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Palawan Island
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Hometel in Caramoan
HomeTel  in  Caramoan

Holy Rosary Minor Seminary Naga Cathedral Grounds, Naga City Camarines Sur
Situated beside the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, it was founded in 1793 and became the second school in the Philippines. This was the seminary where Bicolano hero Jose Maria Panganiban and Bishop Jorge Barlin studied. A museum is located inside the seminary. It is called the Museo del Seminario Conciliar de Nueva Caceres.

Nahulugan Kampana
Barangay. Santa Maria, Lagonoy Camarines Sur The belfry of the first stone church which serves as the living memory of the past became an added tourist attraction of the municipality. It is approximately 300 meters from the Lagonoy Poblacion and can be reached thru walking or riding motor vehicles or padyaks. Presently the area is categorized as open and grassland area, but half a portion is utilized for agricultural purposes. It has an area of more or less one (1) hectare and privately owned by Ontengco's family.


Paradise Experience in Caramoan

While we await for spring to arrive here in Quebec, summer in the Philippines is already on the onset. Vacation package advertisements for a beach holiday are all over Philippine newspapers and magazines. However, during summer season, vacation packages are actually not cheap. It’s the peak season so naturally, they are more expensive. Plane carriers offer low airfares for travel starting June but you already have to pay the fare in February. Airfares to the provinces of Visayas and Mindanao from March to May are almost doubled.

Philippine summer is certainly not to be missed. Every year, Filipinos would plan to visit any of the beaches. If you live in Luzon and have the budget, you can afford to fly to the provinces in the Visayas to see the beaches of Boracay, Bohol and Cebu. In Mindanao, Samal islands and Zamboaga have beautiful beach resorts too. If on a tight budget, Luzon residents could also enjoy the beaches of Zambales, Bataan, La Union, Batangas and Cavite which are equally enjoyable.

Many of us here in Canada would prefer to visit the Philippines during summer time. Never mind if we have to adjust from a cold to a hot weather. Most of the time, it is during summer when we have our family or highschool class reunions. It is also the Lenten season so we get to join the processions or watch the Sinakulo. It is a good timing too because kids are on school break.
And of course, those living in Canada have been craving for some summer heat, white sands and the warm blue water in the ocean. During the long winter season wherein we wear triple layers of clothing, we would dream of baring our skin under the sun.

Last year in March, after conducting a forum in Legazpi City, my colleagues (Nilda, Mags and Bicbic whom I also referred to as my soul sisters) and I had planned to go to Caramoan. It was the last leg of our series of provincial fora so we thought of treating ourselves for a fun break. We knew that it would be our last out of town trip together because I would be resigning from work in May to migrate to Canada.

It has been years since my first visit to Bicol region and it was quick. So I thought that before I leave the country, it would be nice to enjoy this exotic region. And I did enjoy, our Bicolano friends were super!

We actually invited some friends to join us in the Caramoan trip but they hesitated. We did not have any concrete plan for that trip because we were so busy with other activities. Good thing Nilda was patient enough to search in the Internet for a cheaper vacation package. Compared to Boracay, Bohol or Palawan, there are not much websites giving information about Caramoan escapade.
Caramoan is in the farthest coast of Camarines Sur. A peninsular town, it is composed of a group of islands and islets scattered in the Pacific Ocean – beautifully unspoiled and unexploited.
I actually agreed to pursue the trip even if I didn’t know much about the island or what to expect there. I was just ready for adventure and fun. Through the kindness of Tabaco City Mayor Kristel Lagman, she arranged a vehicle for us that would take us to Sabang port.

It took us a little more than two hours to travel from Tabaco City in Albay to the town of San Jose in Camarines Sur where Sabang port is located and which is the common jump-off point to Caramoan Islands. We then took a boat going to Guijalo, Caramoan. We paid P120 each for a two hour bumpy boat ride. We slept and ate lots of chips during the boat ride but it was not too boring because the sceneries were amazing already.

When we reached Guijalo, we were met by the staff of the resort. Immediately, we were vibes with Den who was our tour guide too for the whole time we were there. What surprised us was that he had us climb a roofless pick-up truck! When he told us that it would be 45 minutes ride, I hurriedly covered myself with my sarong as I saw the dusty road ahead of us. It was high noon and we really felt the sun’s heat. I thought I would have a heat stroke!

