Caramoan Peninsula, the Hidden Jewel of Bicol

May 9, 2010

Because of its geographic isolation, Caramoan Peninsula has only recently gained world attention as tourist destination. Soon after local television stations ran extensive features of Caramoan’s natural beauty, local and foreign travelers started to trickle in and explore the virgin beaches and inland wonders of the peninsula. Caramoan has been declared as one of the National Parks of the Philippines. Suddenly it has become favorite item for online searches among travelers. Even with poor transport infrastructure to the place, tourists from all over the world are coming in droves, raising fears that the peninsula may soon become the next environmentalist’s nightmare after Boracay. This year, the whole Caramoan peninsula is the shooting location of the popular Survivor TV series.

The photo above shows Lahuy beach, located in the 10-kilometer long Lahuy island. This picture, I tell you, is a poor copy of the real breath-taking scenery of Lahuy island. Those who have been there know that not all can be captured in a picture.

As we go through this photo presentation of the Caramoan Peninsula, you will see that Caramoan is not only a hidden jewel of Bicol it is a world’s treasure as well. The peninsula was long isolated from the rest of the Bicol region. Not so many Bicolanos have reached the place. For years it could be reached only by hours of boat travel on dangerous seas, beyond the breakwaters, from the nearest town of San Jose, Camarines Sur where the roads end. Just recently, the road network, although not of the very best, has finally reached the town center and the now world-famous Gota beach. Much of Caramoan’s wonders, however, are hidden and reachable only by boat travel along the shores. Being a native of Caramoan had been synonymous with lack of sophistication and being poor. These tags have recently changed. The people of Caramoan now own the few remaining natural riches of humanity, and they know these wealth must be protected from rash of commercialism.

It is not only beaches that you will find in Caramoan. Thee other must-see attractions : caves, water falls, lagoons, exotic rock formations, and natural getaways whose full beauties cannot be adequately captured by the most sophisticated camera lenses.

The following photos will give you a glimpse of Caramoan.

Big Gota is the most popular beach because it is nearest the town center.

There is also seaside wonder called Little Gota, found in one of the islets, with white fine corral sands comparable to that of Boracay. Overlooking it are steep limestone and marble mountains with caves on their slopes, enticing the very daring to climb and explore.

It is best to travel the place with a local since the best beaches and sights are far from the town center. Activities may include diving, swimming, snorkeling and spelunking by day; and stargazing in the evening. Electricity and cellular phone services have been established in Caramoan.

The Bichara/Lahos beach is found in Lahos island. It is also a scuba-diving site.

The Cotivas beach is in Barangay Daraga.

Other beaches that are harder to reach are:

Tayak Beach

Bag-ing Beach

Tinago Beach

Ginahoan Beach

Honongan Beach

Hurandayan Beach

Kalagikhik Beach

Lipata Beach

Lantangan Beach is different from other beaches in Caramoan. Instead of white powdery corral sands found elsewhere, you see here piles of smooth pebbles.

Puting Baybay is the Bicol word for white sand. Puting Baybay beach is a post-card perfect backdrop for intimate trysts. Puting Baybay is a partially enclosed natural compartment with white powdery corral sand surrounded by towering rocks and thick vegetation. Just ask the locals and they will bring you to other places like this around the Caramoan peninsula.

Those are beaches too many. But inland natural wonders abound as well.

Natural lagoons complement the beaches.

Tayak Lagoon

A limestone mountain overlooks the Tayak lagoon.

Talib Lagoon

You can go boating inland through the Manapot River.

The Umang Caves are must-visit. They still have remaining stalactites and stalagmites within their inner recesses.

To get to Caramoan from Manila, one may either take a 9-hour bus ride or a 1-hour plane ride to Naga City (377 km South of Manila). From Naga City Central Terminal, one may take a van to Sabang port. Travel usually takes 1 hour. From Sabang port, small commercial boats ferry passengers to the Caramoan Port. Schedule of hourly boat departure starts at 5 AM. Boat ride usually lasts for 2-hrs and cost Php120. One may take a jeepney or a tricycle to go to the Centro or the Gota Beach.

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April 8, 2009

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Privacy Policy

May 22, 2008

Here at Bicol-vacation.com , the privacy of my visitors are very important. This privacy policy document outlines the types of personal information that we receive and how this important data is used.
Part 1 :
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Featuring: Aguirangan Island

May 17, 2008

Time to relax our mind. Join us in a boat trip to Aguirangan Island, one of the hidden treasures of the Bicol Region. The video below was taken last Oct 2007 during the homecoming of Boy Remo, one of the early members of the UP Ibalon and now based in America. So this presentation features Boy Remo, his wife Rebecca, some of our high school batchmates at Ateneo de Naga, the Aguirangan island off the coast of Parubcan, Camarines Sur, and the sunset view from the Partido side of Mount Isarog.

