Bulalacao Falls – Small Falls (El Nido, Palawan)

B.E.A.T. Familiarization Tour to Bulalacao Falls

B.E.A.T. Familiarization Tour to Bulalacao Falls

On our third day in El Nido, after breakfast at The Resort Bayview Hotel El Nido, members of B.E.A.T. (Business Executives Alliance in Tourism) again boarded their van for another round of resort-sponsored familiarization tours of the town.  Our first destination was to be Bulalacao Waterfalls, one of the most beautiful falls in the town.  It is actually a series of waterfalls aptly named Big Falls and Small Falls.

The start of the trail

The start of the trail

The 70-ft. high Big Falls is a 2-part trek that first requires you take a 45-min. tricycle ride to Brgy. Pasadeña and, upon arrival, make a grueling 1.5 to 2-hour hike (not to be undertaken without a guide and must not be attempted during the August to October rainy season) down a heavily-vegetated trail that courses through rice paddies and a thicket of towering ipil, balete and kamagong trees.

The well-marked trail

The well-marked trail

We were to visit the easier and more accessible Small Falls (also called Naganlec Falls). Upon arrival at the start of the trail, we first paid the PhP25/pax entrance fee (payment for the family that keeps the trail clean). The trail to the falls was well shaded by trees and marked. The hike through the forest took all of 20 mins. and we had to make 5 boulder-strewn river crossings, its cool waters a refreshing break for us as it was quite humid that day.

One of five river crossings

One of five river crossings

As we got closer to the falls, we again had to pay a PhP50/pax entrance fee, this time for the family that keeps the area around the falls clean. This place was a really nice and there were two huts with picnic tables. The Small Falls, with 4 accessible levels, was calm and inviting. The first and lowest has a large pool that people can jump into from the cliff above as it has a 3 m. depth.  A number of foreigners tried it.

The lower level

The lower level

A foreigner takes the plunge

A foreigner takes the plunge

View of the lower level's pool from the escond level

View of the lower level’s pool from the escond level

However, most of us tried out the easy-to-reach second level which has a beautiful low cascade and a shallow, swimmable pool that everyone enjoyed. It was a nice, cool and refreshing break from the heat of the morning sun. It may not be a large fall but it has a great little swimming area. 

The second level

The second level

Frolicking at the second level pool

Frolicking at the second level pool

Bulalacao Falls: Sitio Naganlec, Brgy. Pasadena, El Nido, Palawan.

The Resort Bayview Hotel El Nido: Sitio Marimegmeg, Brgy. Corong-Corong, El Nido, 5313, Palawan.  Tel: + 66(0) 76 281 406. Fax: + 66(0) 76 384 369. Mobile numbers: (0915) 250-7368 (Globe) and (0920) 975-8690. E-mail: theresortelnido@gmail.com. Website: www.elnidobayview.com.

Mt. Tapyas (Coron, Palawan)

 

Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas

On our third and last day in Coron, Aylin, Issa and I were awake by 5 AM, just in time for us to make it to the town proper, via van, were we hoped to catch the sunrise atop the 210 m. (689 ft.) high Mt. Tapyas, the second highest in Coron.

Mt. Tapyas and its lighted steel cross

Mt. Tapyas and its lighted steel cross

From Ligaya Pier, we could already view the mountain, prominent for its giant steel cross (lighted at night) on its peak. Tapyas, in English, literally means “shaved off” or “chipped” because, during the Liberation, one side of the mountain was literally chipped when American forces bombed the Japanese camp on top.

The concrete stairway

Aylin making her way up the concrete stairway

Mt. Tapyas is not what you might expect as a mountaineering destination. It’s already been developed by the local government to give easy and more convenient access to tourists. Instead of hiking through typical mountain trails, trekkers only need to go up flights of some 724 concrete steps, with metal handrails, to the spacious view deck with concrete benches, just the right amount for a little cardio workout.

Typhoon Yolanda damage

Typhoon Yolanda damage

A typhoon damaged refreshment stall

A typhoon damaged refreshment stall

Our van dropped us off at the base of the stairs, just beside a community basketball court. Going up the mountain on our last morning in Coron, we encountered some groups striding up and down the mountain with minimal effort. Surely, they must be locals.

