Tuesday, January 22, 2013
"Biri? Where the hell is that???" That's the common reaction that I got from my friends when I told them that I'm going to Biri, an island located in the province of Northern Samar where unusual rock formations can be found on its northern coastline.
Going to Biri during the monsoon season is a bit of a challenge because this is the time when Northern Samar gets frequently battered by strong typhoons and one would need to endure an hour of boat ride to reach the island so if there's any weather disturbance during your trip then expect a rough ride and prepare to get wet. That was actually my biggest fear especially after experiencing getting stranded in the middle of the sea for 3 hours when we went to Fortune Island but fortunately (no pun intended) the sea was surprisingly calm and the boat ride to the island was quite tame in comparison to what we experienced in Nasugbu. Our boat however docked at Sto. Niño port instead of the main landing port in Poblacion because the waves were a bit rough near the town center.
Habal-habal is the only means of transportation in this town so don’t expect ride on a car, a tricycle or even a jeepney when you plan to visit Biri. You don’t have to worry about rugged terrains or unpaved streets because much of the roads in Biri are already concreted so riding a habal-habal is no pain in the butt. There’s also no need to worry about being scammed or charged for ridiculous fees because the town follows a standard fare rate for those who wish to take a habal-habal.
We stayed at Villa Amor which is a lodging house that offers both fan and air-conditioned rooms. Their fan rooms were actually affordable costing only Php500 per night and that is already good for 2 people. We opted for the fan room instead because it wouldn't be practical to get the air-conditioned rooms since electricity in this town only runs from around midday to midnight.
Now on to the rock formations. There are 6 rock formations that can be found at the northeastern coastline of Biri: Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlao, Puhunan, Bel-at and Caranas. The first 3 are the main attractions in Biri but the last 3 are also worth a visit. Out of these 6 rock formations, we were able to visit and climb Magasang, Macadlao and Puhunan, all offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean as the waves crash over the magnificent rock outcrops that were majestically shaped by the talents of mother nature.
A boardwalk was already constructed between Magasang and Magsapad but only half of it was finished. According to the locals the original plan for the walkway was to connect the two rock formations but recent studies show that finishing the entire structure could obstruct the natural flow of water underneath so it was then decided to just make the boardwalk as a viewing deck for tourists.
Upon reaching Magasang, we were welcomed by a cat which I seem to have seen in various photos of Biri on the web. It appears like this cat is already an online celebrity and has been used to accompanying tourists all the time. We were lucky enough to meet this little feline which guided us through the rocks.
The walkway that was constructed on the Progress trail on the other hand is very useful. The structure gives access to the last 4 rock formations and allows one to avoid walking through the thick mangroves and leave them unscathed allowing them to grow naturally. Fortunately the entire boardwalk was already finished when we went there and it saved us from going for a long walk through the shallow waters to visit the other rock formations.
The views from Macadlao and Puhunan were quite beautiful in all directions. Cliffs and strangely distorted rock formations jutting in chaotic patterns as the waves coming from the ocean continues to batter and shape these magnificent structures through time. It was such an awesome experience as we watch the rays of the sun illuminate the 6 rock formations one by one and the sound of the waves crashing through the shore makes it even more surreal. It was then that I realized that one does have to experience inconvenience and suffer a bit to see something that only a few people have ever seen in real life.
How to get there:
1. From Catarman Airport take a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to the Catarman jeepney terminal. The trip takes just about 5 to 10 minutes and the fare is just around Php10 if you take the line of tricycles outside the airport.
2. At the terminal, find the jeepneys that are bound for Lavezares. The ride is usually 45 minutes long and the fare is around Php50.
3. At Lavezares, make your way towards the market and locate the boats that are bound for Biri. The boat ride takes around 1 hour and the standard fare is Php50. If you plan to hire the boat, expect to shell out around Php700.
4. Once you arrive at Biri it would be easy to hail for a habal-habal to take you to your lodging house. This only takes around 5 to 10 minutes and only costs Php10.