Across the Country Van Adventure Part 3: Biri Island, Samar

Day 4

We planned on a sunrise excursion at Biri Rock Formations. Our habal-habal (motorbike) driver advised against it and we conceded. It saved us from an early morning thunderstorm. We were told the other group was not so lucky, they insisted on their schedule and was caught shivering in the storm, hugging their DSLRs, and praying their ziplock hold up.

After breakfast, our habal-habal driver brought us to the Tourism Office. We registered, paid the environment fees and hired a guide like good and responsible visitors should. It’s how tourists help provide livelihood to the locals, protect the environment (hopefully), and build better infrastructure in the area. Sounds preachy I know, but we need to give back and help when we can. 

The faces of our guide and drivers were eager with anticipation for our reaction when we saw the large signboard welcoming us to Bel-at, one of the rock formations. Bel-at (“vagina” in Visayan language, which we speak) is not really funny if you think about it but we were taken by surprise and laughter was the instantaneous reaction. We laughed childishly while the locals smiled knowingly.

The rock formations of Biri are unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t just stand there steady and unmoving. Its verdant flora sways with the breeze; its fauna glides and scampers; the Pacific Ocean, unforgiving on the rocks, endlessly hit and smash against the cliffs; waters flow river-like along ravines and crevices; natural pools sparkle, emptying and filling with the ebb and flow of the tides. With a wild landscape of windswept cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, massive boulders scattered across the coastline, and roaring tides constantly at war with the rocky shores, the entire place fascinates and awes. The rain added more drama to the already striking vista. We were awestruck, yes! But the terrain also tortured. We slipped, skidded, and slammed our rear ends and gears. I lost my beloved camera and punctured my foot but I’d willingly do it again (with more caution, for sure). No regrets, just gratitude.

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Day 5

We left Biri Island at 9am (the waves were unforgiving on our way to the mainland), reached Lavezares, Northern Samar at a little past 10am, ate lunch at the beachfront of Calbayog and was stranded at Tacloban after sunset. Joey’s axle bearing has had enough and wanted some TLC. We were not worried though, we have a brilliant young mechanic and a licensed mechanical engineer onboard. Without even trying, we found a hotel with a covered garage, a security guard, a lone staff, and a nearby machine shop. We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.

 

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