Sunday, April 1, 2007

Camarines Norte's Must See Places

From Ed Canela
April 1, 2007

Foundation Day of Camarines Norte (April 15)
A week-long celebration of the foundation anniversary of the province. Highlighted by a commemorative mass, civic military parade, agro-industrial fair, exhibits, sports festivals.

Some Natural places to visit (for Balikbayans)

Mananap Falls
Located in San Vicente, roughly 18 kilometers west of the capital. To reach it, one has to hike uphill for two kilometers but the deep cool waters of the falls are worth the climb.

Imee-Irene Twin Falls
Located in Sta. Elena, it is still virtually unexplored because of its great distance from Daet.

Colasi Falls
Located in Colasi Mercedes, it is an aesthetic falls in the midst of the forest which could be reached through hiking. The falls has an approximate height of 70 ft. offering a good place for swimmers and nature lovers because of its flashing blue cool water. It can be reached in about one hour by jeepney from Daet to Baronage Colasi plus a 3-hour hike from Colasi to the falls.

Bagasbas Beach
The most popular beach in the province can be found 5 km. from downtown Daet or about 10 minutes by land. A wide white sand beach, it is ideal for swimming, beachcombing, and summer outings and picnics.

Lanot Beach
Fascinating for its spring; 30 km. south of Daet. Barangay Lanot of Mercedes can be reached by banca or motorboat through Barangay Hinipaan, 15 km. from Daet.

Pag-asa Beach
Located 46 km. northwest of Daet and 3 km. from Jose Panganiban. Popular among swimmers, picknickers, and promenaders.

Itok Falls
Located about 79 km. northwest of Daet, 4 km. west of Capalonga. Fresh and lush foliage and vegetation make it more romantic; its scenic vista soothes tired souls and heavy hearts.

Canton Cave
It can be reached in 45 minutes by motorboat from Mercedes town; inviting to the adventurous; exploring it is timed with the tide’s ebb and flow.

San Jose Beach
Wide beach with fine sand; a 15-minute ride from Daet and Talisay; ideal for picnics and swimming.

Pulang Daga Beach
It can be reached in two hours by bus from Daet and Paracale; frequented by picknickers and swimmers; made a setting for a film; clean white sands and swimming-safe cove; with cottages for rent.

Mampurog River
A 15 minute ride by jeepney, southwest of Daet along the San Lorenzo Ruiz-Daet road; ideal for bathers, swimmers, picknickers and campers.

Apuao Grande Island Resort
It can be reached in 15 to 30 minutes by motorboat from Mercedes; complete with hotel/cottages, swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and a golf course; caters mostly to foreign tourists.

Bulalakao Beach
Crystal clear water and white sandy shores; located at Luklukan Sur, about 9 km. from Jose Panganiban town proper; inviting to swimmers and picknickers.

Calalanay Island Beach
Located in Calaguas Island, Vinzons.


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

Apr 1, 2007


How about the first Rizal monument?


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

Apr 2

May tama ka!

here's a picture of it.


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

April 1, 2007

that's a good point, Danny.

that's a Daet's exclusive, the first Rizal Monument.. hope they keep it presentable out there for tourists.


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

April 1, 2007

Thank you for reminding us about the Rizal statue in Daet…Come to think of it, I was asking Toti and Rudy about what we can contribute…Painting the monument is already a big contribution from our Batch…and for a very little sum….And there are others too. Go and check Google and there’s very little about Daet, more so about our Alma Mater. I am very sure with Bob, Toti, and MaryNat’s combined brain, we can flood the internet with interesting articles about Daet. We can also contribute to challenging the young ones to prepare articles about Daet and we select and award the best ones. We could also write things like: places to eat, to stay, be entertained (not only Tagas, he, he, he), internet café, museum, etc….Marami pa ring pwedeng gawin doon, besides scholarships. Sana naman we can also contribute something back…Unfortunately, hope is not a plan.

Ed Canela

Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...


About the first Rizal monument, hindi ba dapat mabigyan din nang malaking importansya iyon. Siguro, one activity of the reunion is a wreath laying to the monument with all the publicity para mapansin ng media. What a good share to PI history from our class. Regards and always have a good round of golf.


