(Enjoying the Bicolandia, June 13, 2014)
(Enjoying  Bicolandia, June 13, 2014)

You don’t have to spend much just to be happy.

Backpacking /bækˌpækɪŋ/ is a kind of activity of travelling around an area without spending much money, often on foot and carrying a backpack (Macmillan Dictionary).

This is kind of activity is something that me and most of my friends enjoy and do a lot. Since the province of Sorsogon is endowed with various ecotourism destinations that are actually very cheap to visit, it is a place worthy to be called a haven for backpackers. These are some of the activities you may try when visiting Sorsogon:

1. Toploading in the rural roads of Bacon

If you are adventurous enough, you must try toploading. Toploading is not a kind of extreme sport but rather riding in a public transportation’s roof. It is commonly done in jeepneys in some provinces in the country, especially in provinces where there are very few number of public transportation. In the province of Sorsogon, it is also done in tricycles (motorcycle with a cab enclosing the motorcycle which can accommodate around 5 persons). For additional safety, the roof has iron attachment, commonly used for cargo loading. Also, in some cases, jeepneys also have bamboo slits on its roof to give comfort to the passengers. It is actually thrilling to try toploading especially along mountainous and coastal areas.

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Toploading to Paguriran Beach.

2. Watch the sunset at Salvacion Beach

This beach is located in Salvacion, Bacon, Sorsogon, a few minutes away from Bacon poblacion and almost directly opposite to the location of Paguriran beach. When we went here, we did not see any beach resorts along the coast but rather a long stretch of residential and community area harmoniously connected to a good mangrove forest. From this area, sunset is not much of view here since it is in the opposite direction, but sunrise is something that you may look forward to instead.

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Lovers enjoying the sunrise in Salvacion Beach.

3. Stroll along Rizal Beach

Before going to Barcelona Church, we had another stop over in a beach resort in Gubat, Sorsogon. As compared with Salvacion Beach, the whole stretch of Rizal Beach has a lot of commercial establishments. You may enjoy the area for free if you will opt not to avail any cottages. Just stay under a tree and enjoy the heat of the sun and the scenic view of the beach. There are also numerous souvenir shops in the area that selling hand-made products, mostly made of a variety of shells.

The long stretch of Rizal Beach.

4. Do a cliff-diving from the rock formations of Paguriran Island

Another beach we visited in the area is Paguriran Island Beach Resort in Bacon, Sorsogon. Some visitors consider it as a mini-paradise because of its beauty. From the coast, you can see another pride of Bicol Region, the perfect cone Mayon Volcano. The main attraction in the area is a beautiful lagoon, enclosed by large rock formations. The view from the top of the rock formation is breathtaking and a very good area to do 360 degrees videos. Also, the other side (opposite to the coastal side) is a very nice area to enjoy cliff diving and snorkeling because of its depth and crystal clear waters. As with Rizal Beach, we also enjoyed Paguriran Beach for free since we just put our bags in the rocks or hanged them on tree branches.

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Paguriran Beach as viewed from the top.

5. Watch how small bancas are constructed

If you live far from any kind of body of water, this is something that might interest you. Although this is not as fancy as making a large boat or a fast crafts, you might be surprised to see how tedious Banca construction is and how the inner workings of engineering applies to it.

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Wooden frames of bancas.

6. Visit the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park

The visit in Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP) is a must when backpacking in the povince of Sorsogon. The picturesque view of the lake is complemented by the good vegetation cover along its circumference and the Mt. Bulusan as its backdrop. BVNP is a 3,673 hectare protected area and bounded by five municipalities of Sorsogon, namely Bulusan, Barcelona, Irosin, Juban and Casiguran. Visiting the natural park may take you 2 days or more if you really want to maximize the experience here. Some of the things you may want to try in BVNP are as follows:

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6.1. Kayaking

If you are more of a solo-type person or just want to try something alone, this is something worth trying. Kayaking is not difficult so even people without any experience with rowing prior to their visit in the area can do and enjoy it.

