Volcanic Biliran

Biliran is one of those provinces which started off as part of a bigger province. Relatively new as a province, tourism has just started to roll at this side of Eastern Visayas. In no time, this island province would be a welcome option for those who would like to visit places other than Boracay, Palawan among others.

Biliran is my 60th province to visit.

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This province is very much accessible either from Tacloban or Ormoc, if you come from Manila or Cebu. Travel time could be from 3-6 hours. From Cebu, hop in a fast craft to Ormoc City. If you take the 6:30am trip, you’ll reach Ormoc by 9am. Just across Ormoc City Pier is the integrated bus-van terminal. You can either take the bus or the air conditioned shuttle van, just look for “Naval” sign board.

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Naval is the capital of Biliran. It is the largest town in the province. It was once called Bagasumbol. Thankfully it was changed to Naval de Ricardo Victoria because Bagasumbol has a kinky meaning for the Visayan-speaking people.

From Ormoc, Naval is about 85km to the north or roughly a 2-hr travel. The shuttle vans have their own terminal so you need to tell the van driver where you want to get off. All vans would pass by the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary along the Eastern Nautical Highway. From there, take a pedicab and ask the driver to take you to your chosen hotel.

There are quite a handful of basic pension houses or inns in town. I chose GV Hotel along the Naval-Caibiran Cross Country Road, which was a few blocks away from Naval State University. After I had settled in the hotel room, the next thing to think about is what to do and where to go in Biliran Island.

Sometimes you get useful tips by asking the front desk. And sometimes you get cricket moments after you ask around for directions. And since tourism is not yet developed in Biliran, the best people to ask are the habal-habal drivers.

Pedicabs, motorbikes and tricycles are the mode of transportation in Biliran. I decided to arrange a ride with the habal-habal driver who brought me to the following beautiful sites:

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Mt. Guiauasan and the distant Mt. Tres Marias

The island was formed by a volcano of the same name: Biliran. It last erupted in 1939. Other inactive volcanoes in the island include Mt. Capinyayan, Mt. Caraycaray, Giron, Guiauasan, Gunansan, Lauaan, Maliwatan, Panamao, Sayao, Tabuanan and Vulcan.

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The beach and the view of sunset in Agta, Talahid, Almeria

Almeria is about 7kms north of Naval and can be reached by tricycle or habal-habal. Almeria boasts of its beach resorts which offer wonderful views of the sunset. The trip costs about Php 30 per way and can go as high as Php 70-100 pesos per person depending on the time of day.

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Awesome view of the sunset

I didn’t have the luxury of time to look for a Biliran tour package, so I decided to do it on my own. I made a quick requisite visit to the municipal and provincial buildings, took some snaps then headed to the market block and looked for a willing habal-habal driver to take me to Tinago Falls.

I haggled a bit, knowing beforehand that a trip to the falls through the Naval-Caibiran Cross-Country Road is Php 500. We agreed for Php 400 then off we go. Tinago in vernacular means ‘hidden’. But with the completion of the traverse road, the falls is already accessible. Tinago Falls is said to be the most popular among several waterfalls that dot the island.

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It is about 45mn ride in a motorcycle from the town of Naval. Heading to Caibiran, the ride cuts through sloping, terraced rice fields, majestic view of Mt. Guiauasan, tree-lined roads and cool mountain breeze.

Tinago Falls is in Brgy Cabibihan, Caibiran. There is an entrance fee of Php 15.

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The breath-taking Tinago Falls

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Scenic rice terraces

In a few years time, Biliran is poised to become an eco-tourism destination. So come to the island and explore its beauty before all the planned development kicks in.

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