Enjoy the trip to the sounds of the ’70s from Burt Bacharach and Seals and Crofts, which hopefully are off-patent or off-copyright by now.

Featuring: Aguirangan Island

May 17, 2008

Time to relax our mind. Join us in a boat trip to Aguirangan Island, one of the hidden treasures of the Bicol Region. The video below was taken last Oct 2007 during the homecoming of Boy Remo, one of the early members of the UP Ibalon and now based in America. So this presentation features Boy Remo, his wife Rebecca, some of our high school batchmates at Ateneo de Naga, the Aguirangan island off the coast of Parubcan, Camarines Sur, and the sunset view from the Partido side of Mount Isarog.

Enjoy the trip to the sounds of the ’70s from Burt Bacharach and Seals and Crofts, which hopefully are off-patent or off-copyright by now.

Donsol, Sorsogon, Whaleshark Capital of the World

May 5, 2008

The whale shark, known locally as Butanding is the biggest fish in the world. Its scientific name is Rhincodon typus and it weighs 15 to 20 tons and grows to the length of 15 to 50 meters. The typical Butanding you see in Sorsogon is as big as a passenger bus. You also see baby Butandings that are about 7 meters long. Rarely seen elsewhere in the world, the Butandings visit Donsol Sorsogon in relatively large number from November to May. Large number means over a dozen sightings and 10 close encounters in a couple of hours. Those are the best figures you may expect of a creature that is in danger of extinction. Even the great explorer Jacques Costeau admitted to seeing only two whale sharks in his lifetime of sea adventures.

It is still not fully explained why the whale sharks prefer to flock to Donsol Sorsogon. So nobody knows when they will stop coming and prefer another bastion elsewhere in the world. The locals are doing the best they can to keep these “gifts of God” around. They put up some rather arbitrary guidelines on how to interact with the Butandings on close encounter. Yes, you can touch these gentle giants, although the Donsol Tourism Office prohibits this. There has never been a report of a whale shark attacking or preying on humans. The constitution of the Butanding is not made for agression and violence. It has thousands of teeth but each one only 1 cm long; it cannot chew; and its brain seems to be programmed to make it a gentle, even playful, creature. It feeds on plankton, shrimp, anchovy, krill, small crabs, and other small fish.

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For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Other readings:
In the Land of the Butanding
Luzon, Philippines: Butanding – Travel Story by Jason Godfrey …
Butanding and Eco-tourism

Majestic waves for surfers in Catanduanes

May 5, 2008

Who likes ocean waves? The waves in Catanduanes are really big, awesome, frightening to ordinary mortals but die-hard surfers see the ocean waves as their Mount Everest. You will have lots of them in Catanduanes. October to January is the surfing season here when the surf is fast and right handed.

The Puraran coastline is the most famous surfing site in the province. Among the surfboard surfing crowd, Puraran is internationally code named Majestic. The white and clean beach it also very inviting. A Japanese group invested in Puraran by building cottages and a surfing area for enthusiasts.

CALAGUAS GROUP OF ISLANDS

May 5, 2008

CALAGUAS GROUP OF ISLANDS
Unexplored and unspoiled, Calaguas Group of Islands boasts of white sand beaches comparable to the best beaches in the world inhabited by very hospitable and kind people. Calaguas Group of Islands can be considered as one of a kind in terms of natural beauty.

This group of islands is suitable for water based activities such as swimming, snorkeling, wind surfing and island hopping and land-based activities like trekking and sunbathing. The islands all have beaches with white, powdery sand similar to that found in Boracay. During good weather, you can reach them after a two-hour motor boat ride from Vinzons town proper.

Camarines Sur Festivals

May 5, 2008
Balik Caramoan
May 1-8

Caramoan

A week-long celebration coinciding with the town’s fiesta, to showcase the wealth of wonders (WOW) of Caramoan Peninsula. Various exciting activities are lined-up to welcome the returning Caramoanons who now resides-in varioius parts of the globe. It aims to forge greater unity and cooperation and encourage Balikbayans for possible tourism and trade-related investments.

Bamboo Festival
December 1

Bula

Old Bula town in the Rinconada district of the province makes way for a colorful December celebration of the Bamboo Festival, giving way to the one of pride of this town which is the bamboo plant where the name of the municipality is derived from.