While in Manila, Nilda told us that we have a reservation in a resort. We dreamed of taking the Gota beach resort package which is a lot expensive. Gladly, we were spared from splurging our money because that pricey resort is occupied by Survivor contestants.

All covered with dusts, Den brought us to a small hostel because apparently the resort where we had reservation was also occupied by the local crews of Survivor. A popular reality TV show, Survivor has franchises from different countries including US, France and Israel. Serbians were the ones in Caramoan when we were there in the island. According to a source, Survivor rented the island for 25 years starting 2008. This means that tourists will not be able to explore the island freely up to 2033 if the contract is not extended.

Den told us that their municipality also welcome this contract because this ensures income for them for several years. I also thought that it is better that way because Survivor would not let the area to be too commercial to preserve the “virgin” appeal of the place. The town itself is not too touristy, with very few people in the streets and the surrounding is generally quiet.
So if you want a different experience apart from the party atmosphere in Boracay, this Caramoan trip is a true adventure of nature.

Our hostel was not flashy at all compared to the places where we usually stay whenever I travel with my colleagues to conduct seminars. Honestly, I was a bit dismayed. But then we thought that we would only sleep there. All my disappointments were erased when Den took us to a resort (Westpen Villas) where he said we would always have our breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a small resort but very pleasant. No wonder Survivor also rented it for their staff. When our first lunch was served, oh la la, it was very sumptuous. Simple food yet they were deliciously prepared. Plus we get to choose whatever softdrinks we like. We then declared at that moment that we would forget about our slimming diet while in Caramoan. As Mags stated, “Life is short, eat pork… drink Coke!”

Around 2:00 pm, we then began our island hopping. As our boat put into speed and the farther we go, I was thrilled by the sights of the small islands and blue sea. When we made our first stop, my jaw dropped. I was amazed by the beauty of the white sands and hurriedly touched them. Den led us to walk towards an arc-like rock formation. He said to me, “Wait till we enter here.” I said, “Oh, aren’t we here yet?” And then we walked a few step, entered the arc, and we were on another beach side with finer and whiter sands, bluer and calmer water. It looked almost paradise to me. It was as if I had love at first sight in Matukad beach.

There were only few tourists in the island. Mags and I immediately dipped in the water. We swam till we got tired and marvelled at the sight of the other islands in front of us. At some moments, I just sat alone in the middle of the shallow water mesmerizing on the beauty of the country which I was about to leave. I reflected on the blessings that I had enjoyed while working for HAIN. The travel opportunities I had at work let me see these kinds of beautiful creations. I pondered if ever I would enjoy such scenery again of the ocean when I migrate to Canada. I just seized that moment, unmindful of how tan I would become after the trip.

At one corner of the beachside is a limestone cliff which when climbed would lead you to a lagoon on top. I wanted to see it but Den discouraged me. He said we were both wearing only slippers which would not be safe for climbing. He said he couldn’t also take a risk of not being able to protect me as we climb. Maybe he thought I was fragile. He just described to me what was there to see and all the more I had enthusiasm to see the lagoon. But Nilda also warned me saying that I couldn’t afford to have a serious injury because we have so much work to do when we go back to Manila. Okay fine, we just took several photos and walked from end to end of the island, exploring every corners of our paradise.

After about two hours, we went back to the boat and headed to Lahus Island which was 30 minutes away. In this island, the sands were coarse and we had to step in the corals to get into the water which was colder compared to Matukad Island. The current was also strong so we had to be careful going into the mouth of the cave. While Matukad Island offered us tranquility, Lahus Island was rough which inspired us to be more daring and wacky. We laughed at ourselves as we put seaweeds to our hair and stood in higher corals to pose for pictures.

Before we headed back to the town proper, Den promised us that we would pass by in front of the Gota Village Resort. We couldn’t just stop there because it was exclusively occupied by Survivor. From afar, the resort looked exotic yet expensive. We managed to persuade Den to stop in a small island in front of Gota. We were the only people there. The water was also calm that we also just lied down in it. There was a huge rock in the middle of its beach as if it was thrown from Gota. Obsessed with rock climbing, I was the first one to reach the top to have my photo. Soon, the three girls climbed too and poured our hearts out as we gazed at the beauty of sunset.

