Our country, a fascinating archipelago endowed with 7,107 island wonders is truly blessed with the best-kept tourist attractions. Wherever you go, you will discover lots of places to explore that will surely captivate the wanderlust in you. For this summer, we are off on a two-day’s jaunt in Matnog in Sorsogon, to see its rare pinkish sand beaches, and get lost to another pristine paradise island!
The nestled lagoon in the middle of an island, a natural sanctuary for giant seafaring turtles, fills with saltwater during high tide.
This was the caption of the March to April 2007 page of PNOC’s (Philippine National Oil Company) calendar with their theme, “Our Undiscovered Country” with the stunning picture of Paguriran Lake in Bacon, Sorsogon. Imagine an enclosed lagoon in the middle of an island? I jotted it down in my brown notebook and vowed to visit it in the future. Below the main picture were small pictures of Vera Falls which I visited last year (so thankful) and the other was Naghaso Boiling Lake (next target to explore), both were found in Albay.
After a two-day adventure in our hometown in Albay, we’re off to Sorsogon, which is located at the southernmost part in Luzon. We’ve been to different places but we never chanced to visit our neighboring province. Lately, I had this ardent desire to explore Sorsogon and finally, it was set this Lenten Holiday.
Target destinations: Bulusan Lake and Rizal Beach.
We woke up late and so we had no time to cook for our packed lunch. We just brought sandwiches and grocery goodies. The sky was devoid of brightness. But rain or shine, we boarded in our van and off we went to Sorsogon after a fast breakfast. From Tabaco City, it took us two and a half hours drive in getting to the boundary of Sorsogon. The road leading to the city was amazingly paved. Thanks to the local government of Sorsogon for this remarkable infrastructure.
We had a pit stop in a small park just beside the main road at Bukal-Bukalan. Just a few steps from the entrance, a wonderful sea view surprised us. Finally the sun was gleaming into the horizon. We did photo shooting and a little bit of stretching.
It was so pleasing looking at the roadside view teamed with the abundance of green life. Passing the tree tunnels were so wonderful. Just like Albay, Sorsogon also offers a unique solitude. As I glanced to my buddies they were sleeping except my sister busy watching the scenery. It seemed we were both in deep thoughts in a quiet moment like this. The simplicity of provincial life had brought me back to the happy memories of our younger years in Albay.
We crossed a Y intersection in Abuyog, the last barangay in the southern part of Sorsogon City. The left arrow leads to Gubat and the right to Matnog (the last municipality and at the southernmost tip of Sorsogon). There were several eateries in this barangay. We bought packed lunch and headed to Gubat.
It was almost 12 noon when we reached the town proper of Gubat. Few more minutes and we were at Rizal Beach. It was easy to find as it was beside the main road. We parked our van inside the resort and headed to the information booth to reserve a room. All air-conditioned rooms were full. The only available unit were non-aircon Apartelle (P1,700) situated in a beachfront. We checked it right away and took the end unit.
It was away from the crowd and was enclosed by a wooden fence and a small garden. Inclusion: entrance fee (P25/head) and use of swimming pool (P60/head). It has two sleeping areas (second floor and attic), kitchen, sink, comfort room and a small balcony at the side of the second floor.
Check in time is 2 pm but Ate Grace (the receptionist) graciously allowed us to occupy the room early. She was so kind that she charged us an additional P70 only for the excess person allowed in the apartelle. We were assisted by a pretty staff Weng to our room.
We had a comfortable lunch in the dining area extending to the terrace. The wind was so refreshing that after a while, all my buddies took a nap. Instead of sleeping, I hastily brought my cam and walked into the long stretch and wide shoreline. Sand was gray but fine. Water was clear.
I had forgotten for a while a stressed out person I was as I sat on the sand and stared at the waves, to the umbrella standing still on the sand, to the souvenir vendors and the bathers basking in the sun.
By 3 pm we headed to Bulusan Lake through an exciting route, had enjoyed the wonderful scenery and went back at 5 pm (written in separate article under Bulusan Lake).
The long stretch was now engulfed by playful waves. Instead of soaking into the water, we played our favorite volleyball game (P40 rent).There were other resort activities for rent like billiard (P70), Pao’s favorite sport, basketball (P40) and videoke (P60).Then after; we spent our quality time dipping into the swimming pool.
At 6:45 pm, my hubby and I headed to the restaurant to see what’s good to eat for our dinner. To our dismay, our favorite food is no longer available. What we had were ordinary cuisines like pancit bihon, chicken curry, boiled fish and plain rice. The food was served around 8:30 pm, everyone was starving.
But on the lighter side, our food costs P655 only, albeit the above average content of food served per plate. This is what I love here in my beloved Bicol, food was affordable and is guaranteed with a delectable taste.
After our dinner, we stayed a while in the beachfront. There was nothing to gaze up in the sky for the stars were obscured by thick clouds. It seems rain will fall any minute. We didn’t swim anymore. With the smell of fresh air and the cool night breeze we were able to sleep early and very comfortably.
