Mateo Hot and Cold Spring and Irosin’s Hilltop Church
It was late Sunday afternoon when my friends and I got back to the port of Matnog after two days of island-hopping off its coast. I wanted to explore further the other attractions in the province of Sorsogon so I continued on ahead after joining my companions for a quick hot meal at an eatery near the ferry terminal. I was hoping to make it to Bulusan Volcano National Park, do some walks on one of its scenic trails, and find a place to stay nearby before it got dark.
After bidding farewell to everyone, I boarded an empty passenger jeepney bound for Sorsogon City parked near the Municipal Hall, only to find out later that we would all be leaving the town at the same time because the jeepney didn’t really leave until it was brimming with passengers. Halft an hour later, I alighted at the laid back town of Irosin, the entry and exit point to Bulusan Volcano National Park, while the rest of my friends continued on with their journey to Sorsogon City where they would change rides back to their hometown in Camalig, Albay.
Irosin Hilltop Church
I walked around the town checking out the local market and rummaging through its ukay-ukay shops while contemplating what to do next. After asking around, I learned that the next trip to Bulusan wouldn’t be leaving for at least another two hours and that there weren’t many choices of accommodation there. I was tired, in dire need of shower and a decent place to sleep in so I decided to just stay and check out the town’s hot and cold springs instead.
Irosin sits at the base of Mt. Bulusan, one of the most active volcanoes in the country and is blessed with abundant flow of natural springs. Like the equally popular Crater Lake and springs in the town of Bulusan, the hot and cold springs at Irosin also flow from the lush mountain in the national park. The springs at Mateo Hot and Cold Springs Resort located at Barangay San Benon is thought to have therapeutic effects, especially on a tired and weary body. The resort is quite popular among the locals and visitors from nearby towns because it gives them the unique experience of swimming in hot and cold natural springs all in one place.
Mateo Hot and Cold Springs Resort
Now, hot and cold springs were nothing new to me since I had lived for quite sometime in two adjacent towns in the foothills of Mt. Makiling, which both claim to be the Hot Spring Capitals of the Philippines. But a dip in fresh warm water had suddenly become too irresistible for me after days of soaking in saltwater and being constantly on the move over the past few weeks. The thought of visiting the resort brought images of a warm bath in a fancy hotel to mind, only this time I would have a dense forest as a backdrop and would probably cost me less than 50 pesos to do so.
Dense foliage is the backdrop of the pools.
I hurriedly walked along the main thoroughfare towards the town’s hilltop church for a quick side trip while also looking for a habal-habal/motorbike to take me to San Benon. Irosin Hilltop Church is a stone’s throw away from the market, and it offers a pleasant view of the town, the surrounding countryside and the majestic Mt. Bulusan in the distance. There is also a beautifully landscaped grotto of The Virgin Mary on the left side of the church atop a hill about 50 steps or so.
After some quiet time inside the church, I found myself in a tricycle driven by an amicable lady with a boyish haircut who agreed to take me to the resort for 40 pesos. She must have heard me haggling with the other drivers because after I walked away from them, she swooped past and yelled “Magkano gusto mo pangga?” She was helpful in showing me around and sharing with me the information that I needed. Unfortunately it was getting late so I skipped the other natural spring frequented by the locals that she wanted me to see.
My excitement turned into disappointment however, after learning that the resort was closed to the public. It had been closed for the last few months due to maintenance and renovation and would only open the next day. Seeing that there were other guests inside, mostly friends of the owner for the soft opening of the resort, I asked if I could take a look inside and perhaps stay in one of their rooms if there was a vacant one. In the end I decided to just enjoy the warm water for a few hours and leave for Sorsogon City to find a place to stay for the night. Their rooms were really meant for families and big groups and paying 800 pesos for a night wasn’t worth it for me.
Poolside picnic cottages, shower and changing rooms, restaurant, and overnight accommodation are available at the resort.
The water was relaxing and soothing to the nerves. Its sulphuric healing properties must have been working wonders on me as I slowly drifted into pensive mode while submerged halfway underwater. It was quite hot in the beginning but I got use to it eventually. Interestingly, there were sections in the hot pool where gushes of cold water swirled. I enjoyed my time here so much that I forgot to try the cold spring at the other man-made pool.
The highlight of the day for me though was bumping into Nina, one of my favorite Pinay wanderers at the resort. I had known beforehand she was in Bicol but I never thought we would see each other at this random place. After few minutes of chitchat and an hour of wrinkling my skin away in the water, I found myself back on the highway waiting for a passenger jeepney bound for Sorsogon City. I got a free ride on a motorbike from one of the guests of the resort and free use of the facilities since it wasn’t officially open yet. Now if only I could find a free lodge as well for the night then my day would be complete
How to Get to Irosin
Buses from Manila en route to Bulan or Matnog Sorsogon all pass by the town of Irosin. Other long distance buses and local buses terminate at Sorsogon City Central Bus Terminal. From here there are several jeepneys that go to the different towns of Sorsogon. Buses passing through Sorsogon City Proper drop off and pick up passengers at the northern edge of Rizal Street about 15 minutes’walk from the town plaza.
How to Get to Mateo Hot and Cold Spring
The resort is about 20-30 minutes drive from the town proper. It passes by the national highway along pastoral fields and then a short section of dirt road towards the resort. You may rent a tricycle from the town center for 50 pesos or less.