After a tiring day, we went back to Westpen Villas for our dinner. We did not know that a Survivor staff was celebrating his birthday. To our surprise, the people in the resort were all dressed up while we were only wearing shorts and t-shirts and really looked tired. Still, the manager of the resort insisted that we would have our table there and served us with lechon, crabs and all the food served for the Survivor visitors. I was so tempted to ask for the wine too! The morning after, Den asked why we did not stay long in the party and he said we could have had wine too. The birthday celebrant really considered us as his guests too.

On our second day, we woke up early for another adventure. This time, we brought packed lunch and snacks. Den said that we would go to a Grotto. I thought it would be a short trip then we would hit the beach right away so I wore my swimsuit already.

What Den did not explain was that we would trek for an hour to reach the Shrine of the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary which was on top of Mt. Caglago, having to pass the 500-steps to the summit to see the 360 degree view of the Caramoan Islands. Anyways, all sweaty under my swimsuit (with my sarong to cover my legs and a borrowed umbrella), we reached the top. I thought Nilda would not make it there but Den was so patient to escort her. There was a giant white shrine of the Virgin Mary holding a rosary. It looked so holy, like we were being welcomed to heaven. The view from the top was also breathtaking – the islands scattered in the Caramoan water and blue skies. With such a magnificent view and a spiritual ambiance, I prayed thanking God for giving me a really good life.
As we go down, we felt hungry already but Den pleaded that we wait till we eat our lunch in the Virgin Island which he promised would be a surprise for us. So we just bought some bread in a sari-sari store just to calm down our already raging stomachs.

The boat ride to the island was not short, it took us an hour. Pondering why that place is called Virgin Island, we were lulled to sleep and forgot about lunch for a while.

Then finally, Den said that we were close to where we would have lunch. It was really worth the wait. It really surprised us. In the middle of the ocean is a mass of shallow white sands with five nipa huts. What a wonderful way to eat our adobo wrapped in banana leaves, with rice, tomatoes and green mangoes with bagoong (shrimp paste) for dessert. And yes, the island could be compared to the usual definition of a Virgin especially at 12:00 noon when the sun makes the white sand look so radiant.

I hurriedly finished lunch so I could lie down in the sand and have my sun bathing. We walked, jumped and rolled over the sands, in the middle of the ocean, as if we were disciples of Moses. It reminded me of Camiguin Island in the Visayas . It was a beauty. What a wonderful scene. What a perfect moment in life.

Next, we tried to go to other islands but to our dismayed, they were occupied by Survivor where they set up their paraphernalia for the show. In one island, there were some drunken men whose job is to make sure no one would come to the island. They were kind enough (or drunk enough) to let us stay in the island for a few minutes just to take pictures. The island was not too beautiful anyway, but it really looked unexploited which was probably perfect for the Survivor show.

In another island, there was also a set up for a challenge for the Survivor contestants but good thing the island owner was there and he was kind enough to let us swim for a while. His island could have been a good place for a resort with its tranquil water and fine sands. But the owner said he doesn’t have enough money to build a resort nor he doesn’t want to sell it to other businessmen. The rent of Survivor in his island is enough for him to have some income and still own that island.

We asked Den if we could go camping the next time we visit Caramoan. He simply said that be sure to choose an island not being used by the Survivor.
Before leaving the town, we also heard mass at the St. Michael Parish which is an old red-brick church in town.

Beside our hostel is the shallow part of the river where women do their laundry with their babies in tow. One baby was placed in an empty basin while her mother scrubbed and rinsed to clean their clothes. Our guess was just right, a moment later the basin with a baby moved with the flow of the water and the mother had to chase her baby.

Since our flight going back to Manila was via Naga City (about two-hour drive from Sabang port), we also wanted to visit the Camarines Water Sport Complex for some wake boarding adventure and visit Penafrancia Church. However, we did not have the chance to because we needed to be back at work in Manila that following day.

Nonetheless, the Caramoan trip refreshed my mind and spirit which made me inspired and energetic enough to finish my last hoorah of workloads in the office. It has been a year. I am now in Canada. And the memories of that paradise excite me to have my first balikbayan trip soon so I could once again take pleasure in the sand, sun and splendour of Philippine beaches.

Caramoan is approximately 501 kilometers away from Metro Manila; 95 kilometers from the municipality of Pili, where the seat of the provincial government and the Pili Domestic Airport are located; and 110 kilometers away from Naga City, the heart of Bicol.


It was not too long ago that only backpackers and the locals knew of this remote peninsula’s pristine beaches. But the fourth-class municipality is expected to achieve celebrity status soon enough, with foreign productions completing filming and development projects in place. Even now it is being touted as the next Boracay. About 10 million TV viewers in Europe and Canada are expected to watch the French edition of “Survivor,” which was shot entirely on Caramoan’s white-sand beaches. The eighth season of “Survivor-France” will be aired in France and other French-speaking nations like Switzerland, Belgium and Canada from July to September, their summer season. “Survivor,” a popular reality game show that isolates its contestants in the wilderness to compete for cash and prizes, is known to choose locations in exotic environments. Gota beach, the gateway to Caramoan’s other beaches and islets, was rented for exclusive use by the French production outfit starting late February until early this month. According to “Survivor-France” TV director Corinne Vaillant, the powdery sand, the coconuts on Gota beach and the neighboring islets are a “dream” for the French people. “We chose Caramoan because it’s really wide. It’s necessary that contestants don’t see anything other than nature for them to believe that they’re really lost in the wilds,” Vaillant told the Philippine Daily Inquirer With the filming completed, members of the production crew prepared to leave Gota beach Wednesday.
there's the clubhouse which also has a mini bar and souvenir boutique
What I love most about traveling is experiencing and absorbing everything there is in one place and capturing that moment through pictures, journals or just with my five senses, and being able to share it to people who also love and live to travel, just like you! This is one of the places in the Philippines that I'm certain will sustain economic development in the region at the same time be a major contributor in Philippines Tourism

I'll definitely go back here, and next time around, I will not leave until I beat the three-year old, Tekia Buchanan with an easy-up board, to try and try until my arms fall out! And one thing's for sure, I will never forget my first time here and the experiences with friends who went here with me for the first time too. Another adventure to last a lifetime… Till our next trip!

MUST EAT: Bicol Special called "PINANGAT"
 (a combo porkchop with their own "PINANGAT"a.k.a Bikol Laing - Pinangat.COM )

Caramoan Aviary Dome

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal
Overnight stay
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, some Cabinet officials and congressmen visited Caramoan on Monday and stayed overnight at Gota beach. Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, who was in Ms Arroyo’s party, said the wide viewership of “Survivor” would surely boost tourism in Caramoan. Durano said it was the first time in the TV show’s history that two seasons were consecutively shot in one country. 2 Hollywood films? He said the seventh season of “Survivor-France” was filmed in Palawan last year, and that after it was aired, the number of tourists arriving in the province from France alone was up by 23 percent. While the Department of Tourism, which brought “Survivor-France” to Caramoan, shouldered the fuel cost to keep the location powered with electricity, the provincial government took care of the development of the site. There are now 73 foldaway cabanas at Gota beach, imported from China and worth P60,000 each, said a source who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media. A total of 20 regular-sized cabanas can be assembled by two teams in a day. Ms Arroyo stayed in one of the largest cabanas during her overnight stay, the source said.

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

French can’t seem to get enough of the Philippines these days. Fresh from being featured in two seasons of “Koh Lanta,” the French version of “Survivor,” the country recently clinched another honor: the coveted “Ecotourism Destination of the Year” title in the 2009 edition of Nature, one of France’s biggest travel fairs. A jubilant Joseph Ace Durano, secretary of the Philippine Department of Tourism, broke the good news at the recently concluded Top Resa travel fair in Paris. Colleagues from DOT and the Philippine Tourism Authority as well as representatives from the government and private sectors, which included some of the country’s biggest tour oper ators and resort establishments, joined him in the four-day fair. The country’s participation culminated in a cocktail party hosted by DOT for France’s top travel executives. Dubbed as “Mabuhay Night,” the affair was hosted by Frenchman and “Koh Lanta” star Denis Brogniart and featured the Bayanihan Dancers, May Bayot and Acoustic Jive, champion bartender Ryan Burgos and “Koh Lanta” finalists. Unlike Top Resa, which marked its 30th year, Nature appeals more to direct consumers as opposed to industry movers. The Philippines has been joining Top Resa for the past three years, and will debut next year in Nature. As the sole featured destination, all eyes will likely be on the Philippines. “An adventure travel fair like Nature mirrors the French people’s preference for ecotourism,” said Durano. “It combines nature-based travel with a bit of physical activity and cultural immersion.” Unprecedented Durano attributed this latest development to a number of factors, foremost of which is the country’s selection as site of “Koh Lanta” for two years in a row.

