February 5, 2012
Biri Island, Northern Samar
The wind was furiously pounding outside, the rain was threatening in the northernmost direction and the sky was achingly gloomy and overcasted. This was the kind of weather we woke up to on that Sunday morning in Catarman. And there's only one to blame: the fickle northwest monsoon.
I was with Cha, Ciel and Janet for our second day of exloring Leyte and Samar. This day was the one that we've all been waiting for -- our Biri excursion! So despite the weather being totally uncooperative, we decided to proceed as planned.
Aboard a passenger jeepney bound for Lavezares, we left Cataman Terminal at around 6 a.m. The weather was beginning to improve as we were trailing the coastal areas of Northern Samar. I can already see the sun peeking through in some sheets of clouds, showing signs of a better day ahead of us.
But just when I thought that the weather was already on our side, it began to drizzle as soon as we reached the small town of Lavezares. As always, we headed straight to the town church. And after saying a quick prayer, we went out and walked to the jetty port, adjacent the public market, where boats bound for Biri are docked.
The weather was already becoming an issue for us. We were almost close to ditching the whole plan, just to be on the safer side. Even from afar, we could see the massive waves raging right to the direction of Biri.
But of course our adventurous spirits won't be cowed. Go as planned, we told ourselves.
A man offered boat rental for P800/roundrtip. But when we learned that his boat is small and that he does not provide life jackets, we backed off. Later on we learned that none of the boats there are actually offering life jackets to passengers while navigating the treacherous waters of San Bernadino Strait. I now plead to local authorities there to please compel boat operators to start investing in life jackets!
We decided to join a group of tourists also waiting for the bigger boat to arrive. After nearly two hours, the "bigger" banca finally arrived. Honestly, it was just slightly bigger than the first boat offered to us. Left with no other option, we hoped in. Finally, aboard a boat with about 20 people inside, with no life jacket and while crossing one of the most dangerous waters in the country, I gathered my strength to stay calm and say my prayers in silence.
Biri Island is located at the northernmost tip of the province of Northern Samar. It is part of the Balicuatro Island, a cluster of about 18 islands off the northern end of Samar. It is located right in the San Bernardo Strait, the strait that divides the main island of Luzon to the island of Samar and is said to be responsible for moving nearly 70% of the water that flows in and our of the Visayas. Rough tidal current are to be expected.
It is said that the name Biri is derived from the Spanish word “barrer” meaning “to sweep” based on the practice of the Spanish galleon captains who upon sighting San Bernardino Isles and Biri or Tingiao, would immediately order their crew to sweep and clean the docks preparatory to berthing at nearby Capul Island.
After one hour of helluva boatride, we finally reached Biri. And what a pleasant suprise greeted us, the sun was smiling and beating down on the island, as if playing jokes on us.
We opted to have lunch first before going to the rock formation. Since it was a Sunday, we ate at the only carenderia open that day. It is located near Biri church and the town jetty port.
Then, we rented a habal habal that drove us to our destination. After about 10-minute ride, we reached the famous Magasang Rock. I was left with awe when I saw the incredible rock formations that were carved by nature, thanks to the ferocious waves of the Pacific Ocean. Just imagine how many million years it took for it to be formed?!
The sight was plain awesome and spectacular!
After two and a half hours of photo ops, jump shots, braving the waves, exploring and taking in the beauty around us, we called it a day. We left Biri Island at around 2 p.m. and after voyaging through much calmer waves, we reached Lavezares in no time.
As early as now, I'm already stamping this place as an unforgetable and definitely an amazing destination. Indeed, Biri Beautiful!
50- Catarman to Lavezares (jeep)
50- Lavezares to Bir(boat)
60- Lunch at Biri
80- Biri Town to Magasang Rock (habal habal)
150-Biri to Lavezares (boat rental- P600/4= P150 )
50- Lavezares to Catarman