You could tell if a destination is gaining ground in terms of tourism when their infrastructure starts improving. During my recent visit to Tawi-tawi, I was able to climb Bud Bongao again. I certainly noticed a new building, paved stairways and other pleasing developments. It was eight years ago when I last climbed Bud Bongao. A time when there still a heavy stigma hovering over the province. But now that stigma is slowly lifting. People are learning that Bongao, Tawi-tawi is relatively safe which resulted to a three-fold increase in tourism arrivals just this year, 2017. At the forefront of the province’s tourism project is the Bud Bongao Eco-Tourism Park. A 342-meter high sacred mountain with an imposing presence at the center of the island.
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.
Sometimes, nature’s beauty just have to speak for itself. In an island of 30 waterfalls, Biliran Tinago Falls is just one of the nature beauties in the small island that’s hard to conceal for so long. Tucked in the forest of Caibiran, near the heart of the island, the falls (Tinago in Tagalog means hidden), no longer hidden, is probably the most popular falls in the province. The inner Naval-Caibiran road is well paved, passing through a series of low rice terraces towards the jump-off known as the Tinago Falls Eco Tourism Park. It’s accessibility makes it a local favorite for both tourist and island natives.