I don’t normally bother going back to places I’ve already seen unless there is a key feature that I’ve missed (Maligcong rice terraces, we will be back). Sorsogon is an exception, as it has a special place in our hearts. We stopped here in Bacon and Matnog, Sorsogon, during our road trip from Manila to Leyte.
Last year, Hali and I joined a voluntourism event benefitting elementary kids in Sorsogon. In our two days in Matnog, Kuya Alex, the owner of Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary, took great care in us. The warmth welcome and generous help we’ve received for the outreach event, as well as the underrated beauty of Sorsogon, is something that we will not forget soon.
Last year, typhoon Nona heavily damaged areas in Sorsogon, including the fish sanctuary. We were saddened and concerned about this news. This is one of the reasons we wanted to go back, so we could check the islands we’ve been to and personally speak with Kuya Alex.
We’d been to various places in Sorsogon, but this is our first time to see Paguriran Island Lagoon, found in Barangay Sawangga in the municipality of Bacon.
From photos online, Paguriran Lagoon gives off the impression that it’s a secret location, possibly discovered by wondering travelers. So you can imagine that my first reaction was surprise at knowing that Paguriran Lagoon is just walking distance away from an established resort, the Paguriran Island Beach Resort.
We secured cottages in the resort for the group and ate our packed lunch. There’s only one eatery at the entrance of the resort, and by the time we arrived there was no more rice available.
Shortly thereafter we crossed the shore to visit Paguriran’s famous lagoon. The water was just beginning to fill up the space. It was reminiscent of Iloilo’s Tangke Lagoon, except that it was smaller and more accessible. The boulders made way for an entrance to the sea outside, where the water was a deep green and the waves, stronger. We really didn’t have time to swim, so we simply made a short tour and took photos of the lagoon.
Just before sunset, we arrived in Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. Previously, we’d stayed at Subit Liit Beach, adjacent to Subic Laki Beach where we would be staying the night. Even though it’s summer and the onset of Holy Week vacation, there was a relatively small crowd in Subic Laki Beach compared to other beach destinations.
We brought tents and set them up facing the beach. Hali and I played around with his DSLR, writing words using a flashlight. Some in the group took to night swimming, with March’s full moon in the backdrop. Later on, the whole group formed a circle and passed around drinks, introducing ourselves and telling travel stories.
Matnog Lighthouse, Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary
In the morning, we explored a few beloved islands in Matnog, Sorsogon. On the way, we passed through waters so crystal-clear that you could see the corals underneath. We also passed by the Calintaan Elementary School, which was our previous beneficiary for the outreach, and wondered if the missing walls beside the gate were also caused by typhoon Nona.
We first stopped in Matnog Lighthouse, which stands in an isolated island in the middle of the sea. The island’s shape looked different from last time, and you can visibly sea the strong currents in different directions surrounding the island.
Finally, we stopped by Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary. It broke my heart to see that there were some major changes from the last time we were there. The beautiful cottages in the middle of the fish sanctuary had been damaged and are now gone. Many fishes have escaped, including maming. We said hi to Kuya Alex, who for understandable reason didn’t remember us but remembered our outreach group, Alon ng Pag-asa. We asked how he was and so on.
Boats would come and go, and our group only had limited time to see the fishes in the sanctuary. Unlike last time, nobody was given time to swim. We were given small bowls of fish feed and took turns throwing them into the waters. Fishes would gather to grab the feed. With heavy hearts, we then said goodbye to Kuya Alex.
If you’re in Sorsogon, I urge you to visit and support Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary. It’s an honest-to-goodness delightful place to visit, especially during off-peak season when guests can swim with the fishes and see starfishes, clams and lobsters underwater. There is no entrance fee or payment of any kind, except for the fish feed. There are also souvenirs as well as shirts, necklaces and bracelets with shells. Oh, and please give something in the donation box. The money is used for the maintenance of the lagoon.
Mid-morning, we arrived in Tikling Island, our last stop here in Matnog, Sorsogon. I was excited to be here, since last time we didn’t have enough time to swim. Up close, we noticed that the sand is also pinkish, similar to the Subic beaches. The water was still as clear and blue as I remembered it last time, and there stood still the bare green hills from across the island.
There were hammocks near the residential huts, and a poso where tourists can wash themselves off after swimming. We stopped by the houses and watched healthy black pigs being fed fresh coconut.
The sun was up high. With sunblock lathered on our skin, we dived in the cool waters.
Practical Info: Bacon and Matnog, Sorsogon
Where to stay
Sorsogon is one of my favorite provinces in the Philippines, and I highly suggest staying here for a few days.
You can check out the lowest prices of accommodations and beach resorts in Sorsogon here.
Kuya Alex, Juag’s fish sanctuary: 0907 957 7748 or 0918 304 5437
Paguriran Island Beach Resort: 0917 832 0245
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