San Francisco Bay Lodge - The Place Where I Stayed in the Camotes Islands

My tour around Camotes Island is enjoyable but pretty exhausting. That's why I am glad that my friends from the island sent me to a good place to rest my travel-weary body. They brought me to San Francisco Bay Lodge, which is located in the town of San Francisco. I stayed about three days at this place while waiting for the time for me to go back to Cebu.

I heard that San Francisco Bay Lodge is owned by a foreigner and Filipina couple. The owners are abroad and the caretaker and her helpers manage the whole place. San Francisco Bay Lodge has four rooms that has this bed:
Camotes Island - San Francisco Bay Lodge bed

That big bed is perfect for a person like me who moves a lot while sleeping. The room is big enough and has its own toilet and shower. I secretly inspected the second floor of the building where I stayed but there is nothing to see there because its construction is still unfinished. If you are in San Francisco Bay Lodge then the place where you can mill around inside the building is at the lobby.
Camotes Island - San Francisco Bay Lodge lobby

And have nice talk with these figurines:
Camotes Island - San Francisco Bay Lodge figurines
Tres Aquarians
The caretaker and her helpers are courteous and friendly. I had a good chat with them while I was eating my meals. I ate my breakfast, lunch and dinner inside the San Francisco Bay Lodge because they offer cooked meals. Eat your dinner at their “restaurant” and have a friendly chat with the caretaker, who has a hard time talking Tagalog.

San Francisco Bay Lodge is not for beach-loving tourists because the place has no beach. The place is located right beside an overhanging cliff that is too high for those who want to swim in the sea.
Camotes Island - San Francisco Bay Lodge cliff
Overhanging cliff of Camotes Island. At the background is Poro Island.

That's why I said previously that I did not got the chance to swim in the sea during my whole stay at Camotes Island. Nonetheless, I enjoyed breathing the fresh air and looking at the clear waters of Camotes Island.
Camotes Island - San Francisco Bay Lodge clear sea
Sea of Camotes Island is so clear that the rocks underwater are visible.

This is my last post for the Camotes Island series. The next series is my second adventures around Cebu City.

Last Stop at Poro Church

Our tour around Camotes Islands ended with a visit to the oldest church in the island group. That church is located on the island of Poro, at the poblacion of the town of Poro.
Camotes Island - Poro Church

Poro Island served as the seat of local government in Camotes Islands during the Spanish Era. This is the reason why the oldest church in Camotes Island is located here. Poro Church was founded in 1847 and built in 1849 under the supervision of Fathers Nicolas Gonzales and Ambrocio Yturiaga. The church was originally made of tabique and stone. The roof is made of tiles. The church’s belfry was built 1963.

My friend told me that Poro Church is the reason why Pacijan Island and Poro Island are now connected with each other. In the past, there is no church on Pacijan Island and nearest church is on Poro Island, which can only be reached by riding a boat. The faithful Catholics, wanting to attend the mass at Poro Church, worked together to build a road to Poro Island. Churchgoers of Pacijan Island carried rocks and soil and threw them to the sea. The result is the land-bridge that connects the two islands. Over time, the land-bridge was widened and became a cemented road that is now used by the people of Camotes Islands.
Camotes Island - land bridge between Poro and Pacijan Islands
Cemented road to Poro Island.

The sea on the either side of the land-bridge is covered by mangrove forests. Mangrove trees are plentiful that the local mangrove farmers association has a “headquarters” along the land-bridge. Many people are benefitting from the still rich mangrove forests between Poro and Pacijan Islands.
Camotes Island - Mangrove farmers association HQ
Mangrove farmers association HQ.

I am amazed with the faith of the people of Pacijan Island. Their faith enabled them to move stones and dirt so that they can see Jesus Christ in the Eucharist every mass. The product of their faith was not confined to their generation but is also being enjoyed by their children in this generation. This is the faith that I think is lacking in our generation now. I believe that we now lack the faith that enables us to work as a community.
Camotes Island - Poro Church bell tower
Poro Church bell tower.

I did not have the chance to go inside Poro Church because the place is under renovation. The truth is that I wanted to see more of the place. However, because of the renovation and the lack of time, we ended our tour and returned to the resort where I stayed.


