MATNOG: A Stormy Journey Down South!

January 2017

2016 had been the most challenging. It held so much memories that up until now are so hard to realize. I lost both my parents. I quit medicine school. And I am now left with 4 siblings under my care. There was no escaping.

This year, I am trying to be more hopeful, more positive than ever. Traveling has been my way since and now I feel the need to reconnect. Some sort of indirect therapy, perhaps.

On the same month, 2 years ago, I went to Caramoan in Camarines Sur. A beautiful, unspoiled piece of an island in Bicol region which gradually gained popularity as the setting for the reality television show Survivor. Apparently, the month of January wasn’t the best time to visit. I remembered it was raining and the waves were quite unpredictable so we were only able to do some short-distance island hopping. I intended to come back, of course. (I learned that Bicol has so much to offer). I finally made it after 2 years. This time I’m headed to Matnog. To the southern-most of Luzon. Without realizing it is that time of the year again, I braced myself for the stormiest trip yet. HAHAHA.

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Matukad Island in Caramoan!

Matnog is a municipality in Sorsogon, Bicol, located on the southern-most end of Luzon. It took us a 15 hour b*tt numbing bus ride to get to this part of the province. Matnog also holds one of the busiest seaports in the country as it serves as the main jump off point crossing to Visayas. We left Manila with a fair weather but a low pressure area in Mindanao affects the whole Bicol region altogether. We arrived in Matnog with a dark and brooding sky above us. And yes, history do repeat itself. HAHA.

GETTING THERE

By Air

From Manila, take a flight bound to Legazpi, Albay. Cebupacific and Philippine Airlines offer a direct flight to Legazpi. The travel time is around 1 hour. From the airport, ride a tricycle going to Daraga-Matnog Bus Terminal for 50Php then take a bus bound to Matnog. The fare is approximately 170Php and the travel time is about 3 to 4 hours.

By Land 

From Manila, there are buses offering a direct trip to Matnog (check with DLTB and Elavil, not sure with Philtranco Bus). We rode a DLTB bus in Buendia terminal (you can also try their terminals in Cubao and Alabang). The fare is 1000PhP for regular passengers and 800PhP for students, senior citizens and PWD. The bus leaves at 3pm and the travel time is around 13 to 15 hours.

***note: from Matnog terminal station, you can ask the locals where the tourism office is located. You may also ride a tricycle if you want.

MATNOG TOURISM OFFICE ISLAND HOPPING RATE

Registration Fee: 50Php (ordinary local), 40Php (senior citizen), 300Php (for foreigner)
Enviromental Fee: 20Php
Day tour boat rental: 1600Php
Overnight boat rental: 2000Php

*boat can accommodate up to 10 passengers.
**Island hopping includes- Subic pink beach, Tikling island, Juag Lagoon Marine Sancutary and nearby island caves.
***You may stay overnight at Subic Pink beach. Rates may apply (see below).
****Transient houses are also available in Matnog town. Rate starts at 300Php/head/night.

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Matnog Terminal Station

SUBIC PINK BEACH

The original plan was to squeeze in the island hopping for the whole day. We were back to Matnog (from Biri) just before noon but unfortunately the downpour was heavy so it was impossible to push through with the activity. We just asked our bangkero to take us to Subic Beach instead and we stayed overnight in the island. The beach is unspoiled and is very laid-back. Except for the kubo and other locals around, the place was almost deserted. And if you’re fortunate, like the sun-is-high-and-the-sky-is-clear kind of fortunate, this island unveils a fine pinkish sand.

Overnight use of private kubo:
4 to 6 persons: 1,000Php – 1,200Php 
6 to 8 persons: 1,400Php – 1,600Php 

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Bahay kubo

Open cottage rentals:
day tour: 500Php
overnight: 600Php 

Tents:
overnight pitching of own stent: 300Php/tent
overnight tent rentals (2-3 persons):  300Php
overnight tent rentals (4-6 persons): 600Php

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Kitchen

*rates do vary. You can haggle.
**rate includes usage of comfort room/bath room, kitchen and kitchen utensils.

***bangkeros accept paluto (usually for lunch) for free. You can buy stuff near the market in the port area. 
****sari-sari store is available in the island.
*****electricity runs 24 hours but unstable.
******mobile signal is available but mobile data is unstable.
*******You may contact ATE GANDA (island care taker) thru this mobile number +639359044972.

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JUAG LAGOON MARINE SANCTUARY

This piece of a private island is a bit exotic. A great portion of it has been turned into a marine sanctuary by Kuya Alex, a local boatman in Matnog. He said he’d been doing it for years as a way of giving back. Despite being privately owned, the place is open to public for education and entertainment purposes. And yes, you will certainly enjoy this part of the trip because Kuya Alex is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. The island hopping tours in already include the sanctuary as part of its itinerary.

Admission fee: FREE
Fish feeds: 100Php (mandatory?)
Snorkeling gear rentals: 50Php
Snorkeling guide: donation

*Snorkeling guide is optional and may depend on the availability of KUYA ALEX (owner).
**You will not be allowed to swim/snorkel if use sun block or tanning lotions before visiting the lagoon.
***You may also stay overnight at Kuya Alex’s house.
****Kuya Alex also offers a package tour to BIRI ISLAND plus Island hopping at Matnog. Rate starts at 7,000Php good for 10 persons which also includes an overnight accommodation at Kuya Alex’s house. Tour package depends on the condition of weather. You may contact him thru this mobile number +639183045437.

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The Giant Tiger Lobster
DCIM100GOPROGOPR7893.
Another Giant Tiger Loster
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Giant Clams
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Sea Cucumber
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School of Clown Fish
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Gigantic Emperor Snapper

THE MISADVENTURE

Due to heavy rainfall, strong current and strong winds, we were not able to visit the nearby caves and Tikling island. Originally, we did not plan to stay overnight in the island because we planned to visit Bulusan lake after our island hopping. Nevertheless, we were still  happy because we’re given the chance to interact with the locals, especially with Ate Ganda, Kuya Alex and Kuya Felipe (our boatman).

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Tikling Island from afar!

EXPENSES:

Roundtrip transportation (MNL to Matnog): 1,650Php (student fare)
Accommodation: 800/2 = 600Php
Overnight boat rental: 2000/2 = 1000Php
Environmental fee + Registarion fee: 70Php
Snorkeling gear rental: 50Php
Fish feeds fee: 100/2 = 50Php
Food: 664/2 = 332Php
TOTAL: 3,752Php

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Stunning Island near Juag Lagoon

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

  • CHECK THE WEATHER- THIS IS A MUST! HAHAHA
  • Island hopping rates are fixed.
  • Bring powerbank if you choose to stay overnight at Subic Pink Beach because electricty is unstable.
  • ATM’s/ BANKs are not available.
  • I suggest to buy food, snack and water before leaving Matnog town.
  • The market is located beside the port.
  • Bring your own snorkeling gear.
  • Please book your kubo reservations beforehand with Ate Ganda during peak season (March-June).
  • Engage in small conversations or small talks with the locals and ENJOY MATNOG!

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Thank You, Matnog!
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