Baybayon Festival
April 15-17

Sagñay

A summer festival held at the beach-side in Sagñay town in the Partido district in the province of Camarines Sur.

Bikol Pastores Festival
December 20-24

Calabanga

This festival paves the ground for an array of cultural and sports highlights such as the following: Panunuluyan, Larong Pinoy, Night with the Stars, Open Ballroom Dancing Competition, Search for the Best Christmas Decorated Home, Balikbayan Night, Binibining Pastores Beauty Pageant, Bikol Pastores Dance Competition, Mardi Gras, and the Senior’s Citizen’s Night. Through the initiative and efforts made by the mayor of Calabanga and the Municipal Tourism Council, the Bikol Pastores festival has staged its first region-wide colorful presentation of Christmas carols, dances and symbols last December 24 to 31 of last year. December 26, 27 and 28 had been declared as non-working holidays through Proclamation No. 36 dated December 13, 2002.

Boa-Boahan Festival
May 1

Nabua

Boa-Boahan Festival coincides with the town fiesta of Nabua. The highlight of the affair is the re-enactment of the 13th century pagan rites which is enriched by colorful costumes. The rite is a dramatic revival of the traditional boa feast during the pre-Spanish era where pagans believed that the chains of coconut embryos called “Boa” are offered to their old deities

Harana Festival (Karantahan nin Pagranga)
Feb. 11-15

San Jose

Held in the municipality of San Jose, the festival feature local talents and young artists in its efforts to promote cultural awareness, tourism development and youth empowerment in the District of Partido. Highlighted by the Bicol Love Song Choral Competition. Other activities are lined up to drumbeat the affair.

Kamundagan Festival
December

Naga City

A month-long activity during the month of December in celebration of the Advent season. Belen contests, trade fairs, regatta, carabao race, Miss Naga City Beauty Pageant and tricycle race are some of the activities featured during the festival.

Kaogma Festival
May 21-27

Camarines Sur

A week-long celebration of the of the foundation anniversary of the Province of Camarines Sur. The festival features numerous activities such as cultural expositions, sports events, beauty pageant, procession and Grand Parade.

Karanowan Festival
Feb. 15

Bato

This fish-tival was derived from a local dialect “Ranow” meaning lake, spawned of giving significance to the beautiful Lake Bato, which is teemed with numerous species of fishes such as the well-known “tabios”, tilapia nilotica, carp, eel and many others.

Lagaylay Festival
May 3

Canaman

A May celebration in Canaman, Camarines Sur to honor the Sta. Cruz tradition. Women dance on the streets while chanting prayers to find the real cross.

Lagonoy Kadahoman Festival
April 24-May 1

Kadahoman came from the Bicolano term “dahom” meaning beautiful or good. The week-long celebration showcases the beauty and rich historical/cultural heritage of the town. Features are cultural presentation, native foods galore, songwriting and logo making contest, nature trekking and many more.

May Ilaoud Festival
May 1

Milaor

A summer festival in Milaor to commemorate the Foundation Anniversary and Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker. Various colorful activities are featured to boost local tourism.

Pasa-Pasa Ikaw Festival
August 25-30

Pasacao

The festival showcases the Pasacao’s rich cultural heritage forever reminding its people of the significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the province of Camarines Sur and the region in general.

Peñafrancia Festival
3rd week of September

Naga City

A religious festival honoring the feast day of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Patroness of the Bicol Region. The festivity begins on the second Friday of September when the Image of the Virgin of Peñafrancia is carried by hundreds of male devotees from her shrine to Naga Cathedral. Main highlight is the ceremonial fluvial procession along the Naga River where her centuries old image becomes an object of a stirring religious event.

Regatta Festival
August 7

Gainza

A week-long festivity in Gainza aimed to preserve its culture and tradition and to promote the area as a tourist destination. Highlight is the boat race.

Santacruzan Festival
May

Camarines Sur

A May celebration, Santa Cruzan in Camarines Sur is noted for its resplendent procession which is usually observed during nighttime. Beautiful and young Reynas in their glittered gowns parade around the town reminding the locals of the travails encountered by St. Elena in her search for the Holy Cross thousands of centuries ago. This one noted tradition has its beginnings rooted down from the Spanish regime. In the modern day celebration of Santa Cruzan, a nine-day novena is celebrated in honor of the Sta. Cruz (Holy Cross) enliven with Dotok and Lagaylay by neighborhoods. Beautiful and decorative altars which are made out of banana stalk carved with designs can be seen in every “istasyon” which is put up during the colorful celebration of the Santa Cruzan.

