As our coaster maneuvered through the winding mountain road in Labo, Camarines Norte, I couldn’t help but marvel at the breathtaking views that unfolded before my eyes. Unlike my previous nocturnal journeys to Bicol during my childhood, this daytime adventure through Labo municipality was a delightful revelation. Little did I know that this unassuming destination held a myriad of hidden gems waiting to be explored.
Often times from experience of chasing waterfalls, some of the most majestic falls comes after an arduous journey. That’s why it was quite a delight to discover the Kambal Busay Falls and Hidden Falls in Bulusan, Sorsogon. One of the most accessible falls I’ve been to but it retains its pristine beauty and developed with care.
Often times the more challenging path yields to richer rewards. In Sta Ana, Cagayan, we ventured to the foothills of Sierra Madre mountains to explore one of the recently developed and opened tourism site in the municipality – the Buwacag Falls. This multi-tiered falls have a fun and challenging trail amidst lush forest leading to several wonderful cascades.
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.
I think there was a time in Philippine tourism when we had a “Zipline Craze”. After a few successful ziplines in Davao, Bukidnon and my favorite, Lake Sebu, suddenly, a lot of province I had visited to wants to add a zipline as their attraction. In my head I was screaming “Not another zipline!” as a tourism officer enthusiastically shares their plan on site. In Pangasinan, there’s Balungao Hilltop Adventure view that claims to have the longest zipline in the country at 1.4km long. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve heard of the municipality of Balungao. If not for Lakbay Norte 5, this would remain out of my radar. And guess what? We get to try their zipline and more.
I took the front seat of the ‘torpedo’ boat. That’s what they call this long wooden motorized canoes without outriggers in Samar. Like the faluwas in Batanes, these boats are designed to navigate wild waters whereas if they have outriggers, it would easily snap from the force of the rapids. Judging by the boats, I could expect an exciting ride over at Ulot River. The Ulot River Torpedo Extreme Boat Adventure is one of the main attraction in Samar which is also a part of the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop attractions of numerous waterfalls, caves, springs and an eagle sanctuary.
Clouds have always been a thing of fascination. People climb mountains often to see the play of clouds billow across mountain peaks like waves. Dissipating in a dance from nebulous to nothingness. When I heard about the Mt Ulap Eco-Trail which recently opened last October 2015, I was intrigued. The Eco-trail is also known as the Philex Ridge, named after the huge mining company operating in the area. The highest peak, was named Mt Ulap by an engineer named “Lagman” who marked the summit in February 1, 1939. He described that the mountain is perennially a magnet for clouds (which is “ulap” in tagalog). The trail has long been a playground for trail runners from Baguio and Benguet. Now the local government, particularly the Ampucao Tourism Council opened the trail to the public.