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

Mar 29

Rizal monument- ya, good suggestion, maybe the morotcade can culminate at the monument for wreath laying and some photo taking. what say, Mendy, Susan?



Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

Golden heritage
By Dexter R. Matilla
Last updated 00:45am (Mla time) 04/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines - Camarines Norte has billed itself as the "Land of Gold and Golden Opportunities," perhaps winking at its reputation for having gold resources.

But the gold could lie elsewhere. It could lie, for example, in the natural and cultural riches of the province.

The province's potential is seen on Calaguas Island, which has a beach that's boasted as better than Boracay's.

Artist Joaquin Palencia, who hails from Camarines Norte, pointed to the fine white sand of Calaguas. It is a rare virgin island worth the two-hour boat ride from the capital city of Daet.

Calaguas may look surreal at first glimpse. The main beach is called "Mahabang Buhangin," referring to the islandís extremely long beach length.

The crystal-clear water stretches offshore and the waves are perfect for surfing. There are no resorts to be found but there are a few friendly locals willing to help guests set up camp.

A day is obviously not enough to enjoy Calaguas, but it is not the only attraction offered by Camarines Norte.

Tourists can visit Vinzons Catholic Church, said to be one of the oldest in the country. It contains a replica of the Black Nazarene, which is honored during the Capalonga fiesta.

For those who don't like the idea of going on a two-hour boat ride to Calaguas, there is the Bagasbas beach, about five kilometers from downtown Daet. The white-sand beach passed the international surfing standard of the Department of Tourism. It is an exceptional place for swimming and picnic.

Camarines Norte also produces some of the sweetest queen pineapples in the country. This must have been the inspiration behind the Pineapple Island resort, a one-of-a-kind waterpark in Bicol suited to family getaways.

During a courtesy call of the media, Gov. Jesus Typoco and Rep. Renato Unico Jr. expressed their optimism about the potential of Camarines Norte to become a top tourist destination in the country.

Considered as the gateway to the Bicol region, the province has a lot to offer especially to those who are looking for something new and are seeking adventure, tired of the overcrowded summer beach destinations.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Captivating Calaguas
Text and photos by Perry Gil S. Mallari

AS a writer accustomed to the squalor of urban waterfronts and city smog, I find the idea of doing a travel story about an island paradise in Bicol short of an invitation to Shangri-La.

For a couple of years now, bits and pieces of rumors have been circulating about this group of islands named Calaguas off the Pacific coast of Camarines Norte dubbed by adventurers as the “Boracay” of the Bicol region. Those tales proved to be true after all.

Getting there

The most practical way to get to Calaguas is to take an 8-hour bus trip from Manila to Vinzon, which is Daet’s main town. A word of warning—take time in choosing the most comfortable bus you can afford. There are a couple of bus lines plying this route and the rule of thumb is to choose a bus with ultra comfortable seats with plenty of legroom. It will definitely pay off because on a bad day, the usual 8-hour travel can stretch to a 10-hour trip. A faster option is to go by plane from Manila to Legazpi City. From Legazpi, it is roughly 3 to 4 hours drive to Vinzon, Daet.

I consider the boat ride from the fish port of Bagasbas to Calaguas Islands half the fun of the whole trip. Visitors are usually brought to the islands on big fishing boats. I am amazed by the strength of these vessels because, save for the motor engine attached to these, the design is exactly the same as those used by ancient seafaring Filipinos. I personally experienced the mettle of these boats when we were relentlessly buffeted by 12-foot swells for two hours on our way back to Daet. Despite the venerable skills of the fishermen maneuvering boat and the durability of these vessels, I still highly recommend that passengers strap a life vest for the duration of the boat ride.

Another important thing to consider before braving the 2-hour boat trip is to secure all your electronic gizmos like cameras, cell phones and MP3 players in a waterproof, tight pouch. It is advisable to strap them as high as you can on your body because you could be submerged in water waist-deep when transferring from boat to boat, not to mention the occasional splash of waves on your face every time your boat gets a big splash of waves.

