August was just teeming with adventures for me, as I got to travel to places I’d never been to before. I went to Singapore with my college buddies, to Tacloban to support our Runroo friends for an ultramarathon event and finally, to the beautiful island of Biliran with my fellow Carebears whom I had previously gone with to Surigao last February.
Biliran Island province is a 2-hour ride north of Ormoc City, with Naval as its capital. Though it was a dizzy ride going there, the view was breathtaking. There were a lot of mountains and small islands surrounding it. In my perspective, the view is pretty much a fusion of Bukidnon mountains, and the coastline you find south of Cebu. It felt like home seeing all those mountains on one side and the beautiful beach on the other, which all remind me of the reasons why I love Cebu.
When we arrived at Naval, we had lunch and waited for our ride to Agta Beach Resort in Almeria. We were fetched by Melo, a scuba-diver and the grandson of the resort’s owner. It was a 30-minute ride from Naval. When we got to the resort, I was already super tempted to swim in the beach as it was very clear and inviting! But I stopped myself because we were still planning to go to Tinago falls.
Melo offered us a ride going there, saving us fare for the habal-habal, which practically has us paying the “tourist/foreigner” rates. Normally, the habal-habal costs 500-700 pesos each. That was pretty steep, considering we were on a tight budget, so it was a good thing that Melo only asked us to pay for the gas, so we got by with only 700 pesos for the trip.
Tinago falls is located in the center of the island. It was a long ride going there, but the view was still very beautiful! We saw some pretty big rice terraces, breathtaking mountain ranges, and we got to glimpse a little bit of the simple life people lead in the province. It was very calming. I could simply stay there to meditate or just relax. After that long but enjoyable ride, we finally arrived at Tinago Falls.
There is only one word to describe the place: magnificent! It was like paradise. You know all those forests we see in the movies/video games where there is a waterfall in the heart of it and there are all these fairies floating about? That’s what being there feels like, it was magical! The falls were unscathed by civilization, and the water was very clear!
After taking pictures of the falls and a little bit of swimming, we headed back to the resort and just relaxed. Some of us went to the beach, while I took a couple of sunset shots. It was also a blue moon that night, and I got to take a particularly nice photo of it.
We were just chilling out in the beach that night, drinking T-Ice and playing some music on the guitar. Then the earthquake started, and the power went out for a while. It wasn’t all that long until the electricity came back. Poy then went online to search about the news. We also got a text message that there was a tsunami alert in Leyte and Samar. Cho was super worried about it. Good thing it was lifted, so she was able to sleep soundly at last. 🙂 As for me, I slept the whole time and didn’t even know about that tsunami alert until morning the next day.
The weather was really gloomy that day. The waves were pretty aggressive, and it was drizzling. We were bummed because one of the main reasons why we went to Biliran was to visit Sambawan Island and take pictures there. Because of the weather and the recent tsunami scare though, none of the boatmen dared go to the island. All things considered though, I think it was a good call.
With the failed Sambawan Island plan, we then settled for the next best thing and went to Dalutan Island instead, which is located just a small distance off the resort. Even though the island was quite near, going there was still super scary, what with all the waves crashing against our boat. To top it all off, the boatman was telling us stories about shark sightings around the island. Thanks Manong, that was very reassuring!
We circled the island for a while, passing by a cave on our way to the shore. The view of Biliran from there was particularly beautiful. I was disappointed that I didn’t bring a camera, thinking it would get wet from the boat ride. We were only able to take a couple of pictures of the place using a cellphone camera. Well, at least we have proof that we were able to go there. 🙂
After the Dalutan Island trip, we went back to the resort, had lunch, and just chilled in the resort reading books, meditating on the beach, and just sleeping. For our last night there, we played some card games which were really fun!
On our last day at the resort, the weather had cleared up, although the waves were still too turbulent to let us go to Sambawan Island. Luck didn’t seem to be on our side at the time, but the next time we go back, we’re definitely going to Sambawan! And so we bade goodbye to the hospitable people of Agta Beach Resort, to Melo and Tita Milette who were the simply best hosts we could have asked for during our stay in the resort.
We went back to Ormoc city and stayed there for a few hours while waiting for our boat back to Cebu.
It was a bittersweet trip. We didn’t have a chance to go to Sambawan Island even though we were all really looking forward to going there, but despite that slight hiccup in our plans, we still managed to have fun. Tinago Falls was really beautiful and the whole island was mesmerizing. I’d love to go back and visit them all over again.
Here’s a small video I made during our trip. Make sure to watch it till the end 🙂
Expenses in a nutshell:
Cebu-Ormoc roundtrip (via Supercat)* = Php 1374
Ormoc-Naval van = Php 120
Agta beach resort barkada room (good for 10 pax)** = Php 1500/night
Dalutan Island = Php 20 entrance, Php 200 or 150 cottages
Tinago Falls = we didn’t pay any entrance because there was no one around 🙂
* FYI: there’s also a slow boat to Naval that would take overnight. Read here: http://biliranisland.com/blogs/?p=229
** For more info on room rates, check it here: http://agtabeachresort.com/rates/ accommodations/