A repaired resting shed

A recently repaired shaded rest stop

For city slickers like us not used to much walking, we had a hard time “conquering” the mountain. However, there were plenty of landings with shaded benches and picnic tables where we took a breather.  However, many of these  still showed damage from super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan)  which also devastated Coron on November 8, 2013.

Nearing the top

The huge CORON signage

Since it was still very early in the morning, it just took me around 15 to 20 mins. to reach the top.  Once there, the view was amazing. We were treated with a breathtaking panoramic 360-degree view of some of the offshore islands and the surrounding mountains, especially the mountain that they call the “Sleeping Giant.”

The Sleeping Giant

The Sleeping Giant

We also saw the whole of Coron town and appreciated its simplicity. There are two octagonal gazebos at the back but we didn’t go there anymore.  Instead, we made our way back down the mountain.  Our van just arrived, minutes after making it to the base of the mountain, and brought us back to Asia Grand View Hotel.

The steel cross

The steel cross

For first-time visitors to Coron town, it’s highly recommended that they go up Mt. Tapyas. It’s best to climb it early in the morning, to see the sunrise, or before night falls to see the sun setting on Coron Bay

Mt. Tapyas (32)

The gorgeous view

The gorgeous view

The spacious view deck

The climb may be grueling, but the gorgeous views atop the mountain make it a great experience truly worth the effort. There are refreshment stalls and vendors that sell bottled water, energy drinks and juice drinks. For those who get regular weekly exercise, this trek should be a breeze.

Watching the sun rise

Watching the sun rise

How To Get There: From the town, entry to the steps to Mt. Tapyas is very accessible. From the main road, just look for the landmark Iglesia ni Cristo Church and San Agustin Street (which turns into the slightly sloping Malvar Street) which leads the way to an elevated basketball court at the base. Road signs point directions to Mount Tapyas view deck.

How to Get to Coron: Skyjet Airlines has 4 times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, 10:30 AM) flights from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Coron (Francisco Reyes Airport).  Travel time is 30 mins.   

Asia Grand View Hotel: Governor’s Ave., Jolo, Brgy. 5, Coron, Palawan.  Tel:(+632) 788-3385. Mobile number: (0999) 881-7848. E-mail: gsd@asiagrandview.com. Manila sales office: Unit 504, Richmonde Plaza, 21 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.  Tel: (+632) 695-3078 and 531-8380.  Mobile number: (0917) 550-7373 to 75 Fax: (+632) 695-3078.  E-mail: info@asiagrandview.com. Website: www.asiagrandview.com. 

Skyjet Airlines: Manila Domestic Airport, Parking A, Terminal 4, NAIA Complex, Brgy. 191, Pasay City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 863-1333. E-mail: sales@skyjetair.com. Website: www.skyjetair.com.

Imugan Falls (Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya)

After checking in at Sta. Fe Forest Park, we still have free time before covering the Kalanguya Festival the next day so Rollie, Gener, Mon, Alex, Roel and I opted to explore the town’s Imugan Waterfalls, one of the town’s natural attractions. Ms. Ma. Theresa Farrah Dugay, Sta. Fe’s Municipal Tourism Officer assigned Mr. Emmanuel A. Caramat, Ms. Melany C. Lazaro and Mr. Regie Catalbas as our guides.

Imugan Falls

Imugan Falls

We all boarded our van for the 7-km./30-min. drive to the jump-off point at Brgy. Imugan for the hike to the falls, arriving there by 3 PM. At the barangay hall, we observed a float being prepared for the next day’s Kalanguya Grand Parade. Their float’s theme is centered on the ubiquitous, pear-shaped and light green chayote (Sechium edule, locally called sayote), the barangay’s principal produce.

Imugan Barangay Hall

Imugan Barangay Hall

Preparing a float

Preparing a float

Jump-off point to Imugan Falls

Jump-off point to Imugan Falls

According to Emmanuel, the nearly 1-km. hike to the falls would take us around 30 mins. The initial part of our hike was along a cemented pathway between an irrigation canal with flowing spring water and newly watered rice paddies. After crossing a stream, we now traversed a narrow, leaf-strewn but mildly graded dirt trail through a light dipterocarp forest.

Initial hike along a concrete pathway between an irrigation canal nad rice paddies

Initial hike along a concrete pathway between an irrigation canal and rice paddies

Hiking a  narrow dirt trail strewn with dead leaves

Hiking a narrow dirt trail strewn with dead leaves

A hanging bridge

A hanging bridge

The hike was scenic all throughout, with views of a hanging bridge and the boulder-strewn stream emanating from the falls below us and, along the trail, of wild orchids clinging to trees, giant ferns and stems of tiger grass (scientific name: Thysanolaena maxima), used in the manufacture of the popular walis tambo or soft broom).

Tiger grass

Tiger grass

An exotic orchid

An exotic orchid

An orchard of sayote

An orchard of sayote

Also along the way we passed numerous orchards of sayote, all sprouting on vines clinging to a moderately-spaced mesh of G.I wire and supported on poles along the steep slope of the mountain side.

Melany crossing a boulder-strewn stream

Melany crossing a boulder-strewn stream

After rounding a U-shaped bend along the trail and crossing a stream, we soon heard the rush of falling water signaling our arrival at Imugan Falls which is located between two mountains in the Caraballo Mountain Range. With a height of about 35 ft. and falling in 2 levels, its refreshing mountain spring waters drop down into a shallow catch basin.

The author at Imugan Falls

The author at Imugan Falls

As we didn’t bring bathing attire, we didn’t swim its bracingly cold waters but we did savor its natural beauty, pristine setting and quiet surroundings. To the left of the falls are some rather steep steps carved into the rock face which, according to our guides, lead to the fall’s smaller first level which also has a basin. We passed on this opportunity though and, instead, made our way back to Imugan. Our hike to the falls was truly a fitting start to our visit to Sta. Fe.

Exploring Sumilon Island (Oslob, Cebu)

The Sumilon Island hiking trail

The Sumilon Island hiking trail

After our lunch at the Island Pavilion Restaurant, Lara, Joy, Jimbo, Rachelle, Risa, Leica (Pete’s daughter) and I decided to burn some calories by doing a hike, with a resort guide, around the 24-hectare island.  Liana and Kaycee opted to stay behind to rest.

View of the natural lagoon from the cliffside trail

View of the natural lagoon from the cliffside trail

The nicely laid out hiking trail (open from 6 AM – 4 PM) started as we descended the steps down from the restaurant and traversed the cliffside pathway, strewn with coral rock, overlooking the natural lagoon where we could see a number of guests kayaking.  Soon enough, we entered the lush forest.  Along the trail are colored pennants tied to trees that indicate the difficulty of the trail – yellow for beginners, blue for moderate and red for advanced.

Hiking along the coral rock-strewn trail

Hiking along the coral rock-strewn trail

Soon we reached a fork in the trail.  The trail on the left traverses the northern point of the island where panoramic views of white sand beaches along the northwestern and eastern shores of the island can be seen.  The trail on the right cuts through the spine of the island and leads up to the island’s highest point, 28 m. above sea level, where a lighthouse and a Spanish-era baluarte (watchtower) is located.  We chose to explore this route.

The concrete lighthouse

The concrete lighthouse

The concrete lighthouse on the top wasn’t much.  It didn’t have a hollow core with a spiral stairway leading to the top, a feature found in many lighthouses.  Instead, steel, U-shaped ladder rungs imbedded in the concrete exterior was used.

The Spanish-era baluarte (watchtower)

The Spanish-era baluarte (watchtower)

The quadrilateral, heavily overgrown but still relatively intact baluarte was more interesting.  It was part of a network of watchtower and fortlets, extending from Santander to Sibonga, built by Augustinian Fr. Julian Bermejo (pastor of Boljo-on from 1804-1836) to warn the townspeople of the approach of pirates.  Lara and Joy entered the watchtower through a small, square hole in one of its sides.

The marine sanctuary

The marine sanctuary

The abandoned marine station of Silliman University

The abandoned marine station of Silliman University

From this vantage point, we now made our way down the trail to the pristine blue waters of the western side of the island where part of Sumilon Island Marine Park is located.  Situated off Cebu’s southeastern coast, 5.5 kms. east northeast of Tanon Point, this marine sanctuary was formerly administered by Siliman University in Dumaguete City (Negros Oriental) as evidenced by a now abandoned hut of the marine station along this part of the trail.  Today, the sanctuary is managed by the resort.  Motorized water sports such as jetskiing and water skiing are not allowed to ensure that the sanctuary is not disturbed.

Aquamania Dive Shop

Aquamania Dive Shop

Equipment at Aquamania Dive Shop

However, fine snorkeling, over coral gardens, can be done along the western, northern and eastern sides of the island.  For scuba divers, it offers waters two to 5 m. deep and 200 m. wide and a drop-off about 100 m. off the southwest coast with spectacular underwater life including the big garoupa.  Large schools of jacks, manta rays, sharks, barracudas, sea snakes, turtles and even an occasional whale shark can be seen off the northern and southern tip.  Dive sites here include Coral Landscape, Garden Eel Plaza, Julie’s Rock and Nikki’s Wall.  Diving season is all year round.  Visibility reaches 30 m. and average depth is 20 m. with a maximum of 35 m..  Waters here are usually calm with strong currents to sometimes very rough, fierce and physically demanding currents.  The resort has a dive shop (Aquamania) with certified dive instructors and extensive diving facilities.

Flower-bedecked table set-up for two at the sandbar

Flower-bedecked table set-up for two at the sandbar

A marriage proposal etched on the sand

A marriage proposal etched on the sand

Further down the trail, we soon reached the island’s white sandbar, the only part of the island that is open to the public.  It shifts and changes its shape with the tides and the current.  Here, we can swim, snorkel or sunbathe.  It was also the setting for last night’s al fresco dinner.  When we passed by, it was already set up for a marriage proposal, with a table for two, surrounded by flower petals shaped into a heart,  set up along the beach.    Nearby, along the sand, were the words “Will you marry me?” etched with pieces of tree branches.

Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima

Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima

On our way back to our cottages, we passed by a grotto with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and, just past it, the short and seemingly man-made Yamashita’s Cave.  We entered the latter and were surprised by a Halloween set-up, meant to scare visitors, at its very end.  We were totally drained and drenched with sweat by the time we returned to our rooms.

Entrance to Yamashita Cave

Entrance to Yamashita Cave

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort: Brgy. Bancogon, Sumilon Island, Oslob, 6025 Cebu.  Tel: (032) 382-0008 and (032) 318-9098. Mobile numbers: (0917) 631-7514 and (0917) 631-7512.  Email: info.sumilon@bluewater.com.ph.

Cebu City booking office: CRM Bldg., Escario cor. Molave Sts., Lahug, 6000 Cebu City. Tel:  (032) 412-2436. Mobile numbers (0917) 631-7508 and (0998) 962-8263. E-mail: sales.sumilon@bluewater.co.ph.

Manila Office: Rm. 1120, Cityland/Herrera Towers, 98 Herrera cor. Valero St. Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348. Fax: (632) 893-5391.  E-mail: sumilon@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewatersumilon.com.ph.

Trekking Along the Bugang River (Pandan, Antique)

We all awoke by 7 AM and had breakfast at Pandan Beach Resort.  After breakfast, the others boarded the van while Clelia and I joined resort owner Gigi Bautista in her car bound for Malumpati Spring, the main source of the Bugang River. I had been here twice before (the second time for Jandy) and the place still looks the same, save for the new zipline facility and wall climbing and rappelling tower of Pandan Adventure Boot Camp.

Bamboo rafting at Malumpati Spring

Bamboo rafting at Malumpati Spring

One of the cleanest inland bodies of water in the country, the Bugang River stretches from Brgys. Guia to Sto. Rosario and ends at Brgy. Zaldivar.  Here, we were to experience a real sense of adventure on the river – trekking, rafting and paddle boating.

The Bugang River

The Bugang River

The river, ranked first among the cleanest inland bodies of water in the region for three consecutive years,  has also won 3 awards – the “Dangal Ng Ilog” Award during the 1st National Summit on the State of Philippine Rivers in 2005; the “Hiyas ng Turismo” Award from the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapiligiran on December 6, 2006 (Iloilo City); and the “International Green Apple Environmental Award for Environmental Best Practice, Local Authorities and Ecotourism Category” from the Green Organization (an independent, non-political and non-profit UK ecology group) in the United Kingdom in 2011.

Start of the trek along the river's edge

Start of the trek along the river’s edge

The local government of Pandan, in an effort to preserve and protect the Bugang River while promoting it as a tourist attraction, has established the Bugang Community Based Eco-Tourism Organization (BCBTO). They spearheaded the Bugang River Cultural, Nature and Adventure Tour to help visitors foster an appreciation for the beauty of nature and develop better understanding of the locals’ practices through activities like rafting and paddle boating along the Bugang River. In 2006, the International Green Apple Environment Awards for Environmental Best Practice awarded this initiative with the Gold Winner in the Local Authorities and Ecotourism Category.

The rope ferry

The bamboo raft

Upon arrival at the spring, some of us, including Jandy, took a dip at the bracingly cold waters of the spring, others went rafting and some went shopping for souvenirs.  The arrival of Mr. Reynaldo Perez, the Malumpati Safety Officer and Operations Manager of the Pandan Adventure Boot Camp, signaled the start of exploration of the head waters of the river which are actually a pair of deep springs, one of which is the major source of the municipality’s water supply.  He assigned to us BCBTO guides Ria Dondon and Jomar Dionela and, together with Ms. Gigi, our tour narrator, we started our hike from the spring, across the bridge and past the Pandan Water District pumping station, into the dense forest.

Crossing a bamboo bridge

Laurie crossing a bamboo bridge

The trek, along the river’s edge, was not too difficult, but we did have to ford a stream as well as cross a bamboo bridge. Clelia and Leah also tried riding a bamboo raft moored along the river.

The smaller, still unfathomed spring

The smaller, still unfathomed spring

The river truly lived up to its reputation as the cleanest river in the country as you can actually see the marine plants, said by marine biologists to be endemic to the river, underneath the clear, turquoise waters.  There were, however, also a number of unsightly bamboo fish traps on the river. The end of the trek brought us, after 45 mins., to the smaller of the 2 springs which has been measured, by British divers, to a depth of nearly a hundred feet (30 m. or more) without finding the bottom. However, swimming wasn’t allowed here.

Crossing a swinging bridge on the return trek

Crossing a swinging bridge on the return trek

We returned to Malumpati Spring via a different route, passing through small settlements, a marker of the Kyoto Gyosei High School (who did reforestation along the Malumpati Watershed for 10 years) as well as crossing a much longer and swinging bamboo bridge.

Bugtong Bato Falls (Tibiao, Antique)

After our orientation at Zipline Inn, we again boarded our van for the drive to the barangay hall of Brgy. Tuno where we secured the services of local guides Arnel Vicente and Marialyn Benito for our trek to the 7-tiered Bugtong Bato Falls, so called because it is perched in the midst of a lone rock.  The first three waterfalls, with heights up to 150 ft., are easily accessible.

The trek begins ....

The trek begins ….

Zipline Inn owner Ms. Ofelia Gaal also joined us on this hike to her property.  According to her, it just takes her 25 mins. to get to the falls  but I figured it would take me much longer with my mobility issues due to osteoarthritis.  We just brought along our essential gear – cameras, water, hats, etc.

Passing rice terraces on the way to the falls

Passing rice terraces on the way to the falls

Another bucolic scene

Another bucolic scene

The hike, through a craggy mountain trail, took us past streams, lush forests, beautiful rice terraces and over two bamboo suspension bridges.

Crossing a bamboo footbridge

Crossing a bamboo footbridge

Hiking through this incredible countryside was worthwhile and a treat by itself, even without the falls at the end of the trail.  Along the way we also encountered some grazing cows as well as a number of fallen trees,  visual evidence of the destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on the town.

