Wednesday, 3 February 2016

What to see, Things To do, Places to visit, Where to stay and Tourist Spots of Sorsogon province



I’ve spent sixteen years of my life in the province of Sorsogon particularly in the town of Irosin. This was from my birth to high school. I eventually moved to Sorsogon city for 2 years to start college, then continued my studies to Legazpi city for 5 years plus work and in Manila for about 8 years now. Back then, I knew nothing about the word ‘travel’ so it was such a dream come true to spend one whole month there. It wasn’t the best time of the year because it is rainy season and that there was a typhoon that devastated the whole province. It would have been better if it is summer time but nothing’s gonna stop me now anytime I’d like to go home since I have a location – independent work.

The province of Sorsogon has 15 municipalities: Barcelona, Magallanes, Castilla, Sta. Magdalena, Casiguran, Matnog, Juban, Bulan, Irosin, Bulusan, Prieto Diaz, Pilar, Donsol, Gubat and Sorsogon city. I have only been to 9 out of 15 towns of Sorsogon actually. My next visit to home is to see all these remaining municipalities of Sorsogon. Good thing, I was able to ask my sister Issa when she went toSorsogon city capitol to drop by at the local tourism office to ask for the official brochure of the list of tourist attractions in the province ofSorsogon.   I am sharing these below:  


Gibalon Shrine
   
      
Magallanes 
Magallanes is the very first town I have travelled outside of Irosin when I was a girl scout during grade school years. It was only 2 – 3 hours by jeep ride.  I cannot recall specifically the moments I spent there, was too long ago but  all I can say is that it was a beautiful town. During clear days, we can see the Mount Mayon from a distance while on the beachside. Imagine that, this volcano is located in the province of Albay! Magallanes was named after Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer sent by the kingdom of Spain many centuries ago.

Not everyone knows this but Magallanes is a historical town. It is said that the first mass in Luzon was celebrated in Gibalong (now sitio San Isidro) though in Philippine textbooks it says in Cebu.  The Spaniards came to Magallanes through the Ginangra River. Magallanes is also an important place  used by Spaniards back then for the galleon trades. Bagato and Tinacos Islands serve as the astilleros (shipyards) during the Spanish period, where galleons were repaired and constructed before their major voyage.  The grandest of the galleons built in 1750 and was completed in 1751 in Bagatao was the Santisima Trinidad y Senora del Buen Fin.

What I cannot forget in Magallanes is that there is an islet there that looks exactly like a ship. I am really looking forward to seeMagallanes next time around.  

To know more about the tourism of Magallanes, check their official website "Magaya - gayang Magallanes" here. Photo credit to the Local Tourism Office of Magallanes and NOENAVA Photography.


Barcelona Church
     

Barcelona
I have never been to Barcelona sad to say though I have distant relatives that live there.  What I’d love to see there is the famous Barcelona Church, built in 1874 using coral reefs for the foundation of its  walls.  of The carvings on the coral reefs fa├žade make the church a priceless relic. 

Another worth checking just cross the street is the 138 year-old ruin of “La Presidencia”,  used to be the seat of the Spanish Government during the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. This office of the of the “Governadorcillo” was originally a two (2) storey structure built on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean to serve as watchtower and fortress against Moro Pirates attack. There was originally an underground tunnel leading to the parish church across the street in the event of a retreat from the attacks.

Right now, I don't see any official website of Barcelona municipal office nor the local tourism. I found one online but it shows hacked. Photo credit to See Sorsogon's Facebook Fan Page. 



Sorsogon Capitol Park


Sorsogon City
Sorsogon city is the gateway to the rest of the municipalities in the whole province of Sorsogon. It is the capital,  the hub and the service center of the whole province where majority of the hotels, restaurants, banks, hospitals, transports groups and other service providers are located.   Sorsogon City has its fair share of fine beaches too.  Just half an hour from the city proper, Paguriran Island is the most-visited beach caldera-shaped lagoon. My sister Joy and her two other bestfriends whom I met when we went to Sagada province have been there when they went for a ten day backpacking trip years ago. I am gonna make a wild guess, Paguriran island will be a major tourist destination in a few years from now.   I have seen the photos, it is truly breathtaking!   