After shooting in El Nido, Palawan, in 2006, the show’s producers were back in late 2007, this time in Caramoan, with a new batch of competitors. “This is unprecedented in ‘Koh Lanta’s’ history,” he said. “Since it debuted a few years ago, the show is watched by almost 8 million people every week.” Images of the Philippines are likely to linger in French living rooms a year or two from now, as Durano finalizes details with producers of the French version of “Great Amazon.” The show, which reportedly has a bigger following than “Koh Lanta,” also wants to shoot an entire season in the Philippines. “Based on exit surveys we did, foreign tourists spent close to $4.8 billion in the Philippines last year,” said Durano. “This figure doesn’t include plane fares and hotel accommodations, which they usually buy in their respective countries, and other miscellaneous expenses.” After exceeding last year’s 2007 target of three million tourists by close to 100,000  The French, he added, are always on the lookout for newer, more exciting destinations in Asia. Those who first stumbled on the Philippines were pleasantly surprised to find out the country, apart from its postcard-pretty beaches, has an interesting Latin heritage that’s totally unique in Asia. “The French are always looking for culture in a country,” he said. “They love visiting old churches and going to markets to experience how life is in a particular place. If you travel so far, you need to find something different yet familiar. You don’t travel for 15 hours just to see a nice beach.”

Survivor: Caramoan': Malcolm Freberg Reveals His Strategy the Second Time Around (Exclusive Video)

The bartender, who came in fourth last season, tells THR that he didn't hesitate when asked to return only 15 minutes after he got voted out in the Philippines.

Caramoan Boys
Courtesy of CBS

Malcolm Freberg was so upset about coming in fourth place last season on Survivor: Philippines that he didn’t hesitate when asked to play the game again.

"If I'm sitting at home and playing checkers with my brother, and he beats me on the last move, I’m going to force him to play again with me," Freberg told The Hollywood Reporter of his rationale. "On the day I got beat, I was so fired up and not pleasant to be around."

PHOTOS: Jeff Probst's 'Survivor' Picture Diary

Freberg, a 25-year-old bartender from Hermosa Beach, Calif., revealed that he was asked to return for another shot at the $1 million prize within 15 minutes of his being voted out the first time.

"I said, 'Of course, are you kidding?'" he said. "My torch had been snuffed, and I was sitting there, trying to figure out where the world went from under my feet. I was pretty heated and immediately ready to go again."

Freberg said he had only two and a half weeks to prepare for the next season, which pits fans against favorites.

"My body was not in the same place [as the first time he played]," he said. "Obviously, I starved for 38 days. And my diet [during the two-and-a-half-week break] was at that very point top section of the food pyramid: ice cream, cookies, cake. I was very glutinous, packing the weight on. Physically, I was not in the same shape. I was nervous."

While Freberg is careful not to reveal too much about the upcoming season, he did say that he knew he had to change his strategy the second time around -- considering he didn’t ultimately win the title of Sole Survivor. (He also came in second to Lisa Whelchel for the fan favorite award.)

"I was the only person on day one that nobody knew anything about because Philippines hadn’t aired before we starting filming [Caramoan]," he said. "Going into it, I knew I'd have to play it step by step and see what I was able to cultivate as far as relationships and the social game. These people really have relationships with one another. I needed to make the best first impression."

STORY: 'Survivor: Caramoan': Fan Matt Bischoff on Facing Off Against Returning Players

But, he added, going through 17 straight days of rain in the Philippines prepared him for the worst that Mother Nature could have thrown at him and his fellow competitors. He also said it wasn't hard to tell his friends and family that he'd been asked back a second time before the official announcement, considering that he had gotten pretty good at keeping secrets his first time on the show.

Asked if he would play a third time, Freberg isn't so sure.

"My mom needs a break from having to watch me get beaten -- it's hard on her," he quipped.

Viewers might remember that Freberg famously refused to share his hidden immunity idol last season, instead preferring to keep it as a souvenir for his mother. So where does she keep it?

"Above the fireplace," he said. "It doesn’t match a single thing in her living room, but she doesn't care."

Survivor: Caramoan premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS. Watch a clip from the premiere, which is exclusive to THR, below.

