Tag Archives: Samboan

Samboan: Sites and Sights and Dining Options, or Lack of It

taken at Samboan Marine Sanctuary

taken at Samboan Marine Sanctuary

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.)

Getting Around
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.

Manong Tobias and his spacious, colorful tricycle

Manong Toby and his spacious, colorful tricycle

Contact him via +63 925 443 2487.

The Attractions
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)

Samboan Volunteer
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.

Samboan Church
Samboan Church
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.

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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.

Samboan Via Crucis

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).

Samboan Flora 05
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.

Samboan Ladder

Upper left: view from the top; upper right: view from the bottom step

True enough, we saw locals like these fishermen using the route as their shortcut to their communities below.

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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.

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In olden times, the campanario was used to spot incoming pirates.

Samboan Watchtower
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.

Samboan Viewdeck
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.

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Ponong Lake
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.

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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!

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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.

Samboan Lake
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.

Samboan Sea at 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.

Samboan Marine Sanctuary
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.

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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.

Samboan Dining 05
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.
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The carinderia was also right by the beach, which afforded us this view.

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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.

Samboan DIning 01
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.

Samboan Dining 06
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.

Samboan DIning 02
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.

Samboan Dining 04
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.

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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.

Other Sights
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.

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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.

Samboan Flora 02Samboan Flora 03
I’ll end this post with a photo of this guy I saw at Bato Port.

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You just had to appreciate a Pinoy’s creativity and resourcefulness.

Samboan: Gorion Beach Resort

sunset by the resort's beachfront

sunset by the resort’s beachfront

As mentioned in my previous post about Fantasy Lodge, we ended up staying at Gorion Beach because Fantasy Lodge was fully booked.

We became walk-in guests because the number on the official Samboan Android app turned out to be the personal number of the previous caretaker and while she was kind enough to provide us with the contact number of the owner (+63922 927 4645), no one was picking up or replying to our SMS when we contacted them.

I did not expect Gorion Beach to be my typical choice of resort, but I was still unprepared for the sorry state of our room.

our room

our room

Paint was peeling off at some parts of the walls and the furniture was mismatched and riddled with scratches. The lamp shade was dirty and the curtains were dusty, while the air-conditioning was very noisy.

Worse, the bathroom had yellow tiles and grout.

Gorion 02
And there were no toiletries, not even a roll of tissue paper. Good thing I always travel with tissues and wet wipes and my own set of toiletries.

The saving grace of this “resort” is its staff who are very kind and accommodating. This, and the fact that it is a beachfront property with beautiful views of the setting sun as evident from the main photo from this post.

Here is my set of sunset photos taken at Gorion Beach.

Gorion 06Gorion 05
Did you notice the strong waves? I haven’t seen anyone swim at the beach in front of Gorion in the two days that we were there, but Alex (one of our guides who is also a staff at the resort) assured us that it’s safe to swim here, but only during low tide.

We were lucky to have witnessed the setting sun from start to finish so we were able to watch it
paint the sky a golden yellow, to shades of red orange.

Gorion 04Gorion 08
By the way, Gorion Beach has cottages by its beach, and that’s where I took these photos, and where we stayed most of the time while we were sunset- watching.

Gorion 07
Ultimately, the sun retired into the horizon and we were left with just the colorful sky and the choppy waters to admire.

Gorion 09
And right before we left our spot a local sat by the beach to admire the views so I took her photo to add a focal point to this shot.

Gorion 10

Despite these lovely views and its proximity to local attractions and even the local market, I am still not recommending Gorion Beach Resort because its accommodations are not well-maintained. I don’t mind a bare accommodation so long as it’s clean and sadly, our room just wasn’t.

Samboan: Fantasy Lodge

Fantasy 01

So after writing a teaser post about my trip to the US, which kept me off blogging for almost 2 months, I’m back to writing about where I left off.

Now Fantasy Lodge is my fondest memory of Samboan. I fell in love with its rustic charm at first sight online, and it’s just too bad that it was fully booked during our stay so we ended up staying at Gorion Beach. Still, we took the time to visit Fantasy Lodge for lunch.

Food was our greatest challenge in Samboan because there were no decent restaurants in the area and we had to go to the wet market twice to eat at the same carinderia.  Thus, it was sheer joy to step into Fantasy Lodge to dine.

We ordered Pizza Margherita, Crème brûlée, and Piña Colada.

Fantasy 10
The pizza was good, though it would have been better if they used cherry tomatoes (I was under the impression that they used local tomatoes, which was more sour). My sweet tooth appreciated the Crème brûlée, though I would have appreciated it more if it wasn’t served too chilled. I didn’t like the Piña Colada because it tasted too strongly of rum so I managed just a few sips of it.

