Before KathNiel showed us around Bicol via the big screen, LLCOM went around the region to explore.
LLCOM stands for the initial of our surnames Lo, Lao, Ching, Ong, Mendez, 8 of us. While most people went to bask under the sun for LABORacay, we went to our own LLCOM BICOL adventure for Labor day 2014! 😉
A little history of how the trip was planned. By far the most spontaneous planning I’ve encountered!
First, we booked our plane ticket July of 2013 because there was a seat sale from Cebu Pacific. From one sms to another, we went for the location which can offer us the lowest fare for the long weekend of May 2014. Yes, we have no particular destination in mind, we left it to chance. ((: After booking for 4 of us, that’s when we asked around for others to join. Before 2013 ends there were already 7 of us booked for Legazpi and then we have forgotten about it. Come 2014, it’s time to really think about where we’re heading, what are we going to do in Legazpi, where are we staying so by February of 2014, upon deciding we want to see Caramoan, we made bookings at Gota Village and CWC, fixing our itinerary. We also booked our Legazpi City tour via the Donsol Eco Tour who is part of the Bangon Tour of the Department of Tourism with the aim of helping the victims of Yolanda and the Bohol Quake of 2013. Oh, and there were 8 of us by now! 😀
By March, we have already paid our down payment for the stay in CWC, but Gota Village broke to us a bad news. They have been booked, the whole resort, by the Survivor series!!! 😦 When I’m desperate I can say the most desperate and kinda stupid things, of course. I asked Donna of Gota Village if they can ask Survivor to move their shooting to June, to tell them it’s not good for shooting on May etc etc… Hahaha… Maybe Donna sensed my desperation, she offered to look for other beach-front resort for us to stay but most of them were fully booked as well. We also checked West Peninsula Villas and it’s fully booked, while Tugawe Cove was over our budget (it’s also a nice place to stay in Caramoan). Thankfully, Jessica of Donsol Eco Tour was our super girl for this trip, very accommodating and helpful in planning for the additions and changes in our itinerary. A HUGE THANK YOU to Jessica of Donsol Eco Tour, I highly recommend them!!!
Therefore, we ended up with this itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrive in Legazpi, drive to Donsol for Butanding and lunch, boat ride to Ticao Island for dinner, firefly watching and overnight stay at Ticao Island Resort
Day 2 – Breakfast at Ticao Island Resort, boat ride back to Donsol, van ride to Legazpi for our Legazpi City Tour, drive to Pili for our dinner and overnight stay at CWC
Day 3 – Breakfast at CWC, Naga Heritage Tour – Mt. Isarog Falls, Panicuason Hot Spring, Peñafrancia Church, House of Pili, back to CWC for dinner and overnight stay
Day 4 – Drive back to Legazpi for our flight back to Manila
And so the day came for us to go on an adventure.
Flight was on time, we arrived and were shyly greeted by Mt. Mayon at the Legazpi airport. Our van ride to Donsol was fast and curvy so motion sickness kicked in I had to hold on with all my might not to puke! ((: It’s just so refreshing to step out of the van and breathe in fresh sea air after an hour of being enclosed and tossed (that’s how I felt)!
For this trip, our hashtags were: #BusogSaButanding #TicaoAtIkaw #BicolExpress
After some minutes of changing to our swimwear and fixing our stuff, we went to the Tourism center to sign papers for our butanding sighting. Since we’re 8, we were divided into two boats, 4 on each. The guide and locals told us that a day before we arrived, sighting was close to none BUT there seems to be some sighting on that day and so they wished us good luck. And maybe it is true, pregnant women are lucky women! After half an hour out in the sea, we finally got our first butanding sighting! And then another and another that it was I who gave up jumping in to the water then going up the boat then jumping in again – that was some workout! We were out there in the sea for a an hour and a half chasing after the butanding.
The only underwater gadget we have that can take underwater photo was a manual underwater film camera that I got before the trip.
For safety purposes, we have to wear the life vest. And since I am not a diver nor a swimmer, it’s not only for my safety but for my life that I have to wear a life vest and it was hard trying to look into the cam’s viewer while underwater with a life vest on. It was literally point and shoot and spin then repeat for me, remember manual film camera. 😀 Again, we leave the photos of the butanding to chance! ((: And we got some good ones!
