Another day trip we took from Borongan was to Divinubo, a nearby island that we could actually walk to during low tide. This little journey took us through a post-apocalyptic landscape or a “sunken” moonscape as we began to say. The ground was an interesting combination of volcanic rock and dead reef, equally hard, sharp, and unforgiving. Littered throughout the landscape were tiny sea urchins and hermit crabs that seemed to form bustling communities around a few select rocks. The walk guided up across two tiny sandbank islands, and past a few excited spear fishermen, and children jumping on the boulders.
A few hours later we found an area with large connected pools, deep enough to swim in with a series of caves to swim through and climb up. It took a bit longer than expected to find the pools, so it was amazing to cool down and explore for a while. The water wasn’t exactly a fishes paradise, but the rock formations were stunning as the terrain of our entire trip was like a single rock carved with passageways and deep pools from ocean tides and plenty of time.
We circled the last of the three islands, with huge caves and rich foliage surrounding the interior of the island, in search of the local fishing village. The locals happily greeted us curiously as we stopped for a few San Miguel’s and to negotiate a bangka ride back across the bay.
One of the day trips we ventured on while staying in Borongan involved hiring a fishing boat to take us out on the Suribao River to explore a quiet village and a seemingly untouched waterfall.
A 15-minute tricycle ride brought us to a small pier where we hired an older man to take us in his rickety little boat about an hour up the river. After passing fisherman in shallow, narrow wooden boats, kids swimming in the cool green water, and a few kilometers of endless towering cliffs covered in palm trees, we arrived in a little village where it quickly became clear that westerners don’t often visit. A short walk through the narrow paths and we were being followed by a gaggle of children, wide-eyed and shy but very curious. We stumbled upon a cock fight and watched the battle until the razor on the talon of the winning rooster carved open the loser. (It wasn’t quite as gruesome as I had imagined though, you can’t really see the cut through the feathers.) Finally we hopped back on the boat and said goodbye, waving back to our fan club of local kids. Next stop was a waterfall where we busted out some beers and snacks we brought along, sat in small cool pools of water formed by the rocks and enjoyed ourselves in the sun.
To hire the boat and captain for four hours cost about $12 split among four people. It’s little trips like this that make me think that the Philippines are in some way the last frontier of Southeast Asia. In Vietnam or Thailand for example, an excursion like this would be promoted, the price of the boat inflated, the children in the village might beg and the rural authenticity of the entire experience would be lost in the process.
Nine hours overland from Padre Burgos (3 hours of which were impossibly bumpy), we finally arrived in Borongan, a little visited town on the Pacific coast in Eastern Samar. We were welcomed to Pirate’s Cove Beach and Surf Resort by the owner, Pete, an American surfer who’s been there for over 20 years. Lonely Planet [...]