Voluntourism Trip to Sorsogon

Tikling beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
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I have a confession to make: I didn’t have high expectations about Sorsogon because I don’t hear about it a lot. But what do you know? Our trip here turned out to be one of my most memorable travel experiences. Exploring the best tourist spots in Sorsogon and giving back to the community was enjoyable and fulfilling.

This trip is a voluntourism event organized by our outreach group Alon ng Pag-asa. This is also the same group I went with in a similar event in Jomalig Island in Quezon Province. This time, we wanted to give educational items to students in Calintaan School.

Without further ado, here’s our voluntourism trip to Sorsogon!

Road Trip to Sorsogon

From Cubao, we road an evening bus to Sorsogon and arrived in Irosin the next morning. From there, we looked around and chartered a jeep to take us to the tourism office in Matnog.

After paying the environmental fee, we bought supplies including food in the market. Then we hopped on a motorized boat to Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary. This was our accommodation in Matnog. Kuya Alex welcomed us and we pitched our tents beside the beach cottages.

Juag Fish Sanctuary group shot
Arrival at Juag’s fish sanctuary. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Day 1

Our first day was reserved for island hopping in Matnog.

Our first destination is Calintaan Cave. It’s a small cave whose entrance is a rocky passageway accessible during low tide. You need to swim across the open ocean to get inside, where a small pebble beach cove is waiting.

Kuya Alex brought salbabida (life buoy) for those who cannot swim. I put on my life vest and held on to the salbabida while he dragged it toward the cave. Hali is a fantastic swimmer so he simply paddled along the water with us.

I was amazed to discover the secluded swimming spot inside the cave. We swam and piled up smooth stones on top of each other. Eventually, the current started getting treacherous so we had to leave.

Calintaan cave
Going back to the boat, Calintaan Cave. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Our next stop is Subic Beach. It’s also known as Pink Beach. The beach has fine, powdery sand that turns pinkish when wet (similar to the Pink Beach of Zamboanga). There is also interesting rock formations at the end of the beach and a snorkeling area where you can see little nemos.

Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
Staying for a quiet afternoon in Subic Beach. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Subic beach in Sorsogon
Subic Beach also known as Pink Beach (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Subic beach rock formation
Rock formation at the end of Subic Beach (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Funnily enough, Kuya Alex said there wasn’t much to see in Subic Beach so he invited us to go back to the marine sanctuary. If he only knew how us Manileños are amazed by places like this.

Before the day ended, we finally got to tour Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary. This marine sanctuary is home to various fishes and other underwater animals.

It was such a beauty. On one side is a stretch of white-sand beach and on the other the penned sanctuary where the animals are kept. We were ooh-ing and aah-ing just looking around.

Islet in Juag's fish sanctuary, Sorsogon
An islet across the cottages in Juag’s fish sanctuary. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Cottage curtains in Juag fish sanctuary
Coral curtains in a cottage in Juag sanctuary. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We rode the small bamboo raft and threw fish feed in the water. It was fun looking at the fishes swarming to get their fill.

Juag fish sanctuary
At Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Lobster in Juag fish sanctuary
One of the huge lobsters in the sanctuary (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Kuya Alex then invited us to swim with the fishes. We were not allowed to wear sunblock because most sunblocks contain ingredients harmful to sea life. He didn’t ask us for entrance fee and he was happy to show us the sea creatures in his little paradise: maming (the mother of all fishes in the sanctuary, at least that’s what I call her because of sheer size), clams, lobsters, starfishes and sea cucumbers among others.

Kuya Alex said that the best time to swim is in the morning, when it is low tide and the water is undisturbed and clear. Nonetheless, we had a great time.

After the day-long activity, we spent the night repacking our donations so they would be ready to be given out. Then we finally went to sleep in our tents, which we had opened to let some air in.

Day 2

Early in the morning, we hopped on a boat to get to Calintaan Elementary School for the outreach event. On our way, we passed by several beautiful islets.

Islet in Matnog, Sorsogon
An islet in Matnog, Sorsogon. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Our boat docked on the beachside just facing the gates of the school. I was amazed because the beach isn’t brownish typical of those located near households or residential communities. It was blue and inviting. I thought about my future kids and how I would want them to go on a school like this.

Anyway, we spent the early part of the day holding games for the children and giving out school supplies.

Games during Calintaan outreach in Sorsogon
Aside from giving school supplies, we also held games during the outreach. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
School kid during outreach in Calitaan elementary school
We love you kids! 🙂 (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

After the outreach, we continued with our island hopping tour.

A short ride took us to see Matnog Lighthouse. It’s built in an islet filled with rocks and corals. It’s interesting how this one is located in the middle of the sea.

Lighthouse in Matnog, Sorsogon
Is it possible for this tiny island to be consumed by water in time? (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We went back to Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary to pack our things and then stopped at Tikling Island. Tikling Island is another pinkish-sand beach. It has blue-green water and a view of a hill across that is reminiscent of Batanes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay longer here. Instead, we simply took pictures and then enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by none other than our own caterer Kuya Danny.