The first waterfall and its swimming hole

The first waterfall and its swimming hole

Surprisingly, in under 40 mins., we arrived at the beautiful falls and our prize for completing the hike – its inviting swimming hole.  It is thus with great anticipation that we dipped our tired bodies in its cool, refreshing water.  In my excitement though, I forgot to remove my belt bag with my cellular phone in it.  A total loss.  Oh well.

Steps with rope leading to the second tier

Steps with rope leading to the second tier

After a while, we decided to try out the second waterfall.  Getting there entailed a short but steeper climb up a staircase with a stout nylon rope to assist us, much too challenging for Maricar who decided to stay behind.  Once up there, it offered another cool, inviting swimming hole for us to swim in.

The second tier of the falls

Father and son at the second tier of the falls

The third fall, visible from here, was a different story as it was accessible only by swimming across this second swimming hole and then climbing another nylon rope up the slippery side of the waterfall.  Tricky to say the least. Still, I admit to being envious seeing the others do it.  If only I were 20 years younger.

Steps and rope from second to third tier of falls

Steps and rope from second to third tier of falls

Only Clelia and Rupert, as well other visiting foreign tourists, attempted this.  The third falls offers the smallest but the most beautiful of the three swimming holes, said to have deep blue waters.

Katahum Tours: Tibiao, Antique.  Mobile numbers: (0919) 813-9893 and (0917) 631-5777. E-mail: flord@tibiaofishspa.com. Website: www.katahum.com.

How To Get There: Tibiao is located 73 kms. from San Jose de Buenavista, 12.6 kms. from Barbaza, 17 kms. from Culasi and 89 kms. from Brgy. Caticlan (Malay, Aklan).

Trek to Bayugin Falls (Bulusan, Sorsogon)

Along our way to Lake Bulusan, Bernard, Philip and I decided to visit Bayugin Falls in Brgy. San Francisco, one of Bulusan‘s eco-tourism attractions.  We parked the SUV at the barangay chapel where we made a courtesy call on the barangay captain.  That done, we proceeded on our hike.  According to the barangay captain, the falls is just a 500-m. hike.  Initially the trail, along slippery but hard-packed mud, was relatively flat.  Halfway through the hike, we crossed a wooden footbridge over a very narrow, steep-sided creek which, according to Philip, is a possible fault line.

Philip at the wooden footbridge

Past the bridge, the trail eventually became steeper as we neared the falls, we having to go down steps carved along the hillside. This descent really made my knees shake.  After 20 mins., the sound of onrushing waters heralded our arrival at the falls.  What a magnificent falls it was! The falls, surrounded by a thick, mossy forest, is the source of the Bayugin River which eventually joins the Paghasaan River as it flows into the Bulusan River.  Now a popular swimming and picnic site, concrete picnic tables, a bamboo viewing deck and narrow plank bridges have been installed.

Bayugin Falls

Though we didn’t bring any swimming attire, Bernard couldn’t resist dipping his legs at the cold, onrushing waters.  We lingered at the falls for a cool 20 mins., savoring the sights and sounds and recording it all via camera.  The ascent, on our return, though short, was just as tiring.  Thus refreshed, we returned to our vehicle and continued on our way to Lake Bulusan.

The bamboo view deck

Bayugin Falls: Brgy. San Francisco, Bulusan, Sorsogon.

How to Get There: Brgy. San Francisco is a 20-min. tricycle ride from the town proper. 

Ambasing Road (Sagada, Mountain Province)

After a short siesta at our inn, Jandy and I now decided to hike the now concreted Ambasing Road.  Most of the Sagada‘s inns, restaurants and souvenir shops, a number of them oldtimers,  as well as a number of tourist spots can be found along this road.   As usual, we brought along our jackets and bottles of water.

Ambasing Road

Olahbinan Resthouse and Restaurant, opened in December 1993, is accessed via a stairway.  It has 2 single, 5 double, 2 large double and 2 rooms with bath, a restaurant and a bar with fireplace.   

