The Farthest Ends of the Philippines


        The Philippines, a large archipelago of 7,641 islands, is endowed with many natural wonders and surprises. These multitudes of gifts from Mother Nature, however, seem to be found on the islands’ farthest ends.

         Would you like to know what can be seen in these far-and-beyond places? Well, you will satisfy your curiosity as you come with me in this virtual tour that unravels the very beautiful and exotic places located on the remotest points of the Philippines...


Batanes

Photo Credit: Eva Marie Gutierrez Cantero.

Batanes is the northernmost province in the country, and also the smallest, both in population and land area. Very distant, the island group is located approximately 162 kilometres (101 mi) north of the Luzon mainland. The entire province is listed in the UNESCO tentative list for inscription in the World Heritage List.

This headdress is known as the "vakul."
Photo credit: Ferdz Decena; grabbed from dashphilippines.com

             Batanes is home to extreme weather conditions. Strong winds from the Pacific Ocean visit the idyllic province frequently as no mountains stand between it and the vast ocean. To protect themselves, the Ivatans or the natives of the isles use "vakul," a headgear that safeguards them from the heat, rains and strong winds.

Stone-houses in Sabtang Island, Batanes. Photo Credit: Dr. Daisy Joy Espejo-Torina; grabbed from tawidnewsmag.com.

          The strong winds from the vast ocean impelled the Ivatans to ingeniously craft their own style of architecture. Their stone-houses look peculiar only to them.


Pagudpud
Northernmost tip of Ilocos Norte

Dos Hermanos Islands in Pagudpud. Photo grabbed from hannahsbeachresort.com.

           Pagudpud is widely known for its stunning beaches and resorts but unbeknownst to its many tourists is that they are actually relaxing at the northernmost edge of Luzon Island.


Location of Pagudpud

                Despite its location in Ilocos Norte, Pagudpud is still an hour and a half or 77 kilometers away from Laoag City.


Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud. Photo taken from trover.com.

                But the distance and travel hours reward the patient with stunning beaches and resorts awaiting them.


Patapat Viaduct, a structure that connects Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan.
Photo Credit: Merl Fernandez.

              Pagudpud shares a border with Sta. Praxedes of Cagayan Province. These municipalities are connected by the Patapat Viaduct, a beautiful structure that shows glimpses of the equally beautiful seas and coastlines.


Sta. Praxedes
Northwesternmost end of Cagayan




                Probably the municipality with the most peculiar-sounding name in the Philippines, Sta. Praxedes is located on the northwesternmost end of the huge province of Cagayan. It is one of the coastal towns of Cagayan that do not have direct road access to its seacoast due to the high mountains surrounding it.

               This small town is very little known to the rest of the world but a few short glimpses on a youtube video show that its rocky coastlines could potentially lure tourists from afar...


Locals gathering seaweeds at Sta. Praxedes' rocky coast.


San Andres
Southernmost end of Quezon Province



             Quezon is one of the longest provinces in the entire country. Stretching from General Nakar near Aurora Province in Region III all the way to Tagkawayan near Camarines Sur in Region V, the province also encompasses Bondoc Peninsula, an elongated strip of land extending the already long province. 

             At the very end of Bondoc Peninsula is San Andres, a small town of only 7 barangays located 128 kilometers southeast of Lucena City. San Andres is the jump-off point to the beautiful Alibijaban Island.


Alibijaban Island. Photo taken from banebanerbanest.wordpress.com.

                    Alibijaban is a small island known for the mangrove trees that sprawl the cerulean waters embracing its beautiful coastlines.
  


                  Going further south, you will enter the territory of San Pascual, a municipality in  the extreme northern part of Masbate where you will see more splendid islands...



                  Sombrero Island, one of the more noteworthy ones, has the look of a submerged hat floating in the ocean...

Sombrero Island. Photo Credit: Herald Presado through Pinterest.

                If a fancy hat doesn't hold your interest, perhaps torn pages of a book will do. In Animasola Island, this is exactly what you will see. Animasola is the Latin term for "lonely soul." Locals say that people visit the place to reset from the hustle and bustle of everyday living. It is a place for profound reflections and deep thoughts...


Animasola Island. Photo Credit: Yua Dominguez through ChoosePhilippines.com

                     A look back on one's life can be had while swimming the pristine waters of Animasola. The virgin island has the sanctity that refreshes and nourishes the troubled soul.


Aquamarine hues of the sea and the sky from Animasola Island
Photo Credit: Eric Banes through banebanerbanest.wordpress.com


Caramoan
Easternmost tip of Camarines Sur


              If you wonder why Caramoan seems very far, you'd not be surprised to know that it is on the easternmost tip of the province of Camarines Sur. All the six hours of travel from Naga City is basically explained by its remote location.

Cagbalinad, just one of the beautiful islands in Caramoan.
Photo Credit: FatGirls Day Out.

             Caramoan has been dubbed as the Emerging Paradise of the Pacific due to its white and pink sand beaches known internationally. It has also been the location of several seasons of the famed reality show, Survivor...


