Talisoy Cove: A Rock With Jesus’ Face
by Danny Tariman
The city of Virac in Catanduanes never runs out of places to go. I had lived in this island during my childhood years, but never had the chance to explore the places.
My only sister and her family organized this outing one beautiful summer. Gay, Lilet with their siblings and children planned to have bonding moments with the bigger, extended family. After all, it’s been a couple of years we hadn’t had any family gathering as we live in different places, some are living overseas.
We had this gathering one day in Talisoy beach. It is just a 20-minute drive from the town proper. It is a tiny cove, a good swimming beachfront but has quite big waves which may not be good for unattended children.
This place is open to public, and is usually crowded during summer. The huts are very affordable to rent, and beach water is clean. Really a good place for those looking for a nice place for family bonding moments, at an easy-on-the-pocket budget.
One of the attractions of this cove is the rock formation that looks like the face of Jesus. It’s amazing, some people sees 2 faces, some can only see one. Whichever or whatever you can see, one thing is sure: one looks like the face of the LORD.
We had good sumptuous late lunch at the beach, as my family drove down to this place all the way from another resort: the Puraran Surf.
Indeed, another wonderful time spent with my extended family. Praise be to God!
It was raining hard when we reached this surfing destination of Catanduanes. We had been in this place in the past, but its fresh salty-wind, fine-sand shores, and barrel waves in the seas are irresistible for us not to come back. I like this place — rather I love this place. After all, I grew up in the town where this resort is located.
Despite the impending storm, we braved the rains. It was good, because somehow the storm induced bigger waves. Something that my daughter liked because she wanted to ride the surf again.
She wasn’t disappointed: she enjoyed the surfing. While she was riding the surf, her equally adventurous father was taking videos or photos of her surfing.
And while she was surfing, my son who owns a salt water aquarium, was busy searching the seabed for sea creatures he can put live in his aquarium.
Me and my wife had wonderful moments too in the beach: just gazing the horizon, sharing stories and experiences… Really good moments.
My family had a good accommodation too. The beach resort we checked-in is a family-run simple resort, the Pacific Surf. It has just a few native huts lining the putting greens. But we got an aircon room for just 1,500 pesos!
Indeed, it was another beautiful day in Puraran! Thank You LORD!
Family Adventures Tuwad-Tuwadan Rolling Hills & Rock Formations
by Danny Tariman
My family loves outdoors and adventures. We are always in the look-out for new places to explore. It was not a surprise that when we heard and saw photos of Tuwad-Tuwadan, we put it in our bucket list.
Tuwad-Tuwadan Rolling Hills and Rock Formation is in the northern tip of the island province of Catanduanes. It is within the bounds of a village called Balangonan in the town of Pandan. The town is about 90km north of the City of Virac. We drove to this town from Virac for almost 3 hours, enjoying the coastal view by the road.
We got lost, actually. We didn’t notice the road to Tuwad-Tuwadan and drove straight to the town proper where we asked for directions. [Poor me! We didn’t use technology – like Google Maps – to locate the place.] That was good too, because we were able to visit the town, and even had some moments of prayers inside St Ignatius of Loyola parish church.
Driving back southbound from Pandan, we finally found the road to Tuwad-Tuwadan. It was another challenge as there were no directional signs yet, as the road was under construction. And because it was under construction, we passed through dirt and muddy road.
If you plan to go driving yourself, do not go straight to the village (barangay) of Balangonan as the locals will offer you to take a boat ride to Tuwad-Tuwadan. When you go by boat, you will miss the windy and magnificent view of the rolling hills.
Asking a few locals, we were able to finally found the right road. It was a very tough and rough drive. I would highly recommend that you bring an SUV for this adventure. I drove passing through deep trenches in the middle of the trail; I had to carefully navigate the tires not to roll down the trench! It was really a difficult, almost off-road trail.
All the difficulties reaching the place were negated when we reached the rolling hills. It was indeed an awesome view, with winds splashing our faces! From the hills, I have a fantastic view of the cream colored beach cove which opens to the blue ocean.
This is just the opening of Tuwad-Tuwadan! We continued our drive until we reached the drop-off place to start our trek. This was just a short less-than-a-kilometer drive.
We were guided by 2 little local girls. We trekked passing through a rice field paddy to the main rolling hills. Really beautiful! Even our puppy who went with us from Manila enjoyed the place. She run away from us and explored the hills too! It was a good 15-20 minutes of hiking.
