Masbate Day Tour: Buntod Reef, Brahmans Ranch and Fazenda de Esperenca

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“Are we there yet?”

“Beshy, we’ll arrive there by 12 midnight.”

“Yes, I know. It just feels like we’re not moving at all.”

HA-HA-HA

We both laughed because many of the passengers were sound asleep, while we were stressing ourselves about getting to our destination fast.

So we slept like locals did, sans our bodies occupying the whole seat.

Midnight Arrival

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There are several hotels and inns in downtown Masbate where you can stay. There is Novotel where you can check out the same time you had checked in.

There’s also a newer bayfront resort next to Rendezvous Resort where we stayed. The latter you would appreciate because of the owner (and for several more reasons enumerated later on this blog). Mr. Cokie Medina knows the ins and outs of local tourism in Masbate.

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These may change without prior notice. You may confirm it with the port’s guard via this cp number: 0909-765-9399.

What some hotel’s desk officers/security guards couldn’t help you with, he could. He knew the ferry schedule and would extend help by calling the office himself. These must be part of basic services by hotels in an island province like Masbate.

Even the lady attendant at a laundry shop gave us this answer: “I’m not from here so I can give you limited information regarding direction and what not.” Meh.

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He also knew the culture, that he could delight you with stories from Rodeo to Lapay – two highlight festivals in the province.

“You two should come back during Rodeo Festival in April. You’ll see the regulars and the tradition, of course.”

That sounds interesting, indeed. Yet, I felt like I would return for Lapay Bantigue Dance Festival in September. According to Sir Cokie, it is a cultural dance where students learned the steps during grade school. Interestingly, his daughter was one of the Lapay queens.

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Photo of binut-ong taken at The Oriental in Legazpi

Our conversations went on, including the Caucasian-managed Ticao Island to Masbate longganisa which was our breakfast together with egg and rice. Little did I know that the best-tasting binut-ong used to be found in my hometown, Tiwi.

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Wharf at Rendezvous Resort

All those stories and his graciousness as a host made me see the difference it can make in local tourism.

Buntod Reef and Marine Sanctuary

Activities: Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking

Boat Rental: P500

Contact Number: 0917-927-7660/0920-433-8512

SESE Brahmans Ranch

hiking-sese-brahmans-1

Activities:

Day hike, camping, stargazing, horse riding

Entrance Fee: P50/pax

Fazenda  de Esperanca

Activities: Visit the farm and production site for fresh milk and cookies that this rehabilitation center sells at the Cathedral in downtown Masbate.

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No entrance fee.

We spent the rest of our stay napping on this grass-covered ground. And the habal-habal ride for downtown, with drizzle and all, spiced up our afternoon adventure.

Food

The Rendezvous resort can provide packed meals for your lunch at SESE Brahmans Ranch picnic-style. This may include homegrown meals with seafood ingredients, as well as specialty dishes like hardinera and ham (must be ordered 7 days advanced) and dessert all prepared by the owner himself.

The folks at Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary can also prepare your lunch. Castle Kaunan SUTUKIL (popularly known as SUTUKIL) is a must-visit in Masbate, as well as Alben’s Food House (Brgy. Tara) for bulalo,  Minlan along Osmena st. for filling, value meals and Tio Jose Bar & Grill for steak.

The milk candy Carmelado is made in Milagros and also available in stores near the port. Add the delicious cookies from Fazenda in your bags of pasalubong.

There’s also a Bigg’s Diner branch with a rodeo theme for its interiors.

Notes:

Room rates at Rendezvous Hotel and  Resort

P800/2 pax – First  Ground

P1000/2 pax – Second Floor

What you’ll like about Rendezvous Hotel and Resort is you’ve got an affordable place to stay. Their rates are the most budget-friendly in Punta Nursery, the gateway to Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary.

The rooms have basic facilities. One room on the second floor has a refrigerator and a PC, and some are under renovation during our November visit.

