Emerging from Cocoons!

Everyone is slowly, with caution and being very measured and very careful emerging out of their cocoons, now looking around and figuring out what they can do.  I guess for travelers like me, there has been lot of plans especially for trips – places to visit or revisit and activities to do – all of which everyone is dying to savor once again. For me, I’ve been missing the trips and the randomness of being on the road.

Slowly, I’m preparing myself to get back into the groove, those that would lead to where and what I love – the depths!  Also, I’ve been longing for those treks and being on top of heights.  Few of my planned hustles in the next semester is now in order, and I can’t wait! 😊

Dive in Mantangale and Camiguin

I have been dying to be back in my element, it’s unbelievable that it’s been two years since my last dive.  So for my quickie trip, my go-to abode for diving will always be Mantangale, Balingoan. And more than just for the dives, the place is perfect for other activities to unwind after a long week. One can sit quietly by the beach watching the horizons colored in perfect shades of blue, with the island born of fire at a distance!

Speaking of island, my favorite island of Camiguin is a haven for diving with thirty (30) dive sites all over, some of which are hard to beat. Aside from its natural wonders – falls, volcano, hot & cold spring, white beach, soda spring, so on – visit to the island is not complete without diving in its pristine reefs.

             Mantangale Alibuag Dive  Resort Inc. (MADRI)

             Balingoan, Misamis Oriental


            Mobile No. 0917 801 4560 or 0916 303 9415

            Camiguin Soul Divers

            Looc Tupsan, Mambajao, Camiguin


            Mobile No. 0919 925 8453

Back to Isla

Busan Grande group has always been favorite get away, especially in those times when I just want for some quiet sojourn.  A place where one can find comfort surrounded with blue and green waters while listening to crashing waves, yet secluded from great structures.  Most importantly, its inhabitants are organized communities that are involved in protecting and preserving their invaluable resources.  They perfectly understood that nobody would do it for them except themselves and its protection is their ultimate mission if not sustain this nature’s gift endowed for their livelihood. The coastal communities around the islands believed in their heart that natural resources are always worth the effort in its preservation and protection as legacy for the next generation.

            Sohoton Grande Tours

            SAVE Sohoton Org.

            Mobile No. 0963 926 1426

Go Climb Once More

Just few days when I get back at work, my trekking group welcomed me with a trip plan and what a joy! So they were saying after 2ndQ hustles, we will go for a camping trip, They will make the necessary  arrangements with friends in South Cotabato.  The good thing is, I’ll tag along with them just leaving everything to their command.

Lake Holon trails just opened again for public after a lull during the pandemic, it was launched last March 12 spearheaded by Tboli Tourism Office and this was good news for all.  Actually, it’s like shooting two birds for this trek, climb Mt. Melingoy (Mt. Parker) and camp at Lake Holon. Another nature’s surprises await for this trip!

Green for Summer!


There is one destination that awakens one’s awareness for nature, this remote place has been my refuge for quite a number of times. It’s emerald green waters and green environs renew and restore my being in a deeper way, for me it is a sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living. A perfect solace…

Last year, I was fortunate to visit this home (away from home) twice and it was pure joy! Bucas Grande Group is my kind of haven. A water person will always seek its freshness and wonder – wide horizon, smell of salt water, gentle breeze and roaring waves that lulled me to sleep. Seaside emerald waters restlessly wash ashore, orange skies at the end of the day, and the cicadas in the night are quite balmy!

I long for summer in Bucas Grande where everything is crisp, green and ever refreshing. Its wonders even more enticing. Yes, Bucas Grande is for summer!

Bucas Grande A Drench!

Talisay was my refuge in my homecoming

Three years. Since I last came in this group of islands I called my second home.  Not really long, but I have promised to be back again.  I have missed its tranquility and stillness. There are so many issues at the back of my mind that needs to be soothed by pure serenity, as if to disconnect. I randomly decided to be home once more.

Coming here is always a wet pursuit but I love the waters, its turquoise and emerald  surroundings always gave me a warm welcome! Again, the hop was just brief but it was some kind of a retreat.

Jellyfish Lagoon

This is my favorite spot and I always come here to visit my jelly friends.  Last time there was none,  it was fortunate they were around, although it was not yet in full season, but its good to see them again. Swimming, floating, pulsating on the emerald waters. 🙂  I can’t help being with them, but you need to be careful not to disturb them. Just float and swim without flinging one’s limbs – the proper way to interact with this invertebrate.  So soft, so gentle – I simply love them!  I scampered up the boat when Brandon (my boatman) begged me to come up when he noticed other guests are coming. Swimming with the jellyfish is not allowed anymore!

I can’t imagine how our boat maneuvered getting inside Sohoton!

