Matnog, Sorsogon: Beyond Borders
Sorsogon has long made it to the list of must-visit destinations in the Philippines because of Donsol, the famed whale shark capital of the world. But what most tourists don’t know is, if they go down further, the province is endowed with one of the Philippine’s best beach travel deals — virgin white sand beaches, pristine springs and lakes, and dive sites waiting to be discovered.
Matnog is a small town in Sorsogon, at the southernmost tip of Luzon and well-known as the gateway to Visayas. Despite the heavy traffic brought by the ferryboat or RORO (Roll on/Roll off) to this town, it is unfortunate that its pristine hidden beaches and picturesque topography are often overlooked by tourists.
I was born and raised in Bulan, another remote town preceding Matnog. On my latest journey home, I wanted to discover the virgin beaches of our neighboring town. I boarded a tricycle along with other passengers en route to downtown Matnog from Trece (read as the number 13 in Spanish), the border of my hometown. I got off at the center of the sleepy town. Matnog‘s town plaza complex dictated a pattern influenced by the Spanish urban town plan wherein important institutions like the church, the municipal hall, the market and the school were built close to each other.
I walked around the plaza attempting to find the port, where the ferry (RORO) is located. After asking around, a man in his 40’s accompanied me to a narrow alley near the market and the port. As we passed by humble abodes made of nipa, plywood and strewn-bamboos , smiling faces and curious eyes followed me. And as I stood outside the house waiting for the fisherman who will take me to the the hidden beaches, I was forced to introduce myself to the neighborhood to satisfy their curiosity. It seems as if they’re not used to seeing a lone girl wanting to discover their town’s pride that’s why they can’t decide how much to charge me for the boat fare or perhaps they just rarely encounter tourists so they don’t have a standard boat fare yet.
“Is it okay if we charge you Php700 since the islands are far off each other?“, the fisherman’s wife asked timidly. I’m used to shouldering such boat fares, they’re even more expensive that what those locals charge. That’s one disadvantage when traveling solo in remote places, though the place is all yours to savor there’s no other tourists around to share the costs not to mention that there’s no life jacket.
I sat close to the edge of the bow as our outrigger boat paved the way to Calintaan Island passing by some fishermen and their kids armed with obsolete goggles and arrow aiming for a fresh catch. For a moment, I was completely stunned, somewhere in between the space of 2 islands, schools of fish were jumping before me!
And as the boat moved swiftly to the right side of the rock formations, the clear turquoise waters of Subic beach was uncovered before my own eyes!
As I looked down at the clear waters below, I saw some coral reefs teeming with small fish; the marine life there is obviously unspoiled. I hope the community can preserve it for the long-term benefit of its people.
The boat docked in a long stretched of almost powdery white sand and somewhat pinkish sands. Subic beach in Calintaan Island is almost deserted except for a few cottages and a tree-house lined up on the shores for rent, there are fishing boats, a few chickens and the caretakers. After strolling around the island, I finally succumbed to the heavenly beach. Its been a while since my last solitary trip to a beach.
As much as I wanna stay in Subic beach, I still have two more stops. The boatman started the engine and our boat slowly made its way through some scattered islets where a fish sanctuary called Juag is nestled on the middle.
To get to the fish sanctuary, I had to ride on a sliding bamboo raft pulled by the fisherman on the other end. The fish sanctuary is manned by 2 fishermen. There’s no entrance fee, but donations are welcome. This is the part that I enjoyed the most, swimming with the fish.
Before we head to the shores of the mainland. We crossed to Tikling Island. Another beach similar to Subic beach but it is more deserted. The current is quite strong though. Our small boat would plunge down on the back of the wave, hit the bottom and would bury it’s bow into the upcoming wave. The waves were splashing against us, filling the air with spray.
We chanced up some locals working on some coconuts for copra production. Traditional fishing methods are highly evident here, the fishing nets, fishing arrows and other fishing gears are seen hanging on the trees. Cyanide fishing is strongly discouraged.
Tikling Island is near the coast of mainland Matnog. The clear turquoise water and the seclusion is what sets the virgin beaches of Matnog apart from the other famed beaches of Sorsogon, though the sands aren’t that powdery white, the unspoiled marine life really amazed me!
I explored the long coast of the island trying to find a different adventure. But I was rewarded with the same powdery white sand, clear turquoise waters, lush green surroundings, and blue skies like when I was in Subic beach. Too bad! I don’t have a snorkeling gear and underwater camera with me! Bummer!
Once again I was lost in another virgin beach abundant with marine life. And I’m pretty sure there’s so much more in the 7,107 island of the Philippines that are waiting to be discovered. I shall keep on exploring!
***For Subic Beach and Tikling Island Travel Guide..click here –> Matnog
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