Fee: Php 100 per person (As of June 2014)

6.2. Boat paddling

This type of activity is good for families and barkadas (group of friends) who wants to enjoy the view while chatting and taking pictures together. This is relatively more difficult than kayaking because it requires coordination among all the paddlers. Don’t worry, a guide will join you to ensure that you will do it properly.

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6.3. Trekking

Since the area is also endowed with a very beautiful mountain landscape, trekking is as enjoyable, or even better, as the lake experience. You may opt to trek just the circumference of the lake for an hour or so, or be more adventurous and climb Mt. Bulusan and stay there overnight. A lot of trekking packages are available for mountaineer groups. According to the guide, the climb is approximately 8 hours since there are activities inclduded in the package such as tree planting.

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Fee:

Lake side trek: Php 150 per person (As of June 2014)

Mountain trek: Php 2000 to Php 4000 per person (As of June 2014)

6.4. Water Biking/Aqua Triking

Love country cycling? Try something different and try cycling in the water instead.

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Fee: Php 200/person (As of June 2014)

 7. Relax your sore muscles at the San Benon Hot Springs

Although it is popularly known as San benon, the name of the resort is actually Mateo Hot and Cold Springs Resort and owned by Aramaru resorts. It is located in Sitio San Benon, Brgy Monbon, Irosin, Sorsogon. The resort has three different pools: hot, lukewarm and cold.

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Entrance Fee: Php 35 – day swimming; Php 40- night swimming (As of June 2014)

8. Have a tour inside the Barcelona Church

Barcelona or St. Joseph’s Church is considered the oldest church in the Bicol region, which was built in 1874. The construction of the church is supervised (and not built!) by a Franciscan friar. The historical landmark’s beauty is complemented by its location along the sea.

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Backpacking in the province was something we will treasure. And since we needed to go back to our “real” lives, we stayed in the province for just 3 days.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.

Additional Notes:

  • When planning to stay in a place later than 6pm without considering or planning to stay there overnight, please take note of the last trip schedules to avoid inconvenience or trip delays. Some public transportation in the area has a last trip schedule of 7pm.
  • Also, form Paguriran Island Beach, there are some instances (maybe it is the usual case since it seems normal to the locals) that Jeepneys travel very slow. It took us more than an hour just to cover a 20-kilometer distance.

For more photos, pls go to the Life Gallery.

Travel Guide*
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
Olivarez Plaza** to Calamba City Proper (Laguna) Jeepney <1 hour
Calamba City Proper (Laguna) to Turbina (Calamba City) Tricycle 15 minutes
 Turbina (Calamba City) to Daraga, Albay Bus (Ordinary) ≈11 hours
Daraga, Albay to Sorsogon Grand Terminal Bus (Ordinary) 1.5 hours
Sorsogon Grand Terminal to  Sorsogon City Proper (SCP) Tricycle 10 minutes
SCP to Salvacion,Bacon,Sorsogon (Accomodation) Jeepney <1 hour
Accomodation to Salvacion Beach Foot 15 minutes
.——————————————————-end of day————————————————-.
Accomodation to Bacon town proper Tricycle 10 minutes
Bacon town proper to Sorsogon Jeepney 20 minutes
Sorsogon to Gubat, Sorsogon Jeepney 30 minutes
Gubat to Rizal Beach Tricycle 10 minutes
Rizal Beach to Barcelona Church Tricycle 10 minutes
Barcelona Church to Bulusan Town Proper Jeepney ≈40 minutes
Bulusan Town Proper to Bulusan Lake Tricycle 20 minutes
Bulusan Lake to San Benon, Monbon, Irosin, Sorsogon Tricycle 35 minutes
.——————————————————-end of day————————————————-.
Accomodation to Paguriran Island Beach Resort Jeepney 25 minutes
*based on actual events
**Los Banos, Laguna (College)

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