The southern most province of Luzon, Sorsogon. Every time I hear people talking about travelling to Sorsogon, there is always one place that pops to mind, Donsol -for the whale shark watching.
Whale shark watching is famous in Donsol, Sorsogon since their method of allowing tourists to see and get up close to these gentle giants differ from the ways done in Cebu. But, I will not be concentrating on this topic. What I will be sharing to you would be the attractions that are beyond the touristy area of Donsol.
There are actually tons of other sites to see and do in Sorsogon. But I am going to share to you these less travelled attractions that I was very fortunate of visiting. Given that I only have a limited time (only 2 full days) in exploring this huge province, I was able to visit most of the places that took my interest. Here they are:
Bulusan Lake nestled at the heart of Bulusan Volcano National Park which covers a land area of 3,672 hectares (9,070 acres). It has an elevation of 360 metres (1,180 ft) and is located on the southeast wing of Mount Bulusan, one of the fairly active volcanoes in the Philippines.
The lake is accessible either through the Maharlika Highway from Legazpi City up to the town of Irosin passing through the towns of Casiguran and Juban. From Irosin it is another ten kilometers to the site. After you alight at Irosin (if youre taking the bus) take a jeepney to Bulusan town proper and tell the driver that you will be heading to Bulusan Lake. The other is passing through a very scenic route overlooking the Pacific Ocean (San Bernardino Strait) through the towns of Gubat, Barcelona and the center of Bulusan town. From the Bulusan Town, hire a tricycle to the lake. it will cost you around 300php for a roundtip ride.
If you’re heading to Bulusan Lake, you might want to have a quick photo stop in Barcelona for their ruins and century old church. No, i did not mean to drive all the way to Spain! Hahaha. But Barcelona indeed has a taste of Spanish heritage.
The municiplaity of Barcelona was originally part of Gubat and Bulusan. The town’s name was known as Danlog, taken from the name of a local river. However, the name was changed to Barcelona that was recommended by a Spanish official that saw some similarities with Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain) because of the church and ruins.
Buhatan River is an eco-adventure tour with the river cruise being its highlight activity. Lounging on a raft with cushioned seats as it gets pulled by a small boat downstream was calming and relaxing. The view of lush mangrove vegetation governs the scenery with the occasional bird sightings.
While we were on-board, local snacks are served. A blendof local treats, which includes fresh pili nuts, pili nut candies, polovoron with pili and a fresh serving of cold lemongrass juice. The tour covers almost 4 kilometers per way, and this slow-paced journey’s destination is the floating bamboo restaurant which is at the mouth of Sorsogon Bay.
Here, a feast awaits visitors where only the freshest mud crabs, oysters, tilapia, and shrimps from the river are served. Although, it would be best to make a reservation at least 2 days in advance to secure your food.
I recommend to start the tour late in the afternoon around 4:30-5pm. Doing so allows guests to experience in one go– the river scenery in broad daylight, a gorgeous sunset view, and enchanting fireflies dancing at the side of the river during night time and if you’re lucky, some fireflies would actually get close to your raft and see them up close.
This heritage house is transformed into a bed and breakfast inn and an event space managed by its new owners, the Lasala family of Juban. This is the place were we spent our first night in Sorsogon. Back in the day, this house was referred to by the locals as the “big house”, where many gatherings of distinguished personalities were often hosted.
The interiors of Casa Feliz is pretty much the same as what you see in ancestral homes, made of hard wood with classic style carvings. I will share to you what I read about the brief history about this house.
Casa Feliz used to be owned by Don Leoncio Grajo. This was given as a gift by his brother after he passed the bar exam. It became his residence and a district office when he became the representative to the first Legislative Philippine Assembly in 1907. After his death, he passed this house on to his son Leoncio Grajo Jr. who, in turn, bequeathed this house to his daughter Lourdes Grajo-Hubilla. he was moving to Manila, he sold the house to his daughter, Lourdes Grajo-Hubilla. Though the truth is, it was not sold to her (I got this first hand from a source who is close to Mrs. Hubilla). Maybe what was done was the usual practice of parents who bequeath their properties to their children, that they make a “deed of sale” instead of inheritance in which the tax is higher.
Aside from this house, there are other several heritage house located in the same street which (for sure) have their own meaningful stories.
Malawmawan Island is an underdeveloped, isolated island off the port of Barangay Macalaya, Castilla, Sorsogon. Getting here was quite difficult because of small unpaved roads (still currently under construction).
The island is privately owned. However, it was not well maintained, trash everywhere. Such a shame, the Island would have been a great tourist attraction. The locals, however, told us that during summer, the trash is washed off from the shore making it an awesome island getaway.
After visiting Malawmawan Island, I check out another one of Castilla’s tourist attractions: the Nasipit River. Take a cruise along this pristine waterway aboard a floating cottage while feasting on Sorsogon’s bountiful seafood. It is best to have the cruise in the late afternoon and get to see awesome dancing fireflies at night.
There’s more to Nasipit River than cruising and firefly watching. Try to look at the river waters itself while cruising during the night (around 7pm would be best without the moonlight). If you’re lucky, you will be able to see a rare sighting, a glowing river because of the bioiluminescent planktons. Honestly, even the locals did not notice this until we saw it.
I Never expected that I would be able to tick off my TOP 4 Travel Bucket Lists here in our very own Country -to see the BIOLUMINESCENT PLANKTON.😍😍 ✔✔✔
Wading my hand at the side of the river water while they glitter was truly mesmerizing. How they lit up when disturbed was all true and the side of the boat lightly glowed. It was One of the most surreal experiences I had. What’s sad was I did not have the necessary gadget or lens to capture the experience.
GETTING TO EACH OF THESE PLACES:
To tell you the truth, it might be hard for you to visit all these places in a DIY fashion, especially if you will be visiting Nasipit River and Malawmawan Island because there are no regular public transportation facilities here. But I was able to get to these places (hassle free) by booking in a local travel agency. I booked mine with ARTGO Travel and Tours. They are a local DOT accredited Travel agency based in Legazpi City. This is their contact information: