Bicol,

Beyond the Seven Islands of Mercedes

2:09:00 AM Christian Aligo 0 Comments


Hopping the mythical seven islands, also known as "Siyete Pecados", in the town of Mercedes is a cool idea after feasting your eyes on the white sand of Calaguas Group of Islands in the nearby town of Vinzons.


Historically speaking Mercedes was originally part of Daet, which is the capital of Camarines Norte, but it separated as another town. Its name is based on Dona Mercedes who spent her years in poor communities.

While waiting for the final signal that we could start our island hopping adventure, we met a beautiful Japanese lady who is a volunteer in the town. She helps the local tourism authority manage and guards its natural resources.

Local Color: Fishermen At the Mercedes Port

Huge containers of fish carried by locals are piled inside the station ready for the day's commercial operation. Middlemen approach the farmers and seal agreement while unloading the fishes to the ground to show the exact content of the container.

The locals speak both Tagalog and Bicolano. Different colors of fish were before my eyes and I could hear the locals give the name of the fish but none registered in my mind.

I saw a strange animal and confirmed it was whale—that’s on top of the whale meat dish I ate that morning in one of the karinderias near the port.










It was raining in the early hours of that day and were aware that the islands may not look their best. 

After waiting for our food to be cooked and a confirmation from the Coast Guard that we can go island hopping, we jumped into the boat and sailed to the rough seas.

CAPTURED FOOTPRINT: For island hopping packages, reservations should be made three days before the set schedule. This helps in coordinating with different authorities to secure tourists. During stormy days, the itinerary and route may be changed depending on the situation of the sea.

Rain Vs. Apuao Pequena & Canimog Islands

From the port, it will take 35 minutes to Aqua Pequena which is known as diving site. It was raining so I spent the entire trip covering my face from the seawater splash and the dripping rain.

We passed by Canimog Island which has a lighthouse on top. Trekking to see the lighthouse may not be a good idea on a stormy day so we decided to move on to the next island.

At Apua Pequena, a couple was busy doing their pre-nuptial photoshoot in the 80-hectare island’s perfect spots. We wondered around the island while beating the coldness of the day while I was busy wondering why the weather was not that kind to us.

What is special about this island? Pine trees grow as if it was in Baguio City.

Entrance  Fee
Day Tour: P55 
Overnight Stay: P100 

CAPTURED FOOTPRINT: The owner of the island wants to preserve the island first before opening it to the mass. 

Lunch at Apuao Grande Island

Once upon a time Apuao Pequena and Apuao Grande islands were separated by water so one has to use the boat to the cross the two islands. However one day, a sandbar started to surface from the sea connecting the two.

We walked along the sandbar to get to the  Apuao Grande Island. The island has young pine trees planted meters away from each other.

From where we were swimming, we could see the other islands covered in fog. We ate lunch inside a hut and explored the island’s surroundings before getting back to the boat for home as we cannot pursue the other islands due the weather condition.




















Tinapa Pasalubong from ZDP Smoked Fish House

Tinapa is preserved fish through smoking. Most Filipino families eat tinapa in the morning alongside egg or hotdog.

In ZDP Smoked Fish House, pails of fish are transported from the port for processing. Galungngung, a variety of fish, is what was being processed when we entered the smoking house.

The fishes are carefully laid on a circular basket. The basket is placed on top lid of the smoking fireplace-- the smoke from burning wood chunks and dust are funneled to the basket that contains the fishes. In two to three hours, the fish are dried and preserved ready for someone's table the next meal.











Heavy Snack at Mamita's

The owner of Mamita's was once the Municipal Officer of Mercedes but now a councilor. To welcome us to her town, she fixed us some heavy snack.

Inside Mamita's, photos of what to visit in Mercedes highlighting the seven islands decorate the walls. While staring at the photos, I was also thinking of my schedule so I could get back to Mercedes as soon as a week-long leave in 2018 is possible.







The Seven Islands
1. Caringo Island
2. Canton Island
3. Apuao Grande Island- DONE!
4. Apuao Pequena Island- DONE!
5. Canimog Island- DONE!
6. Quinapaguian Island
7. Malasugui Island 

Where to Stay in Mercedes

Refer to this list from the Municipal Tourism Office: 

Villa Criseldas Hotel, Resto Bar and Resort
Ms. Gliezel Napili
Brgy. 1, Mercedes, Camarines Norte
+63 915 868 4692
GLIEZEL_42@yahoo.com

Palms Farm Resort
Irene A. Verboom
Brgy. Cayucyucan, Mercedes, Camarines Norte
+63 927 587 1001 +63 917 500 6639 +63 49 545 1683
mariquit915@yahoo.com


Khrystal Beach Resort
Brgy. Cayucyucan, Mercedes, Camarines Norte
+63 919 462 7383
Irene_alejandro09@yahoo.com

San Miguel Bay Resort
Brgy. Matoogtoog, Mercedes, Camarines Norte
+63 939 442 8064 +63 907 958 0549
sanmiguelbayresort@gmail.com
Apuao Grande Island, Mercedes, Camarines Norte
+63 927 428 3211

How to Get to Mercedes

By Land (Philtranco, DLTB and Superlines) 
8-10 hours- Bus from Cubao/Pasay, Mero Manila  to Daet, Camarines Norte
15 mins- Jeep/ Trike from Daet, Camarines Norte to Merdeces

By Air (Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines)
45 minutes- Plane from NAIA, Pasay to Pili Airport, Camarines Sur
15 minutes- Bus from Pili Airport, Camarines Sur to Naga City, Camarines Sur
2 hours- Jeep from Naga City, Camarines Sur to Daet, Camarines Norte
15 minutes-  Trike from Daet, Camarines Norte to Mercedes Camarines Norte

WHO TO CONTACT

Ms. Nanette Ibasco
Municipal Tourism Officer 
+63 54 444-1261 
+63 54 444-1151

+63 54 444-1261

For more information about Mercedes, follow me on INSTAGRAM

CAPTURING FOOTPRINT SPECIAL NOTE: This article is published through the efforts of the Camarines Norte Provincial Tourism Office headed by Mr. Bong Palma in cooperation with the Municipal Tourism Offices, Katooga PH, and private individuals sharing the same advocacy of boosting the tourism industry of each town in the Bicol province.

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