Caving in Sohoton

Hagukan Cave can only be viewed by swimming down and holding breath for at least 10 seconds!

The two caves inside the cove are worth coming again but you must need to be comfortable in the waters.  It was new moon when I got there, so the waters movement was quite slow and even if it was low tide, the waters are still up but the good thing is,  current was almost non-existent.  🙂  If you have entered Hagukan before, you knew about the rock in the middle of the lagoon, where you could stand to rest from swimming.  Well, it was too deep to stand on, it was floating and swimming all the way!

Magkakakaub Cave is another challenging – rock climbing and that big splash to the Water! I came in here more than five times, in those instances I can walk  inside without soaking my body but this time I was swimming inside. It was amazing how it could change with the moon’s movement!


Time was too short but I still managed to hop in Marka A Island, it was swimming and lazing in its small patch of white beach under the noon sun, in the end I took refuge under a cavern from the scorching heat while watching the horizon.  Lastly, I went to Cinnamon Island (my home in my last visit) for my sumptuous lunch with Raffy and Director Bulabong (of DILG). I enjoyed the seafoods, the buko and the home-made biko! Dining al fresco watching the blue horizons was just perfect.  🙂

The water front of Cinnamon Island!

Nothing much has changed since I knew Bucas Grande in terms of Structures.  Well, there are new Lodging Cottages and Huts, but still of indigenous materials.  The park and its waters have maintained its cleanliness, mainly because the community manage it and everyone takes part in its preservation and protection! 🙂

Home It Is

The community always welcome me even how short the notice was – DA always arrange everything with no fuss. My boat has been waiting several hours before I arrive at Port Hayanggabon. Roldan, Raffy, Renan, Jun-jun, Brandon, Chelyn were just few who would be willing to sit for some leisure talk and dine with me even if they have other chores to do.  Most importantly, I can laze around to all my heart’s content. The wide horizons, the orange sky, the cicadas, the roaring waves and the dark nights. Just immersing myself with simple things that give pure joy.

It was another drenching visit in my home, which was purely cathartic to me.  And I will be back again, it’s a promise.

Travel Notes

1. Vans going to Port Hayanggabon, Claver is available at Bad-as, Placer. Multi-cab/jeep also can be found at Surigao City bus terminal.
2. Last trip boat (public utility) from Port Hayanggabon to Socorro town is 4pm.
3. Consider the Moon cycle when visiting the islands, tide and current movements should not be taken for granted.
4. Lodgings with generator have electricity  6:00pm to 12:00 midnight only.
5. Cellphone signal which is not necessary actually, is almost non-existent!
6. When you visit Bucas Grande, please patronize the community-managed lodgings in Cinnamon Island, SIFAI, Green Cove and Titktikan Lagoon. Always arrange your visit to the island through the local tourism unit.


Sohoton in a Day

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It always brings joy to me to be in Sohoton, I used to come during summer months when weather is bit considerate and the park full of action. Unexpectedly I was transported into this remote islands for work, I was thrilled in a way though I know the objective is not about carousing in the waters.  The past week was indeed incredible, after a wonderful Sagada weekend I went straight to Bucas Grande islands.

Setting aside one day after a bloody workshop, with my workmates we explored the islands.  Although I have wanted to visit my jelly friends in Tojoman Lake, it was nil. They were not in season yet.  Everything was in a rush but was able to fit in with our time schedule. It was without doubt a wet trip.

We explored Bolitas and Crystal Caves after descending from Tiktikan lake, got scratches after I came out from Bolitas. Only then I knew that only five people are allowed inside due to low oxygen supply inside. We sailed then to La Fortuna, a small patch of white beach under the coconut trees.  The turquoise waters was irresistible and as if the sea water wasn’t enough, we walk a bit and immersed ourselves in the lake.  We rushed off to Cinnamon for lunch, swam again in its waters and hop on a floating raft enjoying the surrounding vista.

We burped after a sumptuous lunch and not wanting to waste our time, we rushed off to Sohoton Cove making most of the low tide.  I was transported again into another world, like my first visit I’m still  mesmerized in awesome wonder.  Exploring Hagukan and Magkakaub Cave was an adventure for my mates, it required courage and endurance especially for non-swimmers. But it was worth all their effort, there wasn’t  similar wonders they visited like the cove.  The day ended up with another swimming in Marka A Island – white beach, turquoise waters, marine life. It was all to ourselves!

The sun and sea water on my skin and the sea air in my lungs gave me much pleasure.  Simple things that gave simple joy.There was that sense of well-being that made me spring back to life. The orange horizon in the dusk and the cicada singing reminded me that the day was over.  For awhile it was enough, but I will be back soon…

Back to My Little Paradise

jellies started floating up!

One of those few things that I never grow tired of doing during summer is to be in Bucas Grande group, this secluded place is like home to me.  The peaceful environment with its natural attractions has captured my heart and nagged me to savor its beauty even just once in a year.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my paradise unexpectedly, it was unplanned although I knew I must go.  So I seized the opportunity when my trip up north was postponed due to unfavorable weather. The adage was true that while the city is in typhoon, it doesn’t mean that in the distant islands it’s pouring rain, the sun was perfectly shining like summer!

My sister dropped everything back home when I invited her, although at short notice she simply gave in to my whim.  Leaving Butuan almost 2pm, we arrived almost 4pm in Bad-as junction and was grateful that van for Port Hayanggabon was stationed leaving any minute.  The afternoon sun gives a warm glow as we drove along the coastal towns of Placer, Bacuag, Gigaquit and Claver. We arrived at the port almost sundown, our boat waiting.  Rushing to buy for needs, we left almost getting dark. The stars started to appear in the skies and some fireflies welcomed as we cruised for our night’s lodge. The boatman with trained eyes managed our boat single handedly until we reached at Tiktikan Lake almost 7pm.  Somehow I still have gotten energy to climb up to the reception area even in dark with only a small torch to illumine our way.

magkakaub cave entrance

Just as it is, everything so natural and unspoiled.  There’s no electricity, but they got used to it already, the small kerosene lamp served as our light.  The cicadas singing in the darkness, cutting the stillness of the night.  We woke up the following morning watching the placid lake before us and the sunrise breaking behind the limestone cliffs.

Sohoton in a Day

We rushed to the information center for a courtesy hi with DH, somehow I’m grateful with all the necessary arrangements he made for my trip, even how short the notice was.  So we started early taking advantage of the low tide, I wanted to revisit the hidden charms of my paradise.  I always feel that familiar rush of blood flow when entering the cove, so mysterious it felt like I’m transported into another world. We went around and got first into Hagukan Cave, swam inside, stayed for awhile and mingle with other guests.  We  then proceed to the challenging Magkakaub Cave,  walk inside, view the formations and the fruit bats up, then went rock climbing for the exit. Well, we got at the ramp ready for the plunge but alas I still have to gather much courage for the jump 😛  It’s my fourth time and yet my spirit needed some urging.  It felt so free having the big leap, the big splash and the water rush felt so good!  🙂 Navigating around the cove watching limestone cliffs covered with greens, clear waters and blue skies is like paradise to me.

the landmark for exit!

My most favorite spot here is the Jellyfish Lagoon (Tojoman Lake), I was ecstatic when DH told me it’s peak season of the jellies!  When we entered the lagoon, all others were coming out so it was comforting it won’t be too crowded.  And there I watched in awe, of my brown friends starting to float up in view. I swam around getting up close with them.  My sister can’t believe it’s stingless. All of them in varied sizes, pulsating like talking to me, and swimming right there all around me. I stayed in the waters long to my heart’s content, swimming with my jelly friends.  I still have wanted to linger more but my companions seemed tired already, so I finally went up the boat feeling sorry I have to leave.

boats ready...

After our late lunch and brief rest back at Tiktikan Lake, we cruised to La Fortuna to explore another inland lake there and hoping to get some fresh buko. We walked on a trail to the lake and have some swim there.  When we got back, we swam on the white beach while waiting for our boat.  I missed Spirit, it should have been fun playing with him in the waters.  We cruised to another spot to buy some buko, it was a white beach too and while waiting I swam again with the waves pushing me ashore.  😛  We got back to the info center, catching up DH with some visitors.  We savor the fresh buko lamaw while discussing latest updates in the park and the PO.  We hastily finished up to see the spot where the new cottage owned by SAVE Sohoton was built.  Actually, it’s a good improvement – a new economic activity of the PO.  It sat in a cove with turquoise waters and white sands, a simple cottage of indigenous materials still with works on-going.  It promises a wonderful spot for swimming, snorkeling or just lounging on the small patch of white beach.  We rushed back at the info center and finally sailed to the guest house for night’s refuge, when it began to get  dark.

Promise to be Back

The next morning, we woke up watching the placid waters from our window.  How serene and beautiful, so peaceful and divine.  I knew I never grow tired of coming to this place. I was too glad that it has maintained its unspoiled beauty, its people have well-preserved its environment. I was glad I didn’t see any litters, except few when we got to the lake which our guide defended coming from open waters brought by the tide.  Sohoton folks have done great job in preserving this paradise.

Our boat left riding on the morning waves – my favorite haven getting obscure as we got farther.  Still I promise myself to be back again, hoping its beauty will be same as I knew her.  It’s about its serenity, the vast sea, limestone cliffs, crystal waters, elusive marine life, orange skies, starry nights, singing cicadas, placid lakes and my jelly friends.   My place, my refuge, my paradise…