geneblazo first and ask if you can join a group.

Contact Information

  • Alex Geneblazo  – 09183045437

Juac Island, Sorsogon

The only thing a person can ever really do is keep moving forward. Take that big leap forward without hesitation, without once looking back. Simply forget the past and forge toward the future.”

Juac Island is one of the small islands in the province of Sorsogon. It is located in Matnog, Sorsogon which two hours away from Allen, Northern Samar. It lies within the San Bernardino Straight which is the jump off point to Northern Samar.

How to get to Juac Island, Sorsogon

Juac Island is part of the municipality of Matnog, Sorsogon. There are daily bus schedules from Manila directly to Matnog through DLTB, Philtranco, Goldline, Raymond Bus or RSL/Amihan/ Peñafrancia. Travel time is between 14-15 hours.

You can also take the Bulan, Sorsogon Route. You just need to tell the driver to drop you off to Brgy. Trece, Bulan then take a tricycle going to Matnog.

There are also bus schedules from Legazpi, Albay going to Matnog, Sorsogon. Once you are in Legazpi, take a tricycle going to Daraga Provincial terminal then look for a route going to Matnog with a travel time for about 4-5 hours. Matnog is the southernmost municipality in the province of Sorsogon.

Juag Marine Sanctuary in Juac Island

The Juag Marine Sanctuary is situated in Juac Island. It is owned and managed by Mr. Alex Geneblazo since 2004. He considers the sanctuary as his own aquarium. He started with only few breeds to fish and after thirteen years, it became hectares with different types of marine species.

Visitors will not pay an entrance fee. They just need to purchase fish food worth php100 then ride in a bamboo raft connecting to a center island where they can start the fish feeding.  The bamboo raft can carry at least a maximum of 15 people but sometimes lesser if its low tide.  It is advised not to play with the raft because there are already large fishes swimming at 4 ft. deep. Let the tour guide or care taker do their job to ensure safety of the animals.

According to the care taker, there were recounted incidents of fish kill due to undependable and carelessness actions of the tourists such as not informing the tour guide that they have applied sun protection lotion into their skin that had caused fishes to die. Some tourists jumped at the sanctuary that made the fishes troubled and disturbed.

They were also guides who allowed a lot of tourists to take the bamboo ride more than its capacity resulting to the damages of the coral reefs. And, the most unacceptable behavior is that one tourist caught a large grouper without permission then the owner was surprised that he already started grilling the fish.

Below are the Rules and Regulations in the sanctuary

  • Do not apply sun protection cream. It will surely kill the fishes.
  • Do not jump into the water. It may cause fish fright.
  • Do not throw your trash anywhere in the sanctuary.
  • Do not feed the fishes any other food such as crackers, candies and chips etc.
  • Do not frightened the fishes.
  • Always ask assistance from your tour guide when using the bamboo raft.
  • RESPECT the sanctuary at all times.

Island Hopping Boat Fee

  • Day Tour –  Php 1, 650 ( group of 10)
  • Overnight – Php 2, 650 (group of 10)
  • Fish Food – Php 100

For Solo Traveler

  • You might wanted to contact Alex Geneblazo first and ask if you can join a group.

Juag Marine Sanctuary Contact Information

  • Alex Geneblazo  – 09183045437

Matnog, Sorsogon

“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.”

The Municipality of Matnog lies along the coastal area of the Southern Luzon. This is the last municipality and has one of the busiest port because it is the jump off point towards Northern Samar. A third class municipality composed of different indigenous tribes such as Agta, Tabangon and Cimaron.

However, you cannot identify the natives anymore because they have adapted to the changes.  It was my first time in Matnog, Sorsogon. Although there are already write ups and features about the place but I really wanted to experience the white sand beaches and have a quick escape from the busy streets of Metro Manila.

How to get to Matnog, Sorsogon

There are a lot of options in how to get to Matnog, Sorsogon. There are daily bus schedules from Manila directly to Matnog through DLTB, Philtranco, Goldline, Raymond Bus or RSL/Amihan/ Peñafrancia. Travel time is between 14-15 hours.

