Roughing it up in San Lorenzo Ruiz (Camarines Norte)

The Hike Begins …..

From the second day onwards, right after the Pabirik Festival, it was raining from time to time and heavy rain welcomed us early in the morning of the third day, the day we were to travel to the Calaguas Islands and camp overnight. A phone call confirmed our worst fears – the trip to the Calaguas Islands was cancelled due to rain and high waves.  Regretfully, we switched to Plan B – a hike to Nakali Falls in San Lorenzo Ruiz town, rain or shine.  We were all driven to the municipal hall where two guides were assigned to us by the mayor.  Amable Miranda and Roufel “Raffy” de Vera of the Provincial Tourism Office also accompanied us.  As it was still early in the morning, we expected the round trip trek to the falls to be over in four hours and that we would be back at the municipal hall by lunch time.  How wrong we were.  Regretfully, for the trek, we only brought bottled water and some snacks we bought at Daet.

Me with Kara, Raffy and our guide

The trail was understandably wet and muddy due the previous night and today’s rain and I regretted having worn slippers instead of sandals which, more often than not, got stuck in the muck.  The uphill, downhill and sometimes flat trail brought us hiking through coconut and pineapple plantations, boulder-strewn river banks as well as crossing the Matacong hanging bridge.  I also made a wrong turn along the way, hiking alone for some time before retracing my steps and catching up with them.  A number of times, media colleague Lito Cinco wanted to quit, uttering his famous line “This is where I draw the line” a number of times, only to continue on his way, goaded on by Kara Santos.

Dining on coconut meat and juice

We all finally drew the line when we neared the falls as the strong river current, even with a guide rope thrown across, prevented us from hurdling the final leg.  Even if we did, heavy rain would have prevented us from using our cameras much less get a good, clear shot.  We just contented ourselves with bathing the cool river waters.  It was now late in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten lunch, just snacks, water and the juice and meat of some coconuts plucked from trees at a shack where we made a stopover and rested.

Contenting ourselves with bathing at the river

The thought of a late lunch waiting for us at the municipal hall plus a hot shower and warm bed at the resort goaded us to reduce the return hike from the original 4 down to 3 hours, helped along by my walking barefooted in the mud, however risky it may be.  The others made better time than us and Mark Nunez and I brought up the rear, as we finally staggered back to the town, so weak that we bought and gobbled up chocolate bars at the first sari-sari store we saw just to get us again walking the last few strides to the municipal hall.  Upon arrival,  town mayor Nelson P. de los Santos welcomed us with a much anticipated but very late lunch.  The others were already eating when we arrived.  Back at Bagasbas Lighthouse Resort, we had to coax our weary and aching bodies just to eat our dinner.  Sleep came easy to us the weary that night. Check out my Business Mirror article “Camarines Norte: 400 Years of Keeping the Faith.”


Pabirik Festival (Paracale, Camarines Norte)

Pabirik Festival

Paracale was one of three parishes (the others were Daet and Vinzons) celebrating the quadricentennial of their parish’s foundation, an event which I, event organizer Bernard Supetran, blogger Mark Vincent Nunez and mediamen Kara Santos (Sunday Inquirer) and Joselito “Lito” Cinco were to cover.  Our second day in the province was, coincidentally, also the high point of the town’s Pabirik Festival.  We arrived just as the street dancing parade was making its way into the town’s gym for the final judging.  We first dropped by the town’s Spanish-era Church of Our Lady of Candles which was reconstructed between 1888 and 1898 under the direction of Fr. Jose Cardenoso, the last Spanish priest to serve the parish.  After that, we proceeded to the gym to watch the contingents perform.

Church of Our Lady of Candles

The festival showcases the rich mining industry of the town (the pabirik is a tool used in gold mining) which started when a large gold mine was discovered here in 1626. Locals here still pan for gold.  In fact, the town’s name was derived from para cale, meaning “canal digger.” Paracale  is still the center of the jewelry-making industry and, although the art has declined in importance, the town is still regarded as a good place to buy finely-crafted gold jewelry such as the agimon (or alakdan), a flat necklace chain of the 19th century.  The festival  also coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Candles (Nuestra Senora del Candelaria), the town’s patroness and, as such, her statue is borne by most participating contingents in the street dancing competition, together with cardboard or wood replicas of the gold panning trade. Check out my Business Mirror article “Camarines Norte: 400 Years of Keeping the Faith.”

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, Paracale, Camarines Norte.  Tel: (054) 449-1008.

Museo Bulawan (Daet, Camarines Norte)

Bulawan Museum

Gen. Vicente R. Lukban Bust

The Bulawan Museum, known as the “Golden Museum,” is located within the sprawling Provincial Capitol.  