Stairway leading down to Olahbinan Resthouse

The relocated Shamrock Café, established in 1956, is still one of the most popular places to eat in town.  It offers basic but hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner and its surprisingly international menu includes the Israeli-inspired breakfast dish shakshuka.  Snacks (including homemade yoghurt) and sometimes, a very informal and folksy nighttime entertainment of guitar-strumming local singers are also offered. 

Shamrock Cafe

The relaxing, half log-cladded Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant, a favorite of Manila tourists, serves a variety of meals and snacks, its walls lined with old black and white prints of the late Spanish mestizo photographer Eduardo Masferre.  Also a pension house, it has one 2-bed, three 3-bed and one 4-bed room with common toilet and bath (PhP100-150/pax).   

Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant

The Sagada Igorot Inn, formerly the Sagada Prime Hotel, was opened in March 1997 and is the town’s first hotel.  It has 16 rooms; 12 with private toilet and bath (PhP1,500) and four (PhP1,000) with common toilet and bath.  It also has a restaurant, sing-along (Moonhouse) and offers shuttle and room service.

Sagada Igorot Inn

The 4-storey Canaway Resthouse has 5 rooms with private bath and hot showers (PhP250/pax); 3 in the second floor, all opening to a common living area with sofa and cable TV, and 2 on the third floor with private balcony.  On the ground floor is a kitchen guests can use.

Canaway Resthouse

The 2-storey Yoghurt House, popular with foreign tourists, serves consistently good food such as pasta, salads, vegetarian meals, homemade yoghurt served with fruits, granola or pancakes or mixed as a salad dressing foe fresh vegetables, and drinks.

Yoghurt House

Across Canaway Guest House, on the side of a hill, is the 3-storey Residential Lodge.  It has 14 rooms, some with private baths  (PhP250/pax) and others with shared baths (PhP200/pax).  It also has large common areas, a second floor fireplace and kitchens on the lower ground and ground floors for the use of guests.

Residential Lodge

Next to the Residential Lodge and past the Yoghurt House Restaurant is the no-frills Traveler’s Inn.  It has 2 rooms with private bath (PhP250/pax) and 12 rooms with shared bath (PhP200/pax).  There is a kitchen at the second floor for guest use white downstairs is a general store and a souvenir shop selling pottery.  

Traveler’s Inn

Next to Canaway Resthouse is the new, 4-storey  George Guest House, probably the most colorful and garish building in Sagada.  It has variety of rooms, all with private baths and hot showers: double with cable TV (PhP600), 6 pax room (PhP200/pax), double without cable TV (PhP200/pax or PhP500 for two).  

George Guest House

Canaway Resthouse: mobile number (0918) 291-5063 
George Guest House: mobile numbers (0920) 607-0994 and (0918) 548-0406.  E-mail: george.guesthouse@yahoo.com
Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant: mobile number (0918) 341-6164.
Olahbinan Resthouse and Restaurant: mobile number (0920) 268-3555. 
Residential Lodge: mobile number (0919) 672-8744 (Ms. Mary Daoas).  E-mail: eldone21@hotmail.com and standaoas@yahoo.com.
Sagada Igorot Inn: mobile number (0919) 809-4228.  Baguio City booking office: (074) 442-2622, 444-2734 & 619-5032 (Smart).
Traveler’s Inn: mobile number (0920) 799-2960 (Lope Bosaing).  E-mail: aprilmay_25@yahoo.com  and lopebosaing@yahoo.com.ph.

The Road to Besao (Sagada, Mountain Province)

The road to Besao

Come early morning, on our second day in Sagada,  the skies were now clear of rain and the sun was coming up. I decided to take a walk up the road to Besao to work up an appetite for breakfast at Ganduyan Inn.  Jandy was still asleep so I went out on my own.  I also wanted to check out what’s changed in the town since our first visit in 1998 (http://firingyourimagination.blogspot.com/1998/04/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html).  I noticed that some of Sagada’s old familiar inns and restaurants were still around.  