You can also take the Bulan, Sorsogon Route.  You just need to tell the driver to drop you off to Brgy. Trece, Bulan then take a tricycle going to Matnog. I strongly suggest to get the night trip, so you can be in Matnog early the following day.

If you missed out the bus schedule, you can either take Legazpi or Bulan route from Manila. Once you are in Legazpi, Albay ride a tricycle going to Daraga- Matnog terminal. Then look for a route going to Matnog with a travel time of 4 hours.  This is the best option, if you are planning to go to Legazpi by air and consider Matnog as a side trip. Once you are in Matnog, you can go to the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Juag Island, enjoy the white sand beaches of Tikling Island and stay overnight in Subic Beach (Laki and Liit).

Juag Marine Sanctuary in Juac Island

This marine sanctuary is owned and managed by Alex Geneblazo, a sanctuary full of large fishes such as snapper, grouper, bluefish, jack cravelle, surgeon fish and tiger lobster. I decided to start with my activity by going to Juag Marine Sanctuary because I was so excited to swim with the fishes.

The Juag Marine Sanctuary is located in Juag Island. It located in the northern part of Calintaan Island.  A 30 minute boat ride from the mainland in Matnog, Sorsogon is a place rich is marine life. See article Juac Island, Sorsogon

Rules and Regulations in Juag Marine Sanctuary

There is no entrance fee at the sanctuary. All you need to do is to buy food then you can enjoy fish feeding. According to the care taker, there were reported incidents that many of their fishes died due to irresponsible actions.  Make sure to follow the rules and regulations of the sanctuary.

  • Do not apply sun protection cream. It will kill the fishes
  • Do not jump into the water. It may cause fish fright.
  • Do not throw your trash anywhere at the sanctuary.
  • Do not feed the fishes any other food such as junk food, chips, crackers, candies etc.
  • Do not frightened the fishes.
  • Always ask assistance from your guide when using the bamboo raft.
  • RESPECT the sanctuary at all times.

Calintaan Island

Calintaan Island is one of the small islands that is still part of the Matnog, Sorsogon. After spending time with the fishes at the sanctuary, my next destination was to visit Subic Beach. This white beach is just 10 minutes away from Juag Island. Like any other white beaches I visited, the composition is just pretty much the same.

Subic Beach (Laki & Liit) 

The beach area is composed of 2 coves such as Subic Laki (big) and Subic Liit (small). In Subic Laki, you can rent a cottage or pitch a tent. There are also small stalls where you can buy food and drinks. However, in Subic Liit, there are no cottages or any establishments. It is just minor cove where you can just relax and enjoy the clear waters.

Tikling Island

My last destination was to visit Tikling Island. It is located at the northeastern part of Matnog. This small island is composed of white sand beach with red coral particles. It is also known as the Pink Beach of Southern Luzon due to crushed red corals that gives pinkish color at the shore. Even though that the island is privately owned, visitors are still allowed to explore. No entrance fee is required but only donations of any amount to the care takers of the island. See article Tikling Island, Sorsogon.

Island Hopping Boat Fee

  • Day Tour –  Php 1, 650 (group of 10)
  • Overnight – Pho 2, 650 (group of 10)

For Solo Traveler

  • You might wanted to contact Alex Geneblazo first and ask if you can join a group.

Contact Information

  • Alex Geneblazo  – 09183045437

Travel Expenses

  • Manila to Bulan, Sorsogon – Php 1000
  • Trece, Bulan to Matnog – Php 50 per pax (tricycle) php250 (special trip)
  • Day Tour – Php 1, 650 (I paid the full amount since I am a solo traveler)
  • Fish Feed – Php 100

Biri Island, Northern Samar

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”

After my island hopping experience and swimming with the fishes at the sanctuary, I immediately packed my things and went to the Port of Matnog because I decided to go to Biri Island in Northern Samar. From Matnog, you need to take a boat going to Allen Port in Northern Samar with a travel time of 2 hours. Unfortunately, the next trip was at 4pm going to San Isidro Port. Only a cargo vessel was available at that time and the only option I had was to wait for the next schedule.

I was so fortunate that one of the crew from that cargo vessel offered a trip going to Allen Port. Though, I was a bit scared but I decided to push through aiming to get the last boat trip to the island. It was my first time in a cargo vessel and the experience was awesome. I arrived at Allen Port, Northern Samar around 3pm and took a tricycle going to Lavesares Port where the boats going to Biri Island are waiting.

