Saturday, April 10, 2010


As has become already customary, every Easter we would usually go out for a trip after a hectic Holy Week festivities. Since we had to be in Calbayog to attend their centennial celebration as a diocese, we decided that our outing should be somewhere in Samar. Hence I chose to go back to Biri in N. Samar which was just logical as my companions (three other priests [two of whom were my parochial vicars] and two lay friends) had never set foot yet in Biri. It was still in 1998 that I first visited Biri. I had no digital camera then. I wanted to return to the place so that I could take better pictures of the famed rock formations.
We left Tacloban that Easter Monday at almost ten in the morning. I had already a prior invitation to have our lunch in San Jose, N. Samar, where my former student was now the parish priest. It meant that our lunch would be late as the travel time was almost five hours. The good news with regards to traveling in Samar is that from Tacloban to Calbayog, Samar the roads are already very well paved and asphalted. However, the road from Calbayog to Allen, N. Samar is still a hell of a drive. That is why we had to take the mountain route going to Catarman before proceeding west to Lavezares which was the jump off point in going to the Biri islands.
The parish priest of Biri was waiting for us at the convent in Lavisares as he was on his way to their presbyterium meeting in Catarman. He already arranged our boat transfer to Biri and our accommodations in Biri beforehand. He was telling us that we just came at the right time, as until the previous week, the sea in going to Biri was still very rough. However, the sea was already calm starting that day only.
We were billeted at the Villa Amor Lodging House (cel 0930-3825788) right in the town of Biri itself. The owner, an Australian who married a Filipina from the place had a big two storey house in the middle of the property and on the sides by the perimeter fence four rooms were built which were for rent to tourists. The caretakers were the parents of the Filipina wife. The rent was reasonable enough, 500 pesos per room for the three fan rooms and 1,200 for the air con room. Extra bed was 150 pesos. However, since electricity in Biri was only from twelve noon to twelve midnight the fan rooms served us well. The lodging house did not serve food, hence the parish priest had arranged with a cook from the market to bring us our meals at the lodging house. There is a also a new Biri Resort right also in the middle of the town (cel 0927-4129747). We got information that the Biri Resort will be opening a Dive Shop by May. Their rooms cost 1,200.
The rock formations in Biri are on the eastern part of the island facing the Pacific. The rock formation at the northeastern side is called Magasang while further down south about a kilometer away is called Bil-at. Not only one can see awesome rock formations carved by forces of nature but there are also plenty of shallow pools that one can enjoy swimming. However, going to the rock formation is already an adventure. It is best to go there during low tides. Twelve years before we had to walk from the town to the shore passing through ricefields and climbing a hill. Now there are motorbikes which would bring you to the beach nearest the rock formation. But still one has to wade through the shallow but rocky sea waters to get to the rock formation at Magasang. But to get to Bil-at at the southern end is more difficult as before one can reach the place one has to wade through a muddy mangrove forest. Our guide mistakenly led us to a more muddy location and at one point we got stuck into a knee-deep mud.
Aside from the rock formation there are other beaches in Biri worth visiting. There is the Mantutuka rock formation about 15 minute boat ride just in front of the town proper. There was a good coral growth in the place though the current was strong in this part that the boat could not dock on the island. We were also able to do scuba dive in two places, at Suliran island and at Rawis point. There was nothing to see at the Suliran island but there was a good vegetation at Rawis point.
There are a number of boats which go to Biri island from Lavesares starting at ten o’clock in the morning until the afternoon. Boats leave Biri in the morning at seven and also in the afternoon. The fare is 50 pesos. One can also privately hire a boat to go to Biri for a thousand pesos. Just contact Bitoy who is the one in-charge in Lavezares of the boats: 0921-6748124.

The boat which would bring us to Biri. Fare to Biri from Lavezares is only 50 fifty pesos. But one can hire a boat for a thousand pesos.

With Fr. Billy Quimbo, (4th from left) the parish priest of Biri with the four of us priests.

Out on the sea just as one gets near the town of Lavezares is a statue of Nuestra Sra. de Salvacion, the patron saint of Lavezares.
The pier in Biri with the parish church at the background.

Biri Municipal Hall

One is greeted by the statue of St. Vincent Ferrer as one disembarks on the port of Biri.

The parish church of Biri.

The altar retablo of Biri was just newly installed.

The convento of Biri.

The rates for the transportation around the island is displayed at the pier which is by the marketplace.

Villa Amor lodging house, the place where we were billeted. It had a beautiful manicured lawn.

The women from the market who prepared our food and would bring them to the resort.

One of the roads in the town of Biri, very bucolic.

The town of Biri was exceptionally clean. Garbage cans were found in every place.

Sunset in Biri

Ronnie harvested plenty of "suake" shells on the shallow waters in front of the resort.

Fr. Caloy trying to taste the suake.

The "suake" comes in all sizes and colors. Their thorns are shorter and not poisonous unlike the "tuyom"

The "bihod" (the eggs) that line up the walls of the shells are aphrodisiac.
Below is the other resort found in the town proper of Biri: The Biri Resort.

Mantutuka rock formation is just across the town proper of Biri. It has a small beach made of corals. Current can be fast in this place that the boat could not dock on the island.

Unique corals in Mantutuka

There was a beautiful coral growth in Mantutuka island.

The road going to the rock formation in the Pacific side of Biri island

Twelve years ago we had to hike to get to the rock formations. But now there is a cemented one lane road for motorcycles.

The beach just in front of the rock formation was already enticing

The Magasang rock formation from afar. They have planted mangroves in the area.

On the way to Magasang rock formation.

Mark doing a Hercules.

There are plenty of shallow pools which are ideal for swimming.

Another pool for swimming away from the waves of the Pacific.

Bil-at rock formation as seen from the road.

One has to wade through muddy mangrove waters in order to reach Bil-at rock formation.

At one point we got stuck in a mud which almost reached our knees.

An expanse of flat rock which looked like an airport runway.

Ronnie preparing to dive in one of the pools around the rock formation.

We found plenty of "lato", edible seaweeds during our dive that we picked some for our consumption.
The pressure pump owned by the Tourism office used in filling the compressed air for diving. By May, we were informed that a diving shop will open in Biri.


weekend haven said...

wow, the rock formation is amazing! i'd love to go there. Thanks for sharing :)

restored beach bum said...

Thank you for sharing your beach trips....awakens in me a hobby i thought i lost....i would like to spend more time again with nature...and hope one day we could go together as a group with common you Mnsgr!

ray meds said...

that places more beautiful and impressive with these unforgettable evening and these incredible rocks with exotic figures undoubtedly human beings look like

yebayeba said...

is there a dive shop already in Biri?

beachanatic said...

i haven't checked if the diveshop is already open. The talk when we were there was that they were going to open it soon.

Anonymous said...

great rock formations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! great pictures!!!

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

wow! bucketlist! thanks for this Msgr :)