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Learn Bicol : Basic Bicolano Phrases

It’s always nice to know at least a little about the language / dialect of the places we visit. In the Caramoan Islands, the local communities speak Bicol or Bicolano. If you’re planning on visiting the Caramoan Islands soon, the few basic phrases below might help you in getting around the place. These phrases might come handy during communication with the local residents or simply when asking directions.

Good morning - Maray na Aldaw
Good afternoon - Maray na Hapon
Good evening- Maray na banggi
Good night-maray na banggi
Thank you- salamat
You are welcome- mabalos
I’m glad to meet you- Ugma akong naghilingan kita.
My name is… - (name) an ngaran ko
What is your name? - Anong pangaran mo?
Hello - Hello
How are you? - Kumusta (continue reading…)

Caramoan Islands Travel Tips

A trip to the Caramoan Islands will get anyone as close to nature as possible with its pristine beaches, majestic caves and diverse marine wildlife. Hence, one must be fully prepared to experience an adventure of a lifetime.

If there’s a list of things that one shouldn’t be without when going to the Caramoan Islands, it has to be this list.

1) Camera. Visitors of the Caramoan Islands would spend almost half of their time taking photos of the magnificent place, trying to capture every space of Mother Nature’s beauty at its finest. Capture memories of your travel and share them to your family and friends. The Caramoan Islands is surely one of the best places on Earth.

2) Tents and camping gear. Resorts are far away from the beaches of Caramoan. Hence, to those planning to stay overnight in the beaches, one must have the appropriate and necessary camping gear to make your night’s rest as comfortable as possible. Many tourists consider this as one of the highlights of their trip to the Caramoan Islands.

3) First Aid Kit. Be sure to have one just in case you hurt yourself in your adventure. Hospitals and clinics are not easily accessible from the Islands.

4) Bottled water. There aren’t enough available in the Islands so you should bring enough for your trip.

5) Sunscreen. Higher Spf Preferred

Also, it is highly suggested that tourists introduce themselves first to the Baranggay Captain. This shows courtesy and an opportunity for the locals to welcome you. They may also give you valuable information for your stay on the islands. They are very hospitable and welcome tourists as if they were family.


Travel Directions: How to get to Caramoan

If you are like me who is afraid to fly in an airplane and have difficulty getting to exotic places like Palawan, Siargao, Bucas Grande, Balabac, Coron,  Boracay.   Caramoan Peninsula is located in the island of Luzon, Philippines. That means it is reachable via land travel from Manila.  Read on to know how to get to Caramoan.

One can take a 10 hour bus ride from Manila to Naga City, Camarines Sur.  You will pass through the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Camarines Norte.

Then from Naga City it will take another shuttle bus ride to Sabang.  It will take approximately 2 hours to Sabang.  This is where the Caramoan-Naga port (San Francisco Church) where you will embark on a boat ride to Caramoan. Departing schedule to Caramoan starts at 12 PM in the afternoon until 1 AM in the morning. The boat ride normally takes 2 hours.  From the port in Caramoan,  you may take local transportation to your chosen accommodation, inn or hotel.

But as soon as you hit the waters of Caramoan,  you will get refreshed,  relaxed and enjoy this secret paradise.  It is really an adventure fulfilled.

Enjoy kayaking or scuba diving from any of the 6 Caramoan Islands. Its diverse marine life will surely captivate all aqua lovers, from hardcore enthusiasts to beginners alike. Its clear waters is a testament to its virginity and Eden like atmosphere. Island hopping will never be the same. Hop from any of the six island paradises : Lahuy, Cotivas, Guinahuan, Luksuhin, Malibagon and Masag. Each giving you a unique adventurous experience.

Scale limestone cliffs and rocky land masses and conquer the elevation of the vicinity. Enjoy the majesty of the place from the top of these mountains. The Caramoan Islands is the best place to relax and escape the city’s stress. Reward yourself with an unforgettable experience. Fall in love with nature at its finest. The Caramoan Islands is truly one the Earth’s natural treasures.

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Courtesy of Jovi Villareal

Caramoan continues to draw ‘Survivor’ to Camarines Sur
By Juan Escandor Jr.

CARAMOAN, Philippines -- For the second time around, Survivor Israel will rent the whole of the Gota Village Resort, a local government-operated tourist destination

in Ilawod, Caramoan, Camarines Sur, to film two editions of “Hisardot (Survivor).”

