The trees were leafless, leaning sideways in the direction of the wind while some were uprooted and lying on the ground. Leaves, branches and other debris are left where they fell as the town folks and the government reel from the aftermath of typhoon Nina.
On the way, I saw the government’s relief trucks, two overused ones filled to capacity in contrast to the shiny cargo truck ABS-CBN sent under their relief program.
In Virac, town folks are lined up on atm machines and I stood in line for 2 hours just to replenish my traveling fund. I felt like I was queuing at the mrt station in Manila, the folks at the atm machine took their time even counting what the machine disbursed. I made good use of the time and had a conversation with a local who filled me with details about the place.
The next day after a gallivanting on the beach of Twin Rock Beach Resort, we sped off to Binurong Point. Riding on the back of a motorcycle as rain pelted us gave me goosebumps – the highway was wet and the curves were so dangerous. We came into a one meter width road were mud had runoff from erosion above. A bad flip and we could end up with broken bones or worst death.
Heck, getting into an accident or dying on my birthday would make Shakespeare’s tragedies pale in comparison.
The slopes of the mountains was indeed a sad sight. I pity the Abaca growers as they received the brunt of the typhoon, most of the plant were whipped like cream.
But amidst that, the happiness of cruising along the ocean was awesome. The wind was on our face, the sound of waves lapping on the shore, the occasional laughter of children and the communities we passed by picking up their lives was comforting. Being always in the path of typhoons, the populace had long since adopted to surviving storms.
We arrived at the jump-off where a shanty was erected as a resting area, I paid the php200 guide fee and php15 environmental fee then we were off towards Binurong Point with an amiable guide who didn’t speak much but smiled a lot.
After passing by lots of fallen trees and abacas, we came into a clearing and I can hear the waves being broken by rocks. The sky which was overcast a while ago had revealed a beautiful blue sky and the sun.
I’ve read a lot about the place and most said it gave off a Batanes feel. I’ve been to Batanes (you can read my account of that trip here) so I was skeptical because Racuh a’ Payaman was beautiful; it reminds you of summer, flowers, sun and green. When I was there, I felt I stepped into a postcard complete with cows and goats, the blue sea, Mt. Iraya looming there, several lighthouses in the distant hills.
But Binurong point was raw in contrast to Racuh a’ Payaman’s tamed, smooth rolling hills. Same-lloking hills covered with grass carpet, the same ending up to the sea but Binurong Point are composed of cliffs and jagged rocks.
I could hear the loud crashing of waves, the wind picking up a pace and in the distance I can see the gathering of rain. I skipped like a child and smiled so wide. I tried to touch the wind and knelt to smell the grass.
Binurong point is the epitome of raw beauty.
How to get to Virac
by air from Manila: there is a daily direct flight from NAIA to Virac, Catanduanes via Cebu Pacific
by land from Legazpi, Albay: ride a van to Tabaco City and ask to be dropped off at the pier, buy ticket for a RoRo of Fast Craft. Get off at San Andres and ride a tricycle or a jeepney bound for Virac, you can find the jeepney parked just outside of the pier’s gate.
Legazpi to Tabaco: php50 via van
Tabaco pier to San Andres: Fast Craft at php320 and regular RoRo at php200
San Andres to Virac: jeepney at php25; tricycle at php150-250
within Virac: php9
from poblacion to Twin Rocks Beach Resort: php150-200 (tricycle)
habal-habal to points of interest/s: php2,000-2,500 (I got mine for php1,000)
guide fee at Binurong point: php200
environmental fee: php15
Where to Eat
There are a lot of eateries and restaurants within Virac but Sea Breeze was good, the staff went out of their way to serve diners and the place gave a good view of the sea. Mostly, they serve sea foods and ooops of course my favorite, lobster!
Where to Sleep
I stayed at Twin Rock Beach Resort and as a solo backpacker where money always matters, it was a splurge but indulge me please because it is my birthday so I was kind of treating myself after backpacking for several days. They have a standard aircon room priced at php1,000 per night but did not deliver. I got one huge room with basic furniture, aircon, hot shower and a good view all to myself! (I guess I paid for the view)
- The standard and deluxe rooms are huts and it is too big for one with an estimated area of 10m2, it can accommodate 4-5pax, more than that and it will be crowded
- Beach front, sand and view are beautiful, I went there off-season so I was alone at the beach (I guess this was what I’ve paid for!)
- They have a swimming pool, a zipline and other activities
- Too far from the poblacion and if you are going solo w/o a car getting out will cost you a whooping php150-200! poof and your money is gone, too costly for a 15-minute tricycle ride
- Transportation to and from poblacion and the resort is rare, you need to wait for at least 30-40 minutes and more than an hour if after 3pm
- Room have basic furniture (a long wooden table and a mono block chair). The spring bed was just too Napoleonic for a beach resort and since I have been backpacking for more than 7 days now, I’ve wanted a cushion behind my back. I was really disappointed with the bed. The tap for the water closet was not working but the shower is but don’t expect a hot shower for the standard aircon room.
- Staff are not really friendly and accommodating
- The place is owned by the Governor of the province, if I knew this information beforehand I would have opted for other accommodation
Other places to stay: Puraran Beach Resort , Rakdell Inn, Marem Pension House
Other points of interest in Catanduanes are: Bato Church, Pag-asa Weather Station, Waterfalls (Maribina, Nahulugan, Hicming), Beaches (Mamangal, Puraran, Igang, Batag, Marilima, Sacahon, Tisoy), Catanduanes Museum, Our Lady of Sorrow Shrine and Luyang Cave (along the way going to Virac from San Andres).