Come Forth to Cam North – The Series

Day 1     Blogger Experience

As I was getting ready to start my travels overseas, I chanced upon an invitation in a blogger group in Facebook. There were so many bloggers who expressed their interest to the event so I was thinking, there’s no way I can make it to the cut. You know what they say, there’s no harm in trying. So I commented my blog and email, and continued binge watching my favourite TV series on Netflix.

Days passed and I had completely forgotten that invite until I stumbled upon some guy’s message on my blog saying contact me on my email. So I did and he replied, contact me on my Facebook account. Boy, he’s demanding, eh?  Little did I know, this some guy aka Sir Mike would open doors for me in the blogging scene. True enough, I was one of the chosen few to be part of Katooga Ph’s media influencers in promoting Camarines Norte’s tourism. I didn’t know how the hell that happened. You know what they say, if you never try, you’ll never know. But I did try and I still didn’t know how I got in. Haha anyway, you get the point. Keep trying, you guys.

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Bagasbas beach – one of the spots on our itinerary! And that’s Venus Raj posing for the camera. Thank you Saturday and Sunday Boys for the photo!

Most of my travels were personal, so all expenses were funded by guess who, me. You can imagine my grin when I learned that I get to come to Camarines Norte through the efforts of the Provincial Government and Katooga Ph. In short, an all-expense paid travel.

Fast forward to our meet up going to CamNorte, I didn’t mind being a solo traveler here since most of the bloggers knew each other. I’ve been joining tours from DIY TP so this was not new to me. The only difference was that these guys really know their stuff, talking about blogger events, SEO, DA, PA ranking which all sounded foreign to me at the time. I let them do the talking while I mentally jot down notes.

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The group having breakfast after a long ride from Manila

On the eve of tropical storm Jolina’s landfall, we braved the road to the south. Jolina was expected to sweep through northern Luzon but being the mamshie that she was, we felt her wrath during our 4 day stay here in Bicol. We were initially divided into 2 groups to cover more CamNorte grounds but the heavy downpour made us merged the two itineraries and embarked as one. I got to know everyone in the group, jokes thrown everywhere despite the gloomy weather, with Shake and Rattle and Roll trivia on the side c/o the ever witty, alta blogger himself, Allan. A blessing in disguise indeed.

Due to the merge, we had a jam-packed itinerary experiencing the 6 out of the 12 municipalities.

Before we get to what CamNorte has to offer, I would like to thank these awesome people who made my trip to this south gem hassle free, worry free and expense free!

Sir Bong Palma, the ever generous Supervising Tourism Operations Officer of Provincial Government of Camarines Norte

Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla,  Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte

Madam Ruth Marie Forteza, Former Municipal Councilor Local Government Unit of Jose Panganiban

Mr. Julius Adecer, Tourism officer, Paracale

From Mercedes Tourism office: Sir Nico Montemayor and Ms. Mary Antonette Ibasco, who didn’t give up on us when the weather was bad, and still pushed through with island hopping to Siete Pecados. And to Ms. Haruko, a JICA volunteer, who happily answered all our questions as to why she chose CamNorte.

From Provincial Tourism Division: Mommy Myrna Napili, our super maasikaso mommy guide and certified chismosa & Ms. Sarah Vecino – our millennial TV Series junkie guide ensuring everything in our itinerary is ticked. Of course, Sir Darius Mirasol for making our land travels comfortable.

Sir Mike Zuniga, this will not be possible, if not for this guy behind Katooga Ph. And these awesome bloggers, who really made this trip one for the books.

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During our free time, Christian of Capturing Footprints and I squeezed in impromptu photo shoots for Cabin Zero. Here are some of the outtakes.

I was definitely in for a ride. I got to meet people who were pioneers in the blogging, got introduced to the prominent people heavily involved in the boosting of the region’s tourism. Hashtag #ComeToCamNorte.