How to get to Biri Island, Northern Samar

The municipality of Biri is located at northeastern part of Samar. It is facing the Pacific Ocean to the east and San Bernardino Strait to the west. The island is known to have large numbers of massive rock formations facing along the pacific.

From Lavesares Port, you need to take a boat ride going to Biri Island with a travel time of 1-1.5 hours. The boats are considered a public transport with regular fare of php50. But, you will need to wait for other passengers. The capacity of the boat is between 10-15 people. However, you can get a special trip to the island for php750. First trip from Biri is around 5:30am to Lavesares and last trip back to Biri is at 5pm.

I arrived at Biri Island around 6pm and along the way, I witnessed how beautiful the sunset in the west region. There are a lot of resorts, homestay and hotels in the island. I decided to stay at Gloria Vista Homestay because it is cheaper and recommended by travelers.

I rode a habal-habal (modified motorcycle to seat more than 2 persons and to my surprised the driver was also a tour guide and at the same time, the president of the tour guide association in Biri. We had a coffee at boulevard near the municipal hall and discussed with them my itinerary.

I was given an option from the tour guide to start the tour as early as 4:30 am to witness the sunrise at the Macadlaw Rock formation. However, I decided not to take it because there is a lesser chance because of the weather. He arrived at exactly 6am and our first destination was to pass through Bel-At Mangrove 500 meter walkway going to the rock formation.

There are 7 massive rock formations in Biri Island and each rock formation has its own unique physical characteristics. The form of rock formation is a Stack or Sea Stack where it is a geological landform consisting of a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast, formed by wave erosion.

  • Magasang Rock Formation
  • Magsapad Rock Formation
  • Macadlaw Rock Formation
  • Puhunan Rock Formation
  • Bel-at Rock Formation
  • Caranas Rock Formation
  • Pinanahawan Rock Formation

The rock formation in Biri Island are called Stacks. They are formed over time by wind and water, processes of coastal geomorphology. They are formed when part of a headland is eroded by hydraulic action, which is the force of the sea or water crashing against the rock. The force of the water weakens cracks in the headland, causing them to later collapse, forming free-standing stacks and even a small island. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_(geology)

There are also Tide Pools near the rock formations. Tide pools or rock pools are shallow pools of seawater that form on the rocky intertidal shore. Many of these pools exist as separate bodies of water only at low tide. Tidal pools exist in the intertidal zones. These zones are submerged by the sea at high tides and during storms, and may receive spray from wave action. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide_pool

I ended my tour at around 11am since I need to go back to Bulan, Sorsogon to get the last trip going to Ticao Island, Masbate for another adventure. If ever you missed out the boat trip in Allen Port, you can go to Santa Clara Port. The Santa Clara Port is just less than 4km away from Allen Port. There are daily boat schedule going back to Sorsogon with only 1 hour travel time.

Contact Information

  • Jun Giray (Tour Guide) – 09288309396
  • Ning Borbon ( Gloria Vista Homestay) – 09472967737 or 09174552500

Note: You might wanted to contact Jun Giray if you will go there in a group so he can make arrangements for your tour.

Travel Expenses

  • Allen Port to Lavesares – Php 50 (tricycle fare/special)
  • Lavesares to Biri Island Boat Fee- Php 50 or Php 750 (special trip)
  • Gloria Vista Homestay – Php 400 (fan room)
  • Tour Guide Fee – Php 495 (day tour) Php 895 (day tour with sunrise)
  • Environmental Fee- Php 50

San Miguel, Bulacan

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

From Minalungao National Park in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, my next destination was to visit the Biak Na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan. It was my first time to go to Bulacan and I was also interested about the national park.

San Miguel, Bulacan is an urban municipality of the province of Bulacan. It is one the largest town after Norzagaray and Doña Remedios Trinidad which is bounded by Nueva Ecija in the north and Pampanga in the west and San Ildefonso in the south.