The owner was kind enough to let us wander around before and after our meal, so we had the opportunity to discover the resort’s facilities an appreciate its quaint charm.

Fantasy 06
I loved the tile floors of the hallway with some kind of boat on its wall and the hammock by the pool.

Fantasy Lodge had a spa too, but it was fully booked so even when our bodies were screaming for some pampering after our falls hopping adventure the day before, we had to skip this. Of course, they had a pool, a beachfront (we didn’t get to go all the way down to check this out), and unique accommodations like The Dome. They had a bar too with unique seating (the orange couches in the succeeding photo).

Fantasy 11
What I loved most at the resort was their viewdeck, which was perfect for lounging around while reading a book, or just chilling while appreciating the calming views of the sea.

Fantasy 04
Their pool was also nice, but too small for my taste, but because it was a small private resort, only registered guests have exclusive use of this facility, so I guess it’s fine.

Fantasy 03
Fantasy Lodge also has a beautiful garden. Here are some of my finds during my short visit.

Fantasy 09
Aren’t they lovely, especially the fully bloomed rose, but my favorite would have been the flower of the Passion Fruit, so here’s a solo shot of it.

Fantasy 05
They had this Plumeria tree too with vivid red flowers, which is really rare since I usually find this in white, yellow, or light pink.  What more, the same tree has flowers in different shades of pink and red.

Fantasy 07
What an interesting find.  Note the two vivid red ones and the solitary pinkish white plumeria flower with yellowish center.

At the resort, we also met their resident monkey named Pogi (Filipino for handsome), and he was quite the charmer. That is, until he bared his fangs.

Fantasy 08
Pogi was an entertainer at heart.  It would let out a whoop each time we passed by and each time I aimed my camera at him, he would stop moving around and “pose” so I could take a shot.

We were at Fantasy Lodge only for a couple of hours, but it became my fondest memory of Samboan because the place is just so pretty.  Someday, I will come back so I could spend a night or two.

Check out Fantasy Lodge when in Samboan.  Contact them via +63917 700 6027, or visit their official Facebook page.

Fantasy 02

Samboan: Aguinid Falls

Aguinid 05

Samboan has several waterfalls and Aguinid is undoubtedly the most popular among them. This was our last destination when we decided to do falls hopping in Samboan for a day.

Among Dao, Binalayan, and Aguinid Falls, the 5-tier Aguinid Falls is the most accessible. It is a mere 5-minute walk from the main road and unlike the path in the other 2 falls, Aguinid’s is already paved. Don’t let this fool you, though as Aguinid also happens to be the most difficult to conquer among the three.

Entrance fee is Php 40, but locals are extended 50% discount.

Aguinid 16

Just look at the quote. It speaks of the purpose of my going to Samboan, which is to reconnect with nature to recharge myself.

As mentioned, Aguinid Falls has 5 tiers, though they started the count at 0 so technically, there are 6 tiers. Level 0 features mini-waterfalls, earth rock formations, bamboo bridge, lagoon for adults, and water cascades.

Aguinid 15

It was a holiday when we came here so there were a lot of people.

Aguinid 02

Again, get ready to get wet because to get to the higher levels, you have to wade into the water.

Aguinid 01

Level 1 has falls higher than what’s on Level 0, rock formations, a selfie deck and shallow river pool for kids.

Aguinid 14

I didn’t get to discover where the selfie deck is located because I was too busy trying to keep myself alive. Seriously, why would anyone take a selfie here when there’s the danger of slipping, or bumping into anyone?

Going up, I was amazed at how this courageous kid was having so much fun jumping off the rock formation, while most didn’t event dare proceed to the higher level.

Aguinid 03

At the bend after the above photo was taken, I saw this Climbing Do’s and Don’ts. It wasn’t displayed prominently though, so others just ignored it.

Aguinid 04

Level 2 features cave-like formations and the waterfall wall climbing challenge, which was the most difficult part of our entire climb of Aguinid since it required climbing a steep limestone wall.

Aguinid 13

While the locals did create small “wall cavities” through the limestone where we could anchor our hands and feet on, the rushing water made them difficult to find.  To ensure everyone’s safety, they limited the number of persons who did the wall climbing and they did it one person at a time.

It was actually scarier to wait because I kept on hearing people voicing their fears and it didn’t help that our driver guide backed out. I almost joined him, but Alex, our other guide said the experience would be worth it.