 

[Continue Reading]                  Day 2   Municipalities of Camarines Norte

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Cam Norte – The Municipalities

Come Forth to Cam North – The Series Pt. 2

Day 2    Municipalities of Camarines Norte

Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo named this tourism gem, Camarines, which means “storehouse.” CamNorte is indeed a storehouse of cultural heritage, natural resources and untouched treasures. It is surrounded by the fertile soil of Quezon and the popular CamSur provinces. Hence, a melting pot of Tagalog and Bicol cultures.

CamNorte is the richest province in terms of gold deposits. When the Spaniards arrived, they noticed that locals were wearing gold ornaments. This discovery catapulted the 1575 expedition to amass precious metals (Gold and Silver) in the province.  With more wealth comes great power. Hashtag Mercantilism.

The 12 municipalities are grouped into two congressional districts, the Tagalog speaking which consisted the following – Labo, Capalonga, Sta. Elena, Paracale and Jose Panganiban; and the Bicol speaking – Daet, Talisay, Vinzons, Mercedes, Basud, San Vicente and San Lorenzo Ruiz. It was indeed amazing that out of the 6 we got to visit, 3 of which were Tagalog, the other three, you guessed it right, the Bicol speaking municipalities. Let’s get to it shall we?

DAET

First stop at the tourism office where we were warmly welcomed by Sir Bong. He was very eager to introduce us to the best attractions CamNorte has to offer. We couldn’t wait to see them all.
Bantayog Monument – a 20 ft tall majestic monument that forever memorializes Jose Rizal’s legacy along with the province’s unsung heroes. It was built 2 years after Rizal’s execution and the first ever monument built for our National hero.

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Did you know that CamNorte was the site of first ever KKK outside Manila?

Bulawan Museum – founded in year 2000 which houses a glimpse of the province history, culture and tradition from Amorsolo paintings, silver spoons, tea pot, wine glass, Katana, gold ornaments and filigrees. I am encouraging everyone to visit museums to continue heritage and culture awareness especially to our younger generations. Museums symbolize our care to our identity and race.

Moturista – 1st Tourism Extreme Challenge held in Daet where motorists were tasked to complete the 500kms in 12 hours. This initiative aims to drive tourism while promoting road safety through a seminar. The event concluded with a beach party, no less.
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Bagasbas Beach – This mile-long stretch is a top destination for surfers due to its consistent waves throughout the year making it the country’s first surfing spot and the world’s 62nd. Surfing lessons are offered at Bagasbas Aqua center at P400 per hour including board rentals.

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Dare to go extreme? Aside from surfing, Bagasbas beach is also a host to another extreme sport – Kitesurfing. International Kiteboarding Competition and Kiteboard Tour Asia were held here. Get your adrenaline pumping at Mike’s Kiteboarding during northeast monsoon season from November to March.

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Side note: LTE coverage in Daet is phenomenal! I got to watch Game of Thrones season finale when we stopped by the capitol.

JOSE PANGANIBAN

We got a courtesy call from the Mayor himself, Mayor Dong Padilla, and was gracious enough to host us in his ranch and answer all our inquiries regarding his work and future projects to the municipality. The mayor proudly declared that while promoting tourism, CamNorte will still preserve its beaches by avoiding commercial infrastructures. There’s also a 700MW power plant to be built thus addressing the intermittent electricity in the province. Insofar as accommodation is concerned, he’s aware that the province is somewhat behind from its neighboring lands. This needs to be pushed to be at par with other hotels, he said. I definitely agree, we were staying at Jocelle’s Garden and I was a first-hand witness to their shortcomings. Another challenge the mayor is trying to address is accessibility. And this is a major major, cue in Venus Raj who by the way was also here to promote tourism for CamNorte. The plan is to build a regional airport in JPang for domestic flights then connecting it to Bicol International Airport via skyway. He mentioned that there’s a Belarus company investing in this endeavour.

Here’s mommy Lariza interviewing Mayor Dong.

More of mommy Lariza’s discoveries at Moments Around the Corner. From formal to snorkeling real quick…

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After the courtesy call, we were summoned to the municipal hall for lunch. What better way to burn those carbs? Check out JPang’s attractions!

