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Donsol Whale Shark
Considered the biggest fishes in the world, a large pod of Whale Sharks (scientific name: Rhincodon typus), locally known as Butanding, converge annually just at the mouth of the long and winding Donsol River in the Municipality of Donsol. This phenomenon occurs starting October of each year, and peaks during the months of February, March, April and May. It is believed that these Whale Sharks, about 30 to 40 of them at any one time, converge off the Donsol waters to feed on plankton, krill and juvenile fish, which are the only food of these giant fishes. In spite of their awesome size, the Whale Sharks are gentle and harmless and allow humans to swim or interact with them. This phenomenon, found only in the waters off Sorsogon, particularly Donsol, has attracted hundreds of tourists around the world eager to interact with these gentle giants of the sea.
Astillero of Donsol
Situated in Barangay Dancalan, just across the Donsol wharf, is believed to be one of the biggest shipyards in this part of the country during the time of the Spaniards. But what is even more interesting about this Dancalan Astillero is that it doubled as a metalworks site, which makes it the only one of its kind discovered so far in the country to this day. This, according to archeologists from the National Museum. The archeological excavation, which started December 1995, and the discovery of the shipyard and the metal factory on the site was made through the joint efforts of the Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Council, the Sorsogon Arts Council and the National Museum, with funding from the Department of Tourism. Uncovered on the site is a rectangular concrete structure, believed to be the remains of what was once the metalworks factory or smelting shop. Many artifacts and ecofacts were unearthed from the site by archeologists of the National Museum. This only proves the folk story that once upon a time in the past, Donsol was populated by expert metalworkers and smelters. The name Donsol itself is an old Bikol word for �anvil�, the heavy metal block used by smithies to hammer and fashion iron sheets into nails, bolts, blades, spears, etc. Even the name of the barangay where the Astillero is located � Dancalan � refers to the Dancalan Tree, a hardwood tree preferred by shipbuilders for the construction of those magnificent Spanish galleons.
Rizal Beach Resort
A long, wide white sand beach is situated in Gubat town, just 25 minutes ride by car from Sorsogon City. It is a favorite picnic destination for locals and visitors. There are now two resort hotels along the beach, offering air-conditioned rooms, including restaurants, function halls, beachside cottages, and souvenir shops.
Tolong-Gapo Beach Resort
A vernacular for �three stones�. Legend has it that the three large stones - actually rocks - that can be found just off the white sand beach here are that of a boy, a cat and a carabao who were turned into stones when they were struck by lightning. It is a local folk belief that you never play with a cat when there is a thunderstorm or risk being struck by lightning and be turned into stone. Lining the long stretch of the beach are cottages made of native materials for picnickers, operated by individual beach lot owners. There are also eateries and stores in the place where one can buy food and drinks. The resort is located in the Bacon District of Sorsogon City, just a 15-minute ride away from the center of the City.
Excellent white beaches of Barangay Buenavista in Bacon District, the little island can be reached by motorized banca, either from the Bacon District center which will take about 40 minutes ride, or from Buenavista itself, which will take just 20 minutes. The island itself is very picturesque, with a kind of lagoon at its center with the earth and craggy rock wall enclosing it, jutting upwards, much like a volcano crater. In the past, the lagoon used to be a sanctuary for giant sea turtles or pawikan. Residents say there are plans to restore the pawikan sanctuary. At present, the waters surrounding the island is Bacon�s marine sanctuary.
Libanon Beach Resort
Located in Barangay San Juan, Bacon, the beach features black fine sand, with one part of the seaside hill studded with huge, craggy black rocks where the waves slam noisily. The black rocks and sand are believed to have been spewed by Mayon Volcano whose peak can be viewed from the beach.
Covering a total of 25,100 hectares forest reservation, straddling the Sorsogon-Albay boundary areas, the eco-park offers a lot of eco-tour delights and adventures. In the first place, the eco-park, which is being maintained and secured by the Philippine National Oil Co.- Energy Development Corp. (PNOC-EDC), is located in a mountainous area that is basically volcanic in nature. One can either hike-trek up or drive a vehicle up a winding 13-kilometer road to the geothermal facility, which is known as the Bacon-Manito Geothermal Plants I and II, or simply, BacMan. Bacon is in Sorsogon, while Manito is part of Albay province. Some of the features of the eco-park include the picturesque Botong Twin Falls just a few kilometers away from the PNOC Base Camp. There are also several lakes in the area, such as Lake Osiao in Mt. Osiao, Bacon; Pulog Lake in Mt. Pulog; Imelda Lake, in Mt. Calpe, Castilla; and the boiling lake at Mt. Inang Maharang. There is another boiling lake on the Albay side the Nag-aso Lake of Manito which was called such because it does indeed smoke because of the boiling water lake. There are also numerous springs everywhere, such as this twin springs of Mt. Puting Bato, one of which spews out hot spring water, while the other produces icy cold spring water. A mountain trekker will also delight at the wild flora and fauna as one progresses through the numerous winding trails and steep climbs, with a surprise encounter close up with a mountain ape, a deer, or even a wild boar and the many other rare animal finds along the way, amid wild orchids, giant ferns and lush greenery all around. A rock climber will surely be challenged by the numerous sheer rock faces found in many parts of the eco-park, which also features mystical caves that will surely delight any spelunking enthusiast. And so, to experience the delights of the PNOC Eco-Park, all one has to do is contact the SPTC at its offices in Sorsogon City so that arrangements can be made with the management of PNOC, particularly on the plotting of a safe trail and assigning of a trained and accredited mountain guide.
