With Holy Week just around the corner, it’s time once again to consult a map and contemplate on doing the rounds of churches for the annual Visita Iglesia. While you’re at it, it might be worthwhile exploring Rizal Province which is renowned for beautiful, mostly centuries-old churches with some dating back to the Spanish colonial period. This year, why not hop on your bike instead of walking so you can cover more ground? After all, you’d still be using your legs as some sort of sacrifice for the Lenten season while pedaling your way to municipality after municipality of quaint, old churches steeped in history. Let’s start our Siklista Iglesia.
Often battered and in the front-line of incoming storms, Catanduanes has often been out of the radar for most travelers in the Philippines. But this island province, unbeknownst to many, holds a lot of natural wonders and activities that would keep adventure travelers and nature explorers occupied. One would lead to discover pristine beaches, enchanting lagoon, stunning rock formations, sweeping cliffs, alluring waterfalls and age old churches. There’s something here for everyone.
Moving from up from Bato, Catanduanes is the municipality of Baras. Made highly popular because of the surfing waves in Puraran which placed Catanduanes on the tourist map. Now with different areas of Catanduanes opening up and placed under the spotlight, we’ll discover that there is more to the island than surfing and the abaca industry. In the recent years, Binurong Point has been abuzz. Situated at the easternmost point of the island province, the area greets any storm head on coming from the Pacific seas. Resulting on a spectacularly rugged landscape sculpted by battering storms, waves and passing time.
The Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal got immensely popular for its well-managed and exhilarating Discovery Trail. Nature lovers reveled in the natural rock garden playground where they traversed through forest trail, find their balance on giant hammocks and savor the scenic rocky peaks while learning more about the surroundings. But this trail is only a part of the huge 2,000 hectare Masungi Karst Conservation Area. Just recently, the Masungi Georeserve Legacy Trail was opened as a separate offering. The new trail highlights the project’s conservation efforts, immersion and insight into the challenges they continue to face.
5:25 AM. Our car was parked in front of the Masungi Georeserve gate waiting for them to open. The wind howled and sent chills down to our bones making us seek warmth inside the car. I have long been interested on visiting the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal but booking a tour was a challenge as slots are often filled. DIY or walk-ins are also not allowed as booking should be done in groups of 6–10. Fortunately, our friend Lea, whom I met in Batanes Asus event called for joiners to complete a group of her friends with her father. We chose the earliest schedule to somehow catch a good light on the trail.
The recent Typhoons, Ondoy and Pepeng, both caused devastation to a lot of areas in the country. And it always seem that the one province who that mostly experience the onslaughts of these heavenly disturbances is Catanduanes. It’s barely a month when I was on that island so when the storms hit big time, I wondered how the people we met there are doing. Aside from checking out the Surfing Scene in Puraran, we also walked around the neighborhood and met some interesting local colors there.
It seems crazy when we hear people say that they want the storms to come in when they are on the beach. “Stronger the waves the better” as one surfer says. And it is in the presence of the storm that the waves and the wind become their playground. It is start of the surfing season again in the country. And Puraran Beach is home to a world renowned surf break, the Majestics.