How to get to General Tinio, Nueva Ecija

There are daily bus schedules from Manila to San Miguel, Bulacan through Baliwag Transit. You can also take the Cabanatuan Route since the bus will pass along Bulacan before reaching Nueva Ecija. In my case, since it was an expedition, from Gapan City, I rode a bus back to Bulacan via Baliwag Transit with a travel time of 30 minutes for php50. When you reach the town proper, you can ride a tricycle going to Biak Na Bato National Park.

Biak-na-Bato National Park

Biak-na-Bato National Park is located within barangay Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel, Bulacan where it name came derive from. It has a total land area of 2, 117 hectares that extends to its nearby municipalities. It was declared as a National Park in 1973 by President Manuel Luis Quezon by virtue of its association with the history and site of the Biak-na-Bato Republic.

Below is the list fees in the park.

  • Adult – php50
  • Student/Senior Citizen – php40
  • For Overnight Stay ( additional ) – php 50
  • Mandatory Guide Fee- php 150 (regardless if solo or group)
  • Pavilion Rental Fee- php 3,500 (inclusive 30 chairs, 4 tables and sound system)
  • Picnic Sheds – php 150 ( half-day) , php 200 ( whole day)
  • Comfort Rooms- php 5

The park is composed of more than a hundred caves with various sized and crystalline formation. The most famous cave is the Aguinaldo Cave which was once a headquarters of the President Emilio Aguinaldo, the Bat Cave which has a least six species of bats. There are also other animals such swiftlets, wild boar, eagles, lizards and at the same time, there are a different types of trees, shrubs, ferns that can be found in the park.

The Biak Na Bato National Park is very significant to the Philippine History because it served as a headquarter of the first president together with his men during the revolutionary government. The caves became their shelter to protect them from exhaustion, the trees became their ears as they discussed all game plans for revolution and rivers provided them comfort and served as an inspiration in their ambition of independence.

You do not really need to stay longer when you are at the park unless you wanted to have a picnic or enjoy your moment with nature. If you want to enter each cave, according to the tour guide, there will additional fees. I left the park around 3pm and went to my friend’s house in San Idelfonso, Bulacan.

Travel Expenses:

  • Bus Fare – php 50 (Gapan City. Nueva Ecija- San Miguel, Bulacan)
  • Tricycle Fare – php 300 ( round trip from town proper to park- good for sharing)
  • Entrance Fee-  php 50
  • Mandatory Tour Guide Fee-  php 150





General Tinio, Nueva Ecija

“We spend our lives waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many: nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed, directed with passion, towards that which is the spirit of all things, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless effort.”

In my mission to complete the 81 provinces, I decided to go to Nueva Ecija to visit Minalungao National Park which is located at General Tinio also known as Papaya. It is said that the town is at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Minalungao National Park is a must visit destination when you are in Nueva Ecija.

How to get to General Tinio, Nueva Ecija

From Manila, you will need to ride a bus going to Gapan City or Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija through Baliwag Transit with a travel time of about 2-3 hours with fare of php150. Gapan City will be your drop off place since there are no busses or jeep directly going to the General Tinio.

From Gapan, you can rent a tricycle going directly to Minalungao with an estimated travel time of 1-1.5 hours. This is best and most convenient way because there are only few trips going papaya and from the town proper, you will still need to ride another tricycle going to the park which is more time consuming and impractical.  Jimmy de la Cruz was my tricycle driver  and waited for me for almost 3 hours. He is really nice and does not take advantage of tourist.

Minalungao National Park

Minalungao National Park is a protected area which is located at General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. The park is 2, 018 hectares along Peñaranda River which is composed of limestone walls along the Sierra Madre mountain range. This was established as a national park in 1967 under Republic Act. No. 5100.

An entrance fee of php100 per pax when you visit the park. If you wanted to take a bamboo/balsa ride, you need to pay php 600 good for 8 pax with life vest included. You can also try their zip line for php 100 and though swimming is for free, you will need to rent a life vest for php25. You can also try to cross their hanging bridge, trek their 1000 steps to have peek of their mountain view and have a mini – spelunking in a cave. I know that there are a lot of fees but it is for  their livelihood and maintenance of the park.