The rock formation is a down-hill trek on the side of the hills to the sea. It was a very steep trek. Although the locals made some cemented steps, I was a bit scared going down as I have this fear of heights. What could have been the blue lagoon was a white lagoon when we visited the place. It was because the sea was rough, with waves pounding the rocks, and the suds splashed by the waves covered the lagoon. It was still a good place for photos though. We didn’t swim as it was quite dangerous because of rough seas.
After few minutes of photo-ops, enjoying the sea breeze, and the magnificent views, we drove back to Virac. Another amazing experience for our family!
Pure Nature: The Beauty of Palumbanes
by Danny Tariman
My family had been talking about this “newly discovered” adventure-tourist spot off the island province of Catanduanes. We had seen a number of TV programs showing this stunning place where nature is at its best.
Palumbanes is an island off the coast of Caramoran, a northern town of Catanduanes province. It can be reached by a 45-minute boat ride. Caramoran is about 55km from Virac airport, passing though well-paved roads, zigzag at some points. My family drove for about 1hr and 40 minutes — quite slow — as this was the first time we drove this way. We had to take some photos, enjoy the view, while driving.
We were warmly met by the Palumbanes village head upon reaching the jump-off point in Caramoran. There is a safe parking area near the wharf, where we left our car overnight.
Upon reaching the island, we were awed by its pristine cream-colored beach! And crystal-clear sea water! With no other people in the island — except the 4 of us! We were indeed for an awesome, nature adventure trip!
We brought with us a couple of tents for our family, but the good village head offered us a native hut made of bamboo and palm leaves. This added to our nature outdoor experience!
We stayed in this secluded island in Parompong beach — a long stretch of fine cream-colored sand. My family is almost alone! We can play, we can swim, and we can do just about anything without any interference!
Just near the beach is a rich marine garden! My children were able to spot clown fishes playing in its natural habitat — a blanket anemone!
Oh yes, the corals! Our host took us to a nearby deep snorkelling area. My children, of course, take turns doing their free-diving to about 15-18 feet. I and my wife also took a dip into that snorkelling area. We were just awed by its colorful coral formations.
As the day was about to close, we all watched for a spectacular view of the sunset! We were not failed! Golden rays booming out of the clouds, with the sea at its foreground, a perfect shot indeed!
In the night, it was another almost magical experience for my family. We saw a couple of trees along the beach inhabited by fireflies! My 2 children (and me too!) immediately took their mobile phones to take photos, but unfortunately, it didn’t work. My son took out his DSLR camera, but then again, the fireflies can hardly be seen. But the experience was just awesome!
All alone in the beach that evening, we were just gazing the heavenlies. We enjoyed a night of pure nature: just the moon and the stars lighting the beach and the entire surroundings! There was no electricity, and no lamps. In my about 2 decades living in the city, this was the first time I enjoyed the moon and the stars! Really wonderful, what an experience!
Here’s another experience: we cooked our dinner on firewood! Wow, indeed outdoor experience at its best!
We were assisted in this adventure by a passionate promoter of the Catanduanes Island as a tourist destination — Ferdie Ocol Benavidez — who led me to meet our tour guide, and Palumbanes village head, Kap Tiloy Condeno who guided us. Kap Tiloy can be reached through his mobile phone at 0948-4165370.
We left the island the following morning with many good memories to keep. Amazing, awesome, wonderful experience!
It was raining very hard when we first attempted to trek to Binurong Point, in Baras, Catanduanes. While waiting for the weather to improve that morning, my family met with the village head, who is my cousin. It was decades since we last met. But after about an hour of waiting, and there seems to be no let-up for the rains, we decided to go first to Puraran Surf Beach (I have a separate story for this), to try out surfing, with the weather permitting.
The following day, we woke up to a good weather: the sun was rising up the horizon without rain clouds. And so we drove back to the jump-off point for our trek to Binurong.
We were met by the village head’s wife, who acted as our trek and tour guide. We were so glad that a relative accompanied us in this trek. And I am so happy that she knows a good story about Binurong Point, and knows the best angle for the photo-shots!
My family, with our 3-month old puppy, started our trek passing through the rocky end of the sea shore. After a few meters we were on the trail going up the hill. We passed through some muddy trail as there was a heavy rain the day before our trek. But after about 30 minutes of trek, the beautiful view of Binurong Point was just in front of us!
The view was just awesome! It was a perfect blend of the hill, the sea, and the sky! As our trek guide would tell us, there are 4 “points”, but we just explored the first 3.
The first point is the left-most, facing the ocean. It is for the daring heart! I tried but couldn’t walk the hill as I have this fear of heights. The hill is quite steep on both sides with a not-so-wide trail on top. I remember that this was the hill where a motorcycle-riding TV-host had a very good shot while he run through the trail on his bike.
