The other side of Camarines Norte

If there's one place I can confidently say my go-to province in the south nothing can take the spot of Camarines Norte. Let me tell you this, I've been to this province numerous times and as much as I can try I want to take aside the provinces that I already ticked off my list, I just can't do it to CamNorte. Also, my first blog was for Camarines Norte, this is the province that challenged me to start a blog and took me to where I am now, this province witnessed the ups and downs of my blogging career, and lastly my Camarines Norte's souvenirs are taking the lead amongst all I have collected from different provinces (me laughing). This recent event I attended marked my 5th visit to my so called go-to province of the south, this time I am proud to say that I was invited by the Provicial Tourism Office, after all these years writing and spreading the words of how diverse this province is, I was finally invited by there Local Government Unit of Camarines Norte Tourism Office and in coordination with , I was finally noticed and when I first heard the invite I never take a second thought, I gave it a go right away!

This wasn't a DIY trip (which I usually do) this time the Tourism Officers provided the itinerary that magnifies the other landmarks most travelers overlooked, believe me there's more to it than the prominent beaches we know. So, without further roundabouts, let me take you to the other side of Camarines Norte.

St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Vinzons, Camarines Norte

1. A 407 year old church and one of the Oldest Churches in Camarines Norte. The outside feature of the church reflects the rich heritage of the old times, the inside look on the other hand is very elegant and classic through its white stony theme. The facade and the interior are utterly gorgeous, I couldn't help to take photos of each and every corner of this church, from its window ledge to its stairs exudes immense venerability. The painting from both left and right walls also added a magnificent appeal to anyone who will visit this church. We took the chance to meet Rev. Fr. Augusto Jesus B. Angeles  III, who  discussed his fair share of knowledge to our group which we truly appreciate. One of his statements though that's deeply saddening was when he said "Sana makilala din ang Vinzons na hindi lang jump off point pa Calaguas Island" (Hopefully people take notice the other side of Vinzons not just a popular drop off point to Calaguas Island". I know he wasn't sourgraping of Calaguas' prominent status as the province's top destination, I know for a fact that father is indeed happy about it but I know what he's trying tell us, it really hit the guilt in me that I really never noticed the other side of the town before considering that I visited CamNorte numerous times prior to my recent visit. Now, I'm ready to make up for it! I will do my best to share what I witnessed on my recent jaunt, I got your back Vinzons! See the stunning photos of St. Peter the Apostle Parish below. 

The Ancestral House of Don Ramon Pajarillo

2 In a piece of distance from the church is the famous Ancestral house of Don Ramon Pajarillo. Approaching the old house and seeing the Christmas decorations dangling from afar  I thought it was a Santa Claus House or a House of Christmas themed recreational house but I was deceived, as I look at it closely it was certainly not. It is a century old house made of stone obviously from a very distant past, the Christmas decorations were over-powered as I walked inside the house, there's this aura that we know if the house is old, yeah? Just like other old houses in Cavite or Ilocos, this ancestral house falls in a resembling group of houses. The original materials are still intact and unbroken up to these days, it seemed I traveled back in the old days, I was wowed! 

Estela’s Garden

3. We had our St. Peter's Parish first on our to do list that day, we haven't had our breakfast yet, actually we had at the hotel but not enough to consider it a breakfast. Oblivious of skipping the breakfast and due to non stop photo sesh the tourism staff ceased the first stop and brought us somewhere to munch, maybe it was around 9am when all decided to drop what we do at St. Peter's Parish. Two minute drive from the church (we could actually just walk) we stopped at Estela's Garden, it's a typical local diner but not crowded, it's very homelike infact. I really thought we'll just had our light snacks but my eyes opened wide when they pulled off the covered food on the table, it was full meal including popular delicacies like Pandecillos and Suman. The viands? We had a lot on our table, we had Laing of course but what held my interest was the sinantolan. I like santol that's for sure, we have santol tree back in Antipolo and I always wait until late summer season for its fruit, but never had I Imagined Santol as a viand though it wasn't the first time I heard about it. I know Sinigang na Santol exist but personally haven't tried a dish out of it so I tried it here Camarines Norte! At first it's weird, Santol has its prominent flavor we can easily distinguish then you get to taste the coconut milk, the next thing I know I noticed myself going back for my third plate of Sinantolan. I don't know if there are other popular diners in Daet (for sure there are plenty) but I'm giving you my word folks, Estela's Garden is a perfect spot for gastronomes, it's a well known eatery in Daet, Camarines Norte and if you have a scheduled trip anytime in the future for CamNorte drop a pin to Estela's Garden. 

Our next stop is Capalonga, Camarines Norte

Capalonga is a 3rd class municipality of Camarines Norte that has a population of around 30,000 people as of 2015. You're maybe wondering where the name Capalonga come from? Its name was derived from a plant they call "Palong Manok" or in English Rooster's Comb, when the ancient locals travel or move to a different town and asked where they originally came from they say they were from "kapalungan". This Municipality lies in the coastal part of Camarines Norte famous for the Palong Festival (May 10-13) and the feast of Black Nazarene (May 13). See, Quiapo is not the only place that celebrates the day of Black Nazarene, we also have that in Capalongan, Camarines Norte.