Sagada Guesthouse & Resto

One of these is the Sagada Guesthouse and Resto.  Located just past the new municipal hall, they offer a variety of rooms with varying price ranges and amenities: single (PhP150) and double (PhP300) with common bath, 3-pax rooms with private bath (PhP600), rooms with private bath and kitchen and one with cable TV (PhP1,200).  It also has a ground floor coffee shop.

Log Cabin Restaurant

Another familiar Sagada landmark is the Log Cabin Restaurant, a log-cladded restaurant still popular with foreigners. Its broad menu still offers consistently good, reasonably-priced and hearty meals, including exceptional European-inspired pasta dishes (bolognese and pesto), vegetables, adobo dishes and salads, all prepared by the local French chef.

Log Cabin dining area

They also have an impressive wine list (Hardys Shiraz, Doublebay, Jacob’s Merlot,  Loins Chattel Savvingon, Sta. Rita Cabernet, Lindimans Shiraz, Blasseagle, Antaras Chile, etc.) to choose from, a fireplace and a wide selection of recorded music.  For PhP350, they offer a multi-course buffet on Saturday nights.  You would have to book one day in advance and pay a PhP100 deposit.  For guests, it has an upstairs room with private bath and balcony (PhP800).

Strawberry Cafe

There are also new players in food and accommodation.  Across the Log Cabin is the no frills, corrugated G.I and log-cladded  Strawberry Cafe.  They offer fast food such as arroz caldo (chicken and rice stew) and mami (chicken or pork noodle soup), both for PhP45.  Further off is the 2-storey Alapos View Inn, which also has a coffee shop, and Ganduyan Inn 2.  

Alapos View Inn

Past a lane to the left side of the road is the Sagada Homestay which offers 6 rooms, one of which has a private bath (PhP700) while the 5 others (PhP250/pax) share 4 bathrooms. The ground floor has a large dining room and kitchen for the use of guests.  A separate 2-bedroom, 4-pax cottage with bath and kitchen  rents for PhP1,500.

Sagada Homestay

Continuing further down the road, past the town, would have brought me to Lake Danum in Besao but I’ve already worked up an appetite for breakfast and so I made my way back to Ganduyan Inn.

Alapos View Inn: mobile numbers (0921) 327-9055 and (0918) 332-3331.
Log Cabin Restaurant: mobile number (09320) 520-0463 (Dave Gulian)
Sagada Guesthouse & Resto: mobile number (0919) 300-2763.
Sagada Homestay: mobile numbers (0919) 702-8380, (0918) 717-3524 and (0919) 498-2181. E-mail: sagadahomestay@yahoo.com.

The Surreal World of Kapurpurawan Rock Formation (Burgos, Ilocos Norte)

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation: The Sphinx-like “Head”

After our biscocho and salt making observation tour in Pasuquin, our Lakbay Norte 2 media group then boarded our bus and proceeded to the fellow Ilocos Norte town of Burgos.   From the National Rd. our bus turned towards a gravel road and traversed it for about 3 kms. until we reached a makeshift picnic hut, our jump-off point for the amazing, unique and Sphinx-like Kapurpurawan  Rock Formation, one of the best places to visit in the town, aside from the iconic Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the country’s tallest.

Bonsai-like plants amid pools of limpid sea water

From the hut, it was a 30-min. walk, along concrete steps, dirt track and then, through a tidal pool.  At the tidal pool, sea water-filled coral rock pools, of varying sizes, and bonsai-like vegetation can be seen sporadically.  The rock formation was formed from sandstone naturally carved by weathering from wind, sand and water to create different surreal shapes such as the iconic “Head,” “Cradle” and the “Resting Dragon.” The word kapurpurawan was derived from the Ilocano root word puraw meaning “white” and these formations are said to be much whiter during the summer months of April and May.

This rock formation, possibly the “Resting Dragon,” looks
like a slithering cobra  about to pounce

Our short Kapurpurawan Rock Formation hike made us hungry and, as it was lunchtime, we proceeded to the nearby, picturesque town of Paoay for lunch at Cafe Herencia.

Check out “Restaurant Review: Cafe Herencia

Herencia Cafe: MacArthur St., Brgy. 14, Sangladan, Paoay, Ilocos Norte.  Tel: (077) 614-0214