Bulalacao Beach
Pagasa Beach

JSM Yellow to Green Organic farm


Parola Island

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SAN LORENZO RUIZ

Calling all thrill seekers, this is the municipality for you.  San Lorenzo Ruiz offers the newest adrenaline attraction and longest zip line in the Bicol region! Going to the site was a bumpy ride, so if you can bring a moped or an ATV that would be perfect since the roads are still under construction. In any case, do check out the 750-meter Matacong Zip Line and conquer your fears for only 250php when sitting and 350php superman swoosh pose.

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LABO

What better way to cool down from the zip line rush? We headed over to Binuang Falls where we got to have not one but three levels of rapids, it’s just a 15-20 minute hike to get to the top so no biggie.

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These seemingly endless adventures took a toll to our rumbling stomachs. Good thing, Villa Eusebia was next in our itinerary that served a sumptuous feast.

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And this restaurant comes with a goddamn view of Lake Labo. Loboc River feels, I know.

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Nap time! Where to? Well, I can recommend two great resorts to check in and chill; Maria Fatima Farm Resort and Paradiso Verde Farm where everything is organic.

PARACALE

Before our day comes to a close, we’re off to Paracale where we were welcomed by Julius and the hashtag #ParacaLetsGo. If this sunset won’t make you make your way here, I don’t know what is. Paracale is known as the Gold Town which also means “canal digger.” There are still small scale gold mining operations persist in the outskirts of the town. Then Julius led us to Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, established in 1611, making it 406 years old! Still standing fabulous as ever and not a single scratch from the deadly earthquake that hit its neighboring provinces where century old churches were damaged and others totally destroyed to the ground. Perhaps it can be attributed to the protection from the canonically miraculous image of Our Lady of Candelaria. Not far from this magnificent church is another century milestone – the leaning light house.

Pulang Daga Beach

MERCEDES

#LoveKoSiMercedes is the municipality’s tagline but it was hard at first since we had a gloomy and wet welcome, no thanks to the tropical storm making its way out of the country. The group was supposed to visit all the seven islands, famously Siete Pecados: Caringo, Canton, Quinapaguian, Malasugui, Caringo, Apuao Pequeña. Apuao Grande and Caringo islands. Due to heavy rains, we just managed to explore the last three.

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Nonetheless, these islands are perfect if you are longing for peace and quiet. The islands will give you privacy and perfect spot for self-realization.  It’s pretty obvious on the faces of my blogger friends casually walking from one island to another – Kenneth our Dubai Travel Blogger, Jerny of TheJerny.Com and Rona of Travel With Maria.

Going back, you are welcomed by their busy fish port where fresh seafood are being transported for public consumption.

 

[Continue Reading]                  Day 3  Unspoiled Beaches

Parola Island’s Unspoiled Pink Sand

You read it right, there’s a pink beach and it’s near you. Well, technically a half day joyride. But I guarantee you, this destination will be your next escape.

Calaguas group of islands is undoubtedly the most famous destination in Camarines Norte. It will surely captivate your itchy, beachy hearts. The downside here is that it’s so touristy the solitude island life you long for is forever lost to oblivion. Not to mention the one hell of a boat ride going there.

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Enroute to this so-called pink beach.  Yes, this is how calm the waters are going there!

Worry no more, I always search for the off the beaten path and this is what I found – the unspoiled pink beach of Parola Island, some 40-minute peaceful boat ride away from mainland Camarines Norte.

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Breathtaking aerial shot from Come to CamNorte

It was scorching hot when our boat arrived, but hey I’m not complaining, in fact I’m thankful since I got to witness the beach giving a pinkish glow when the sun’s rays met the shore.

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I give you…Parola Island

We were welcomed with a bunch of tourists on their camp sites and hammocks while we settled in the one and only cottage in the island. I couldn’t care less if there’s no electricity, no sari-sari store, no accommodation, well there’s a portalet at the very least. My point is, all your second thoughts in going to uninhabited island will be eradicated just by looking at this view.

