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.
We could see the long strip of the white sandy shores of Alibijaban Island from the port. We arrived just in time for the sunrise after a long six-hour drive from Manila. I was in the company of my fellow officemates from the university I currently work with and we’re on an outing trip. But it seems, we won’t be alone on the island as we were expecting. The newly built port already had a few vehicles parked, probably heading to the same island. Alibijaban Island has garnered quite a popularity in the past couple of years, and I had to blame my friends, Dong Ho and Allan of Lantaw for that somehow. I had some laughs when I recount Dong Ho’s story of being mistaken as an NPA when he first set foot on the island. He had to seek comfort and security under the baranggay captain since no tourist comes to their island. Now visitors here picked up especially on weekends. What drives people on this southern region of Quezon province?
Our bleary eyes and drowsy heads from the six-hour red-eye road trip from Manila to San Andres, Quezon was suddenly shook awake. We knew we would take a motorbike to our first destination which is Tigbi Falls, but I guess we were not ready for the tough and rough road (which is an understatement) ahead. Suddenly, I was harkened back to those butt-beating rides to waterfalls like in Asik-asik Falls in Cotabato and Tulgao Palan-ah Falls in Kalinga. While it’s certainly not of the same level of difficulty, it is that close to a tough ride in at least half an hour for me to recall them. But all that was a rewarding transit. Aside from the scenic landscape of Banaba village on the way, Tigbi Falls is where stuff of enchantments and lore are born.
I asked the locals what their favorite waterfalls is on the island of Tablas, Romblon. Mablaran Falls in San Andres always seem to pop up so it got me curious. The group of teen boys I met at Garing Falls in Odiongan told me it’s much easier to go there from the main road. The way is paved like a highway and people can swim at night because there are now lights. Not that I’ll go there for a night swim, but I’m interested how it looks and why is it a local favorite. From Odiongan town proper, we rode our motorbike 23km to the northern region of the island for San Andres.