A window into the province’s rich history and culture, it has a collection of old photos; World War II memorabilia (weapons); portraits of past governors; and busts of local heroes (Gen. Vicente Lukban, Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, Sr., Capt. Tomas M. Zaldua and Lt.-Col. Francisco D. Boayes).

Old camera, telephone, wall clock and typewriter

Numismatic Collection of ol coins and paper currency

Wenceslao Q. Vinzons Sr. Bust

It also displays family heirloom pieces (including a collection of kitchen utensils such as silver spoons, fork and butter knife of the late Gov. Miguel Lukban), traditional clothing; a numismatic collection of old coins and paper currency; a collection of shells; gold jewelry; antique household appliances, paintings and a boya (a round floater attached to a net to keep it afloat). 

Antique wine glasses and teapot

Museo Bulawan: Provincial Capitol Complex, Daet, Camarines Norte.  

Celebrating Four Centuries of Christianity in Camarines Norte

Courtesy call on Gov. Edgardo A. Tallado

The year 2011 marks the quadricentennial of the University of Sto. Tomas, the oldest university in Asia. In Camarines Norte, it marks a different milestone – the 400th year foundation anniversary of the three parishes of Daet, Paracale and Vinzons.  Although all these towns were founded by Franciscan missionaries in 1581, it was only in 1611 when permanent parish priests were assigned. Yours truly, together with events organizer Bernard Supetran, travel blogger Mark Vincent Nunez (L.E.N.S.) and mediamen Mr. Joselito “Lito” Cinco and Ms. Kara Santos (Sunday Inquirer), were invited to cover the quadricentennial activities in these towns. All five of us met up at Starbucks in Magallanes Village in Makati City where our transportation and our hosts, Mr. Amable Miranda and Roufel “Raffy” de Vera of the Provincial Tourism Office awaited us.  We left the place by 5:30 PM and the 350-km. long-haul drive took all of 8 hrs., including stopovers for toilet breaks and dinner at a Chowking outlet in Quezon, snatching sleep in between.

Bulawan Museum

We arrived at Bagasbas Lighthouse Resort in Daet, our home during our 3-day stay in Camarines Norte, by 2 AM and were soon checked in and back on the sack.

Check out “Resort Review: Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort

Come morning, right after breakfast, we were picked up by Amable and Raffy to visit Bagasbas Park and the First Rizal Monument (unveiled on December 30, 1898) then meet up with Atty. Debbee G. Francisco, the Provincial Tourism Officer designate, at the Provincial Capitol as well as visit the Bulawan Museum with its collection of old photos, portraits of past governors, busts of local heroes, family heirloom pieces, numismatic collection and paintings.

Church of St. Peter the Apostle in Vinzons

From Daet, we moved on to Paracale where we were to attend its Pabirik Festival which showcases the rich mining industry of the town. We next left for Labo where we checked out the Museo de Labo, the Church of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist and a showcase of the town’s handicrafts.  After a few hours rest bit back at the resort, we proceeded to the town of Vinzons where we interviewed Fr. Francisco P. Regala, Jr., the parish priest of the town’s Church of St. Peter the Apostle, the oldest in the province (first built in 1611 by Fr. Juan de Losar and rebuilt at its present site in 1624).  Fr. Regala, narrated in detail, the town’s town’s quadricentennial plans on June 29, the town’s fiesta.  We capped this evening with dinner at the residence of Atty. Francisco where I stuffed myself full with angko, a glutinous, rice-based and thumb-size native delicacy with a filling of sweet, grounded peanuts.  We left right after this as we were scheduled to leave early in the morning for overnight camping at the Calaguas Islands.  That night it started to rain heavily.

Daet Heritage Center

That same heavy rain welcomed us early in the morning and a phone call confirmed our worst fears – the trip to the Calaguas Islands was cancelled.  Regretfully, we switched to Plan B – hiking to Nakali Falls in San Lorenzo Ruiz town, rain or shine.  The physically draining hike took all day. It was raining less the next day and all had lunch with Daet Mayor Tito S. Sarion at Golden Palace Restaurant followed by an ocular tour of the newly-established museum at the Daet Heritage Center (formerly the old municipal hall), a courtesy call to Gov. Edgardo Tallado at the Provincial Capitol and a farewell visit to Atty. Francisco who gifted us with daing, dried dilis (anchovies) and my favorite angko.  Amable and Raffy accompanied us on our return trip to Manila, with a delicious dinner stopover at Lita’s Carinderia along the way.  We made it back by midnight. Check out my Business Mirror article “Camarines Norte: 400 Years of Keeping the Faith.”

Provincial Tourism Office: Provincial Capitol Complex, Daet, Camarines Norte.  Tel: (054) 721-3087.  E-mail: