It was already late and dark when I reached Sorsogon City after an hour riding the jeepney from Irosin, where I had indulged in a hurried but calming dip in one of its hot and cold springs. But unlike the sleepy towns we passed by along the way, the city was still bustling and wide-awake. It’s been a decade or so since my last visit here and it didn’t surprise me to see marks of makeovers and changes in the cityscape. There were more establishments, more choices of accommodation and even Mang Inasal, my favorite cheap comfort food has finally invaded this corner of the Philippines, joining the growing number of fast-food chains in the area.
It was a spur of the moment decision to spend the night here so I wasn’t able to research ahead. Longing for some decent sleep, at least in bed this time, I trudged with my heavy pack – now filled with wet clothes – to the nearest computer shop to search for a place to crash for the night. I narrowed my choices down to Villa Isabel, which was recommended by the computer shop owner and Mercedes Country Lodge, which offered the cheapest rate I had found so far. In the end, I found myself in one of the non air-conditioned rooms with common bath and toilet at Mercedes Country lodge. It’s cheap, conveniently located near the main thoroughfare and good enough to while away the night and recharge for the next day’s adventure.
Paguriran Island Resort
With only a day to spare in Sorsogon and still so many points of interests on offer, I decided to drop by the tourism office to get some essential local knowledge to help me make the most out of my time. I was actually hoping to get some information on how to go to PNOC- Eco Park, a mountainous area that features the picturesque Botong Twin Falls, scenic walking trails and several lakes. Unfortunately, the person in charge at the tourism office was on leave, and she was the only one with the contact numbers of those who arrange for guides and pick-ups of guests.
Water from the shore to the islet is ankle to knee deep at low tide.
Past lunchtime, after wandering around the city, I decided to just revisit the nearby beaches and resorts along the coast of Bacon District, and then hit the road to Paguriran Island after. It was near, accessible and quite perfect for the time that I had available. Although, an imminent downpour was on its way, it didn’t dampen my excitement to see one of my favorite beach destinations when I was young. All I could remember from then was shallow crystal clear waters that stretch a long way out from the shore.
I boarded a passenger jeepney from the city proper and alighted at Barangay Poblacion, the former town center of Bacon District, expecting to start my sojourn here. Upon chatting with a fellow passenger however, I learned that the last trip on the way back to Sorsogon City was around 4:30 p.m., which didn’t give me much time to explore around. It was already past two in the afternoon so I was left with no choice but to set off for Paguriran Island right away.
Rocky beach exposed at low tide.
I transferred to another jeepney and told the driver to drop me off at Paguriran Island Resort in Barangay Sawanga, which I had just learned about then from another helpful passenger. I was very pleased to learn that it could be accessed by land as well, because most of the information I found online suggested a boat ride from Bacon District. Luckily, it was also the same jeepney that would ply the route back to the city so I took note of the time it would pass by the resort.
I walked on a short section of dirt road towards a haphazardly fenced beach area, and was welcomed by barking dogs, a family on a picnic and karaoke tunes belted out by a group of rambunctious souls probably inspired by the Red Horse bottles piling up on their table. I didn’t waste time and ran to the shore only to be disappointed by what I saw. I couldn’t believe I went all the way here only to find shallow rocky water and shores that would benefit from a bit of combing.
After checking out the mangroves at the other end of the beach and walking back to the resort, I saw people emerging from what looked like a islet with a rocky outcrop. Then it dawned on me this was actually the same islet with a beautiful lagoon inside that I had seen on the brochure before. With my time running out, I entrusted my backpack with the family in the adjacent cottage and waded hastily through the water with my camera in hand. The tide was low, and the current coming from the open sea was still calm so I made it easily to the lagoon.
A mixture of muffled admiration and apology for judging so soon and almost missing out this awesome spot was all I could muster as I hurriedly scrambled up through one of the jagged rocks surrounding the shallow pool of aquamarine water. It was a beautiful sight from the top. The secluded lagoon enclosed by jagged coralline and granite rock walls somewhat looked like a crater of a volcano, while the view of the surrounding bay and the Bacon coastline was a refreshing treat – more than enough reward for the effort that I exerted to get here.
But like most good things, this one had to end too, and sadly, that was without even getting to dip into the water yet. The last jeepney back to the city was about to pass by so I had to run back to the road. It was a such a whirlwind affair with Paguriran Island like an engaging movie that was suddenly cut short in the middle. I wished I could have stayed longer, but like many pleasant but brief hellos and goodbyes, I was still glad I had the chance to visit. Perhaps the next time will be even sweeter and the relationship will bloom into a full-blast romance.
How to get to Paguriran Island
From Sorsogon City head to the jeepney terminal near Petron or Caltex Station. Ride a jeepney en route to Sawanga, Bacon and tell the driver to drop you off at Paguriran Island. The resort fronting the island is less than five-minute walk from the road. Alternatively you may rent a tricycle from the city to have your own private transport to the island and back. If you decide to drop by at Bacon District to check out its beaches, you can either transfer to another jeepney en route to Sawanga or rent a boat from here to Paguriran Island, about 40 minutes’ ride.