Philippines · Sorsogon · Travel Tales

Travel Tales: Bulusan and Barcelona, Sorsogon

Sunrise at Subic na Malaki, Calintaan Island, Sorsogon.

Here’s what many a morning boat ride in the Philippines is like:

You wake up at dawn, take a bath, and pack your things as the rain pitter-patters on the roof. Once it stops, you walk to the shore. You see your boat docked on the beach, foregrounding the sunrise breaking through the clouds in the east.

You take your last picture on your island. You thank your caretaker who has served countless other wandering souls like you. You then hop on the boat that takes you back to civilization.

You huddle under your hoodie when a light rain falls. The waves are a bit rough, but the waters calm down when your boat makes its way across the channels. You take off your hood when the sun starts beating down on your face. You look at the sides of your boat. Sometimes the water shows you corals under its depths. Most of the time you see nothing underneath but blue.

You see whirlpools, and you are reminded of those kids who have to take the boat to go to school, and their parents who worry about those whirlpools, and the boatmen who are well experienced on avoiding them.

Too soon, you are back on the shore. You sigh as you avoid the trash littering the shoreline. Paradise, after all, was not that far from this cluttered civilization.

#

One of the most eventful days of my life had just begun.

We’d had breakfast and a brief talk with the tourism officer, so now we were looking for a jeepney to take us to the town of Irosin. We waited for what seemed like a long while until we saw a jeepney…which was full.

“Ay, puno na,” said Eds. Then, without missing a beat, he said, “Pwede sa taas?”

“Pwede!” said a local.

“Hindi po ba yan overloading?”

“Hindi yan!”

“Okay!”  Promptly Edison and Ace started climbing the roof of the jeep.

So for the next thirty minutes, we rode top load through Sorsogon. Instant blow-dry! There were times when the jeep had to slow down going downhill. Just a few meters away were ravines. It was fun. We were probably the loudest top loaders Sorsogon has seen in a while.

One of the perks of riding top load — the views! We could just see our destination from there.

With the help of the locals in Irosin, we were able to hire a trike to the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park. Bulusan Volcano has been rather active — volcanic activity was recorded almost every year from 2006 to 2011 and the local government issued a travel ban in the area. Thankfully, it was opened again to the public this year [source 1, source 2].

The path from the main road showed how rich the rainforest was: beside the path, we could barely see the forest floor as it was covered with shrubs. Just a couple of hours before, we smelled salty winds; here we smelled the sweet scent of a damp forest.

Kayaks on the edge of Bulusan Lake. There is a huge statue of Mary nearby.

By the lake, we were able to talk to the resident guide and caretaker, Kuya Buddy. We decided to go on a 45-minute trek around the lake. It might have been an hour since we had frequent photo stops.

The gang, all set to trek. Yes, I’m in a dress.
We had an additional couple of doggie guides, too! They were always ahead of us and looked at us while waiting, probably wondering what was taking these two-legged creatures so long.
This one is Asoko, who has apparently reached the peak of Bulusan. I feel ashamed of myself.
See how dense the leaves are!

Kuya Buddy pointed us to certain flora of interest, and even gave us leaves to eat — they tasted like guavas. We learned that aside from preserving the rainforest, the park is also undergoing reforestation in certain areas. He said that on certain rare occasions, a falcon or a troop of monkeys would show up. How the local government and NGOs have helped preserve the park’s biodiversity is very impressive and inspiring.

Kuya Buddy teaches us about the flora around Bulusan Lake. Aspiring environmentalist Czhar looks on.
The dense canopy

A view of the lake from the other side.
Have boat, will pose
Czhar with a hundred-year-old tree
And here’s Edison with one of his many talents.

After that unexpected trek, we had to bid Kuya Buddy goodbye even though there were so many other places we could have gone to — the Masacrot Springs and the Palogtoc and Bayugin Falls, however, would have set us back by another afternoon.

We headed to the town proper and had a quick lunch at a canteen before heading to the town of Barcelona.

Barcelona Church.
(Forgive the harsh 2 PM lighting)

Barcelona Church is just beside the main road, so it’s hard to miss. Across the road is the sea and a park set on the ruins of a Spanish-era schoolhouse. A sign told us that the school were only for the children of Spaniards and ilustrados and, true to form, indios were not allowed in. Now the windows and roofs as well as parts of the walls are all gone, as though signifying the end of that era.

There were nipa cottages where a group of high school students were hanging out. (Being teachers, we raised some eyebrows, but when Ace talked to them, they said they had no more classes. Plausible.)

Also, there was free wifi in the area, so we took the opportunity to tweet updates.

When we were rested, we took pictures — lots of them. The harsh noon sun provided a challenge, but when did that ever stop us?

One of our many pics — here’s Ace.
The girls.
I swear, only my love for my friends can make me do this.

Barcelona Church was a refuge from the heat. In the serene interior where we were the only people, we sat and prayed, and then arranged our things.

We took a jeep to Gubat and took another one to Sorsogon City. We ate our most expensive meal during the trip there (P136 for lechon kawali and Bicol express with rice at Graceland). We bought pasalubong at the nearby market and headed back to the terminal.

We had many firsts in this trip, and the last of them was washing our hair in a public restroom. At least the Sorsogon City central terminal was orderly and clean.

A 13-hour cold and bumpy bus ride later, and we were back in Alabang. After five months of no travel, it was such a thrill to be out and about again.

#

The Practical Stuff

For the itinerary and travel budget, please check out this post: Three Days in Albay and Sorsogon

We got our info re: Bulusan Lake from a couple of blogs: Ambot-Ah (the pictures are brilliant!) and Pinoy Adventurista. Thank you, guys!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Travel Tales: Bulusan and Barcelona, Sorsogon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s