Bayugin is not just a waterfall

Bayugin Vicinity, 28 May 2014

A local guide and a guest on their way to Bayugin Falls.

A local guide and a guest on their way to Bayugin Falls.

Lapinig, one of the hardest woods there is and a critically endangered species stills stands proudly in Bayugin.

Lapinig, one of the hardest woods there is and a critically endangered species still stands proudly in Bayugin.

The waters of Bayugin is so fresh and clean, you can drink straight from it.

The waters of Bayugin is so fresh and clean, you can drink straight from it.

Two days ago I took the above photo of my guest with a local guide trekking the heart of a tropical mountain forest while I was trailing slowly at a distance for some flora shoots.  The rushing waters of Bayugin Falls can be heard clearly while walking on this  mountain trail adding a dash of excitement to the short trek.

I was just expecting a medium-sized waterfall since I have already seen a lot of photos of  Bayugin Falls from several web sites promoting Bulusan tourism and travel. But Bayugin to my surprise  is more than that.  Bayugin is a visual treat — enchanting and magical.  Pitch perfect for a fairy land scenery complete with a tropical forest picnic grove, crystal clear natural pool endlessly flowing to the lower slopes of the forested Bayugin Falls’ vicinity.

The center piece of course is Bayugin Falls that fills the air and the dense greenery with the sound of a rushing stream flowing happily.

Bayugin Falls is the centerpiece of a tropical forest picnic grove.

Bayugin Falls is the centerpiece of  this tropical forest picnic grove.

The picnic grove is a scene straight from fairy land.

The picnic grove is a scene straight from fairy land.

According to Abraham Tan, the chief researcher of the Bulusan Historical Society, the name Bayugin originated from the word Bayog, a species of bamboo growing in Kapangihan (San Francisco) the village where Bayugin is a ‘sitio.’

Local boys enjoying summer plunge in Bayugin River

Local boys enjoying their daily summer plunge in Bayugin River

Local children were enjoying immensely the cool waters of Bayugin River just beside the waterfall  the short minutes that we were there.  The boys dive, plunge and swim in the freshest and cleanest of inland body of water I have ever seen in Bulusan as we snapped the beauty around us.

I was mesmerized.

Note: The mountain village of San Francisco (also called Kapangihan in Bulusan) can be reached via tricycle from the Poblacion of Bulusan. Tricycle fare costs 15 pesos one way.

Photos: Alma Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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Little Bora of Bulusan

Little Bora

Little Boracay of Bulusan with curfew reminder on the wall.

Little Boracay’s curfew reminder on the wall.

Menu is on the white board. Choose from the list and order.

Menu is on the white board. Choose from the list and order.

Little Boracay view from its cottage on the beach.

Little Boracay’s cottage with a view.

Picture perfect if not for the wailing karaoke sound from the main cottage.

Picture perfect if not for the wailing karaoke sound from the main cottage.

Main cottage is where my nemesis is - karaoke.

Main cottage is where my nemesis is – karaoke.

Little Boracay is the name of a modest restaurant in Bulusan beside the sprawling Dancalan Beach. Its name comes from the famous Philippine beach, Boracay. The menu borders on the practical stomach fillers like pansit, lomi and sandwiches. The look is unpretentious — more like a cross between a canteen and a bar that happens to be near the beach. It looks like a bar because of the presence of the bulky karaoke system and the cases of beer on plain view on the bamboo flooring.

But wait! There’s more! Discover the back of this beach bar. The view is simply awesome with the coast of Dancalan curving like a crescent lagoon. The only drawback is the karaoke singing that will spoil your beach reverie. If this happens, walk slowly to the area going to the Baluarte side of Dancalan Beach where the menu is always ‘peace and quiet’ by the sea. This of course is another story.

Photos: Alma Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, May 2014

Happy Fiesta, Barcelona!

Happy Fiesta, Barcelona!

Barcelona Church, Barcelona, Sorsogon, May 19, 2014

Barcelona Church, Barcelona, Sorsogon, 19 May 2014

Saint Joseph, patron saint of Barcelona town

Saint Joseph, patron saint of Barcelona town

Barcelona Church interiors, May 19, 2014

Barcelona Church interiors, 19 May 2014

Barcelona Church facade viewed from below, May 19, 2014

Barcelona Church facade viewed from below, 19 May 2014

The left corner of Barcelona Church up close.

The left corner of Barcelona Church up close

May 19 is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of Barcelona, Sorsogon. The town is adjacent to Bulusan and share the same beautiful eastern sea coast of Sorsogon province.

Barcelona town was formerly a part of Old Bulusan during the Spanish rule when almost all towns of the second district of the province of Sorsogon were under the political and geographical territories of Bulusan. This changed however in the late 18th century and early 19th century when several towns including Barcelona were given their own parroqia. Barcelona became a separate town in the year 1866.

