1. Atop Magasang Rock, overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific

Ocean. Old-timers here say that the more you concentrate on the waves, the

bigger they become and the louder they crash

2. Travelers with their guides eat their packed lunch under the overhang

of a rock formation. Locals even bring grills and barbeque on the rocks.

Makes you wonder how they bring everything up…and down the rocks,

especially with the tide fast approaching

3. The horizontal lines are geological strata marking the different kinds of

rock and stone embedded into the rock face and the amount of pressure

brought to bear on the formation. Artistically, I like the horizontal lines

which accent rock formations and sort of mimic the flow of the saltwater

pools below

4. The pathway to the rocks can be slippery but it’s worth it to see the

beautiful, craggy formations. There’s a;most a Zen-like way to navigating

the rocks: There’s no one sure way to get there, you have to discover for

yourself where to move or place your feet. It all adds to the thrill

5. I was initially drawn to the perculiar black color of this rock, only to find

out on closer examination that the rock surface is wet and slippery. Even

under the intense heat of the sun, you can hear the dripping of water


travelife MaY-JUNe 2008




Peripatetic photographer

AVEE TAN captures the

geological wonders of


Biri Island in Northern Samar

of the


Biri Island is located in the northernmost part of the

province of Northern Samar. Surrounded by the Pacific

Ocean and the San Bernardino Strait, the island is

blessed with rich fishing grounds.

Formerly known as Sawangga, Biri Island is filled with

treasures and legends. There are many versions of how the

name Biri came to be, but the most common is the story of a

young girl named Berbinota. Legend tells us that Berbinota,

endowed with captivating beauty, mysteriously disappeared

after gathering firewood in the forest. Years later, she was seen

aboard a golden ship named “Beri.” Everyone rejoiced in

her return, but were dismayed when she bid farewell forever,

explaining that she wasn’t the same person she used to be.

Since then, no one saw her again, but a few locals have spotted

63 MaY-JUNe 2008 travelife




6. You have to take as many photographs of the rock formations as you can,

advise the locals, because these wonders won’t look the same the next time you go

back. The play of light, the shadows, even erosion will ensure that the rocks don’t

look the same way twice. In this photograph, the sunlight reflects the details of the

rocks—sandy yet smooth and uniquely carved by Mother Nature. The rocks are

coated with fine sand, which makes them even more stunning

7. During low tide, the water goes down to your ankles, allowing you to see the

sea bed, and every creature you might step on. Beware, there are lots of sea

urchins, so be careful where you place your foot

8. We were on our way back when I took this photo. I liked how the water and

mangroves in the foreground accent the greenish rock in the background. During

high tide, the water submerges these mangroves

the golden ship docked either at the north or south harbor

of the island loaded with assorted goods. The place was then

named Beri and has gradually evolved to Biri as generations


Behind all the enchanted legends lie treasures that are

astonishing. You should not miss the rock formations—they

are proof of how artistic God is. You pass through bumpy and

muddy roads to get there, but the scenery is worth it. Part of

the experience is riding the local transport, a habal-habal, a

motorcycle with a wooden or steel plank added so that more

passengers can sit—sometimes up to six passengers in one

motorcycle! But for safety, only one to two persons should ride

the habal-habal when going to the rock formations.

Make sure you gather information from the locals on

tide cycles before heading out. You’ll only be able to visit the

enormous rock formations during low tide, as going there

can be dangerous when high tide hits. When the tide recedes

from the rock formations, shallow saltwater pools are formed,

which are perfect for swimming. There are six rock formations,

all breathtaking and otherworldly, you won’t even mind the

scourging heat of the sun.

The people of Biri believe that the rocks are enchanted

that they will advise you to be quiet and to ask permission from

Berbinota when visiting these natural formations. For a chance

to see these geological wonders, it won’t hurt to believe in

legends. n


travelife MaY-JUNe 2008



How to get tHeRe:

Asian Spirit flies to Catarman, capital of Northern Samar, three times

weekly. From Catarman, take a 30-minute jeepney ride to Lavezares,

and from there, a 45-minute motorboat ride to Biri Island.

wHeRe to stAy:

I highly recommend d’Blue Water Lodge, which is right by the Santo

Niño channel and has a great view. The lodge is only steps away from

the large body of water and also has an indoor pool. d’Blue Water

Lodge, Barangay Santo Niño, Biri, Northern Samar, contact the owner

Arthur Pratt at (+63905) 262-1519.

wHAt to bRing:

Sunblock, sturdy footwear, a fully charged digital camera, a hat,

towel/sarong (to dry with if you want to swim in the saltwater pools).

Wear shorts and sandals, since you’ll be wading in up to thigh-high

water to get to some of the rock formations.

For recommended tour packages, try Lakbay.Net, tel (2) 517-6655,


65 MaY-JUNe 2008 travelife

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