Surreal beauty

Setting foot on Calaguas almost evokes an aura of sacredness; it’s like the beholding a virgin bride in her quiet splendor for the first time. Calaguas for now is untouched by commercialism. If your goal is pure, unadulterated communion with nature, Calaguas is the place to be. The place is almost virginal, with crystalline waters gently lapping white sand beaches. The islands are inhabited by a small group of fisher folks who welcomes visitors with open arms.

Exploring Pinagkastilyohan

(roughly means where a castle was built), which was the navel of the Calaguas group of islands can be a truly surreal experience. Taking a stroll on the ankle-deep emerald green water, one can see different shells and other small marine life scattered beneath like jewels. I saw a cowry shell about the size of a fist. I was surprised because this shell is the one used in the local game of sungka and its usual size is only about a centimeter long.

Though breathtaking in its beauty, Calaguas in its present state is not for the traveler accustomed to five-star accommodation and pampering. There are no commercial establishments on the islands; no toilets; no running water.

Visitors coming to the islands through organized tours usually pitch tents on the shore. As for the toilet, the only solution is to bring a portable one but it would not be hard to imagine how tricky it is to bring such a thing to and from the islands. Hydration and sun protection should also be important considerations if one is visiting the islands during the summer months because the heat can be a killer.

Opening its doors

I consider myself fortunate to see Calaguas in its present untainted form. Our guide compared it to being in Boracay 25 years ago. Now that I’ve been to both locations, I can honestly say that Calaguas can rival its Visayan counterpart in every way.

Calaguas will soon emerge with a new face. There are already concrete plans of turning these islands into a major tourist destination according to the local government of Daet. A quick surf on the Internet will reveal that some portions of Calaguas are indeed for sale. The development is no secret to the inhabitants of the islands and they look forward to it with hope in their hearts.

Mang Juan, a local fisherman I had a chat with, hopes that the coming commercialization will also bring them a better life. I tried to share Mang Juan’s hope but at the back of my mind, there is an apprehension that Calaguas will suffer the same fate as Boracay. It is now an open book that Boracay has two faces—the beautiful side is the one portraying crystal-clear water and powder-white sand beaches and the ugly side is that of a mammoth mountain of garbage cascading with empty water bottles and other refuse. Some local government officials of Daet say lessons were learned from Boracay and though there is no 100-percent guarantee that Calaguas will be totally spared from ecological woes once it is developed into a tourist destination, what they can promise is that they will enforce every law available to safeguard the welfare of the islands.

I uttered a silent prayer as I was leaving the place. First, I thanked God for creating such a wonderful place and second, that Calaguas will remain as beautiful as the day I laid eyes on its islands.


A trip to paradise

By Natassia Laforteza

Summer isn’t complete without a trip to the beach, which is why the most popular beaches in the Philippines, such as Boracay and Puerto Galera, are swarming with people at this time of the year. Being a beach enthusiast myself, I look forward to this annual summer trip, but after being in Boracay for the nth time; I became tired of the hustle and bustle of its partying lifestyle.

But there must be more to the Philippines than Boracay. So when the invitation to spend three days in the province of Camarines Norte to visit the Calaguas Island and tour the historical sites of the province, with some media personnel, came, I didn’t hesitate. Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte, recently hosted the 5th Asian University Basketball Championships and the trip to Calaguas Island, a cluster of islands found off the Pacific Coast of Vinzons in Camarines Norte, was a side trip that served as respite for the staff and the delegates of the event.

Camarines Norte is located in the northern coast of the Bicol peninsula and is characterized by rolling hills, rugged mountains, and small coastal plains. It is approximately 350 km. south of Manila and a seven-hour drive, but since we rode a passenger bus, it took us almost 10 hours of travel because of the numerous pickups and bathroom breaks.

After eating our dinner of pork barbecue and chicken afritada at the canteen of Our Lady of Lourdes College Foundation, we were brought to the Bagasbas Viewpoint Inn, which is a 10-minute drive from the Daet town proper. It is also just right across Bagasbas beach. As soon as I got off the van, I immediately got a whiff of the distinct smell of the sea and felt the cool sea breeze. It was a welcome relief from the heat that would come the next day.