Hisardot’s non-celebrity shoot would last 40 days and the celebrity edition, 30 days, excluding the one and a half months allotted for pre-production so equipment, props and sites could be prepared for the show, said Jimmy Binyamini, production manager.

He said Gota Village was the “best place" to shoot Survivor Israel there, citing the "good people" and the "unique sites” the tourist spot


They were here in 2009 in the same month to shoot one edition of Hisardot whose broadcast ended last month via Israeli national television Channel 10.

This time, they will again start shooting on Feb. 28 and end filming sometime in late May or early June.

Aside from promoting the adventure appeal of Caramoan Islands, which will be shown throughout Israel, the Hisardot will employ some 200 local crew to assist their 120-crew production, according to Binyamini.

“Caramoan is a great adventure site ideal to our show, that’s why we are here again,” he said.

Hisardot has two parts, the “reality” part and the game part where the participants’ wits and survivor instincts are tested, according to Binyamini.

Like castaways on an island, the participants of Survivors are made to live in primitive conditions for 40 straight days, followed by a camera 24 hours a day.

Hisardot is actually the second media outfit of Survivor that filmed their editions on the small islands strewn at the northeast of Caramoan facing the island province of Catanduanes Island  also visit Puraran for surfing in Catanduanes Island

The French Survivor, Koh-Lanta Caramoan, was the first media outfit that filmed Survivor in 2008, followed by media outfits from Israel, Bulgaria and Serbia in 2009.

Koh-Lanta was shown in Europe with an estimated 12 million viewers.

A top executive of the Camarines Sur provincial government, who asked not be named because the negotiations are still ongoing, revealed that Survivor USA has been considering filming here starting 2011, until 2012.

He said the production crew of Survivor USA has searched many areas in the Philippines and found Caramoan the most ideal place for their filming because of the unique geographical features of the place and the available facilities that meet production standards.

Caramoan has become a favorite place for the Survivor shoot because of the variety in scenery and unique sites that catered to adventurous tourists, said Jovi Villareal, recreational officer of Gota Village Resort.

Ning Villanueva, provincial tourism officer, said the provincial government's hosting of Survivor brought in droves of foreign tourists, making Camarines Sur the most visited destination in 2009.

Citing records from the Bicol regional office of the Department of Tourism, Camarines Sur was the top tourist destination in the Philippines in the first nine months of 2009, with 1,022,092 visitors, of which 206,937 were foreign tourists.
Among the foreign tourists, Israel was the second highest number of arrivals after the US citizens.Visitors from the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan also arrived in the province.
The regional revenue generated from tourism reached more than P1 billion, of which P0.7 billion was contributed by Camarines Sur.
Villareal said the local government-owned facility is within the 4,000-hectare national park being managed by the provincial government as agreed upon with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Some 2,000 hectares of this park has been declared a protected area being developed for eco-tourism purposes, he added.

He cited many unexplored sites like tiny lakes, subterranean passages and underwater caves in the small limestone islands here that could cater to the more daring and skilled adventurous tourists.

Within the eco-tourism area, small islands are scattered sporadically with plants and weed trees, at the base of which are a number of narrow beaches and coves accessible by boat or kayak, according to him.

On the fringes of the land within the Gota Village Resort, towering vertical limestone walls suitable for rock climbing abound while a newly discovered subterranean river awaits exploration.

The primary attraction of the Gota Village Resort’s tourist area is the scenic view, which is defined by its unique geologic configuration in the middle of a wide coastal marine environment.

According to a 1981 study of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences, Caramoan exhibits the so-called karst topography.

This means a landscape defined by varied formations of limestone masses which were subjected to geologic processes that created vertical cliffs.
Euphi Peņano, resort manager, said the geologic features of the place highlighted the area’s natural tourism assets.“As for the Survivor production coming back, they must be profiting from the scenery here that draw television viewers to their show,” he said.

Photos Courtesy of  CARAMOAN.COM

Caramoan, Camarines Sur's best kept secret, is now achieving its celebrity status after Survivor- France is now completing its filming in this remote peninsula. It is a 4th class municipality where only the backpackers & the locals knew of its pristine white beaches.