The best time to go there is during summer months since the water is very clear. However, schedule your visit on a weekday because you might get disappointed because it is too much crowded during weekends. The area is not that big and there are a lot visitors who wanted to try their balsa ride. You might also get disappointed because you can never get a perfect picture without any photo bombers.

Do not go there during rainy season because the water level maybe unpredictable. You are not also allowed to swim without a life vest and always make sure to follow the rules and regulations of the park.  You can bring your own food or dine at Minalungao Restaurant.

I did not pay any entrance  fee because the park was under maintenance.  I also did not have a ride at their balsa/bamboo because it was a bit expensive and at the same time, did not have any plans to swim. Though I enjoyed my mini- trekking to the cliff and mini- spelunking to the cave but most of the time, I was just sitting on the rock enjoying the place with less visitors and  after 3 hours, I decided to go to my next destination.

Travel Expenses:

Bus Fee (Manila – Gapan City) – php 150 (php300 roundtrip)

Tricycle Fare (Gapan – General Tinio) – php 600 (round trip for sharing)

Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

After spending three days and two nights in Calayan Island, I planned to have a side tour in some tourist destinations in Ilocos. I departed from the island around 8am then arrived in Claveria by 1pm.  My plan was to visit the windmills of Bangui in Ilocos Norte. Bangui is one of the 21 municipalities of Ilocos Norte which is situated in the coastal area of the province. The place is famous because of the windmills that supplies electricity throughout the province and eventually became a tourist attraction.

How to get to Bangui, Ilocos Norte

From Manila, you can either ride a bus bound for Ilocos, Junction Luna or Claveria. The province is located in Ilocos Norte and most of the bus going to Cagayan usually passes by the municipality.

From Claveria, I just waited for the Florida bus along the highway bound for Manila. There are no other route going to Bangui so it won’t be difficult to locate. You just need to inform the bus driver that you are going to the windmills and they already know where to drop you off. From Claveria, it takes for about 2-3 hours going to Bangui.

Bangui Windmills

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm can also be located offshore. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm

The wind farm is divided into 2 phases. Phase 1 is consisting of 15 wind mills located in the coastal area of Bangui capable of producing electricity up to a maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW.  While Phase II with additional of 5 windmills which was completed in 2008. The purpose of the windmills constructed near the shores of Bangui Bay because of the wind intensity is much stronger which coverts to electric energy.

The windmills became an attraction and most of the tourists visit the site because of astonishing bay view with the mills as your background. The windmills are constructed near the shore but swimming is not allowed due to series of drowning incidents in the past. You really do not need to spend a lot time in the area. You can just have your lunch since there are already restaurants in the area, have your photo ops and buy souvenir items then you can go proceed in your next destination.

Travel Expenses 

  • Bus Fare (Claveria to Bangui) – php 200
  • Tricyle Fare – php 100 (good for 4)

Mercedes, Camarines Norte

“You are not being hurt by the love that you give. But you are hurt by the love you expected to receive.”

Part of my goal as a solo traveller is to visit small islands in the country because whenever I check the map, I get curious of what are the beautiful spots and also wanted to face the challenge of going there. One of the places I wanted to visit is the Mercedes Group of Islands in Camarines Norte. It was my first time to visit Camarines Norte and at the same time, my travel buddies Marsha Godino and Niña Platero are from Mercedes. I took the opportunity to organize a group tour last June 10-12, 2017 and yes, it’s a group tour because it is expensive if go there solo.

Mercedes is one the municipalities of Camarines Norte. It lies in between Daet and Libmanan which are part of the Bicol Region. There are several barangays in Mercedes but this article will be featuring the seven islands which are not part of the mainland namely Apuao Grande Island, Apuao Pequeña Island Caringo Island, Quinapaguian Island, Canimog Island, Malasugui Island and Canton Island.

How to get to Mercedes, Camarines Norte

There are no direct flights going to Camarines Norte. By plane, you can book a flight going to Pili Airport to Naga City. Then from Naga City, you can either take a bus or van to Daet then another jeep ride to Mercedes.

