Right before the pilgrimage city of Lipa, is a Catholic theme park called The Marian orchard. The prayer sanctuary located in the municipality of Balete is truly a sight to behold. It features a chapel, an observation tower, fountains, a prayer garden and shrines of several saints.
The over-all experience was fun. Battling the humidity as you roam around under the scorching heat of the sun is all worth it. (If you don’t mind getting a little bit tanned :))
The place induce a very calm and serene atmosphere very suitable for prayer and meditation.
My favorite part of the garden is this fountain highlighted at the center of the premise in between the Sacred heart Parish and the Mary Mediatrix of All Graces prayer hall.
This shrine is under renovation but still look picturesque.
Our eyes feast with the colorful surrounding thanks to the blooming flowers of different shades.
The Catholic Sanctuary is open from 7am-5pm and has an entrance fee of 50php (as of writing- April, 2017).
Starting point : Cubao, Metro Manila
7am – Jam terminal(Cubao). Choose Batangas/lemery bound bus. Alight at SM Lipa (right before grand terminal, along the road where you can ride jeepneys to levitown) – fare: 132php
9am – Ride jeepney (or tricycle) to levitown (caltex gas station) – fare: 8php – jeep, 30php – tric
9:10am – Ride jeepney (right across caltex) and alight at marian orchard entrance – fare: 15php
9:30am – Marian Orchard – 1-2 hours is enough to explore the vicinity. Entrance fee: 50php
11:00am – tric back to jeep station going to levitown – 30php
11:15am – jeep to levitown (caltex) – fare: 13php
11:30am – jeep to SM city Lipa (grand terminal)
Take bus heading back to Manila (Cubao) – 123php
Would like to know your experience too 🙂 Comment below.
From the unique hues of unusual colors to its unexplored depths, this river is living up to its name: Enchanting. Shades of aquamarine to dark blue were reflected on its crystal clear waters as if guiding the visitors of its shallow to deepest parts. Distinctively colored and outlined fishes that inhabits the body of water also adds to the mystique.
This deep spring river can be found in Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur, between the boundaries of Barangay Talisay and Cambatong. The water coming from an unknown source flows into Philippine sea and the Pacific ocean.
We avail one cottage for 150php. While lunch had been pre-ordered from the stalls on the entrance. Foods were delivered exactly noontime at our cottage.
At exactly 12 noon, the caretaker rings a bell signalling that the ‘feeding’ of fishes is about to start. Everyone must stay out of the water during this period. Schools of fish from out of nowhere appears in the surface (competing for food) much to the delight of the onlookers.
We head next to Barangay Borboanan in Bislig City to marvel at Tinuy-an’s beauty.
Tinuy-an is a three layered falls stunning enough to be considered as Philippines’ little Niagara falls. The area is surrounded with tall trees coupled with lush vegetation that makes it a sight to behold.
The second tier is the tallest and the most viewed and photographed among the three falls. We ride a makeshift raft towards the cascades. We stayed there for a while and get, well, wet.
We had a little trek to the uppermost tier. The height is short, not even half of the one below it, but the cascades’ pressure is intense enough for a hard back massage.
Locals said that everyday around 9am to 11am, a rainbow is formed on the lower falls which gives a majestic view. We arrived in the afternoon, so unfortunately we were not able to witness the phenomenon (and probably the chance to dig our pot of gold?)
Before resting our pressure-from-falls battled body, we decided to pass by the international doll house. On the way is the Bislig City Baywalk where we spent a couple of worthy minutes for I-LOVE-BISLIG poses.
After witnessing the elegant cascades of Tinuy-an falls and be mystified by the enchanted river, we can say that Surigao is undoubtedly on the upper-hand when it comes to nature’s blessings.
Yet, aside from the surreal beauty of its water forms, an unlikely attraction has found its home on this humble province; the International Doll house.
I was quite skeptical at first on including this on the itinerary, but since the entrance fee is very cheap (20php per head), I just put it in like a filler – ah, not bad. But it turns out, this is not your ordinary “doll house” and in fact, this is one of my most enjoyed destination in Surigao!
The International Doll House and the adjacent Ocean View Park Restaurant both sit atop a hill in Barangay Cumawas, Bislig City.
Getting there is quite a workout! You have to survive 257 steps to reach the top where a small and fancy pink house awaits.
Both the dollhouse and the restaurant were owned by the Switzerland-based couple Werner and Ruelaine Williman. Mrs Willman began collecting her treasures in 1980.
The brother of Ruelaine greeted us as we enter and guided us inside the premise. One must enter in barefoot (so as to maintain cleanliness) in the air-conditioned room that housed the dolls.
Dolls of different sizes, characters and fashion style surrounds the small gallery behind glasses. The dolls were of finest quality (and the prices were crazy!).
The owner bought majority of the display overseas from all corners of the world. Hairs of some dolls were taken from well known personalities like Princess Diana of Wales (woah!), Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson (if that’s not impressive, I don’t know what else is)
Real jewels adorned some of the dolls and the clothings were made of fine fabrics.
They also sell souvenir dolls from Switzerland for 150php. All the profit, including the entrance goes to charity.
Few feet away from the doll house is the Ocean Park View restaurant. It offers good view and great food!
We also had fun wandering around the Bislig Bay Walk where a huge sign I-<3-BISLIG stood with an overview of the Pacific.
As part of our Mindanao trip, we visit the Magellan’s anchorage, National Museum and Balangay site, probably because it’s on our way to Britania Island or our tour driver just wants us to experience these must-see Surigao landmarks.
First stop is the Butuan National Museum which is very suited to kick-off our Surigao adventures. A little background on the beauty that is about to unfold before us.
An introduction of the province that was very well explained by the most dedicated curator I have ever met. (Never got the chance to get the lady’s name or maybe I forgot :p , but one thing I would always remember is her commitment to her chosen profession.)
The scenic view outside the gallery (inside the compound) provides great background for photo souvenir 🙂
We also stopped by a small monument depicting few people on a boat ready to anchor in Barangay Masao/Masawa.
This place supposedly served as a short stop for Magellan’s expedition before heading out to Cebu, hence the name Magellan’s anchorage. Though other historians argue that the Masawa is actually the present day Limasawa – and not this tiny portion of Butuan.
We head next to the Balangay Boat Building site located in Luna Compound, Brgy. Bading, Butuan City. The site displays a huge balangay replica held above a pedestal emphasizing its size.
It is surrounded by tall acacia trees and the gigantic replica rest alongside the Agusan river.
The mention of Agusan river brings to mind Lolong (yes, the crocodile). That largest saltwater crocodile in the world (ever caught and measured) was captured in Agusan Marsh, a protected area found at the heart of this river.
We spent quite sometime spying on the vastness that is in front of us. Being the third largest river basin on the country, who knows what creature might lurking just around the corner 🙂
All smiles at the Butuan airport as we wait for kuya Bong – we hired a driver (and his van :p) that will tour us around for five days as per our itinerary. This spared us all the hassles and uncertainty of public transportation.
If you’re the kind that would enjoy submerging yourself into the local life, then you might want to do a DIY and experience their local rides like habal-habal. I bet this would work for a small group. In our case, we’re like a dozen peeps and it’s hard to do public transportation in large group – that is if you want to reach the place altogether at the same time.
Our driver also serves as a tour guide, father figure and a friend at the same time, so it was a good bargain after all.
The road flows in a sweeping meander as we head to La Entrada where we would spend our first two nights. Our driver’s love for speed adds thrill (and serious threat) to our road trip. (I never took to heart the ‘hold on to your seat’ thing until this ride) We avail the resort’s Britania island hopping tour for 1,500php. The tour lasts 3 -4 hours.
La Entrada Resort is located in San Agustin, Surigao del sur.
Walking the pathway that leads to our boat is in itself a wonderful sight.
Conveniently located close to each other, the group of islands collectively known as Britania offers view comparable to that of Calaguas and the feel of fine white sands of Boracay.
We hopped through Naked, Boslon, Hagonoy and Hiyor-hiyoran islands.
Naked Island – Do not overthink too much as to where the name came from. On the boat, more than 100 meters away from the island, you’ll see why. It’s just a narrow line of (almost) white sand. Nothing else. As if an island had been stripped of trees, plants and rocks up to its barest form. Hence, Naked.
Hagonoy and Hiyor-Hiyoran – I can’t even distinguish which is which for both the islands were characterized with lined palm trees, arranged tables and small stalls selling refreshments. Hagonoy’s water was clear blue and the sand’s very fine. While Hiyor-hiyoran’s a little bit dark due to seaweeds underneath (which makes it not really comfortable to swim). That’s the only distinction that comes to mind.
Boslon Island – We spend most of our time here. It has a striking boulder with a statue of Virgin Mary and a white cross. It has a small tunnel where you can cross and circumnavigate the island – which we did.
The water’s clear and the sand’s white and fine. The kind that is very friendly to our feet. Our leisure comes to halt when we are called by the boatmen telling us that we need to go since the weather’s approaching a not so fair state.
Back to our resting place (La Entrada resort), we freshen up and tried their cuisine. Waiting time is too long that is it advisable to order before you go on the tour and tell them when you’re having dinner so they can prepare when you arrive. Anyway, the wait proves to be worth it as we enjoyed every dish we order.
We ended the day playing cards (exploding kittens) until our eyes voluntarily close. A perfect (and unconventional) wrap to our day 1 escapade.