Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015
Subic Beach of Matnog
Kasanggayahan Festival


A N D 


Basking in misty and sunny weather in one location is typical of experiencing a destination in the Philippines. At the southern tip of the Bicol region lies a province that let me get drizzled in the middle of a sprawling coconut plantation and bronzed at a powdery white-to-semi-pink sand beach in one day. Sorsogon was stylish in so many ways when it came to appealing to my senses. It didn't impose. It merely evoked a spirited sense of place, a spot where I lingered for less than a week.

"Sorsogon's Got Style!" Blog Series Tour

Two visits of the coastal province were necessary for me to know it by its getaway name -- the Spirited One. The peninsula can be a grueling 11-hour drive from Metro Manila but is accessible from the Visayas region via the Port of Matnog. One can also opt for a plane ride from anywhere in Luzon to Legazpi City which is just an hour away from the province. For my 3-day immersion (a revisit), I chose to grow facial hair without leaving my seat aboard a Philtranco Bus ride to reach Sorsogon City's grand terminal where a shuttle of my booked hotel-resort base, Siama Hotel, was waiting for me. After a few minutes, I was conveniently checked-in at the gorgeous modern Asian accommodation with access to its stunning 25-meter lap pool.

Calintaan Cave
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish
The scenery near the Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary

What else did I do aside from relax at the hotel? Check out the following destinations that I had the chance to experience thanks to the tour that was led by Siama Hotel's Milo Naval and Albay's Bicolano Man:

Irosin Valley View

The tour van plied the Pan-Philippine highway to reach a view deck in the town of Irosin, the province's largest rice granary. It crossed varying localized weather conditions from suddenly sunny to downright drizzling. I was starting to fret that I'd only see nothing but coconut tree silhouettes against a muted sky. Fortunately, at the vantage point of the Irosin Valley View, the scenery gave me a wow moment of lush greenery. The carpet of rice fields was definitely soothing to the eyes.

Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary

Marine environment advocate Alex Geneblazo established the Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary in the town of Matnog where the tour had its next stop. We got off our van and hopped on a motorized boat to reach the entrance of the sanctuary's bamboo enclosures where aquatic species of varying kinds are kept to grow and spawn. It is open to the public and is considered by Geneblazo as more than a fish farm. He reckons that the place is a protected habitat where coral fish, oyster, lobster and other marine animals are raised for public awareness and not for commercial purposes.

I particularly loved the seascape where the sanctuary is located because the crystalline waters were placid even with the presence of a lot of sea creatures. The subsequent short ride on a raft culminated with fish-feeding and viewing on a bamboo structure where several enclosures revealed the sea gems in brilliant aquatic colors! With numerous islets visible from a distance, everything looked scenic and tranquil.

The sight to behold from the Irosin Valley View
Kasanggayahan Festival
The strong Wi-Fi at the grounds of the Sorsogon City Hall
Calintaan Island

Calintaan Island Cave

After spending less than an hour at the Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary, the boat tour headed to Calintaan Island for a late lunch and beach bumming at the powdery sand of Subic Beach. En route to the beach, we passed by Calintaan Cave. With openings that seem to jut out against the strong waves of the San Bernardino Strait, the islet resembled a portion of a big bowling ball with the rest of it submerged in seawater.

Subic Beach In Matnog

After fifteen more minutes of banca ride, we finally docked at Subic Beach of Calintaan Island. I noticed that the area was still highly vegetated and looked pristine. It certainly has the unspoiled charm of Cagbalete Island in Quezon Province. The soft, powdery sand looked semi-pink as it glistened against the afternoon sunshine.

Subic Beach
The owner of the island's Holy Trinity Beach Resort reckoned that the whole strip is probably as long as two stations of Boracay's White Beach. I tried to make a quick stroll but I really couldn't tell because there were no highly urbanized landmarks to begin with. And this was a good thing because I loved to linger in long beachfront walks where I can't tell which type of tree stood next to what shrub. As far as I was concerned, tropical decadence was not present at the shoreline of Subic Beach.

Sorsogon City Hall and Saints Peter & Paul Cathedral

As this was my revisit of the province, I can't help but recall the feeling of visiting it for the first time in 2013. I remember chasing my blues away one summer of that year and decided to make Sorsogon City as my chosen venue to celebrate my birthday. The immersion was poignant in that I had a hard time booking a bus back to Manila because of the Holy Week visitor influx. I was glad that I stayed for one more day because I was able to walk around the city proper, hear a mass in Sorsoganon at the Saints Peter and Paul Parish (that has a similar cupola as that of St. Peter's Basilica), plus enjoy quality Wi-Fi and people-viewing at the well-manicured grounds of the Sorsogon City Hall.

Subic Beach
Beach bumming in Matnog's Holy Trinity Beach Resort
Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary

Kasanggayahan Festival 

During my revisit of the province, I had the chance to walk around the city proper once again. The setting was more festive, though, because it was the time of the Kasanggayahan Festival. And the local term (kasaganahan in Tagalog), as festival name, was aptly reflected onto the cheerful faces of residents. People of different ages hied off to the streets of the city from their respective homes to witness the province's show of prosperity via a street parade. In the thick of the revelry, I witnessed the reenactment of the first Catholic mass in Luzon, including an elaborate street dance by Sorsogon's youth.

Taro Chips at the Sorsogon Grand Terminal

Sorsogon Capitol Selfie

A visit of the Sorsogon Capitol and a selfie with Provincial Administrator Robert Lee Rodrigueza capped off my revisit of the province.

A Taste of Taro Chips At The Terminal

On my way home to Manila from Sorsogon City, I had the pleasure of indulging my senses for one last time. I enjoyed having bites of the tasty province via a bag of taro chips that I bought at the Sorsogon Grand Terminal. The result was a delicious ride back to where I came from -- northwest of Bicol.

With Provincial Administrator Robert Rodrigueza

Special thanks to Milo Naval and Bicolano Man

Check out my other Sorsogon blog posts:

+ Siama Hotel: A Spirited estate In Sorsogon

+ The Surprise That is Paguriran Island

+ Sta. Clark Park Hotel: Sorsogon City's Garden Hideaway

More Photos Below:

Kasanggayahan Festival
Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish
Town of Irosin
Subic Beach
Subic Beach
Kasanggayahan Festival
A young local in Matnog
A young local in Sorsogon City
Young locals in front of the Sorsogon Capitol
Siama Hotel
Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
Subic Beach
Calintaan island
Aboard the tour van with Bicolano Man and Philip of Choose Philippines
The grueling bus ride from Manila to Sorsogon City


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