Perfect Location for Survivor, Hunongan Cove in Caramoan. Photo from journeyera.com



Pandan
Northernmost tip of Catanduanes


                Catanduanes used to be known as "The Land of the Howling Winds" because it is often battered by strong typhoonsIt is now nicknamed as "The Happy Island" due to the many scenic destinations dotting the distant isle.

                The province is found on one of the remotest parts of the Philippines, directly abutting the vast Pacific Ocean. It is accessible through its southern ports of San Andres and Virac via the Tabaco Port in Albay province so its northern parts should be exceptionally remote...


Cagnipa Rolling Hills in Pandan, Catanduanes.
Photo Credit: Christa I. de la Cruz through spot.ph

                In the northernmost end of the island lies the humble municipality of Pandan, 90 kilometers away from the capital Virac. One of the nicest destinations in this part of the world is Tuwad-tuwadan Blue Lagoon.


Tuwad-tuwadan Blue Lagoon in Pandan, Catanduanes.
Photo Credit: Wander Twins FB Page.

          Tuwad-Tuwadan Blue Lagoon is a scenic spot to swim as it is a natural pool surrounded by dramatic cliffs. Small fishes washed by the seas are trapped inside, offering some sort of dead-skin cleansing spa...


Matnog, Sorsogon
Southeasternmost tip of Luzon Island


               Traversing the endless and circuitous roads of Luzon going south will lead you to Matnog, Sorsogon, the big island's southernmost tip.




            While it is the long island's end, it might just be the beginning of the pinnacle of your journey. Off the coast of Matnog are beautiful islands for all your senses to indulge into...


Subic Beach. Photo taken from ShoeStringTravelers.com
            
          Subic Beach in Calintaan Island is blessed with fine pinkish-white sands and cool and refreshing waters that will relax and rejuvenate your entire body. A dip in the cold but refreshing waters will be a moment to remember for the rest of your life...


Amazing scenery leading to Juag Lagoon. Photo taken from ShoeStringTravelers.com

               Another attraction in Matnog is the Juag Lagoon where you can swim amongst schools of fish. Caveat, however, the way leading to Juag Lagoon is just as rewarding... Scenic seascapes blending the different hues of blue, green and white will delight your eyes...

Swimming with the fishes at Juag Lagoon. Photo taken from ShoeStringTravelers.com


Esperanza
Southernmost tip of Masbate

Manoc-Manoc Island in Esperanza, Masbate. Photo Credit: vivomigsgee.com.

           Esperanza, the last municipality of Masbate, has a lovely story to tell. In 1915, a group of families sailed from northern Cebu using their paddled banca and settled in southern Masbate. 




         The settlers actively cultivated the area into a productive agricultural community, developing the place until eventually called “Halabangbaybay”. Halabangbaybay means “Long Beach” due to its elongated shoreline and white fine sand.


Tranquil but unknown --- just one of the several beaches in Esperanza.
Photo Credit: Philip Lee through Flickr.

        Soon after, Halabangbaybay was converted into a barrio named “Esperanza” as a barangay of Placer in 1948. Esperanza eventually became a separate municipality while retaining its lovely name. The choice of the then Cebuanos (who have turned into Bicolanos) was not taken out of whim. They had a rather meaningful reason for the name...


Aerial view of Manoc Manoc Island.
Photo Credit: Kaloy Naingue through Why Masbate? FB Page

           Esperanza means "Hope." With such meaning, it perfectly captures the essence of the place as it has reference to the first group of migrants in 1915 who had hoped for a better life by settling on the present day area of the small town.

        While still part of Luzon group of islands, the municipality is already facing four provinces in the Visayas --- Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Biliran. Manoc Manoc Island, which is still part of this small town, is in territorial dispute with Daanbantayan town in Cebu.



          Sharing the same border with Esperanza is Pio V Corpuz, which is also a small municipality of scenic islands and beaches...


Avila's Island in Pio V Corpuz, Masbate.
Photo Credit: Philip Lee through Flickr.


Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Southeasternmost tip of Samar Island

Ferdinand Magellan. Photo taken from https://cropper.watch.aetnd.com/ 

The next destination has something to do with World History. In the 16th century, when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, it is believed that he first landed on the island of Homonhon, which lies within the municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar


Homonhon Island. Photo Credit: Daniel Maches through https://danielsecotravels.com/

Homonhon Island is not only a historical landmark but is also an ecological paradise with white sand beaches extending for miles (exact words by Daniel Maches).



Meanwhile, the municipality of Guiuan is 109 kilometres (68 mi) south of Borongan and 154 kilometres (96 mi) from Tacloban. It is situated at the tip of a very narrow peninsula extending the Island of Samar. 

The Guiuan Church by Alren Beronio through https://tribune.net.ph/

The town's church, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the oldest in the country and is classified as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. 


A white sand beach resort in Guiuan. Photo Credit: Angel Juarez through www.lakwatsero.com

Aside from the rich historical background, Guiuan has many scenic spots. Being a coastal town on the Pacific side, the town has many white-sand beaches that are suitable for swimming and surfing.

         But the beaches are not all that makes Guiuan a paradise. Linao Cave, a mystical cave with a crystal clear pool inside, is another attraction of this remote municipality...