The meals are also a deal, especially they are homegrown, with rates from P180-350 good for four persons. Rice is P45 good for sharing.

Itinerary

8:00 PM -Departure, Pilar Pier, Sorsogon

12:00 Midnight – Arrival, Masbate Pier

12:00-12:15 AM  – To Rendezvous Resort via tricycle

12:15-12:30 AM – Check-in

12:30-5:00 AM – Sleep

5:00-5:30 AM – Freshen up

5:30-6:00 AM – Breakfast

6:00-6:15 AM – To Buntod Reef

6:15-9:00  AM – Snorkel, swim, kayak

9:00-9:15 AM – Depart for Rendezvous Resort

9:15-9:45 AM Freshen  up

9:45-10:00 AM -Off to the central terminal

10:00-11:15 AM –  Off to SESE  Brahmans Ranch  via Balud-bound UV

11:15-11:25  AM – Walk from the entrance to the house at the middle of the ranch

11:25-11:30 AM – Pay the entrance fee

11:30-11:45 AM – Short hike to the  hilltop

11:45-12:00 PM – Rest

12:00-12:30 PM –  Lunch Picnic-like (Packed lunch)

12:30-1:00 PM – Siesta

1:00-1:15 PM  – Walk back to the caretaker’s house

1:15-1:30 PM  –  Walk  back to the main road where habal-habal is waiting

1:30-1:40 PM – To Fazenda de Esperanca

1:40-2:30 PM – Visit

2:30-2:35 PM – To UV  “terminal”.

2:35-4:30 PM – To downtown via habal-habal (We didn’t catch the last  trip via UV)

4:30-5:30 PM – Early dinner at SUTUKIL (SUgba, TUla, KILaw)

5:30-5:50 PM  – Back to Rendezvous

5:50-6:30 PM  – Sunset watching

6:30-7:00 PM –  Freshen up

7:00-10:00 PM – Rest

10:00-10:30 PM – Pack up

10:30-10:45 PM – Check out

10:45-11:00 PM – Off  to the pier

11:00-12:00 AM – Aboard the fast craft

12:00-2:00 AM – To Pilar Pier

Contact numbers

0909-793-0466 – Habal-habal driver from Balud, Milagros

0920-852-3996 – Jose Cokie Medina/Rendezvous Resort

Photos: Laurie Gucilatar, Renato Jao

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El Nido and Puerto Princesa Itineraries

ITINERARY FOR EL NIDO TOUR A
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– 5-6 hours travel from PPS – El Nido Town
– Arrival in El Nido
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in El Nido
  
Day2:
– Breakfast
8:30 AM Pick up from Hotel
9:00 AM Start of El Nido Tour A
 
DESTINATIONS:
10:00 AM Seven Commando Beach
11:00 AM Big Lagoon
12:00 NN Lunch at Simizu Beach
2:00 PM Secret Lagoon
3:00 PM Small Lagoon
  
4:00 PM Back to hotel
– Dinner (not included in the package)
– Overnight stay in El Nido
 
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
– 5-6 hours travel from El Nido to PPS
3:00 PM Estimated time of arrival in PPS airport
– End of tour
 
ITINERARY FOR EL NIDO TOUR B
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– 5-6 hours travel from PPS – El Nido Town
– Arrival in El Nido
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in El Nido
 
Day2:
– Breakfast
8:30AM pick up
9:00 AM Start of El Nido Tour B
 
Destinations:
10:00 AM Pinagbuyutan Island
11:00 AM Cathedral Cave
12:00 NN Lunch at Cudugnon Cave
2:00 PM Snake Island
3:00 PM Entalula Island
 
– Back to hotel
– Overngiht stay in El Nido
 
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
– 5-6 hours travel from El Nido to PPS
3:00 PM Estimated time of arrival in PPS airport
– End of tour
 
ITINERARY FOR EL NIDO TOUR C
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– 5-6 hours travel from PPS – El Nido Town
– Arrival in El Nido
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in El Nido
 