Between points 1 and 2 is a valley that looks like an amphitheater. In the lowest area of the valley is a little pond, or lake as you may call it. My cousin would imagine bringing musicians in this area where the audience can just sit in the beauty of nature that surrounds the place.
We had wonderful shots taken at point #2. It was quite easy for me to explore this cape as the top had wide flat area for photo-ops. But whether it is point #1 or #2, whether you take the left side or the right side as the backdrop, all angles are just perfectly beautiful!
Onto the third point, we passed through another awesome sight of the waves splashing into a rock formation. Wow! Really beautiful! Our puppy enjoyed this place too as she continued to run around and explored the place!
What an experience! What an awesome sight!
After a little over an hour exploring the place and taking photos, we decided to trek back. Upon reaching the village, we treated ourselves with ice-cold halo-halo (a mix of fruits and jelly, topped with shaved ice and milk).
We thought it was all for the treat. But there was one more: as we were leaving the small village, little children were waving at us and saying “good bye” and “see you again!”
Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is known for its long stretch of beaches fronting the Tayabas Bay. My family had been to a number of resorts along this place and for a reason of trying other resorts, we opted to try as walk-in guests in this resort very near the town-proper of San Juan.
The entrance to Kota Keluarga is impressive. It looks like an expensive resort, but actually has a reasonable price structure. The resort itself appears to be on the higher-end of the spectrum with its glass-walled cabanas fronting the beach, 2 very well-appointed swimming pools, a nice bar, and of course, it’s well maintained, clean cream-colored beach.
The road from the entrance to the beach is a mix of paved, concrete road, and dirt roads. The paved road ends at the Kota Keluarga Village, after which, we drove on a dirt road for about 3 kilometers.
Upon our arrival at the parking area, I noticed several cabanas with red tile roofing. I told myself “This must be expensive”. We proceeded to the reception area near the bar. I was impressed as I walked passing though well-manicured garden, and really nice facilities.
To my surprise. It was reasonably priced! And so I asked my family if we will use this resort. All agreed!
We were helped by its staff to unload our stuff and bring it to our open cabana. As I surveyed the place, I feel blessed to have been brought to this resort. The beach was not full – just a few groups, the facilities are up-scale, clean swimming pools, and the shore swimming area is just right – not too deep, and no sudden change of seabed contour. Best for kids!
We enjoyed the place almost just our family, as there were only very few guests in the resort. Our children explored the place some more. They found a good place for free-diving just about 10 meters from the shore. I joined them, and I was awed by the beauty of the deep with its corals and tropical reef fishes.
I also enjoyed playing with our puppy. We ran back-and-forth along the shore. I got too tired running around I have to stop, while the little puppy was very active and playful. Haha!
And of course! We enjoy a lot our family bonding moments! I had a couple of 360-degree videos with my wife, the children and I enjoyed our swimming in the deep. Really priceless moments!
It is indeed another weekend of full-pleasure! We had just a day tour in this resort, and everyone enjoyed the beach, the facilities, and even the food and drinks!
My family’s desire for outdoor adventure moves us to look for places we haven’t been to, for spots to discover.
That weekend in December, we planned to explore another place – the Binukbok Viewpoint in Bauan, Batangas.
It is about 2-1/2 hour drive from the city to the drop-off point in Bauan. We left home at about 5 in the morning so we can reach the cove by 8am. We were not disappointed: we parked our car at 7:30, had a boat ride for 15 minutes, and we reached our destination as planned!
Binukbok is a diving and snorkelling spot. The place is not for kids. There is no sandy beach; only big rounded stones lining the shores. But it was good! Just a few steps from the shores is a rich marine garden teaming with corals and reef fish.
Upon arrival at the resort, we were met by the very friendly resort owner, Kuya Manny, who immediately asked his staff to assist us to our reserved space. And yes, there is a flowing coffee tourists can take – unlimited.
The seafront is lined with native cottages, and behind the cottages, are small patches of “free space” where back-packers can pitch their tents. This is not a luxurious place to be, but good enough to satisfy one’s craving for snorkelling and diving.
Oh, the snorkelling area! It is so near the shore! The resort has stock of fish feed that you can use so that the fishes will swim to you as you go down the water. Indeed, fish of every kind swarmed around me when I did just that! So thrilling!
Of course, my grown-up children enjoyed their dive! They went to the deeper spots where there are more colorful corals. We just enjoyed all these marine creatures!
We had grilled tuna and pork ribs for lunch. The resort staff were so good, they even helped us cook on charcoal our meal grilled dishes.
We stayed in this cove for just a day. It was another day of family fun and adventure!