Mommy Terry’s Bulalohan

4. Enough about its history, let's jump to the next stop. After we managed to full our tummies with the dishes of Estela's Garden to our surprise we were heading to another local eatery two hours away from Vinzons, this time it's on the neighboring Municipality. Before we set ourselves to Capalonga's must visit destinations they let us try their signature dishes first. We were at Mommy Terry's Bulalohan, nothing extra ordinary unlike what we had in Estela's Garden but don't get me wrong, when I say nothing extra ordinary this means no unfamiliar dishes were served. I love Mommy Terry's dishes, all the seafood dishes served were freshly caught. We had Tuna Bistek, Tuna Sinigang with shrimp, Okoy, Chopsuey, etc. In the middle of enjoying our lunch Mommy Terry arrived with the sweetest smile welcoming us, we simply felt at home. I would surely give this diner a two thumbs up!
Mommy Terry's Eatery situates along the mainroad of Capalonga, just ask the locals for its specific location.

Shrine of Jesus the Black Nazarene

5. Starting our tour at the municipality of Capalonga we first stopped at another popular town church, Shrine of Jesus the Black Nazarene. A typical municipal church rooted in Capalonga, it is said to be miraculous that's why they also celebrate it for the devotees of the Nazarene, held annually every 13th of May. 

Capalonga Baywalk

6. We were traveling one place to the other, I don't remember the proximity of the Black Nazarene Church to our next destination, if my memory serves me right it was just a quick drive, probably less than 10 minutes? We next visited Capalonga's Bay walk, the less crowded and cleaner version of Manila's Bay walk. Their Bay walk looks pretty nice, I can see myself sitting there in a gloomy afternoon mulling straight to the horizon, when I get bored I will grab my bike and go home.

Camagsaan Bridge

7. Stone’s throw from the Black Nazarene Church and the Bay Walk, we drove to see the next attraction of Capalonga. The Sabang Bridge- I had this question in mind when I first saw this bridge, how old was it? It isn't old actually, not like the 400 year old church from Vinzons. When I asked our guide I was surprised that it was just built in 2008 (not too old for me) but oddly it looks wore off which is more appealing to me. This is the my most favorite landmark in Capalonga, I just enjoyed looking at the children of Sabang living their lives. I grew up and raised in Antipolo, in an urban setting (far from the coast) and no way I could have had this source of enjoyment, I'm just very happy for these kids, they surely are spending their childhood the way I wanted to spend mine.

Sabang Beach

8.The Sabang Bridge is not the main showpiece, it is just a passage to the next place we were heading to. Apparently, there are two adjacent attractions in this Barangay, the Sabang Bridge and the Sabang Beach. The beach is a coastal village beach stretches approximately half kilometer, the sand is brown colored and powdery. Surprisingly, it was not too crowded even that it lies near the residential part of the barangay, I'm thinking the people are so used to having the beach anytime of the day so it doesn't astound them anymore, as a visitor, I find it very laid back. I enjoyed sniffing the fresh air by the beach while seeing my fellow bloggers taking selfies and photos of this unspoiled Sabang Beach of Capalonga.

Calaguas Island

9. The next day, there was unexpected twist on our itinerary that we ended changing the entire plan and settle to one destination that will cover our entire day, we then headed to Calaguas Island. It was mixed emotions, I didn't know if I will be delighted or saddened by this unforeseen tweak on the itinerary. Calaguas is undoubtedly my favorite Island that I have been there thrice in the span of 4 years, I was thinking should I just copy my last article? (Coz I already have 4) I thought we will be showcasing the other side of the province? These thoughts kept boggling me all throughout the two hour journey. As we come closer to the island paradise, approaching the monochrome blue waters of Calaguas, I felt the familiar tingling amazement as if I just discovered a new traveler's abode, I said to myself "Nah, this is just my first time here". I was the first one who stepped out of the boat and I guess I'm the one who had the most number of shots (I just lost my gopro shots, too bad). When we got to the island instead of having my lunch first I started taking photos, I went to Waling Waling Resort and even spent more than an hour there. Saddened with the sudden tweak of itinerary, look who's talking? This Island is my go-to island and will never get sick of going here. 

Jannah’s Pasalubong

10Sealing this pleasure trip with mouthful activity, of course it won't be complete without the Pasalubong! we had a quick stop at this popular souvenir shop in Vinzons, Jannah's Pasalubong. The products were mostly delicacies and other local stuff you would hardly find in the Metro, like the Pili Roll and Pandecillos. I bought all almost all the delicacies I haven't tried, yum!

There you have it! That was my awesomest weekend getaway packed with trivialized yet beautiful places of Camarines Norte. I want to thank all the people behind this group, to the Tourism Officers who never failed to surprise us in each and every destination we visited. In this trip I gained another experience worth keeping, I met new friends and heard myriad of inspiring stories from my brothers and sisters (my fellow bloggers). I discovered the flip side of Camarines Norte and I couldn't be more proud, when other travelers ask me what else to do it Camarines Norte for sure I'll never be short with knowledge to share, before I bid this story to end I will leave you with these words... Camarines Norte, it's worth visiting.


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