Biri Island, Day 3

The elusive avian wildlife of Biri

For this last day in Biri Island, we planned to go to the two southernmost rock formations of Bil-at and Karanas.  Bil-at is primarily known for the natural saltwater pool that separates it from Karanas.  This saltwater pool is larger, deeper and supports more aquatic life than the one which separates Magasang and Magsapad.

But before anything, breakfast.  This consisted of 3-in-1 coffee, pan de coco and spanish bread, which we all purchased from the town’s bakery.  The walk to and from the bakery enabled us to observe the Birianon’s morning activities.  There were lots of dogs too.  Seemingly every family here has at least two dogs.

BIL-AT

Posing at the section of Bil-at facing the sea.

Before long, we set out for Bil-at.  The path we took going there was different because they were so far on the other end of the line of rock formations.  The water was a bit deeper in the morning high tide and the five of us – Orlando, Aisa, Julien and Marjorie – waded through waist-deep water to get to there.  To me, this was a bit unnerving because although the water was clear, we were stepping on sea grasses and occasionally rocky areas where anything can hide and snap at our ankles for invading their territory.  Luckily, nothing of the sort happened and we soon got to shallower parts of the mangrove.

Upon arriving at Bil-at, we found out that a group of tourists were already there ahead of us enjoying themselves by the saltwater pool.  We remember encountering this same group the day before in Magasang and one even helped us shoot pictures with our cameras.  Since they also spoke Waray like the Birianons, we surmised that they might have been students on vacation from the Northern Samar mainland.

Probably the most inappropriate surface to write “BHOY WAS HERE”, don’t you think?

My only problem with them was that they had a penchant for scratching the surface of the rock formations to write their names, which of course had an effect of vandalizing the naturally smooth sections of the rock formations.  It seems that a lot of people still have to be educated about the proper appreciation of natural treasures.

Ascending Bil-at. (L-R: Orlando, Aisa, Julien and Marjorie)

It was possible to climb to the top of Bil-at, and so after taking the customary photographs at the base of the formation, we then ascended.  A section at the top was coated with grasses and other plants, and judging from the reddish color of the soil, then the top layer of the formation must be iron-rich.  A short distance away, one could see Pohonan, and further away, Macadlao, with its distinctive 2 coconut trees.

Viewing the Pohonan rock formation from the top of Bil-at.

So while I was busy taking pictures of faraway subjects, Aisa was doing her jumpshots with Orlando’s help and the Belgian couple did their own shots.  Before long, it was time to descend and check out the other nearby formation which Karanas.

KARANAS

View of Karanas rock formation from the top of Bil-at.

We had to wade through waist-deep water to reach Karanas from Bil-at.  Despite it being just a very short distance away, it wasn’t an easy task to cross because the waves already reached this part (see picture above), and one had to make an effort to keep a stable footing.  So we had to waterproof our bags as a precaution.

house-sized boulders at Karanas

Karanas turned out to be a great area to take pictures. The rugged cliff walls were awe-inspiring and seemingly a different place pops into view at the slightest adjustment of the angle of the camera.  Like the other formations though, the these are actually fragile and can easily crumble under blunt force.  I hope subsequent travelers to Biri are reminded about this fact.

Julien and Marjorie doing a creative pose

DEPARTURE

Towards lunchtime, we made our way back to the island.  It was already low tide at that time so the water in the mangroves wasn’t as deep as when we arrived.  On our way back to our lodging house, we went to buy food for our final lunch on the island and to arrange our stuff for the trip back to the Samar mainland.  Orlando arranged for a boat to take us back to the Lavezares port, and from there, we’d be going back to Catarman.

The coastal town of Biri.

Biri was certainly everything that I expected and a few more that I didn’t expect.  On one hand, I was glad that I was able to see great sights that most people in this country have never even heard about, and actually taking photographs of them.  On the other hand, it was sad to see poverty in a place so beautiful.  It seems as if the people of this island were forgotten by the provincial government and left to fend for themselves.  Just outside of the town, I’ve seen children who were clothed in tatters – the kind that you would not even turn into a rag – and some were not clothed at all.

Not a tsunami or anything. Just waves on a typical day in Biri.

