Biri Island is geographically located north of the island of Samar and belongs to the Balicuatro island group. It’s administratively under the the province of Northern Samar and is locally governed by its own self-named municipality. Biri Island is mainly famous for its very picturesque rock formations in its northeast coast facing the Pacific Ocean.
About 2 months prior to this trip, I absolutely had no knowledge of Biri Island. I was looking for new places to go to and I chanced upon a mention of this island in an online forum I frequented in. I did some research and I liked what I saw. I even got in touch with someone who can travel with me so I immediately filed the necessary leaves and purchased the plane tickets.
My intended travel buddy for this Biri adventure (Aisa Tigcal) would arrive only the day later so that means I had to find my way to the island alone. It’s a good thing that a lot of adventurers have already blogged about the place and their instructions were simple and uncomplicated. I particularly found Madz Crisostomo’s blog helpful and I basically patterned my own itinerary after the one she posted. (I will post a separate blog detailing my expenses and on how to get to Biri Island.)
Upon arriving at Biri, one would think that the island doesn’t look too impressive as its surroundings are just like most inhabited islands in the Philippines. Biri is in fact classified as a 5th class municipality and tourism, as an industry, isn’t developed yet. Roads are small and no vehicles are larger than a tricycle. Outside of the town, most roads are more like bike paths.
After being picked up from the port by my guide, Orlando, and upon checking in at my lodging house, we started the tour proper. A short 5-minute motorcycle (habal-habal) ride took us to the other side of the island where the rock formations are. The formations are actually around a kilometer away from the island’s coast and one has to wade through knee-deep to waist-deep water first in order to get to them.
This posed a challenge because I was a bit scared of and disgusted by mangroves. Luckily, what Biri had were sandy (rather than muddy) mangroves and they were relatively undersized. All I had to worry about was to adequately protect my camera and cellphone from being wet while walking towards our first destination – the Macadlao rock formation,
Think of the Biri Island rock formations as a defensive wall with 5 or 6 towers, protecting the island from the powerful waves of the Pacific. Of these five towers, the widest is the one at the middle and this one is called Macadlao.
Being at the middle, Macadlao allows one to view all of the other rock formations from a distance. The gradual slope going to the top is carpeted by short grass no doubt naturally maintained by a small herd of domesticated goats inhabiting it. I was told that one can just set up a tent here and camp overnight, if one is brave enough to sleep amidst the howling winds at night.
I discovered that I visited Macadlao at the best possible time of the day which was mid- to late afternoon. The rock formations were stunning and very picturesque and were lit well by the position of the sun. One would never run out of subjects on this particular location. According to Orlando, he knows of at least one photographer who made a mind-boggling 4,000 shots here.
I was so awed by this place that aside from taking pictures with my camera, I was also taking shots using my BlackBerry and uploading the pictures right away in Facebook. There’s no place like this anywhere else in the country, as far as I can tell.
Around 5pm the daylight was about to fade so we rushed back to the western part of the island to catch the sunset. To make a long story short, we missed it but it was no big deal. I had a productive first day anyway. We just passed by the market on the way back to the lodging house to buy food to cook for our dinner.
I had to retire early because i intended to catch the sunrise among the mangroves early the next morning. Hopefully, the skies would cooperate as it did today.
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This entry is part of the Biri Island series dated April 8-10, 2011: