Coron Experience

I booked a flight to Coron about 6 months back. Nakuha ko ito sa promo ng Air Philippines. Airfare for Kiko and I’s roundtrip transfer (Manila-Busuanga-Manila) costs us only P1,600 total. Super cheap!

Hindi na sana kami tutuloy. Una, madami engagements si Kiko sa work. Pangalawa, limited budget. Pero last minute, may blessing na dumating. We received a decent amount of extra income which made us secured para sa 4-day trip na ito.

I wasn’t really excited about the trip pero tumuloy pa rin kami kasi sayang ang opportunity. Kung hindi namin ito itutuloy, hindi ko alam kung kelan na ulit masusundan ito.

We consider this trip as an adventure. Backpacker kasi kami ni Kiko this time compared to our recent Boracay trip where everything is arranged for us. Hindi ako nag-book ahead sa anumang accomodations and island hopping packages.

Busuanga Airport

Our adventure started paglabas namin ng Busuanga Airport. We have to ask the tourist help desk on what to do next. We were led sa van stop where several vans are lined-up to bring guests to Coron town. Van transfer costs P150 per head per way. Tahimik kami sa byahe. Travel to town is approximately 45 Minutes. Smooth naman ang ride. Kapansin-pansin ang mga under construction bridges nila. Karamihan sa mga tulay ay made of wood o kaya naman ginagawa. May rough road din pero konti lang.

Hindi kami masyado nag-uusap ni Kiko on the way to town kasi na o-overpower kami ng kasabay naming pasaherong mag-asawa na nakikipagkwentuhan sa driver ng van. Kung anu-ano ang pinag-uusapan nila and they seem to have some things in common.

Ang terrain to town is hilly. Walang kahit anong istraktura sa paligid. Ang makikita mo lang ay ang mga bundok na may mababang damo,  mga puno at kung anu-anong hayop sa paligid gaya ng baka, kambing, kabayo, manok etc.

Busuanga Terrain

Nalaman na lang namin na malapit na kami sa town nang may pakonti-konti nang istraktura ang nadadaanan namin. Napansin ko lang na ang mga mukhang mamahaling hotel e matatagpuan sa outskirts ng town.

Nang makarating kami sa town proper, I was expecting a town talaga na maraming commercial establishments na mataagpuan rin sa Manila. Pero karamihan sa mga negosyo dito ay mga maliliit na business ng mga taga-roon. Walang Ministop o 7-11. Pero meron naman silang banko- BPI. Yun na ang pinakasikat na alam ko. Ewan ko lang kung may BDO. Pero kung meron man, hindi namin iyon nadaanan o di ko siguro napansin.

Nang nagbabaan na ang ibang pasahero, tinanong kami ng driver kung saan kami. Sabi namin, di namin alam. Wala kaming reservation. Nag-offer siya na hanapan kami ng hotel pero ihatid muna namin ang mag-asawang kakwentuhan niya. Ibinaba namin sila sa isang hotel rin pero sabi nila, hindi daw sila doon tutuloy kundi sa maliit na bahay sa harap noon. Tinutukoy nila yung maliit na villa na gawa sa semento. Napakaliit nito na parang isang kwarto lang pero ang structure ay yari sa semento at moderno naman kung titignan. Nang makababa ang mag-asawa, sabi ni Kuya Kit, yung driver namin, sila yung may-ari ng Leslie’s, yung sikat na bulalohan sa Tagaytay. Sila rin ang kasalukuyang concessionaire ng Nestle Philippines, feeding thousands of their employees everyday. May mga restaurant din sila sa iba’t ibang probinsya. Namangha naman kami ni Kiko. Sa sobrang simple at bait ng mag-asawang iyon, hindi mo akalaing bigtime pala sila.

Sabi namin kay Kuya Kit, gusto namin sa hotel sa tabi ng dagat. Agad na naisip ni kuya ang Shirley’s Pension House. Nakita ko na ito sa net pero di ko naman masyado pinansin kasi wala sa budget namin ang rates nila. Pinilit naman ito ni Kuya Kit dahil siguro, iyon na ang pinakaconvenient na pension house sa tabi ng dagat.

Pagkatapos ng maiksing haggle-lan with the manager, we got our room at P1,000 per night. With aircon ito, cabled TV at private CR. Simple lang yung tinuluyan namin at malinis. Meron itong terrace overlooking Mt. Tapyas at ang dagat.

Panoramic View from the Terrace
Panoramic View from the Terrace
Sigle Shot Photo from the Terrace
Sigle Shot Photo from the Terrace overlooking the ocean
Shirley’s Pension House Terrace
A view of Mt. Tapyas from the house. Sorry for the Quality

Agad kaming nag-settle sa room at pagkatapos ay naghanap na kami ng makakainan. Sa isang karinderya sa tapat ng Shirl’s kami kumain. Ang ulam nila costs 30 to 50 pesos. May kamahalan. Medyo nagulat ako kasi I was expecting lower rates dahil probinsya iyon. Pero mahal halos lahat ng bilihin doon. Tubig na nga lang, P25 to P30 pesos dito sa Manila, doon P95.

Pagkatapos naming magpahinga ng mga 2 to 3 hours, lumab.as na kami ni Kiko para mag-cast sa tabing dagat. May lumapit sa aming isang grupo ng kalalakihan na tila na-curious sa panghuhuli ni Kiko gamit ang rod and reel. Medyo amoy alak sila kaya nakataas ang depensa naming mag-asawa. Pero habang tumatagal ang kwentuhan namin sa kanila, pumapalagay ang loob namin lalo na nang maalala ko ang ipinagmamalaki ng Coron – zero crime rate. In-offeran kami ng kausap namin ng fishing tour. Ipapasyal niya kami sa Islands para sa mga fishing spots. Iyon naman talaga ang gusto namin. Ako, sight seeing, si Kiko naman, fishing. We made it clear na ayaw namin ng mga aakyat-akyat kaya hindi na rin namin piniling puntahan ang mga lakes. He offered a whole day trip for only P1,300. Solo namin ang bangka.

The next day, maaga gumising si Kiko para mag-fishing. Sabi kasi ni Jan-jan, yung bankero namin, na maganda manghuli sa umaga dahil high tide. Ilang saglit lang, nakahuli na si Kiko ng kanyang first Lapu-lapu. Nakahuli siya ng dalawa that morning.

Kiko's First Catch: Lapu-Lapu
Kiko’s First Catch: Lapu-Lapu
Yin-yang
Ying Yang Lapu-lapu
2 Lapu-lapu and a crab
Lapu-lapu and the crab
Kiko's Early Morning Activity
Kiko’s Early Morning Activity

Bandang 9:00am, umalis na kami para mangisda. Dinala kami ni Jan-jan at nang kanyang parter na si Kuya, sa tabi ng isang isla doon para manghuli. Si Jan-jan maya’t maya nakakahuli gamit ang “pangawil” niya. Bottom fishing ito kung tawagin sa Angler’s vocabulary. Ito yung paraan ng pangingisda gamit ang nylon, hook at sinker lang. Fish meat ang gamit niyang pain. Si kiko naman, hindi pinapalad sa pangingisda niya gamit ang kanyang bait cast at spinner bait. Super enjoy naman ako sa pagtanaw ng magagandang isla at rock formations.

Panoramic view of an Island
Island View from our Boat
Island View
Closer Look at the Rock Formation. They said it used to be submerged under water.

Pagdating ng tangahali, ipinagluto na kami ni Jan-jan ng kanin at inihaw na Surat (Triggerfish). First time ko kumain ng ganung isda kaya naman hindi ko masyado na-enjoy. Pero in fairness naman, masarap siya. Hindi lang talaga ako adventurous sa pagkain. Kahit naman konti lang nakain ko, sa ganda ng nakikita ko sa paligid, hindi ko masyadong maramdaman ang gutom.

Afterlunch, ipinasyal na kami ni Jan-jan sa mga destinations doon gaya ng CYC beach, Culachichi Beach, Vivian Beach, Twin Lagoon, Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks at Siete Picados. Hindi na nga lang kami bumaba sa iba doon dahil ayaw nga namin ng akyat-baba at magbanat ng buto. Sa pagbalik na lang namin sa Coron ie-explore ito.

CYC Beach
A view from the Boat
An island
To Twin Lagoon
Beautiful Landscape
To Kayangan Lake

After our last stop sa tour, nagmakaawa pa si Kiko na magfishing pa. Dinala naman kami ng aming mga bankero sa isang isla doon. Pagpark namin, nagulat ako sa coral reefs na halos 3 ft lang ang lalim at natatanaw ko na ang mga makukulay na corals at isda. May Nemo at Dory pa nga eh (clown fish at blue tang fish). Sa spot na iyon naging sunod-sunod ang huli ni Kiko. Nagcontest na nga sila sa padamihan. Nanalo naman ang asawa ko. 🙂

Kiko getting ready to fish!
Coral Reef!
Another Beautiful Catch!

We called it a day ng bandang 4:30pm. Payapa na ang araw at hindi na masyadong umuulan. We headed back sa Coron Town. Nakahuli si Kiko ng halos kalahating balde ng isda which the resort manager graciously offered to cook. Medyo ginutom ako sa trip namin kaya after naming maligo, nagikot-ikot kami para magmeryenda. Nang malaman ko na lulutuin ni Kuya Jun ang lahat ng isdang nahuli namin, nanghinayang naman ako sa mineryenda namin. Kumain kami sa Esh Eatery. I ordered Clubhouse and Beef Mami while Kiko ordered Carbonara. Hindi naman masyadong remarkable and lasa kaya di rin sulit ang binayad namin na halos P300 para lang sa meal na iyon.

Pag-uwi namin sa Shirl’s, nagulat ako nang makita ang pinrepare ni Kuya Jun, ang Manager. He set-up a table with water goblet, chopsticks at white plates. It was an exceptional customer service!

Kuya Jun’s Set-Up

Kuya Jun prepared 4 dishes of Lapu-lapu. May Escabeche, Fried, Pinaksiw at Sinigang. Lahat masarap! I was so full!

A clear copy of the set-up

The next day, we went to town naman. We asked around kung ano ang mga magagandang puntahan doon. Sabi ni Kuya Jun, pumunta kami sa House of Casoy, Mt. Tapyas at sa mga aquarium ng mga buyers ng isda. Dahil 725 steps ang Mt. Tapyas, hindi na kami tumuloy doon. Pero pinicturan ko na lang yung street sign to Mt. Tapyas.

To Mount Tapyas Sign

Pumara naman kami ng trike (tricycle) at si Kuya driver was very accommodating. He took us to our destination and waited for us. Kung saan-saan pa niya kami dinala, gaya nang bilihan ng mga souvenirs. Bumili ako ng rainmaker, Coron souvenir sando, at keychains for pasalubong. Kinontrata rin namin si Kuya driver na sunduin kami sa Shirl ng 5:00pm para sa Maquinit Hotspring Tour.

House of Casoy

Pinuntahan namin ang Public Market ng Coron at doon kami nakabili ng mga pampasalubong na daing na pusit, danggit at boneless danggit. Bumili na rin kami ni Kiko ng malaking fresh pusit para ihawin. Ilang araw na akong nagke-crave dito. Pinaluto nga namin ito kay Kuya Jun at kasalo namin sila ng pamangkin niyang si Mac-mac kumain. We keep on asking “Magkano na atraso namin kay Kuya” for all the service. Ang sabi niya, hindi na raw kasi it’s his job.

Coron Market

Bandang hapon, Kiko and I strolled along Lualhati Park and met Mr. Luis Manalo. Part-owner siya ng Zipline and Floating Restaurant doon. Sabi niya, he used to teach Engineering sa FEU-Fern pero he retired na. He moved to Coron to take care of the business together with his wife. Tumambay muna kami ni Kiko sa restaurant niya ordered burgers and naki-wifi.

At Zipline Floating Restaurant

After an hour, we head back to Shirl’s para magpahinga ng konti at magready ara sa Maquinit Hotspring trip namin. Five minutes to 5:00 pm, Kuya driver arrived 5 minutes early. The transfer to Maquinit and Coron  cost us P300.00. May entrance fee pa sa hotspring of P150.00 per head. We stayed there for an hour.

Mangroves at the Maquinit Hotspring
Bridge within the Mangroves leading to the Ocean.
The Hotspring

That night, Kiko and I decided to eat dinner at a local restaurant. Akala ko mura based on the restaurant’s location at hitsura pero I was wrong. An order of common sisig is P195. A plate of Pancit is P100, an extra rice is P15 and a grilled pusit is P250. Similar pa rin sa prices in Manila.

On our last day, we just strolled around Lualhati Park and watch the Fun Run being held there. As we are waiting for our van to pick us up, nagtataka ako why I feel sad leaving the town. The beautiful sights are inconvenient naman kasi you have to take a boat to see them. There’s not much to see sa town. We were looking for museums, old churches, etc. pero wala naman talaga. Ang mamahal pa ng bilihin.

Fun Run

Then I came to realize that it wasn’t really the scenic view which made me feel sad about leaving Coron. It was actually the people. Sa lahat ng napuntahan kong lugar sa Pilipinas, it was in Coron where I met the nicest people! Lahat magagalang at mababait. Lahat handang tumulong ng walang hinihintay na kapalit.

I remember this one morning when Kiko’s Spinner Bait got stuck while he was retrieving it. The water level was high then so it’s impossible to see what tangled it. To our suprise, one manong who owns a boat made an effort to paddle his boat towards the line and tried to pull it. Kaya lang, it didn’t work. So Jan-jan, our bankero, took off his shirt and braved the waters. He instantly unhooked Kiko’s lure.  Kiko offered a tip to the manong. We are grateful for his efforts even if he didn’t got the lure. Pero he declined and even ran away para hindi na ipilit ni Kiko yung TIP. Kiko offered TIP to Jan-jan, pero Jan-jan gracefully refused. After nga ng island hopping namin, Kiko gave  P100.00 each for Jan-jan and his partner. They refused na naman pero after several attempts to give it, they took it. We agreed that they go back to get half the fish we caught but they didn’t return. They were already grateful for what we gave them. At si Kuya Jun naman, we gave him P300 tip for all the cooking and service. He was surprised and told us that it’s too much. He considered joining us in one of our meals a favor we did for him rather than him to us kaya naman sabi niya, our TIP is too much.

Kiko with Jan-jan and his partner, Kuya. 🙂
Kiko with Kuya Jun and Mac-mac

All in all, our trip to Coron not only filled our eyes with the beauty of nature at its finest, our hearts where filled with so much joy and appreciation for all the hospitality and genuine care the people of Coron had shown us.

Loving Coron

When we got back to Manila, there was this one guy who hailed a taxi for us. When he got one, he took my bag. I noticed that Kiko stopped and did not get in until the bag is secured in the compartment. That’s when I realized that I am already in Manila and I have to bring my defenses up once again.

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