Tinagba Festival
February 11

Iriga City

A tradition of the first harvest offering coinciding on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Derived from the early rituals of the ancient Bicolanos offering their harvest to their own gods as a form of thanksgiving and to seek favor for a more bountiful harvest throughout the year. A long parade of colorfully and grandiosely decorated bull and carabao carts, carrying newly harvested crops, ending with a mass before the Emerald Grotto at Calvary Hills. Here all the offerings are blessed, then distributed to indigent families.

Tumatarok Festival
May 1

Minalabac

Considered as one of the most colorful and interesting fiestas in the Bikol region which takes place at the old, sleepy town of Minalabac . The Tumatarok Festival is celebrated every 11th of May which is done in honor of their two patron saints, Sts. Philip and James. Main highlights of the festive occasion include the evening tide fluvial procession where colorful floating pagodas crowd along the banks of the Bikol River ; the religious dancing of little boys who are called here as the Tumatarok ni San Felipe-San Tiago or the Rice Planters of Sts. Philip and James. These little boys, ages 8 to 11, sing the traditional Bikol hymn to the two saints. Likewise, after the celebration of the mass the next morning, the ten tumatarok once again performed another ritual, this time a sacred dance, in the sanctuary of the Church. It was said that their dance was a prayer to God, thanking Him for blessing upon the coming rice planting season which then and even now is the main source of income to many Minalabacueños.

Voyadores Festival

September-2nd Friday

Naga City

Voyadores Festival is a street dance reenactment on the transfer of the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia from the Basilica to the Metropolitan Cathedral. Named after the male devotees (voyadores) who accompany and carry the Virgin’s image in a procession called Translacion for a novena at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Camarines Norte Festivals

May 5, 2008

HUMINDANG FESTIVAL
It is composed of inland and coastal barangays.The ricefields and rivers serves as a source of livelihood of the inhabitants. Durng the Spanish invasion, the place was named INDANG but the Spaniards found out that there was also a town in the Province of Cavite with the same name; they decided to remove G in Indang to make it different from that time until 1946 the town called INDAN


PABIRIK FESTIVAL

This is a week long celebration that give the people, guests and devotees glimpse of the past culture, customs, traditions and history of the gold town of Paracale. The festival also showcases the rich mining industry and gold products available in the municipality. The celebration is highlighted by various sports, dance and street dancing competitions, cultural presentations and the search for Ms. Paracale Beauty Pageant. “Pabirik” suggests the pan and procedure Paracale folk use in gold panning .

BANTAYOG FESTIVAL
The Foundation Day of Camarines Norte is a week long celebration the day the province was separated as an independent province from Ambos Camarines on March 3, 1919 by virtue of Act 2809. The celebration is highlighted by various activities such as commemorative mass, civic military parade,travel fair, exhibits, sports festival and others.

PALONG FESTIVAL
This festival is highlighted by street dancing and agro-industrial fair in Capalonga which expresses the local folk’s gratitude for their town’s name etymology derived from the abundance of an ornamental plant called “rooster combs” or “palong manok” in the locality or “Capalongan” shorten to Capalonga. This is held also during the celebration of the Black Nazarene Feast Day on May 13.

PINYASAN FESTIVAL
Known as “Pinyasan”,the Pineapple Festival showcases the famous and sweetest queen pineapple of Formosa Pineapple that abundantly grown in the province. It also highlights features of the place, its people and culture. The venue for this festival is the capital town, Daet. It also consists of a variety activities for the whole month celebration.

FISHTIVAL IN MERCEDES
This is a thanksgiving tradition in the 3rd largest fishing village in Bicol Region for the blessings and bounty granted by Almighty God during their seafaring, fishing expedition and fish farming venture. The festivity is highlighted by a mascot parade of fish and other marine creatures. It also featured marine sports such as paraw regatta, bangkaton, game fishing and lot more exciting events.


BUSIG-ON FESTIVAL

This is a month long celebration in the town of Labo. It features the richness of its history, culture and arts; the religiousity of the people; the concern for environment and many more. It depicts the folklore surrounding “Busing-on”, one of the major rivers of Labo.


BUYUBUY FESTIVAL
This is a week long celebration consisting of various activities promoting the abundantly growing “Queen Formosa” pineapple in the municipality.

MAMBULAWAN FESTIVAL
Ito ay nag-ugat sa salitang Mambulao, dating panglan ng Jose Panganiban, na ang ibig sabihin ay Ginto. Mambulawan Festival is a Dance for Gold. Ito ay isang sayaw ng pasasalamat sa yamang gintong patuloy na tinatamasa ng Jose Panganiban at nais naming ipagmalaki sa lahat ng dako.


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