After our encounter with the butanding, we had our lunch at Miraya Restaurant which was beautifully located near the shore so we got some time to unwind looking out the sea while waiting for our boat transfer to Ticao Island. Loved how laid back and slow-paced things were, no rushing, just chillin’ and practicing instax photography with Kat. 😛
From Donsol, Sorsogon, it took us around 2 hours to get to Ticao Island resort which is already part of the Masbate province. The boat ride is just so calming we all felt like sleeping… or we were just dead tired of all the going in and out of the water with the butanding. ((: Here are some photos from our butanding and boat transfer to Ticao Island Resort. We were able to see a glimpse of the sunset on our way to Ticao.
Ticao Island is ♥. It’s not Boracay, no fine white sand. The water by the shore isn’t really for swimming. It’s no Bohol or Palawan either (as you can see in the gallery above). In fact, it felt so provincial, close to uncivilized by this generation’s standard. Phone signals were on and off, they said they have wifi but we cannot connect, and no TV. Since we booked late, we were only able to get one villa with air-conditioning for 4 pax, so the other 4 of us stayed in the non-airconditioned huts located at the back wherein we have to pass the horses eating the grass to get to our hut. And I love them all – including the common bathroom I have to share with other people who stays in the huts by the back, says a lot since I usually dislike common bathrooms!!! The quiet, the pace, all the green around, just the feel that I am so much closer to nature and so much farther from the metro and the hustle and bustle of the demanding world – it’s home, I was very at home. And we had buffet for our meals, all inclusive of the tour prepared by Donsol Eco Tour. We didn’t have to bring out money from the moment we got to Donsol until they dropped us off at CWC the next day. (Highly recommended: Donsol Eco Tour if you do not want to be so hands-on with everything, you can leave it to them to prepare. Just let them know if you have a budget, let them know all your questions and concerns and they will accommodate and fix everything suited for your preferences. 🙂 )
We had our firefly watching scheduled at 6 in the evening. Here’s the amazing experience I had that I swear I’ve never experienced EVER in Metro Manila or in most of the vacations I’ve been to. We got to the resort around 5pm, had our welcome drinks, we tested the hammock, did a short tour since the resort isn’t that big, went to our respective rooms, fixed our stuff, lied down a little, charged our phones, viewed photos, talked with my roomie, washed ourselves (even if we share a common bathroom-1 for the ladies, 1 for the gents!!!) and by 6pm we’re by the restaurant contemplating whether to get dinner first or watch the fireflies. In an hour, we were able to accomplish that much and not feel rushed AT ALL! It’s the “not feel rushed” that really got me. Slow-paced to the nth level, I must say. Since it’s not dark enough for firefly watching, we opted to have our dinner first. The sun seemed to set later in Ticao as well. 🙂 See!!! Even the sun sets slowly in Ticao! I love that thought! ♥ Whoever said time flies when you’re having fun must go to Ticao and see time cooperates with him and everything around him. 🙂
Our firefly watching experience was short but magical. 3 of us took a kayak, one for each with a guide, then the other 5 rode a motor bangka with the head guide. From our resort it’s just a mere 10-15 minutes of paddling (for the kayak) to get to the tree near the mouth of the river where the fireflies live. It was magical! Very fairy-like. 😀 When you clap, they light up one after the other it’s like watching a Christmas tree by the river, but BETTER! Waaaay better! One of the guide (I’m really poor with names I forgot most of the names of the people we met!), he was able to capture one firefly to show us up close. No worries, he did not kill the little thing. It was alive and lighting.
After our firefly watching, we went back to the resort, including little firefly because it doesn’t want to fly away when we were releasing it by its tree, may katampuhan siguro siya sa tropa niya. It did flew away when we got to the resort, free ride for it, huh? Smart little firefly! ((:
Around 8pm we were already tucked in our beds, with just the fan and window slightly opened, and still I had to cover myself with the thin sheet of blanket because the air was cool and really fresh! THIS IS THE REAL VACATION! Where you get to do stuff and truly enjoy it in your own pace, have the time to enjoy your meal, have the time to enjoy your surrounding and have the time to enjoy your sleep. When they say 24 hours isn’t enough, for that day – Labor day 2014, – this laborer got the most of the 24 hours and enjoyed every single second of it. ♥
Oh, and of course, the stars… THE STARS! Sigh… the stars over Ticao. Among all the places we went to in this trip, I miss Ticao the most.
And so we bid LLCOMBicol 2104 day 1 a good night. 🙂