Saturday, October 1, 2016

When in Coron: Day One

Coron: A town nestled in the gentle arms of the deep blues and greens south of the islands of Luzon and Mindoro. The town compromises half of Busuanga Island, Coron Island (which will be discussed further on in the next posts), and other islets that form part of the Calamianes, which was once a province of its own during the Spanish rule. The island group boasts of clear waters, a rich history, and an abundance of food. 

Overall this... is overwhelming for a first time traveler to Coron. Like me. But you need not fret! This blog will give you what you need when in Coron.

Ride an airplane from Manila to Busuanga? Done. It was actually my first time to fly anywhere. I was as giddy as a kid, far too excited to see the world from high up. I excitedly pointed out islands to my dear companion and girlfriend, Celine Harz, as we passed them by: the tadpole island of Corregidor and the massive island of Mindoro, and the many other islands that lie isolated from the reaches of the other islands. It was marvelous. And oh, by the way, before I go on recounting my trip there are some things you must consider when flying to Coron:

One must take note that the Busuanga airport is fairly warm since it lacks air conditioning. Yes. You won't need that jacket that much, dear. I personally suggest that you wear and bring clothes that are comfortable. Jeans? Not much of a necessity. Proper shoes? Yes. If you plan on hiking and cycling as what we did (and will tell you about soon). You should also consider bringing sunscreen and mosquito repellent, since some areas have a lot of mosquitoes. Consider bringing an umbrella during rainy months. Snorkeling gear and underwater cams are a must but if you don't have any you can rent them in Coron. Snacks at the airport could be kinda expensive. If you can resist it, don't eat there just yet. The trip to Coron only takes a measly 30-45 minutes, depending on cow and goat traffic. Beyond and above all this, if your hotel of choice offers van services from the Town of Busuanga to your hotel, grab it. It only costs 150.00 Pesos per person. You'll need it.  

No. Do not book your tours while in Manila. I swear, this will be the most important tip that I could give you for now. Follow me and my blog and you won't be spending too much on this trip. Be saved from the likes of spending on unnecessary tours and going to overpriced meal stops. 

The Massive Cross of Coron -- may you be saved from expensive stuff in this town

Upon landing at the Francisco B. Reyes Airport at roughly after lunch. We immediately looked for our van services. I asked the van operator if they were going to wait for the van to be filled and they said no. We were, in fact, the only two passengers for the trip. The van even had a television screen that gave an orientation about Coron: A bit of history about the Calamian Island Group, and some destination suggestions. I mostly slept through most of it.

PRO TIP #1: GIVE YOURSELF A CORON TOWN TOUR

If you arrived there a bit early, go ahead and do the full itinerary. Especially if you are staying for only a few days. From the hotel (the one we stayed in was the Coron Eco-Lodge) we could walk towards the Municipal Hall (right side) or the Wet Market, Lualhati Park, and the not-functioning Tourism Center (left side).  A walk around town is good since you get to check out the tours that they are offering and choose the best that meets your needs. The cheapest ones could come for as low as 650.00 per person and that's for a day tour, with buffet! Walk along San Agustin Street, there's a tarp that says that they offer that tour. The whole stretches of San Agustin Street, Real St., Don Pedro Street, and Coron-Busuanga road has a lot of tour operators. Choose wisely, but then again, all of them offer almost the same kinds of tours for the same amounts. 

One of the places where one could admire the beautiful view
Just before sunset, do climb up MT. TAPYAS which has a viewing deck where one could have a marvelous view of the entire town of Coron. You won't miss this mountain. It's visible wherever you go and will possibly be a good point of reference if you ever do get lost in Coron. It is very walkable. You don't need a tricycle going to where the steps start and you will be rewarded with an incredible view once you get to the top of 700+ steps of Tapyas. BRING WATER unless you seriously want to get thirsty, like we did. Multiple times. There are no stores going up Mt. Tapyas, not anymore. What was once a park with stores, the stall and its grotto is now full of graffiti, quite a pitiful sight that could have been a major source of income for the locality. Also, if you linger a little bit longer you will find fireflies on your way down. Surprisingly, there aren't that much people that climb up Mt. Tapyas. 

One could also follow the trail from the cross to some band stand like structure. This is a much better option when there are far too many people at the main viewing deck. Also, one may witness an odd display of biceps and abs from people taking topless pictures at the viewing deck. Do not be alarmed! These are gentle creatures who simply admire their body. Observe these creatures from afar. 

FUN FACT: The mountain/hill is called Tapyas because it looks like part of it has been cut off. This is more visible when one views the mountain from the sea. According to some locals, the hill once had a bigger cross which was then struck down by either lighting or the strong winds. 


Look at all those expensive places.
One could also consider going to LUALHATI PARK, which is quite near the tourism center (which does not ever function. Don't dare entering. Smells a bit like comfort rooms that are uncomfortable) -- or not. You're most likely going to pass by this seaside plaza when you go to your destinations later on anyhows since it is near the boat stations. We went back anyhows, since I wanted to see how the viewed looked from there at night. There are cheap restaurants near the Coron Central Plaza, along with more tour operators. But... you also have the option of going to STEVE'S, a restaurant that was quite near the park. It has good food (we ordered sisig and kamote fries), good service (hell, the waiter could chat with us! One of them was from Manila and he decided to work here), and WiFI for all you people who need to post where you are right now. 

FUN FACT: Lualhati Park is reclaimed land, just like Pasay. It was named and built in memory of the mayor's mother (just like in most government structures in the Philippines) 

View from Lualhati Park. Listen to the sound of the waves... and the distant sound of budots (local party music)


If you are on a tight budget, there are silog meals in Don Pedro Street. Or if you are on a tight-er budget there are some streets that have INIHAW, basically, grilled food. The one in Burgos cor. Don Pedro Street has good grilled food. Typical fare for the locals. Don't worry if the food isn't that "unique" for you since the restaurants there mostly offer the same stuff that you would find in Manila, except for the Crocodile Sisig. Yum!

- end of Part One -

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