November 5, 2016

The Burias Islands

This past summer a friend from Canada came back after 3 years and so this one calls for a celebration. Not wanting to spend all his 3 weeks in Manila, we quickly put up a plan for a getaway, but since millenials love to travel, all the popular tourist destinations were filled. And for our group who are in quarter-life crisis, we wanted a quiet space in the archipelago for a few days.

Just above the mainland of Masbate lie the Burias group of islands, relatively unknown to the traveling majority. And without hesitation, we booked it.

The Port in Naga City
Going to Burias Island requires a lot of patience, and for me who hates long drives, I tried to bargain on taking the plane instead, but of course, because this is a democratic country, I lost. And so the long 10-hour drive began. There's really a backstory why I don't like to travel that long, because that would mean my life will be in constant danger with how fast my friends drive ( I kid you not) and I love my life, peace to my friends.

We were quite surprise that there was a traffic jam in parts of Quezon province, at midnight. But after that the road was all ours for the taking, much to the pleasure of my friends, because they can put the pedal to the metal. I was so much on guard for my life that I didn't sleep the whole travel, especially when we used the dreaded "Bituka ng Manok" road - A horrifying zigzag with steep climbs which hugged the shape of the mountainside. My heart pounded with each turn, and I was probably palpitating from all the Sting energy drink I was drinking the whole night.

As expected, when we got to the port of Naga at around 5:45AM, I lunged out of the car and threw up. What a welcoming sight for the locals there. But fast as my friends drive, they are really quite safe drivers, except for a few close calls (HAHA)

Roof deck riding
We went on for a 2-hour boat ride going to the island, and it's always beautiful to take the early ride to the island because it's not yet that hot and we got to enjoy the roof deck ride, which they said was not allowed, but no one stopped us, and the seats inside were quite strange because it had no floor, you were at the mercy of the engine's roar which made it really uncomfortable. Remember, always choose the roof deck when going to Burias island.

Arriving at Burias Island
When we arrived at the port of Burias Island, the first thing you have to do is go to the tourist office and register your names, this is very important so that if your trip goes swinging south and you become lost at sea, they know that you're missing. It's a nuisance to to register, but come on, it's only 5 minutes, and a minimal fee.

I was surprised that the port was actually big, but what is surprising that there was only one place to stay in the island for tourist, it was only about 5-7 rooms. Correct me if I'm mistaken but it's the only one I saw throughout my stay there. We only booked for 1 night here and so we were quite in a hurry to head out to sea.

After making negotiations with the boat, we quickly headed out to the open sea, and we were not prepared for what we experienced, nor we were warned - We kind of battled our way to the islands. Big swells of waves constantly hit our boat, and because I was the fat ass in the group and my weight took great effect on the boat's performance, I have to move from one side to another, wherever the boat captain told me to sit. I swear all of us had this eye contact at each other, acknowledging the fact that the boat may capsize any moment.

But after one hour of battling the waves, what lay in front of us was paradise.

Island 1

Forgive me for this, but I forgot all the names of the 3 islands we went to. I know, what a bummer, but if ever you'll go to Burias, use my photo to show to the boatman as reference to where you want to go.

Island 1 was complete paradise, it had a rocky sand beach at one side, big rock formations where you can see thousands of years of water levels. And on the other side was pure white sand that is so nice to look at. What's best was we were literally the only people in the island!

Beautiful Rock Formations

Small hut at Island 1
We stayed for an hour there just relaxing, it was very pleasant there. Then we were off to island number 2, that is where we started noticing problems with our boatmen.

Island 2
When we arrived at island number 2, which had a more grassy feature, it was already lunch time. But because we were in a hurry, we forgot to pack our lunch and we had to resort to chips and bread - this is where things took an ugly turn.

My friend noticed that our bread was opened already and almost halved, also, the cigarettes we brought started missing. No conversation was needed, all we did was converse using our eyes and we talked about it when we swam at the beach, the boatmen were stealing our food.

Not wanting to be frustrated and not wanting to pick up a fight, we let it go. We just thought that they must have overextended their welcome of us offering to share our food. It really didn't matter to us if they ate most of it, but they stole it, behind our backs, I honestly didn't care if they ate all of it as long as they did it in front of us.

I hope the people of Burias would be more careful in handling their tourists, because if these things happen, their tourism will never improve.

Island 3
Island 3 is where we did our cliff jumping. It was my first time and yes, I did it, but my friends think I'm a coward for not jumping in the 10 feet platform, I only did the 6ft platform. But I didn't want to go to the 10 feet because honestly, I didn't want to be the reason for a tsunami.

After the island hopping, we took a rest at our room, talking about how and why they stole our stuff and how it will affect their tourism business if it's frequently happening with other tourists too.

Food in Burias is not that good, best if you stay to eating what your stomach recognizes.

And of course, like real men, we capped off the night doing one thing, no it's not alcohol and women. It's counter-strike! We played until the power outage stopped us, which led us to drinking a bit, yes, just a bit, we know that our bodies aren't getting any younger and we drank just enough to make us sleepy and off we went to bed.

Until next time, cheers!

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