Click HERE my DIY Walking Tour Guide To Sorsogon City Proper
   
I personally loved strolling at Sorsogon City Baywalk (Rompeolas). It's a place where well young couples, friends and families spend their leisure time. If the weather is fine, Bulusan Volcano can be seen from the horizon.


Malawmawan Island

Castilla 
I cannot say much about Castilla, since I have not been here but if you are into diving, you may check the Malawmawan Island. It is a tadpole-shaped island rich in colourful corral formations and like what I said a diver’s paradise. It has a brown-sand beach and a long stretch of sand bar.  

Photo credit to Ini An Sorsogon for the Malawmawan Island picture.


Oroc Cold Spring


Casiguran
My mom’s sister is married to a Casiguranon. For a few times I have visited her so I pretty much know Casiguran. There’s a very interesting trivia to know about this town. History reveals that before the arrival of the Spaniards, the people of Casiguran were mostly in their old age, that’s why it was called  “Quasi-Gurang” by the Spaniards.  The cool, clean and fresh water of Nagsipit Falls and of Orok Cold Spring perfect for swimming has made Casiguran to be one of the must-visit places during hot seasons.

When I was in college travelling from Irosin to Sorsogon city or Legazpi city, I would often get dizzy and feel like throwing up. You know this is what they call motion sickness, felt by those who were not used to travel since as a child. In the middle of my bus or jeepney ride, I would always stop in Casiguran to rest for a while in my tita’s house for a few hours to sleep or rest.   

Photo credit to Norieghay's photographs and to Cesar Herrera's blog.  






Sta. Magdalena
Sta. Magdalena is where my grandma in my mother side resides. hidden gem nestled between Bulusan and Matnog. Most of the beaches and coves are still undiscovered and with minimal development. The picturesque powdery sand beaches of Balading and Olango are the favourite spots of backpackers and balikbayans. With its great potential, Sta. Magdalena will be the next favourite of both local and foreign tourists in the years to come just like Paguriran island.

We rarely see our relatives living here in Sta Magdalena. All I can remember is that when I was younger, they would always visit our house during our town fiesta.  I don’t know what happened now, they haven’t showed up anymore. There’s a very cheesy story I’d like to share that happened in Sta Magdalena told by my mom. My late grandpa who is from Irosin is already engaged and scheduled to marry another woman. During his time, the harana is the thing. All single boys would go to a certain place during early nighttime, bringing their guitars and would serenade the girls they like outside the house. The girl is often at the window staring them.  This is how the courtship goes decades ago in the country. Tagged along by his friends, he went to Sta Magdalena and met my grandma who is now in her 80’s.    Ending, he backed out from the wedding and pursued my grandma.   They had 13 children including my mom. 

Photo credit to Cesar Herrera's blog.  


Bulan, Sorsogon 

Bulan
When I was little, my grandma from my fatherside would bring me to Bulan while she buys vegetables and fruits that she sells here in Irosin afterwards.  She would buy bunches of saba bananas that she use to make fritters or fried bananas. Bulan is located at the Southwestern most tip of the Bicol Peninsula of the Island of Luzon. There are Japanese tunnels and air raid shelters constructed in Bulan by the Japanese forces during the Second World War as part of their defense strategies against enemies which are strategically located and distributed in several barangays inside and outside of the town proper. For the townsfolk, these tunnels serve as a reminder of the sacrifices and heroism of their forefathers who fought for freedom and democracy. The Sabang Beach is a favourite community park and a recreation site often frequented by locals and tourists.

Photo credit to Karl Winston Lee's instagram account.


Sabang Beach

Matnog
Matnog is located at the Southtern most tip of Luzon and the gateway to Visayas. I’ve heard a lot of Matnog’s
island hopping adventures. The fine white sand of Tikling Island and the fine pinkish white sand of Subic Beach which is called by the townsfolk “La Playa Rosa” will make you fall inlove with nature. If in Donsol there is whale shark interaction, in Juag Lagoon (The fish Sanctuary in Matnog) you will experience to feed and interact with fishes.

Photo credit to Michael Franks Instagram account.


Old house in Juban, Sorsogon

Juban
When we were younger we’d always hear stories of aswangs (scary creatures that kills humans by sucking blood) that dwell in Juban so for some reasons that marked in my mind so I never really had any interest to see Juban.  Since my travel blogging begun and my interest in heritage sparked, Juban became my top must visit towns in Sorsogon because of its old houses particularly the Casa Feliz. Juban was once the center of Hispano-European settlers in the Province of Sorsogon. Some vestiges of the Hispanic era are still prominent on the major streets of the town. Today, these remnants are private residences yet being taken care of and restored by the municipality. 


Click HERE my visit to Casa Feliz and other heritage houses in Juban, Sorsogon

Dancalan  Beach, Bulusan Sorsogon

Bulusan
Bulusan is derived from the word “Bulus” which means “where the water flows”.  I have been here so many times. Recently is seeing the Lake Bulusan is dubbed as the “Switzerland of the Orient”. Bulusan Lake lies at the heart of the Natural Park which covers a land area of 3.672 hectares. Tourists can enjoy aqua-adventures in the site while appreciating the green surroundings of the place. Another one is  a swimming escapade to Dancalan beach.

There’s also one thing worth checking out here that I failed to see personally: the Balay Bahay sa Uman (a bee farm). It is  home to ligwan and pukyutan bees that produce honey. It also has a pond, an orchard growing Philippine Lemons, and a sanctuary for flowering plants and assorted herbs. Balay Buhay is a virtual hideout to recuperate and a refuge to rest your weary reconnect with nature. I have heard recently that it is now a bee farm slash resort.




Prieto Diaz
I have distant relatives living in  Prieto Diaz but I have never been here.  It is said that this town is composed of 112 hectares of Natural Mangrove forest, 267 hectares mangrove plantation, the widest stretch of sea grass with 836 hectares and tidal/mud flats of 1,200 hectares, 800 hectares of protected coral reefs, and a marine sanctuary just 2 kilometers from Sabang Beach.  Prieto Diaz offers kayaking and Boating along the vast Mangrove forest, an experience that our local and foreign visitors will truly enjoy.

Photo credit to Naga City Deck of Prieto Diaz. 

Pilar
The gateway to the Island of Masbate.  It offers more than the usual Nature Trip and Aqua-Adventure.  Experience a dive that features unique Marine Bio-Diversity Sanctuary along Bantigue Point and an exploration of Pilar River that leads to the Egret Sanctuary. Bantigue Point Dive Snorkeling, Panumbagan Sand Bar Sea Urchin Picnic, Panlatuan Bay Seaweeds (Sea Grapes) Harvesting, Crab trap Lifting (Bintol and Bobo), and Nipa Shingles Making are some of the activities that could make you travel more fun, educational, and exciting.






Donsol
I am not sure whether the whalesharks in Donsol are still very visible compared to those in Oslob, Cebu. Catundolan is Donsol’s landmark where pinnacle of rocks and vast coral formations are found. The water in this area is the deepest part coastline where numerous whale sharks could be seen.


Gubat
Gubat has always been a favourite of our Balikbayans for its grayish powdery fine sand. The shoreline which is about 5 kilometers long offers our guests with many water activities like beach volleyball, surfing clinic for the surfing enthusiasts, and everybody likes to di in the cool and clear waters of Rizal Beach.

Irosin

Ok, I save the best for last. I have to be bias, this is my hometown :) Irosin is the only Inland in the province which sits on a valley floor surrounded by mountains. According to some volcanologists, Irosin town sits upon a huge caldera called Irosin Caldera, a cauldron-like depression created after the eruption of a volcano.  According to this theory, Mount Bulusan is actually not a Volcano itself but a mere fissure of a much bigger volcano.

Irosin Valley is so fertile that has gained the reputation as the rice granary of the province. Which is also the reason why Irosin dubbed its annual festival Paray Festival, every 28th of September. “Paray” is Bikol for rice.  For recreation, numerous resorts of hot and cold are present in this town. I will soon be posting a separate article about what to see in Irosin, Sorsogon. 


Related blog posts I recommend reading:

Ten Things to Do in Sorsogon by Lakwatsera de Primera 
Sorsogon Tourist Spots and Attractions by The Pinay Solo Backpacker
Travel Guide: Sorsogon - Things to do, Itinerary, How to get there, Accommodations, Getting around, Expenses and Contact details by Pinoy Adventurista 

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