Aaand finally, I made it. Too bad I had no photos since I didn’t have a waterproof camera and Alex carried my waterproof bag with my camera and phones in it (the purple one in the succeeding photo, which was taken after we conquered Level 2).

Aguinid 06

Level 3 was beautiful. The main photo from this blog was taken at Level 3, which features waterfalls and earth rock formations, a selfie deck (no wonder there was heavy traffic because people kept on taking selfies), and water cascades.

Aguinid 12

Here’s a photo of Level 3’s water cascades.

Aguinid 10

Right after this is Level 4, with its divided waterfalls and deep lagoon.

Aguinid 11

Here’s my favorite photo of the deep lagoon.

A few meters from here is Level 5. We thought that when we arrived here, there would be fewer people, but we were mistaken. There were many!

Aguinid 07

While here, I kept on looking for a signage similar to what’s on the previous levels, but there was none. I voiced it out to my friend and a local guide heard me so he explained that it got washed away during a recent typhoon and they were yet to replace it.

My friend and I thought that we would have our moment underneath Level 5’s rock formation and water cascades, but there were just too many people coming in so we decided to just head back since we’re so tired anyway.

Here’s my parting shot of Level 5’s water cascade.

Aguinid 08

The climb down Level 0 was again a little challenging, especially going down from Level 3 to Level 2. Thankfully, there were local guides who would tell us where to place our feet and/or hands while clambering down, so we made it down safely.

A tip to those who wish to explore Samboan. Do not start your itinerary by going to Aguinid. The climb here was so physically draining that afterwards, we opted to go home and rest. If we came here first, we’re sure we would have skipped Dao and Binalayan.

In closing, Aguinid Falls is beautiful, but it’s too crowded for me. I wish the local government would start implementing a carrying capacity for all its falls so that they don’t get crowded and they can be preserved for future generations.

Samboan: Binalayan Falls

After visiting Samboan’s Dao Falls, we headed to Binalayan Falls, which is also called Hidden Falls and Triple Drop Falls.

It’s easy to see why they called it Triple Drop.

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This was easier to conquer than Dao, and the trekking time was also shorter (about 15 minutes).

After my friend paid the entrance fee of only Php 10 per person, we headed to the falls.

This coconut plantation was located at the bend right after where we paid the fees.

Binalayan 01

Again, get ready to get wet because to get to the falls, you have to cross about 2-3 streams.

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The falls has 2 drops, and this was my first glimpse of its first drop.

Binalayan 17

Its waters flow straight into this stream surrounded with palm trees, ferns, and some other flora that I couldn’t identify.

Because we were tired from our walk, we spent some time at the swings by the stream. Here’s a photo of our guide Alex, at the tandem swing.

Binalayan 02

In front of this were these individual swings made of old tires.

Binalayan 03

After our short rest, we continued our trek up the falls.

At the first drop, we passed by these children.

Binalayan 04

This is a close up of the first drop, which honestly wasn’t that impressive.

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A short trek from there was the grand second drop. 47 feet of waterfalls in 3 streams thus the name, Triple Drop.

Isn’t it beautiful?

I loved the lush greenery surrounding the falls’ base and the contrast of the water against the stone.

While its basin is smaller than Dao’s, I actually find Binalayan/Hidden/Triple Drop falls prettier than Dao because of its unspoiled look.

Binalayan 12
The water was also cool to swim in, though one has to be careful when swimming here because the pool seemed shallow one moment, but when you walk around, would have sudden drops.

Here are more photos of this beautiful falls at different vantage points.

The above was taken by the walkway while the photo below was taken at the center of the stream.  I decided to cut the stream of water on the succeeding photo to focus on the canopy of trees at the falls’ base.

We had the falls to ourselves for about 15 minutes before a family arrived. By then, we were shivering from the cold, so we decided head back.

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Oh, before I forget, here’s a collage of my photos at Binalayan Falls. I had more, but since my friend who took them using her camera still hasn’t uploaded them, I had to make do with whatever’s on my camera.

Binalayan 21

Before trekking back, we again took a short rest by the stream. By this time, more visitors had arrived and all the swings were occupied.
Binalayan 20

On the way back, we again passed by the same coconut plantation that we saw earlier.

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Here’s my favorite photo of coconuts.  This became my favorite because of the way the trees looked tall, dainty and graceful in this photo.

Binalayan 05
We met this cute dog too.

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At the entrance, we passed by the fall’s signage, which had a photo of a dog swimming at the stream. The dog looked similar to the one we met by the coconut plantation.

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Binalayan Falls is located in Barangay Bonbon in Tangbo, Samboan, Cebu.