Day2:
– Breakfast
8:30 AM Pick up from Hotel
9:00 AM Start of El Nido Tour C
 
DESTINATIONS:
10:00 AM Helicopter Island
11:00 AM Secret Beach
12:00 NN Lunch at Matinloc Shrine
2:00 PM Hidden Beach
3:00 PM Star Beach
  
4:00 PM Back to hotel
– Dinner (not included in the package)
– Overnight stay in El Nido
  
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
– 5-6 hours travel from El Nido to PPS
3:00 PM Estimated time of arrival in PPS airport
– End of tour
  
 
ITINERARY FOR EL NIDO TOUR D
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– 5-6 hours travel from PPS – El Nido Town
– Arrival in El Nido
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in El Nido
 
Day2:
– Breakfast
8:30AM pick up
9:00AM-5:00PM El Nido Tour D
 
Destinations:
10:00 AM Bukal Beach
11:00 AM Cadlao Lagoon
12:00 NN Lunch at Pasandigan Beach
2:00 PM Natnat Beach
3:00 PM Paradise Beach
 
– Back to hotel
– Overngiht stay in El Nido
 
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
– 5-6 hours travel from El Nido to PPS
3:00 PM Estimated time of arrival in PPS airport
– End of tour
 
ITINERARY FOR PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in Puerto Princesa
    
Day2:
– Breakfast
7:30 AM Pick up from the hotel
– Travel from hotel to Sabang
8:45 AM Estimated time of arrival in Sabang
9:00 AM Start of Underground River Tour
12:00 NN Lunch at Sabang
3:00 PM Back to Hotel
– Overnight stay in Puerto Princesa
 
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
9:30 AM Travel to Puerto Princesa airport
– End of tour
 
 
ITINERARY FOR HONDA BAY (PUERTO PRINCESA)
 
Day1:
– Arrival in Puerto Princesa airport
– Check in Hotel
– Overnight stay in Puerto Princesa
   
Day2:
– Breakfast
8:30 AM Pick up from the hotel
9:00 AM Start of Honda Bay Tour
  
DESTINATIONS:
10:00 AM Luli Island
11:00 AM Lunch Cowrie Island
1:30 PM starfish Island
3:00 PM Pandan Island
     
4:00 PM Back to Hotel
– Overnight stay in Puerto Princesa
 
Day3:
– Breakfast
9:00 AM Check out from Hotel
9:30 AM Travel to Puerto Princesa airport
– End of tour
Note:
  • For Puerto Princesa tour, a tour to the Underground River is also an option. Advanced booking is necessary to secure a slot for this whole-day tour. Try touring around the city if there is extra time.
  • Even if you plan a DIY trip, you can still make use of tour agencies’ services such as van transfer from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa and their boat rental services for island hopping. They can reserve a slot for you and that would be less of a hassle on your part.
These sample itineraries for El Nido and Puerto Princesa tours are provided by Let’s Palawan. You may visit their website to book a tour package and use this code joysofjourneyingC004 to get a P500.00 discount per person.
For faster communication, contact Let’s Palawan through the following

email: letstalk[at]letspalawan.com

Mobile: Philippines

+639756432921

USA

+17165663875

Enjoy!

Legazpi-Donsol Itinerary

Day 1:

  1. Go to NAIA-3 to take a flight out to Legazpi. (Only CebuPac and PAL fly to Legazpi)
  2. Have lunch at DJC Halo-Halo located next to Gaisano Mall.
  3. Take a van to Donsol (from Legazpi Terminal)
  4. Spend the night firefly watching at the Ogod River.

Day 2: Reserve a slot for butanding interaction very early in the morning.

  1. Go swim with the whale sharks.
  2. Go to town and see the Lumang Bahay.
  3. Visit the Alims’ farm.
  4. Have dinner at Giddy’s Place and videoke after.
  5. Day 3: Go back to Legazpi. Eat a buffet lunch in the hotel by the airport. Go back to Manila.