Nevertheless, the local culture and the dialect remain intertwined with Bulusan up to the present.

Barcelona is currently the toast of the province’s cultural and heritage tourism thrust mainly because of its intact Spanish colonial period church. It is said that Barcelona Church is the most photographed heritage structure in the whole province of Sorsogon – a fact I was able to observe as true with several visitors passing by the area just to get photographs of the church and the ruins of the old Presidencia building  just across it.

As usual, I visited the church to offer my prayers and light candles (pailaw) to Saint Joseph after the peak hours of the fiesta. It was around 3:00 PM when I arrived at the church. The afternoon’s breeze from the sea across the street fronting the church mingled with the quietness of the place. There were few remaining devotees to Saint Joseph quietly praying with some visitors coming in trickles for some photo ops and selfies.

It was a memorable visit and a chance to thank the Saint for  prayers answered.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Barcelona, Sorsogon

Flores: Flowers of May (Flores de Mayo) rites of Bulusan (1)

Local children singing hymns and offering flowers and petals confetti to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the church in Bulusan.

Local children singing hymns and offering flowers and  confetti of petals to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the church in Bulusan.

Until now I can not yet figure out the correct lyrics (in Spanish) of the ‘Flores’ song in Bulusan. Thus, I will make up for this lack of information by sharing photos of the event.

Flores is the traditional May flower offering rites done by young girls (and now with boys included) during the whole month of May in our town in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This event is entirely separate from Santacruzan where ‘queens’ are paraded in the center of town during the final festivities. The ‘Flores,’ on the other hand, is a less grandiose  event and involves more singing of hymns to the Blessed Mother with offerings of floral blooms and petals showered at the foot of her image in the church. The series of photos consist of the first week of the Flores rites with local children from the Poblacion participating.

Local girls singing the all too familiar traditional 'flores' song in Bulusan.

Local girls singing the endearing childhood traditional ‘flores’ song in Bulusan.

Bulusan Flores rites attract mostly girls from 4 to  10 years old. (May 10, 2014)

Bulusan Flores rites attract mostly girls from 4 to 10 years old. (May 10, 2014)

Confetti of petals offered by the 'flores' participants fill the church floor with colors and fragrance.

Confetti of petals offered by the ‘flores’ participants fill the church floor fronting the image of the Blessed Mother with colors and fragrance.

"We can not deny boys who also want to participate in the'flores' event says the elderly organizer of the event.

“We can not deny boys who also want to participate in the ‘flores’ event,” says the elderly organizer of the ‘flores.’

Offering of the floral blooms to the Blessed Virgin Mary after the singing of hymns.

Flores girls lay their floral bloom offerings one at a time at the foot of the image of  the Blessed Virgin Mary after the singing of hymns inside the church in Bulusan.

Note: The lyrics  for the traditional ‘flores’ song in Bulusan is finally documented here:

http://pamughaton.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/an-kanta-sa-flores/

Thanks to Pamughaton.wordpress.com.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon

Surreal and Zen

Surreal and Zen

Late afternoon view from Calatraba resort in Porog, Bulusan

Late afternoon seaview at Calatraba resort in Porog, Bulusan

An afternoon quickie shoot in nearby coastal villages of Porog and Dancalan rewarded me with images bordering from the surreal to the zen kind. This left me a little ‘bitin’ (short) and my mind lately is always mentally planning for my next shooting foray.

In a town where tourists and visitors flock seasonally, it is always me and the sky, sand and beach that remain constant whatever the season. Like a loyal lover, the sand, sea and sky can always count on me. Summer is mine alone this summer after all and solitude is my ever dependable companion.

Fringes of Calatraba

Fringes of Calatraba

Raw and serene Calatraba along the coast of Porog

Raw and serene Calatraba along the coast of Porog

Waiting for my boat ride?

Fisherman’s companion at Calatraba

A late afternoon dip for this Dancalan beach tourist with spectacular cloud formation as backdrop .

A late afternoon dip for this Dancalan beach tourist with a spectacular cloud formation as backdrop .

Hand selfie with the sky.

Hand selfie with the sky, Dancalan Beach, Summer 2014

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

May 1, Labor Day

Agricultural workers, Bulusan, 2014

Farm workers threshing newly harvested rice in Bulusan, 2014

Farm workers threshing newly harvested rice in Bulusan.

Harvesting and post harvesting processes are the easiest stages in rice production. Etched in each grain of rice are the tedious tasks done by farm workers needed to complete the cycle from planting to harvesting. In each grain is a spirit of hard toil.

Agricultural farming is the biggest sector in Bulusan. Fishing is second.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines