Bacon and Matnog, Sorsogon: Revisiting an endearing province

Revisiting Matnog, Sorsogon

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.

Bacon, Sorsogon

Paguriran Lagoon

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.

Paguriran Lagoon in Sorsogon
Paguriran Lagoon, a natural swimming lagoon tucked in a barangay in Sorsogon. (Photo by Hali)
Paguriran Lagoon, Sorsogon
Outside the lagoon, the water is a deep shade of blue-green. (Photo by Hali)

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.

Matnog, Sorsogon

Subic Beach

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.

Subic beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
Arriving during sunset in Subic Laki Beach. (Photo by Hali)

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.

Calintaan School in Matnog, Sorsogon
Passing by Calintaan School, now with structural walls missing. (Photo by Hali)

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.

Matnog lighthouse in Sorsogon
We met again, Matnog Lighthouse. (Photo by Hali)

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.

Tikling Island

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.

Tikling beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
The perfect vacation spot? (Photo by Hali)
Tikling Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
Wind on my face, salt in my hair, sand on my toes, oh la la. (Photo by Hali)

The sun was up high. With sunblock lathered on our skin, we dived in the cool waters.

Photo credit to Hali
Wind on my face, salt in my hair and sand on my toes, oh la la. Taken at Tikling beach, Sorsogon. (Photo credit to Hali)

Practical Information section

Accommodations in Sorsogon

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.

Contact information

Kuya Alex, Juag’s fish sanctuary: 0907 957 7748 or 0918 304 5437
Paguriran Island Beach Resort: 0917 832 0245

 

P.S. This post is part of our long road trip from Manila down south. See other pit stops we’d been to here:

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Bacon and Matnog, Sorsogon - including Paguriran Lagoon, Juag Lagoon Sanctuary, Subic Beach and Tikling Island.

4 Comments

  1. Hey nice post on Sorsogon. Of all places in the Bicol region – Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon are the least promoted ones. I’d say even Camarines Norte too.

    Perhaps it is due to safety issues in the case of Sorsogon and Masbate, and convenience of travel in the case of Masbate (again) and Catanduanes that has not allowed for more tourists.

    What you did, goes a long way. Voluntourism adds value to the local community and it makes the locals take care of tourists more.

    1. I’m not aware about any safety issue in Sorsogon and Masbate. Hmm maybe I should research more about this.

      Catanduanes is slowly getting pushed into the limelight, what with it being the “Batanes of the South” and all. The difficulty is traveling there. In CebPac, flights to and from Virac only have one schedule daily and commuting via land and sea transfer eats too much time that it’s not sulit, unless one wants to stay for more than 3 days (in my opinion).

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