Tikling Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
The alluring waters of Tikling beach. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Tikling beach in Matnog, Sorsogon
Holding a pretty pink shell. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
View from Tikling Beach
View from Tikling beach, hills reminiscent of Batanes. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We said our goodbye to Kuya Alex, whose generosity and kindness I could not emphasize enough. We made our way back to the mainland.

From Matnog Port, we chartered another jeep to take us on tour.

Our first destination is Bulusan Lake. (Interestingly, this was only days before Mount Bulusan erupted). Bulusan Lake is located inside Bulusan Volcano Natural Park. The emerald-colored lake is surrounded by dense rainforest. Here you can do activities such as canoeing and kayaking.

We rented kayaks for use. It was my first time to kayak. Hali commandeered from behind, saying “Left, right, left, right”, even though I had made it clear that, since I was the one in front, I was the boss.

Kayaking in Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon
Our friends enjoying the kayak. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Kayaking in Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon
First time to kayak! (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

After Bulusan Lake, we stopped shortly at Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm. This is an agri-tourism farm site where you can enjoy garden walks and educational activities related to farming. We took a leisurely walk and saw lines of bee houses with little black bee workers. There were ponds that felt a bit underwhelming after visiting the lively marine sanctuary in Matnog, but I loved the long walkway littered with different flowers.

Bee houses in Balay Bahay sa Uma Bee Farm
Lines of bee houses. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Walkway in Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm, Sorsogon
Walkway littered with flowers on the side, at Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Finally, we asked our driver to drop us off at San Mateo Hot and Cold Spring Resort. We spent the night soaking in the warm pools. They were a bit deeper than preference and I had to stand on tiptoe. Hali carried me around and gave me short swimming lessons.

Our stay here was okay-ish. The receptionist was terribly rude. She did not inform us about additional charges. When we asked, she told us that we should have asked and suggested that we could still leave. It was 8PM and our jeep had already gone so that wasn’t an option. The resort seems like a good place to stay, but I hope in the future their staff will be able to provide better customer service.

Day 3

As per Kuya Freddie’s request we were supposed to go to a light house in Parola Island. However, there were no boats available, so we had to abandon this little trip. Personally I wasn’t very sorry, as I’d seen enough of beaches and lighthouses in the past days.

Magallanes Beach in Sorsogon
We were not able to see the light house, but at least we have this group phoo. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We went for a short stop in Barcelona, Sorsogon. We stumbled upon a couple having a pre-nup shoot in one of the ruins. The ruins were interesting, but there weren’t enough of the structures left to recognize what they once were. We also went inside the Barcelona Church, which is considered one of the oldest in the Bicol Region. There isn’t much to do in Barcelona except to take pictures.

We then headed to our next destination: Gubat. Gubat is one of the best surfing sites in the Philippines. We booked cottages at Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp.

Before our surfing activity, w we went to the market for lunch. I hope you’re still with me because this is an interesting story. We went inside an eatery since we thought they were open for business. Unbeknownst to us, there is a fiesta that day and the food served on the buffet table was for guests. The owners of the eatery however were kind and invited us for a free meal. This kind gestures to strangers was a memorable experience and I suppose one that happens only in provinces.

RLF eatery in Sorsogon
Owners at RLF eatery.

We spent the afternoon on the shores of Gubat. We hired instructors since most of us are first-time surfers. Hali can already surf decently, so he didn’t need one. After the lesson, I decided I wanted to chill instead so I stayed on the beach to swim.

Surfing in Lola Sayong's surf camp in Gubat, Sorsogon
Everybody keenly listening to the instructors. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Surfing in Lola Sayong's eco-camp, Sorsogon
Marics, our main organizer. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Day 4

After exploring Sorsogon, we were ready to head back home.

We hired a private van who agreed to take us first to see Mount Mayon. Mount Mayon is touted as a once-perfect cone, the landmark of Albay Province. I was delighted because we get another short tour before the ride home and also I had never seen this volcano before.

Mayon Volcano, Philippines
Guess where. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

After strolling around the area and taking pictures, we ate sili ice cream. For dinner, we stopped by Chowking. The group had given me a birthday cake. Had I mention that this day was my birthday? Overall, it was a meaningful celebration of my existence.I’m a quarter of a century old!

Here’s a video of our voluntourism trip in Sorsogon!

Afterword

I’d like to thank my friends at Alon ng Pag-asa and Hali especially for spending my birthday from me. Aside from doing volunteer work and spending my special day away from home (certainly a first), this trip was also a milestone for Hali and me. We had our first petty fight. Hah! 🙂

For those interested in some spots we’d visited during this trip, here are the contact details:

  • Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp: Facebook
  • Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary: Facebook / 09079577748 or 09183045437

Did you enjoy this post on our voluntourism trip to Sorsogon? Let me know in the comments section below!

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4 Comments

  1. Hi! Can I have a contact number of the Calintaan Elem Sch please? We are planning to do outreach as well, and I am thinking it is good to do it there.

    Thanks,
    Mavs

    1. Hi Biance! Thank you for expressing interest. 🙂 It’s Alon ng Pag-asa. We aren’t a formal organization but a small community of backpackers.

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