Alternative Itinerary (for very early flights to Legazpi)

Day 1:

  1. Go to NAIA-3 to take a flight out to Legazpi.
  2. Take a van to Donsol.
  1. Check-in to your inn and prepare for Butanding Encounter
  2. Registration and Orientation at Donsol Tourism Center (Assuming you already have a booking for the whale shark encounter prior to your trip)
  3. Butanding Encounter
  4. Lunch
  5. Town tour
  6. Back to the inn
  7. Rest
  8. Swim at the pool or sea
  9. Early dinner
  10. Firefly watching

Note:

  1. Travel time from Legazpi to Donsol is 1 ½ hour.
  2. There are trips at the Legazpi terminal as early as 5 am. Look for Donsol-bound vans. Fare is 75 pesos.
  3. You must book in advance for your butanding encounter, which lasts for 3 hours. You may request for Kuya Randy for your Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO).
  4. For firefly watching, you have 2 options. There is one near the bridge and another further down the river. Your boatmen can fetch you from your inn (if it is a beachfront resort) and experience sailing the sea by moonlight.

Fees and rates you might want to know

Tricycle from Legazpi airport 15
Van to Donsol 75
Tricycle from Poblacion to Dancalan 20
Tricycle to Ogod River and back 100
Tricycle for town tour 100
Tricycle from Dancalan to terminal 20
Van from Donsol to Legazpi airport 75
Firefly viewing at Ogod River  1250
Whale shark interaction registration fee
(P100 for Filipinos, P300 for foreign nationals)
  100
Boat rental package for whale shark interaction 3500
Snorkel, mask and fins rental 300
Terminal Fee (Legazpi airport) 20

First itinerary and list of fees and rates courtesy of Ang Lakwatserang Guro

 

For Legazpi activities, please visit the following links

Legazpi-Matnog-Donsol in 3 Days.

Legazpi-Camalig-Naga for sightseeing, eco-tourism visits, and food trip.

Legazpi-Camalig-Tiwi-Cagraray for post-card worthy photos of mt. Mayon. This you can use as an offline guidebook by downloading it in the app store via Favoroute. For only $4.99 only.

Camalig-Matnog-Naga Itinerary

beautiful bicol

Visit the newest ecotourism sites in Camalig, Albay, swim with the cultured marine organisms in Matnog, Sorsogon, and sample local, if not homegrown, cuisines in Naga with this 4-day, 3-night itinerary.

For photos, site and meal descriptions, as well as expenses for the places enumerated below, you may visit this link to my article on Rappler.

Day 1 – Camalig Tour

4:30 am – leaves Legazpi City for Camalig

5:00 am – arrives in Camalig town proper

5:05 – 5:25 am – travel to Quitinday Hills and Nature Park

5:25 – 5:30 am – briefing, registration fee

5:30 – 5:40 am – hike the hill

5:40 – 7:30 am – hilltop, picture-taking, breakfast with packed meal

7:30 – 7:40 am- go down the hill

7:40 – 7:50 am – take a rest, freshen up

7:50 – 8: 30 am – travel to Sumlang Lake

8:30 – 8:35 am – registration

8:35 – 9:00 am – lake cruising

9:00 – 9:05 am – travel to NCI showroom

9:05- 9: 30 am – NCI

9:30 – 9:35 am – travel to Let’s Pinanagat

9:35 – 10:00 am – Lunch

10:00-10:20 am – back to hotel, check out

10:20 – 10:30 am – travel to Legazpi Grand Central Terminal

10:00 – 12:00 pm – trip to Sorsogon City

12:00 – 1:30 pm – travel to Matnog

1:30 – 1:45 pm – buy fresh food in the market, meet with your boatman

2:45 – 3: 25 pm – trip to Subic beach

Alternatively, consider this suggestion from distinctnomad via Daraga bus.

Here are steps to get to Matnog, Sorsogon from Daraga.

1. Ride a van bound for Bulan at Shell station and asked to be dropped at Trese. Fare is P150 and travel time is 2 hours.