Mateo Hot & Cold Spring Resort
Situated in Barangay Monbon, Municipality of Irosin, the resort, which has dormitory-type accomodations, including poolside picnic cottages, shower and dressing rooms, features swimming pools with hot to tepid water, and cold spring water. Soaking in the hot water pool is soothing and relaxing, and is believed medicinal. The hot spring water flows from the Bulusan Volcano since the resort is located at its foot.
The spring water in the swimming pool here is a real hot bath. In fact, the pool can be seen to emit thin, whispy smoke. But a person can soak in the volcanic spring water for as long as he wants. The spring water is soothing and relaxing to the body. It is also believed to banish many types of skin problems. Available around the pool are picnic cottages. This hot spring is also in Irosin town.
Irosin's Hilltop Church
Sits atop a hill situated right in the center of town, affording churchgoers and visitors a panoramic view of the town and the surrounding countryside beyond, including the peak of Mt. Bulusan, which, at this vantage point, appear almost near enough to grab. The church can be reached via a hundred-step concrete stairs going straight up the hill until one reaches the massive 2-door entrance into the interior of the old church at the top of the stairway.
Masacrot is Bikol for "tart", which is the taste of the spring water that flows into a man-made earthen swimming pool. The spring water in the place is believed to be natural soda water flowing from nearby Bulusan Volcano. There are picnic cottages along the sides of the pool, including a store where picnickers can buy food and drinks. The water here is believed to be medicinal or curative.
It is a pleasant, leisurely 20-minute walk through rolling hills carpeted with green grass, under a canopy of tall coconut trees, as one steps off the Bulusan road down to the place. At the site, one finds a man-made earthen swimming pool where the gurgling water flows from just a few feet up the hillside. It is actually just a mini-falls, but the cool spring water is sweet, refreshing and bracing. Available alongside the pool are picnic cottages.
Prieto-Diaz Coastal Environment Program Model Site
Prieto-Diaz was the recipient of the 1998 Best Community-Based Coastal Resources Management Program Award given by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), thus making it the CEP Model Site, or the show window of activities under the program. Covering 11 barangays, the Prieto-Diaz site, with jump-off base at the Sabang Beach Resort, which also offers white sand beach and beachside picnic cottages, now showcases 112 hectares of natural mangrove forest, 267 has. mangrove plantation, the widest stretch of seagrass with 836 has. and tidal/mud flats of 1,200 has., 800 has. of protected coral reefs, and a marine sanctuary just 2 kilometers from Sabang Beach. The program also maintains a mangrove nursery. Just across Sabang Beach is the mangrove plantation featuring a wood and bamboo canopy walk. It is a haven for marine biologists, environmentalists, and people interested in coastal resource management and protection. Students from different parts of the country regularly come to the site to study how a coastal resource program is maintained.
Nagsurok Cave and Legendary Caves of Prieto-Diaz
Named because one literally has to crawl, "surok", on all fours to get into the interior of the cave. The entrance into the cave allows only one person at a time, who must crawl in feet and butt first because the entrance slides down, ramp-like. But it is cavernous inside, with an underground river that snakes through the whole long length of the cave. According to local legend, it was here where the giant Mampak bird squeezed in to hide from the irate people of the area. Legend has it that the Mampak, long before the coming of the Spaniards, had been preying on the people of what are now the towns of Prieto-Diaz, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan and Irosin.
With every visit of the Mampak, the people would tremble and cower in fear because it would mean another human sacrifice to appease the insatiable appetite of the Mampak for human flesh. There is another cave nearby, called "Pinanaan", meaning shot with an arrow. It was here, according to legend, where the people cornered the fearsome giant bird and rained arrows upon him, resulting in his getting wounded, but the evil bird still managed to escape. The are other caves in the other adjacent towns, most of them somehow connected.with the legendary story of the fearsome giant Mampak. These caves are just waiting to be explored.
Century-Old Barcelona Church and Ruins
Built in the 19th century by the Spanish colonizers, is perhaps the most well-preserved old church in the entire province, although there are already some alterations in its interior. The thick stone walls of the church, including its bell tower, are the original walls, still relatively intact and well-preserved. Fronting the church, facing the sea, are the ruins of a stone structure that was then known as the casa tribunal and baluarte, or fort, and a schoolhouse made entirely of stones. During the Spanish period, it is believed that construction of stone structures used beaten egg whites mixed with tuba, the native coconut wine, and lime as binder. The huge slabs of stones were taken from the sea and arranged on top of each other to create a wall. Old folks also say that the place was called Barcelona by the homesick Spaniards because the place�s topography reminded them of Barcelona of Spain.