Daily bus schedules from Manila to Daet through Superlines, Philtranco, DLTB, or Amihan with terminals in Pasay and Cubao. I preferred to take Superlines because of no recorded road accidents. Travel time may take up to 8 hours but you can also take their special trips every 9pm for 6 hours. However, you will arrive in Daet by 3am and there is still no available jeep to Mercedes. Tickets for air-con buses range from P550 to P600+ from Daet-Manila and vice versa. From Daet, you can take a 10-15 minute jeep or tricycle ride to Mercedes town proper.

Siete Pecados: Seven Islands of Mercedes        

Since my goal was to visit the seven islands of Mercedes, it is going to be difficult to go there solo. So, I organized a non- profit tour in order to save money especially for the island hopping. With the help of my travel buddy Marsha, she was able to get in touch with Sir Ruel Santelices, a local operator that offers the cheapest tour packages in Mercedes that includes food, island hopping activities and tent accommodation.

The Siete Pecados is composed of islands namely Apuao Grande Island, Apuao Pequeña Island, Caringo Island, Quinapaguian Island, Canimog Island, Malasugui Island and Canton Island. I decided to visit the first four islands in day one then the rest of the three islands in day two so we can take our time in enjoying the beach.

Canimog Island

This island is roughly about 15-25 minutes from Pandawan Port in Mercedes. This was the first island we visited. Upon arriving at the shore, I was really amazed that there are no resorts in the island. This is the closest island to the mainland. There is also a small death pool on the other side of the island.

Apuao Grande Island

The Apuao Islands are two connecting islands with white sandy beach and pine trees connected by a sandbar to Apuao Pequeña Island. There is no usual beach resorts in the island but there are beach cottages and tents for overnight stay. The island is only for about 15-20 minutes away from Canimog Island.

Apuao Pequeña Island

This is an adjacent island to Apuao Grande which is connected by sand bar, sandbanks or gravelbars. This is the process when surface waves moves towards a shallow water like a beach shore and when two opposite waves pass through, it creates a sand bar. Through years of wave shoaling, it created a large sand bar that interconnected two separate islands. We decided to stay in the island because it is suitable for camping or installing hammocks and at the same time, the pine trees provide shelter. Take note that there is no electricity in the island.

Quinapaguian Island

This was the fourth island we visited after we had our lunch in Apuao Pequeña Island. This  island is just near Apuao Grande and Apuao Pequeña. Good to note that our boat was much faster than the regular boats because it will only take you minutes to go from island to another island.

Caringo Island

We went to Caringo Island the following day because of the fish sanctuary. According to the guide, the locals are prohibited to catch fishes along the hectares of the marine sanctuary since it is a breeding ground. I was able to witness what was underwater. A vast of live corals with a lot of different types of fish really amazed me during my free dive. The snorkeling fee is already included in the tour package. You just need to bring your own swimming gears so you don’t need to rent. Take note that you will need to transfer to a smaller boats because they do not allow motorized boats at the sanctuary.

Malasugui Island

The island is known to have a small sand bar facing the west side of the side suitable for sunset shots. This is the smallest island out of the seven and you can even navigate the whole island for less than an hour.

Canton Island

This was the last island we visited. We decided to do sightseeing only because the underwater current was so big enough that it will be difficult for us to dock. The island is facing Butauanan Island in the east and composed of stiff rock formations for cliff jumps. There are also series of caves in the island but we decided not to take the risk of going inside. But we were already satisfied of just looking at the island and appreciate its beauty.

 We went back to Apuao Pequeña Island to have our lunch and prepared to depart by 1pm. Visiting the seven islands of Mercedes was an awesome experience and able to free dive at the marine sanctuary was epic. We arrived at Pandawan around 3pm and did a side tour at Bagasbas Beach in Daet before going to the terminal for our 8pm trip back to Manila.

Contact Information:

Ruel Santelices  – 09482345689

Travel Expenses:

Bus Fee (Manila to Daet) – php 515 (php 1030 round trip)

Tricycle Fee (Daet to Mercedes Terminal) – php 20

Jeep Fee (Daet to Mercedes) – php 8

Tour Package – php 1, 600 per pax with minimum of 10 participants

  • Day 1 ( lunch & dinner)
  • Day 2 (breakfast & lunch)
  • Socials (alcoholic beverages & musical instruments)
  • 7 island hopping
  • Snorkeling fee at marine sanctuary
  • Boat transfers
  • Tent accommodation