2. Go down at Trese and ride a jeep bound for Sta. Magdalena and asked to be dropped at Crossing in Matnog. Fare is P20.

3. Ride a tricycle to Matnog port. Fare is P10 per head.

You may contact their boatman Mang Masi through this number 09082182256. Travel time to the island from Matnog port is 30-45 minutes.

Day 2 Matnog, Sorsogon

Spend early morning for swimming, island hopping, and drop by at Juag Lagoon Sanctuary for a brief swim with marine organisms before heading back to the mainland.

You can eat your packed lunch (paluto) at the boatman’s house where you’ll be taking a bath when you get back.

You can do all these before 12 noon.

To get back to Legazpi City

1. Ride a jeep bound for Sorsogon (2 hrs). Fare is P90
2. Ride a van at Sorsogon bound for Legazpi (1hr). Fare is P85. If there is a bus bound for Naga, you may choose it to avoid ride transfers.

3. Ride a van bound for Naga at the Legazpi Terminal

Day 3-4 Food trip in Naga City

You’ll likely arrive in Naga around 7 pm or later.

  1. Que Pasa for Dinner

2. White Bean Cafe for breakfast

3. Chef Doy’s for lunch

4. Kinalas

Manila bound by afternoon.

 

 

 

Infographics: Cross-border commuting in Singapore

In Singapore moving from one tourist destination to another is a breeze. Thanks to its very efficient transportation system, not to mention modern infrastructure.

While there are parts of the MRT and LRT lines that tend to get crowded, and a part of its road that suffer from mild traffic, those were tolerable.

Even cross-border commuting in Singapore is easy. Buses plying between Singapore and Johor Bahru in Malaysia have 12-hour trips, with an schedule as early as 6 am.

Tourists that intend to visit its closest neighbor, Malaysia, can take express buses or cross-border buses bound for Malaysia. Express buses have direct trips to major cities in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, whereas trips of cross-border buses terminate at Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru. The latter is cheaper though, the reason why my friends and I took this option when we visited Malaysia from Singapore.

Here is an infographic about cross-border buses in Singapore. You may find it useful should you consider visiting Malaysia during your trip to Singapore and vice versa. The pros and cons of this option are also included to help you decide if this option is for you or not.

cross border sg-jb

This is the first page of the four-page infographic about cross-border commuting in Singapore. Big thanks to Public Transport SG for helping me update and double check the information presented in this infographic.

Cheers to SG for its 50th year of independence!

Bucas Grande Island – Siargao Itineraries

sohoton cove national park

Below are itineraries for Bucas Grande Island and Siargao trips.

 

routes to bucas grande from surigao
Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

Day 1 – Morning

09:35 AM– Surigao Airport, Arrival

09:40 AM–Depart for Hayanggabon Port (Van/Bus Terminal)

10:20 AM–Arrival at Hayanggabon Port, Socorro

10:30 AM–Meet with boatman; depart for Bucas Grande

10:45 AM–Arrival at Sohoton Cove Tourism Center

10:50 AM–Registration

11:00 AM–Sail to Sohoton Cove

11:45 AM- Back to the Center

Day 1 – Afternoon

12:00 PM–Lunch12:30 PM–Jellyfish sanctuary
1:10  PM–  Mark-A beach, Snorkeling in nearby beach
2:00 PM–   Depart for Soccoro
3:30 PM –  Arrival at Socorro
4:00 PM – mini inland tour
5:00 PM – back in Island Vacations Country Inn, take a shower
6:00 PM – dinner
7:00 PM – return to hotel, pack up PM – lights out, sleep