Dancalan Beach Resort
Because of its shallow waters and coral reefs teeming with marine life, the place is ideal for snorkeling. On its beach front, the Philippine Tourism Authority built several concrete picnic cottages, including a store and canteen now ran by a local community-based cooperative. Across the road is a resort hotel offering air-conditioned rooms and a swimming pool. The resort is located just off the road as one enters the Bulusan poblacion from the town of Barcelona.
Old Houses of Juban
Lining the highway, as one enters the town center of Juban, are several old houses, known as bahay na bato, still relatively well-preserved and intact although their groundfloors have, long ago, been turned into commercial establishments, such as stores, barber shops and beauty salons, etc. These old houses still have their original tall, sliding windows made of capiz, including carved wooden balustrades just below the window sills. Inside, one can still find original, well-preserved antique furnitures, including other antiquities. Private historical or heritage collections can also be found inside these houses.
Picturesque Islands of Matnog
Island-hopping is a must-do when in Matnog because of its picture-pretty islands, such as Tikling, Calintaan, Juag and Subic. All one has to do is hire a motorized banca, which are usually berthed at the Matnog Ferry Terminal, and off one goes merrily hopping from island to island. Tikling Island, which is the nearest, offers fine white sand all around where one can also beachcomb for rare shell finds. Calintaan Island, on the other hand, looks like the head of a giant barely bobbing above the water, featuring huge underwater caves populated by giant bats. Juag Island is good for swimming and sunbathing, while Subic is perhaps the only beach anywhere that features a fine pink sand beach, which is why it is now sometimes called, "La Playa Rosa". These islands can also be jump-off base for SCUBA diving in the excellent dive sites surrounding the islands. It can also serve as base for deep-sea sport fishing.
Sabang Beach Resort
Operated by the municipal government, the Sabang Beach Resort is only a few steps away from the center of Bulan town. It offers individual cottages with rooms, including beachside picnic cottages, conference or seminar rooms, and a cafeteria. The wide beach is of fine white sand.
Ruins of Panlatuan
Panlatuan, in Pilar town, is another Spanish Astillero or shipyard, and presumably, another metalworks factory, similar to that of Dancalan in Donsol, although smaller in scale. At the site are the ruins of what looks like a fort � thick stone walls all around. In the middle of this surrounding walls is a domed stone structure that appears like a kiln that can fire either clay or stoneware, or metals. This kiln-like structure is still intact. Documented historical accounts show that it was here where the revolt of the Sorsogon people against Spain started. It was sometime in August 1898 when the workers at the shipyard cried �Revolution!�, took up arms, and killed the shipyard�s Spanish administrator, together with his four assistants. From Panlatuan, revolutionary activities rapidly spread throughout the province, forcing the Spaniards to hastily abandon the province and the rest of the Bicol Region.
Bagatao Islands of Magallanes
Bagatao is a fusion of two Bikol words "bagang tawo" or looks like a man because the island does indeed look like a man floating in the water. Bagatao Island is located just at the mouth of Sorsogon Bay in Magallanes. It is reputed to be the biggest Spanish shipyard in the whole Bicol Region where some of the biggest and most magnificent galleons were constructed. Unfortunately, for the past several years, cultural scavengers had been systematically stripping the island of its precious artifacts that there are no more traces of its glorious past as shipyard. The island is now merely a picnic island and a naval reservation with a lighthouse.
Rompelas / Sorsogon Pier
Rompeolas is Spanish for �where the waves cavort�, the old and still popular name up to this time for the old Sorsogon pier which juts into Sorsogon Bay. Indeed, the waves literally cavort around this arrow-like structure where small inter-island cargo vessels still dock every once in a while. It is a pleasant promenade, with fresh sea air, especially early in the morning. It affords one a magnificent panoramic view of Mt. Bulusan just across the Bay, and inland, a fairyland-like view of the Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its colorful pointed spires. It is also here where sunset watchers flock in the late afternoons as the reddish-orange sun slowly hides behind the Pinaculan Island.
Sorsogon Provincial Capitol Park and Building
The Sorsogon Provincial Capitol Park, with the imposing Capitol Building as its centerpiece, located along Rizal Street, just as one enters the center of Sorsogon City, serves as Sorsogon Province�s government center, where most of the government agencies, both provincial and national, hold office and transact business. The 2-storey Capitol Building, made of reinforced concrete and built during the early American period, features Roman Doric columns at its fa�ade. The Park is perhaps the largest, most beautiful and most green Park anywhere in the Bicol Region. Its gnarled, ancient trees are a sight to behold. Towards the eastern side of the Park is a domed concrete kiosk, which locals, to this day, call �the kiosko�. It is now considered a historical landmark, which used to host bands and orchestras during formal balls and concerts at the Park.
Sorsogon National High School Main Building
It used to be known as the Sorsogon Provincial High School, where most of Sorsogon�s prominent personalities studied and graduated. The old main building, which is located at the corner of the intersection going to Bacon District and to Gubat town, retains its original architectural design when it was constructed sometime in 1908. During the Japanese occupation of the Province, the building was used to incarcerate captured Filipino guerillas by the Japanese.
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