May 1-7, 2016

This was my longest vacation from work up to date. Akala ko wala na kong babalikang trabaho after. Hahaha!

It was actually a family vacation of my sister’s family (with her husband and 2 kids), I just asked them if I can join them (eh pumayag) kaya nakasama ako.

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Cebu Pacific’s new aircraft design. Pero hindi yan sinakyan ko.

I just bought my own plane tickets, which has cost me P4,108.12 Round Trip via Cebu Pacific to Butuan City (Bancasi Airport). We arrived at Bancasi Airport at around 7am, we had different flights, so I needed to wait for them for an hour. Surprisingly, there’s a Philtranco RoRo bus from Cubao/Pasay to Surigao City and it costs P1,737.45 to 1,750.65 for 23 to 28 hours of travel time. I think it is a good idea if you want to travel Bicol-Samar-Leyte-Surigao by land; but of course, you need more time to do that. Maybe I would try that someday.

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There’s a free cultural performance in Butuan Airport.

It was the cheapest fare on that travel date. I don’t want to complain with the ticket price because I know I wouldn’t be spending a single centavo in Surigao. Thanks to my ate and brother-in-law for spoiling me. I would still give you the breakdown of our expenses for the benefit of those who want to travel in Surigao and Siargao Islands.

There are vans you can ride outside Bancasi Airport, to reach Surigao, for around P200 and wait for the van to be fully occupied. Our destination was to Placer, Surigao del Norte and we rented the whole van for P2,000. The travel time to Surigao from Butuan is around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You may take direct flights to Surigao City or Siargao but for higher cost. We had to buy our brunch from a nearby fastfood and bring it home.

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Carabao

It is very common to see a carabao and other kind of farm animals in the province. What’s cooler is that you can get up close to them and take photos. Be sure to be extra careful because you might get punctured by their horns or you may agitate them.

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Babae sa bintana. Joke lang, ate ko yan.

We stayed in a nipa-hut-style room beside a vast field of greenery where you are assured of clean and breezy air that is cool even at noon time. The air is also fresh, you know you are breathing the theoretical 20% Oxygen composition of the air; unlike in the city, you are breathing a lot of Carbon Monoxide. Rooms can be booked at Surigao City via Agoda.com which costs at least P600 per night. Surigao City to Placer (vice versa) travel is around an hour. You can ride a bus or jeep which costs around P50.

The most commonly used transportation in Surigao is tricycle or traysikol how they say it (they are very much aware of it). There are jeepneys that are used to travel farther distances like from town to town. You may also ride a van to transfer to another town or to another city.

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Mini pick-up ride.

Our first destination was the Togonan Falls. To save from expenses, we just borrowed a mini pick-up from my brother-in-law’s relatives to transport us to our destination. It would cost you around P100 to 200 to reach Mainit, Surigao del Norte. You may take habal-habal or tricycle depending on how large your group is.

There is an entrance fee going to the falls for P15 to 25 and you may or may not have a cottage that would range from P150 to as much as 1,500. We just paid for our entrance and did not get our cottage. The place is privately-owned that’s why there’s an entrance fee you need to pay.

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Stairs descending to Togonan Falls

From the drop-off point, you need to descent the stairs. It is kinda exhausting, but not as exhausting as the Tangadan Falls in La Union. It is one of the shortest and easiest way going to a falls. You’d get there in no time but still tiring.

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Togonan Falls and its resort

The place is already developed as I mentioned earlier because it is privately-owned. The place was still undergoing its development when we visited. Personally, I would have preferred seeing it in its natural beauty and unadulterated state rather than the developed one. That’s only for my preference, some might like it. The water in the falls is freezing cold, we were not able to dip ourselves there. We just settled in the pool because the water there was much more tolerable for swimming.

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Togonan Falls

The Togonan Falls itself is a beauty, I don’t know why there’s a need to develop the place. I feel more like of a conservative type in terms of maintaining the environment. Not sure of its legal implications.

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Philippine Serpent Eagle
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Brahminy Kite
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Monkey (obviously)

There were several animals in Togonan Falls that were caged and chained. I don’t know whether they are appropriate or not. If you would ask me if you should visit the place, it is up to you to decide. I am not an expert in environment protection and animal welfare, so I am leaving you the judgment.

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Rainbow in Surigao

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The next day, we rode a tricycle going to  the docking station of small boats near Placer for around P50. We rent a very small motor boat going to Tinago Island and it has cost us P750 for the 5 of us. It’s so small, we barely fit inside the boat.

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Tinago Island

I am not sure whether it is the big or small Tinago Island that we visited. In the island, there were plenty of fish to see if you are fond of snorkeling; however, it is noticeable that the corals were dead.

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Vermiculated Angel Fish
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Angel Fish?
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Sea Urchin

Well, at least there were fish and sea urchin. Is that a good sign? I got really scared with the sea urchin after all the death stories I read and heard about it. I didn’t try to go near it. I don’t want to end my life away from home. Hahaha! Whatever. We were able to swim, jump, and feed the fish in the area. I was afraid to go to the deeper area because it was still difficult for me to swim while taking photos. I know how to swim, pero takot ako malunod. I almost drowned in a swimming pool back when I was in elementary. It was during a swimming training , I had no goggles, and I did not see where I was going to. Little did I know that I was still in the middle of the pool where it was the deepest. I panicked, ayun muntik na malunod and luckily was able to rescue myself. Nakakahiya kaya for a swimmer na malunod. Hahaha! Anyway, enough for the flashback.

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Tinago Island Cottage
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Tagana-an Beach
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Beach Volleyball Court
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Tagana-an Beach Cottages

After our island hopping in Tinago Island, we stopped over the small beach at Tagana-an. The sand is beige to white and grainy. But generally, it is peaceful and clean and a good place to contemplate if you’re that type of person who loves the tranquility of a quiet environment.

There’s a beach volleyball court that gets submerged in the water when it’s high tide. We just enjoyed the beach while waiting for our pick up service going back to Placer. I love places that are not so crowded even if it is not that of high quality.

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The next day, we just visited the spring with mini dam in Placer near the Surigao del Norte Provincial Hospital. It is just a small fresh water source with mini fish in it and the water’s very cold. It is where the locals dip their selves or should I say where the young locals swim and play. We just did what the locals do and experience to be a Surigaonon.  We got there via habal-habal or motorcycle because the road is too small and very rough for the pick up to pass through. We needed to attend a family event and rest that day to prepare us to Siargao the next day.

Surigao del Norte (Siargao Islands) Part 2 of 2

Expenses

ITEM COST
Plane ticket RT (MNL-BUX)                        4,108.12
Van (Butuan to Surigao)                           200.00
Lodging 2 nights x P600                        1,200.00
Tricycle to Togonan Falls RT                           200.00
Entrance to Togonan Falls                              25.00
Tricycle to Placer port                              50.00
Island hopping to Tinago Island P750 /5                           150.00
Food x 3 days                        1,350.00
TOTAL                        7,283.12
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One thought on “Surigao del Norte (Mainland) Part 1 of 2

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