Another advantage of living in a seaside inn is having the perfect view of the sunrise by the beach. As soon as I woke up the next day, I was greeted by the swirling colors of pink and purple in the sky and the sparkling waters of Bagasbas beach caused by the rays of the early-morning sun. It was simply beautiful beyond words and worthy of numerous photographs.

Our first agenda for the day was to answer the courtesy call on the governor of Camarines Norte, Gov. Jesus Typoco Jr. along with Rep. Renato Unico Jr., the governor answered a few questions regarding pursuing the tourism of Camarines Norte. With the exposure gained from the coverage of the 5th AUBC, he hoped to entice tourists and gain more public interest to the historical spots and breathtaking beaches of Camarines Norte.

A picturesque detour

We decided to detour to a secluded property to get a panoramic view of the Bagasbas beach and other offshore islands. Bagasbas beach is the most popular beach in Camarines Norte, with its wide expanse of fine gray sand and its cool waters. Quite dangerous to swim in because of the powerful undertow, Bagasbas beach remains a paradise for surfing beginners and aficionados because its swells reach 3 to 6 ft. perfect for neophytes. During clear but windy days, its big waves rolling from the Pacific Ocean reaches up to 8 ft. The Department of Tourism has already recognized Bagasbas beach as one of the surfing paradises in the Philippines.

We soon separated into groups to start our tour of the historical sites in the province. Our first stop was the ancestral house of the former governor and congressman of Camarines Norte, Wenceslao Vinzons, located in the town proper that bares his name, Vinzons. His residence has been converted into a shrine and public library that showcases his memorabilia, from photographs of his family to newspaper clippings.

We later drove to the oldest church in Bicol, the church of St. Peter the Apostle, more commonly known as the Vinzons Catholic church, named after its hometown hero. What was unusual about the church was the altar, where the statue of St. Peter sitting in a throne can be found, instead of the usual large crucifix.

The town of Daet holds the distinction of having the First Rizal Monument built in 1898 throughout the Philippines. Standing on the corner of Magallanes and Justo Lukban streets, the three-tiered stone plyon is located across the old Daet municipal hall. Its foundation was believed to be made of the mortars from the demolished old Spanish jail in Daet were many patriots died, making it culturally and historically significant.

Virgin islands

The coordinators of the event definitely saved the best for last as the much-awaited Calaguas Island trip was scheduled for the last day. The travel to Calaguas Island is about two-and-a-half hours by motorboat in Vinzons. Since we were a big group, we rode one of the bigger fishing vessels in the Mercedes port area to accommodate all of the staff, delegates, and media personnel that wanted to join the trip.

After the two-hour travel, which caused sea sickness to some of the Indonesian basketball players, we finally sighted the virgin islands of the Calaguas group. It was definitely paradise on Earth. The pristine white-sand beaches, sparkling blue-green waters, and luscious green mountains were virtually untouched by commercialization and pollution. There were no restrooms in sight, nor where there any tourist infrastructures such as hotels or restaurants. If someone wanted to do a number two, he/she must ride a boat to a nearby island. Tents must be put up for shade or if you want to camp out. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for someone accustomed to urban conveniences like me.

After swimming in the cool waters of Calaguas Island and eating lunch in hollow bamboo shoots, we decided to take a tour around the cluster of islands. Riding a fishing boat, we first stop into a small island called Pinagcastillohan. Characterized by giant rocks and crystal-clear waters, Pinagcastillohan is home to numerous corals and sea creatures. If one was lucky, he can find dried-up starfishes or sand dollars. Numerous crows can also be seen flying overhead.

Since the tide was low, we were unable to tour around the whole cluster of islands, so we went to an island called Balagbag Malaki, where one can snorkel and look at the numerous coral reefs or collect seashells to take home as souvenirs. But because it was already growing dark and there was no snorkeling apparel available, we decided to head back to the mainland, cherishing the memories of the beauty we had just seen. The Philippines boasts having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte has made us believe that paradise really exists here.

Sor Victorina de la Providencia, Mother Superior of Daet Parochial School

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