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100% Island Life, 100% Twinning

The island pose such a rudimentary lifestyle that when you want to eat, you can just stand near the shore and go fishing. No kidding. Just tie a hook on your line, attach any crawling bait you can find. Throw the line at probably 2-3 meters then wait until you feel the fish at the other end.

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Easy as 1, 2 ,3 fishing. No rod needed. Photo Credit: Darius Mirasol

Grab the line and voila, there’s your lunch right there.

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Here’s what I caught. Felt sorry for this fishy fishy though.

From my hook to being cooked. Freshness guaranteed. Well I didn’t catch these guys, they were brought by the local tourism officers of Jose Panganiban for us. We couldn’t ask for more.

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After lunch, you can take a quick nap just make sure you bring your tent or hammock with you. Me being resourceful, I can sleep on any flat surface with a makeshift sheets of leaves. And if I’m being honest, I don’t usually sleep after socials cause there’s no ending socials for me. Not unless, the sun’s out and time for me to take that gorgeous sunrise.

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I asked Kenneth to pose for the camera against this instagrammable jungle backdrop.

How to get here:

You can drive from Manila to Daet by car, rent a van or take a bus that will take you 8 hours. Check buses and fares here. There used to be a direct flight from Manila to Daet but have long discontinued their services. What you can do though is to take a local airline to Naga, Camarines Sur which is 2 hours away from Daet via public utility vehicles.

Once in Daet, hop on another bus or van going to Jose Panganiban. Or waze your way here.

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Another jaw dropping drone shot from Come to Cam Norte

Suggested Itinerary for 2D/1N
Day 0
07:00AM – ETD Manila – Jose Panganiban, Cam Norte

Day 1
07:00AM – ETA Jose Panganiban | Breakfast @ Evias
08:00AM – ETD for Tailon Island (Parola)
10:00AM – ETA Parola Island
Set up tent / hammock / air beds
Explore the island
12:00PM – Lunch
01:00PM – Free time (explore three nearby islets if low tide, swimming, snorkeling)
06:00PM – Dinner
07:00PM – Socials
10:00PM – Lights out (not for me)

Day 2
06:00AM – Wakeup call
07:00AM – Breakfast
09:00AM – Break Camp
10:00AM – ETD Jose Panganiban
12:00NN – Lunch / swimming @ Turayog Resort
02:00PM – Surfing in Bulalacao beach
05:00 PM- Rest
05:30 PM – ETD Jose Panganiban – Manila

Inclusions:
– Port Fee
– Environmental Fee
– Boat Transfer
– 3 camp meals (buffet)
– 1 plated meal at Turayog Resort
– Resort Entrance fees
– Life Jacket
– Unli Cocktail drinks (Mobile Bar) uhmm hells yeah!
– Land transfers from port to Turayog and Bulalacao Beach

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This is Bulalacao Beach!

Package Rates:
Php 2,200.00/head pick up Jose Panganiban (min. of 12pax)
Php 2,500.00/head pick up Daet (min. of 12pax)

DIY It!
Alternatively, you can ride a bus taking you directly to Jose Panganiban. Or rent a van which usually cost you around Php 12,000 round trip for 12 – 14 pax. Go to Larap Port in Jose Panganiban, from there you can rent a boat going to Parola island that will cost you about Php 4,000.00 to Php 4,500 which is good for 30 to 40 people. You have to be granted permission to visit the island by the local tourism office. Contact info below.

More so, you can side trip to Bulalacao beach to surf and Pag-asa beach to chill.

For more information: Please contact the Jose Panganiban tourism office or Ms. Ruth Marie Forteza at +63910-827-3547.  For your van transfers, inquire at Northlink Events and Travel Services under Sir Darius Mirasol. Tell them Dean of The Quick Escape sends his regards. Haha!

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Not only you get the beach to yourself, but this well maintained tropical walkways, too.

I’d still recommend Calaguas, for sure, it’s one of the beaches with long stretch of finest sand and turquoise waters, but way too touristy. If you opt for serenity,  Parola Island is definitely on top of my mind.

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Be back soon!

Quickies, out.