It was a gloomy morning as we woke up early by 6 am. Unfortunately, I have no sunrise shot in my cam. We walked outside the resort in search of a hot pandesal. But we were told that there was no supply of bread that day because it was Black Saturday. It’s good that our two packs of sandwiches (with choices of cheese or peanut butter filling), hot instant noodles, coffee and milo energy drink sustained our morning hunger. Our buddy, the handy “electric kettle” helped us saved money.
It rained for a short while. After our breakfast and with some light rain still falling we proceeded to the beach to swim. Tide had begun to recede, and later the rays of the sunshine spilled into the water. Though the resort wasn’t pristine white sand, amazingly, there were no rocks, no sea weeds and no jellyfish in the swimming area. After a refreshing bath in the beach, we headed to the pool and swim again.
After rinsing and packing our belongings, we headed to souvenir store just beside the resort. We bought hanging corner shells (P180), bracelets (P10) and the pili nut paper weigh (P35). Sorry for me there was no key chain for my traveling collection. Check-out time-10:30 am.
Our fourth day vacation this Lenten Season in Bicol was another wonderful escape away from the crowd and the noise of city life. And still, we were craving for more. hehehe. Thanks to our Daddy Jhes, for his patience and sharp memory in driving.
Truly, traveling with the whole family would always be meaningful as we indulged ourselves with a wonderful adventure embraced by “inner peace” in appreciating mother nature’s amazing gifts. We’re not a finicky type of traveler, we spend on an average budget. It doesn’t need a lot of money to enjoy life. And I was so thankful that everyone enjoyed as much as I (ang promotor) did!
We had our lunch in Mang Inasal in the city.
Next stop: Cagsawa Ruins and Mayon Skyline (formerly Mayon Resthouse).
Bulusan Lake also known as “Switzerland of the Orient” lies at the heart of Bulusan Volcano National Park. It is a protected rainforest and wildlife sanctuary located in Barangay San Roque. Its center attraction is the Mt. Bulusan which is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines. The lake has two mountain peaks, the Sharp Peak and Mt. Hormahan and in between is Lake Aguingay.
There are two options in getting there. One is through Maharlika Highway, passing towns of Casiguran, Juban and Irosin. The other option is at Gubat to Barcelona.
Travel time coming from our hometown in Malinao took us four hours in getting to Gubat. We took a room reservation for overnight stay in Rizal Beach around noon time, ate our lunch and headed to Bulusan Lake. The muggy weather tempted us to swim in the resort but we have to escape momentarily to complete our Sorsogon escapade.
From Gubat, we passed the town of Barcelona. As we get closer to Bulusan, the view gets greener and the air smells so fresher. Vast rice fields were in our right and at left was the scenic view of Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed watching the rustic countryside. It was so wonderful looking at those golden grains which any moment from now is ready for harvest.
When we reached the town proper of Bulusan we asked the locals of the right direction. It’s good that we were heading to the right way. We saw a signboard “8 km to Bulusan Lake”, so we assumed we were so near.
At first the wide road was well-paved, later there were portions under construction. As we went up, my buddies started to panic as the road became rougher and stiffer. My hubby had difficulty in traversing the “scary rough road”, but he had maneuvered the steering wheel very well.
I really had no idea this would be the road situation. It seemed we were heading to an endless journey. Soon we were enclosed by canopy of trees.The small and narrow road was well-paved again. Sound of kuliglig (cricket) got louder and louder. Surprisingly, it was getting cooler as we entered a forested trail. Going to the lake was a combination of exciting anticipation and fear sprinkled by suspense as we were nearing the climax of our trip.
At last we saw the signboard! I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Everyone now was shouting for joy when we reached the parking area. We paid P10/head for the entrance fee (what a cheap rate).
What was so amazing here in Bulusan Lake is that a large amount of body of water nestled at the foot of two mountains and at Bulusan Volcano. The view offered a unique serenity. Indeed, this is ideal for family outing. It was so awesome communing with nature in this magnificent wonder.
The greenish color of water is not suitable for swimming because of mud in the bottom. But there are water activities that surely everyone will enjoy like kayaking (P100), water bike (P600) and boat rental which accommodates two to five persons (P500).
The densely forested Mt. Bulusan could be climbed by enthusiast mountaineer. Group of avid adventurer can camp at the crater summit. What you need is a local guide. Just ask for assistance at the information booth if you are planning to do these activities.
We have no time to enjoy the water rides because we have to go back to Rizal Beach before it gets dark. It might be chaotic going down for there was no electricity along the road. Anyway, we were so thankful that we saw another Sorsogon’s wonderful scenic spot.
Next time we will take the route to Irosin so we can swim in the natural hot and cold springs. Perhaps next year if our schedule permits us to do so.
From beaches, waterfalls, rivers, caves and lakes, I’m proud to say that Bicol region offers so many natural wonders that are worth visiting.
Bye now Bulusan Lake, have to go back to Rizal Beach for a swim.