Linao Cave. Photo Credit: Mary Liza Caindoy through steemit.com.




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The Pacific side of the archipelago has many distinct places for one's exploration and discovery. The Western side, on the other hand, also has a lot of significant places to match the grandeur of the East. Continue reading, or scrolling, as I now take you to the equally wonderful Western frontiers...



El Nido
Northernmost tip of Palawan Island




     Located on the northernmost end of mainland Palawan, El Nido is bequeathed with stunning limestone cliffs dotting its beaches and islands. It is among the best destinations on earth as it ranks fourth in Conde Nast Traveler's list of "20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World." 


Matinloc Island in El Nido, Palawan. Photo Mine.

    CNNGo has called it the Best Beach and Island destination in the Philippines for its "extraordinary natural splendor and ecosystem."

         A lot about El Nido has already been covered by another article of this blog, which you can read here.



Bataraza
Southwesternmost tip of Palawan Island




         From the extreme north of Palawan, we will skip the middle parts and head straight to the southern end as we take a stop at Bataraza.            

          Bataraza was named after Datu Bataraza Narrazid, a locally influential Muslim chieftain and father of the town's first mayor and former mayor of Brooke's Point, then Datu Sapiodin Narrazid.

     Bataraza is located on the southwesternmost tip of Palawan Island, approximately 225 kilometres (140 mi) from Puerto Princesa City and about five to six hours by land. 

           Rio Tuba in this town is the gateway to Balabac Islands, approximately four hours away. Situated in the rich waters of Sulu Sea, Balabac is a group of 31 islands and islets blessed with unspoiled fine sandy beaches, endemic flora and fauna and rich marine life. It is the last of the last frontiers... [latwatsero.com]

       Balabac is so far south that Sabah in East Malaysia, Borneo Island is nearer to Balabac than Puerto Princesa. [detourista.com]




            The small cluster of islands is one of the most diverse and dense bio-diversities in the world. It is home to the endemic mouse deer known locally as pilandok, countless species of endemic and migratory birds, rare plants and insects, 27 true and 34 associated species of mangrove, giant Sulu Sea Pearls and variety of marine species such as sharks, dolphins, tuna, whales, rays, sea turtles and a whole lot more! [lakwatsero.com]



Zamboanga City
Southwesternmost tip of Mindanao Island

The Zamboanga City Hall. Photo by Jeyp through Flickr.

           Asia’s Latin City, one of the most urbanized places in the Philippines, lies at the southwesternmost tip of the island of Mindanao.

          Zamboanga's relative location, being so far from Manila but so near Malaysia and Indonesia, gives it a rather foreign vibe. Yet, its location is not all that makes it different. Locals of this quaint city speak a language that appears to be a broken version of Spanish. Bits and pieces of the said Romantic language have become integral parts of the Chavacano language. 

The colorful vintas. Photo by Ellie Balangue through chasingculprit.blogspot.com

            Zamboanga is also known for their colorful Vintas, traditional boats created by the Bajaus and Moros of Sulu and Zamboanga. They were used since ancient times to transport people and goods to and from different islands.

            According to some books, the Bajaus and people from Tawi-Tawi and Basilan used these boats as their homes and would seldom go to land except to bury their dead. [Ellie Balangue through chasingculprit.blogspot.com]





Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi

       We've traveled great distances from island to island, sojourning the farthest points from north to south, east to west... but none of the above is ever as far as Turtle Islands!



       Turtle Islands are a group of 10 islands shared by Tawi-Tawi and Sandakan. Seven islands are within the Philippine territory, while the other three are in Malaysia - all adjacent to the international treaty that separates the two countries. [frenzfries.blogspot.com]




          Access to the Turtle Islands is difficult, as there are no regular means of transportation to the area. This has kept the islands protected from turtle egg poachers. A station for park rangers is also present on the islands. [Wikipedia]




          The islands are so far that they are approximately 14 hours away from Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi, and visitors have to travel great distances through the vastness of Sulu Sea.




        Turtles are practically everywhere in this cluster of islands. Because this small archipelago is the only major nesting habitat of green sea turtles and the 11th major nesting site in the world, they were declared in 1996 as Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area by the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia.




            They were proclaimed in 1999 as Wildlife Sanctuary and identified as “extremely high for biodiversity conservation”, under Philippine Proclamation No. 171. 

            The sea turtles are “keystone species” that play an important role in marine ecosystem as they maintain healthy coral reefs and sea grass that serve as breeding grounds for fishes and small crustaceans. 

            They abound in the beautiful, almost deserted marine sanctuary of Baguan Island. [frenzfries.blogspot.com]



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          That, unfortunately, ends our colourful odyssey... but I hope that this has opened our eyes to the different exotic places found in the remotest points of the country... 

          Writing these down here, as well as researching on these different places, took ages but everything was worth all the while as I myself learned that there are still a lot of natural bounty to be explored in our beautiful nation. 

            Having done this research leisurely, I can truly say, in my most earnest and honest opinion, that the Philippines indeed deserves the moniker Pearl of the Orient Seas...

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