Points to Remember 

  • You have to reach Hayangabon port before 11 in the morning and before 4 in the afternoon because the scheduled daily trips will depart between 10 am to 11 am (for morning) and between 3 pm to 4 pm (for afternoon) if you’ll be staying overnight in Socorro town proper.
  • Note that locals also refer to Bucas Grande Island as Socorro, the lone municipality in these group of islands. You may contact Bucas Grande Island Travel and Tours if you are coming from Surigao through these mobile numbers: +63 09122485976 +63 09363345901.
  • Once in Hayanggabon Port, look for a boat rental for your Bucas Grande Island Tour. Rates range from P2,500-P3,000.
  • You can stay in the town of Socorro after your Bucas Grande Island adventure and depart for Siargao in the morning. When you reach Dapa Port in Siargao, look for public vehicles to take you to your accommodation site. Travel time from Socorro town pier to Dapa port is 3 hours.
  • Sohoton also has accommodations to offer such as that in Cinnamon Island. Three native cottages with fan/air-condition and breakfast for P2,500-P3,000 respectively. Contact operations manager Roldan Dizon at +63 9488205835. For further details visit The Pinay Solobackpacker website.

 

Hayanggabon port. One of the jump-off sites for Bucas Grande island tour.
Hayanggabon port. One of the jump-off sites for Bucas Grande island tour.

Daily budget, per person

Transportation:

Van ride Php 120 per head

Pumpboat fee starts at Php 100 per head

P 2,500 –Pump boat rental and guide fee

P 20 –      Lake Tiktikan entrance fee

Sohoton Cove National Park Fees:

P 50–   Entrance fee

P 50–   Environment fee

P 100– Docking fee

P 80–   Life vest and helmet rental

P 500– Pump boat to go inside Sohoton Cove

P 333– Guide fee (165 per guide, 2 guides per boat)

P 100 –Paddler to go to Jellyfish Sanctuary

Contact persons:

  • Mr. Aga Ver D.Galanida II (Socorro Tourism Officer) – 0909-3661517 E-mail: aga.galanida@gmail.com
  • Island Vacations Country Inn – 0919-9897331
  • Vincent Tamayo (boatman and guide) – 0930-8028704
  • Print or record correspondence with hotel/inn owners.

10431493_10202484028376513_7481242705063348145_n

Day 2 – Off to Siargao (from Socorro Pier to Dapa Port)

5:00 AM –  pack up, depart for Siargao

8:00 AM –  arrival at Siargao

8:30 AM –  breakfast

8:45 AM –  depart for General Luna

9:30 AM –  arrive at General Luna

9:50 AM –  arrival at Cloud 9

10:15 AM– Check in

10:30-11:45 – Surfing orientation

12:00 Lunch

1:00-5:00 PM – island hopping

Note:

  • There is a passenger boat from Siargao Pier bound for Butuan.

Budget per person

  • P 100 – ferry from Socorro, Bucas Grande to Dapa, Siargao
  • P 30 – tricycle fare from Dapa to General Luna
  • P 30 – habal-habal fare from General Luna to Cloud 9
  • P 500 – one-hour surfing including board rental (P 200) and instructor fee (P 300)
  • P 500 – per night rate, non-aircon room at the Ocean Pacific Inn (good for 2 pax, no free breakfast)

General Rates You Might Want to Know

  • P 300 – half-day motorcycle rental
  • P 500 – whole-day motorcycle rental
  • P 500 – whole-day surfboard rental
  • P 500 – one-hour instructor fee with surfboard rental

Contact Joel at 0908-7437709 if you need a surfing instructor.

Boatman: Francis 09487522877

Day 3 – Siargao – Surigao City (if you booked a flight to Manila in Surigao)

5:00 AM – wake up, freshen up, pack up
5:30 AM – breakfast

6:00 AM – depart for dapa

6:30 AM – arrive at dapa

7:00 AM head to pier, board boat for Surigao (Socorro)
9:00 AM – arrive at Socorro port
10:00 AM – Surigao city proper
10:30 AM –    city tour

11:30AM–      lunch

12:00 PM –     Airport check in

Other Routes

 

other routes
Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

 

other routes2
Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

Post References:

Adrenaline Romance

Weng Weng Wanders

Bucasgrandeisland.com

If you are interested to know about our experience, kindly check this story.