Since Northern Samar’s tourism brochures always prominently feature Biri Island’s rock formations, I hope the provincial government actually makes an effort to develop the island not only for tourism but also to uplift the lives of the ordinary Birianons.

= = = = = = = = = =

This entry is part of the Biri Island series dated April 8-10, 2011:

1. Biri Island, Day 1
2. Biri Island, Day 2
3. Biri Island, Day 3
4. Biri Island Travel Tips
5. Biri Island Sample Itinerary

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6 thoughts on “Biri Island, Day 3

  1. Hi there, thank you for visiting Northern Samar and for featuring the rock formations in Biri. I am from Northern Samar and I have been promoting Biri among fellow bloggers.

    • Thanks for dropping by. 🙂 I had a great time in Biri Island. I hope to explore more of the Northern Samar mainland in the future. I’ll surely visit your blog as well for tips.

  2. Hi!

    I’m from Northern Samar and currently taking up BS Mgt in UP. We are currently making a business plan for the development of biri Island. The Plan aims not just to develop the tourism industry but to create a community-based tourism that will somehow uplift the lives of the birianons and eventually the Norte Samarnons. With this, I just want to ask some questions:

    1.) As a photography enthusiast, Which of the rock formations do you find most picturesque?
    2.) Among the rock formations, in which spots/locations will you recommend to other photography enthusiasts ?
    3.) did you stay in one the resorts or home stay?
    4.) Do you want to avail a package tour to Biri?
    5.) What will you suggest for the improvement of Biri? 🙂

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ll try to answer your questions:

      1. Others may disagree, but for me, the most picturesque is the Macadlao rock formation.

      2. I’d recommend visiting Macadlao in the afternoon. That’s the best time to view the side facing the sea and the side facing the Magsapad rock formation because that’s where most of its irregular rock formations are located, and they play well with the light of the sun, especially during late afternoon. Also, the Karanas rock formation has some interesting rock formations.

      3. I stayed at Villa Amor resort.

      4. Yes. A package tour might help minimize costs.

      5. Please do consultations with the DOT before doing anything. Just this year a very ugly concrete bridge was built stretching from the island going to Magasang/Magsapad. I heard another bridge was built leading to Bil-at/Karanas. This destroyed the natural beauty of the surroundings of the rock formation! I wish the local government focused funds instead on improving the (DIRT) roads around the island for better inter-island commerce. DON’T BUILD ANYTHING ON THE ROCK FORMATIONS! And another thing, I noticed that the locals were fond of etching their names on the rock formations, and they also litter A LOT in the vicinity. This has to stop. People have to be educated.

      • Thank you so much 🙂 Yes, we are coordinating with DOT & the government of NS for the plan. They didn’t finish constructing the concrete bridge for the Magasang/Magsapad , they somehow realize the effect of it on the rock formations. However, i think the bridge going to Bel-at & karanas is very essential since it’s kinda dangerous to walk along the tall mangroves esp during high tide. We went there last month and saw that this bridge (going to bel-at) actually enhances the beauty of island for you can closely see the mountain at the back and the rock formations at front. 🙂 Also, Part of the plan is to also control the tourists coming due to the fragility of the rocks . Don’t worry, we won’t build anything on the rock formations. We are planning to create a community-based tourism which will basically involve the community and educate them on how to preserve these treasures.

        One last,

        Are you okay with homestay as part of the package? how long is the ideal duration for a photography enthusiast to completely capture the beauty of the rock formations?

        thanks! more power..

      • You’re welcome. I edited my original reply because there were some errors. As for the homestay question, that will appeal to most backpackers and it’s a very good idea if you can make it work. As for me, it depends on my mood, really. If I need to save cash, then I’ll definitely go homestay. But otherwise, I’d go for the comforts of a resort.

        Funny, if they’re trying to control the flow of tourists to the rock formations, then the mangroves are the perfect for the job, hahaha. But yeah, good point about the path to Bil-at/Karanas. The waters are much deeper.

        One suggestion: come up with a standardized spelling of the rock formations that everyone can follow. Take Bil-at for example, you call it “Bel-at” and I even saw a “Bel-ot” once. A standardized spelling can be of help in eliminating extraneous internet search results. I will personally edit all my Biri blogs if a new spelling convention is made by the DOT.

        Thanks! Hope everything works fine for you and your work!

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