Only in Caramoan
 Meaningful vacations
 Relaxation…how do you define it? In Camarines Sur, there are three options for relaxing and de-stressing. First, it is lying on a hammock under the trees, sipping your favorite drink while watching the sunset; second, exhausting your body by engaging in sports like wakeboarding; and third, visiting and interacting with the Gawad Kalinga family. So when we were invited to go to Bicol, I was ecstatic about the thought of going to Caramoan Islands in CamSur (short for Camarines Sur). I have been to CamSur once but I never made it to Caramoan. Luckily, island hopping was on our agenda this time. CamSur is accessible via air, land or sea. It boasts of cultural sites, white sand beaches (in Caramoan), rainforests, majestic mountains, caves, waterfalls, the famous Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex (CWC) in Cadlan, Pili, and now, the newest "attraction": the Gawad Kalinga site. Lucky for us, we were given the chance to experience CamSur’s best. After a 45-minute flight to CamSur, we headed to CWC for a quick lunch. The familiar rush of excitement came over the group. But we had to stop ourselves from grabbing our gear and heading for the water because wakeboarding wasn’t on the agenda for the day. After lunch, we were off to our first destination, the Caramoan Islands, a group of islands where the reality show "Survivor France" was filmed. Going to Caramoan is tiring as it requires an hour and a half drive from CWC to Nato Port, a two-hour boat ride to Guijalo Port, and another 30-minute drive to Gota Village Resort, but it was worth it! Matukad Island’s white sand is as fine as Boracays. If we had more time, we would’ve explored the island and trekked the mountain. Apparently, there is a lagoon on top of the mountain. The second island we went to was Lahos Island, which was equally enthralling as well. Its sand may not be as fine as Matukad’s but what makes it appealing are the two big rocks situated on either side of the island. The rocks facing each other feel like two big guys marking territory. Thus, it is as if you own the island. Between the rocks is a space perfect for intimate gatherings. Bicol governor L-Ray Villafuerte mentioned that you can even rent the whole island for private parties and events like birthdays or wedding proposals. Other attractions of Caramoan include firefly-watching and snorkeling. The day ended with a lavish seafood dinner by the shore, a perfect way to cap the day. The following day, we dropped by the deer farm before heading to CWC. Here, I met Chokoy! Unlike other deer, Chokoy is not afraid of humans, and is considered the "friendly deer." Kids who go to the deer farm play with him. The deer even pose for you if you want to take a photo! After paying a short visit to Chokoy, we went back to CWC and prepared for the launch of the Gawad Kalinga Bed & Breakfast. Gawad Kalinga sites have sprouted all over the country but what makes CamSur’s site special is their bed and breakfast concept. "In the past, I’ve met a lot of foreign tourists who want to experience the ‘real deal,’ and that is to stay in shanties or help build homes," shares Gov. L-Ray. And so, with the efforts of the local government and Gawad Kalinga, the GK Bed & Breakfast was born. The GK Bed & Breakfast is the first of its kind in the country. It caters to volunteers, including tourists who want to experience what GK volunteers do -- build houses for the less fortunate. GK Bed & Breakfast welcomes tourists (local and foreign) who want a different kind of vacation, one which includes immersion. All profits go directly to the GK fund. "We want to build self-sustainable communities. Providing housing is one thing but what is more important is for us to help them find means of sustainable income. This is the harmony of tourism (through the bed and breakfast concept) and social responsibility," says Governor L-Ray. Aside from the GK Bed & Breakfast, GK families make a living producing slippers made of ragiwdiw grass, lanterns, bags made of scrap, and more. They make great bags! In fact, each one of us went home with bags which more like a bayong. After the GK visit, we went back to CWC for another mouth-watering dinner. They served sushi with a twist (using laing as an ingredient), delectable dishes, and desserts. The third day was the official ‘wakeboarding/kneeboarding day’ for us...well, for me and Becca (another journalist) at least. We picked up our gear and went to the cable park. For someone like me who doesn’t know how to swim, any water sport is a nightmare. Yet I find kneeboarding both nerve-wracking and exciting. The wind that brushes your skin, the water that splashes on your face, and the strong pull from the cables yield a thrilling and pleasurable feeling. Unfortunately, due to our activities over the past days, my body was too tired to continue after a couple of rounds. Nevertheless, it was fun! All in all, the trip to CamSur was once again extraordinary. Where can you find a beach which is like Palawan and Boracay combined, or a water complex hailed as the best by many international wakeboarders? Or a place where you can enjoy your vacation and at the same time, help people? There’s only one answer: in Caramoan