While Samboan is famous for its falls (they said they have about a dozen, but we’ve only been to three (Dao, Binalayan, and Aguinid), it has other attractions too (If you have an Android device, I recommend downloading its app called Samboan Guide.)
There are tricycles and habal habal drivers at the town center who can take you to your preferred destination/s. You can also hire them for a day (I think we paid Php 500). Here’s a photo of our driver/guide Manong Tobias or Toby, who by the way had the most colorful tricycle we’ve seen in Samboan.
Contact him via +63 925 443 2487.
These are the places we went to on our second day at Samboan (on the first day, we went falls-hopping).
World War II Volunteer’s Monument (Boluntaryo Monument)
Located at the town center, this is Samboan’s iconic monument. This is where we were supposed to alight, but we slept through our travel so when we woke up, we found ourselves at the bus terminal that’s about 30 minutes from here.
My friend and I thought this monument is that of a farmer or a fisherman, but our driver, Manong Tobias shared that it’s actually a monument of a boluntaryo – someone who fought for our freedom during World War II.
The app says this was built in 1842 and underwent reconstruction in 1951. We visited on a Sunday while the mass was ongoing, so there was no one outside.
Grotto of the Virgin Mary
This is just beside the church. It looked newly built. I didn’t understand the need for trash bins (or rather, drums) right in front of the Grotto, though. Seriously, they could’ve just placed it near the entrance.
Station of the Cross
This surrounded the grotto, as evident from a previous photo. Some of the statues looked okay, but most were not well-defined, or the expressions were off.
While going around these stations, I also took the time to take photos of the flowers in the area. I was especially charmed by these yellow flowers (upper and lower right photos).
Jacob’s Ladder (Escala de Jacob)
They said this was built so parishioners from coastal communities will find it easier to go to church (which makes sense because without this, they had to go all the way around). This was built in 1878 and has 147 steps made of manunggol stones.
True enough, we saw locals like these fishermen using the route as their shortcut to their communities below.
Ancient Watchtower (Campanario de Antigua)
They said this offers the best views of the surrounding islands. Tourists have no access to the top, though, because its gates are locked.
In olden times, the campanario was used to spot incoming pirates.
Tip: There’s a Multi-Purpose Hall adjacent to the watchtower, with a viewdeck that afforded us views of the sea and the coastal communities below.
I wondered why despite the sunny weather, the sea here, unlike the others I’ve seen in the country had this rather bleak look, as if shrouded in fog.
Another tip: Head in front of the church to capture the church and the watchtower in just one photo.
The thing about Samboan is that it’s still not developed for tourists and while this has its benefits (I personally prefer destinations like this), it also makes it difficult to get around to.
We discovered Ponong Lake on the app that I mentioned earlier. Sadly, Manong Tobias was not familiar with it. He said he had heard about it, but not really sure of the way so we had to ask around.
Turned out the lake is about 10 minutes from the church and the town plaza. The app described it as being more like a lagoon than a lake, with brackish water.
We took the above while in a raft made of bamboo with woven coconut fronds for its roof. They said it takes tourists on a cruise along the lake, but there was no one to do this for us during our visit. “Might as well,” my friend said in the vernacular, “as a crocodile might jump on us here.” Ha!
Here’s a collage of photos of scenes from our vantage point. I loved the way the sky and the plants reflected on the water.
At Ponong Lake, we met these siblings (lower right photo) who tried to look for someone to tour us around, but found none.
The lake is surrounded by a fishing village and we took some time appreciating the views of the sea, which was just across the lake.
Again, note how the water and the sky were not the usual clear blue.
Samboan Marine Sanctuary
We were looking for Colase Marine Sanctuary that we discovered through their app, but our driver/guide was again clueless about it so he brought us instead to Samboan Marine Sanctuary. He said it’s the same.
We thought the sanctuary is right by their beach, but it turned out we still had to ride a boat, which we couldn’t afford to do since we didn’t have enough time (we were going back to Cebu after lunch), so we just contented ourselves with taking photos of sceneries from their beachfront.
The sand here was white, but not as soft and fine as the usual. It was high tide too during our visit and the waves were a little rough.
Dining Options, or Lack of it
Aside from having difficulty in finding some of their attractions, we also had difficulty looking for places to dine in. There are no restaurants or fastfood in Samboan, except for the typical turo turo joints.
Day 01 – Breakfast at the Sunrays Bus Stop
As mentioned earlier, we slept and instead of alighting at the town center, ended up at the bus station that thankfully had a carinderia where we could have breakfast.
I ordered meat loaf and rice, but they didn’t have rice, so I had corn rice instead. My friend had fish soup, which was really fresh, but I forgot to take a photo of it.
Outside this carinderia, I found these beautiful Margarita flowers, a childhood favorite. It was my first time, though, to see the red-orange variety. It’s not as rounded as the others and its petals were also larger than the usual Margarita.
The carinderia was also right by the beach, which afforded us this view.
Day 01 – Lunch at the Carinderia at the Wet Market
They brought us here for lunch. I ordered Dinuguan, Lumpia, and Beef Steak. I ate only the Lumpia and Beef Steak because the Dinuguan smelled. The Beef Steak was passable and the Lumpia was really good, so I asked for another order of it.
This may be the most convenient eatery in Samboan since it is located in the market as Manong Tobias brought us back here the following morning for breakfast. When I saw that they were serving the same beef steak I had the day before, I said no, I couldn’t possibly eat there again.
Day 01 – Dinner at the Store in Front of Gorion Beach
There was a wedding party when we stayed at Gorion so Alex said he couldn’t cook for us. By this time, Manong Tobias had left and we had no transportation to take us somewhere for dinner. Thankfully, the store in front of Gorion, which was owned by a relative of the owners of Gorion, told us that they could prepare some food for us.
We had rice, fried chicken, and pork humba. All were good, though the chicken was cold. Still, it was very tasty. It was my best meal of that day.
Day 02 – Delicacies as Breakfast
Come morning, we again had a problem on where to dine and because I didn’t want to eat at the same carinderia where we had lunch the day before, we ended up buying delicacies at the wet market.
I bought a little of everything that I missed – puto (rice cake) budbud, cassava, and suman. They were all good, especially the budbud because the maker used pure glutinuous rice. These are the delicacies of my childhood that I rarely enjoy now.
Day 02 – Lunch at LRT Restaurant
In our search for a place to dine in, we were able to travel to Bato, a municipality of Samboan that is 45 minutes from the town center. It was a pretty decent eatery, not a restaurant per se, but it had more options than the carinderia in Samboan market. And the food here tasted better too.
We had Humba, Beef Nilaga, Siomai, Fried Egg, and Lumpia. I found the siomai too sweet for my taste, but the rest was okay.
Because the eatery is facing the port, we had this view while dining.
In closing dining-wise, if you do find yourself in Samboan, stay at Fantasy Lodge so you won’t have difficulty food-wise. If it’s fully booked, at least drop by like we did for a quick snack.
I don’t know the exact place where I took this photo, but I remember taking this on our way back to Gorion Beach from Fantasy Lodge.
And oh, before I forget, if you wanted to see Dao, check out the garden at the house where you had to register. They had lovely orchids and flowers.
I’ll end this post with a photo of this guy I saw at Bato Port.
You just had to appreciate a Pinoy’s creativity and resourcefulness.
When I saw “Antigua” in one of your photos, I immediately thought of the one in the Caribbean. 🙂
You make a wonderful travel writer, Milai. *two thumbs up*