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Short Stop at Lake Danao Park

After touring the many beach resorts around Camotes Island, my friends brought me to another tourist spot, which they say is an important place in the island. That tourist spot is Lake Danao, which is the largest body of freshwater in Camotes Islands.
Camotes Island - Lake Danao

I was awed when we reached Lake Danao. It is the first time that I stand close to a lake. The additional bonus is that the first lake that I have seen up close is clean. My friends told me that they work hard to ensure that Lake Danao will not suffer the fate of the polluted Laguna Lake. Their town consider Lake Danao as a protected area and fishing activities are monitored in the area. Tourists have to pay 10 pesos at the checkpoint somewhere on the road to Lake Danao. The 10 pesos is a sort of environmental fee for visitors who are going to the lake using a motored vehicle. Visitors who walked or used a bicycle are not required to pay the fee.
Camotes Island - Lake Danao

The Lake Danao Park is a good place for picnic. Visitors can opt to place a mat on the ground or use the benches inside the park. The Lake Danao Park is well shaded with trees and the wind coming from Lake Danao is cool.
Camotes Island - benches at Lake Danao Park
Benches in Lake Danao Park.
My visit to the park is very short but I think that Lake Danao is a good place for bird watching. One of the birds that you can see is the white bird shown on the Lake Danao Park sign:
Camotes Island - Lake Danao Park welcome sign

Another activity that visitors will enjoy is boat riding to the middle of Lake Danao. The park has one boat that is used to ferry visitors to the middle of Lake Danao, which is near an island filled with mangrove trees.
Camotes Island - Lake Dana's mangrove island
Mangrove Island of Lake Danao.
Boat ride to the middle of Lake Danao costs 500 pesos per trip for up to 10 passengers. The boat can accommodate a maximum of twenty passengers. Excess passengers have to pay 50 pesos each. The boat is an inflatable rubber boat that is fitted with a deck that has bamboo chairs.
Camotes Island - Boat at Lake Danao

I enjoyed my short visit to Lake Danao Park. It relaxed my body after the exhausting tour around the island. How I wish that the Taal Lake and Laguna Lake in Luzon will be as clean as Lake Danao. If you are planning to visit Camotes Islands, I suggest that you drop by Lake Danao Park and enjoy the one of the remaining clean lakes of the Philippines.


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Camotes Island Beach Resorts

My friends in Camotes Island asked me to visit the tourist spots in their place. Their request automatically received my positive answer because I really wanted to see the sights around the town of San Francisco.

My friends brought me first to the popular beach resorts in their town. San Francisco has plenty of beach resorts but we only visited three of them because our time is limited. My friends brought me to Santiago Bay Resort and the two resorts at Mangodlong Bay.


Santiago Bay Garden and Resorts


Camotes Island - Santiago Bay Garden and Resorts

Santiago Bay Garden and Resorts is big. It is a resort complex that has a big mansion, various rooms for rent, freshwater swimming pool, and a restaurant. Visitors can enjoy playing billiards or stroll in the well landscaped interior of the resort.
Camotes Island - resort restaurant
Santiago Bay Resort's restaurant.

Planning to go to Santiago Bay Garden and Resorts? Visit their website or contact them at 345-8599, 344-6899 or 420-3385 for more information.


Mangodlong Resort


Just ten-minute drive from Santiago Bay is the Mangodlong Bay. Here you can find two resorts that share the name of Mangodlong. Of the two beach resorts, it is the Mangodlong Resort that is less expensive.
Camotes Island - Mangodlong Resort

Mangodlong Resort is the place to go if you just want to dip to the sea and unwind with friends for few hours. Families can have a picnic inside the resort. What’s unique in Mangodlong Resort is the hut located on the rocky outcrop at the edge of the beach.
Camotes Island - Mangodlong Resort outcrop


Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort


Located just beside Mangodlong Resort is the relatively expensive Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort. Though expensive, I believe that this is the best resort that I had seen in Camotes Island. The place is well landscaped and well maintained. Visitors will surely like the garden that covers the whole resort grounds.
Camotes Island - Mangodlong Paradise Resort's coconuts

The resort has a big swimming pool. The water is so still in the pool that I thought that it is like glass.
Camotes Island - Mangodlong Paradise Resort swimming pool

The beach with fine sand is also maintained well.
Camotes Island - Mangodlong Paradise Resort beach

 That ends my tour of beach resorts in Pacijan Island. The sad thing is that I did not have the chance to take a dip in the sea. It has been a long time since I soaked in the salty waters of the sea. Maybe I will “swim” next time if I got another trip near the sea.

My friend told me that the town government maintains a public beach so that those who don’t have money to enter beach resorts can still enjoy swimming in the sea. Well, I salute the town government for doing this. The leaders of the town didn’t ignore the need of Camotes Island citizens to enjoy the pristine sea of their island.


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What I Saw in Camotes Islands

I left Danao City and traveled via Jomalia Shipping's RoRo vessel to reach Camotes Islands. The island group is composed of Pacijan Island, Poro Island, Tulang Island and Ponson Island. The islands are located about midway between Danao City and Ormoc City on Leyte Island.
Map of Camotes Islands
Map showing Cebu and the Camotes Islands.

My specific destination is Pacijan Island, where the town of San Francisco is located. The vessel where I rode docked at the barangay of Consuelo, which is located on the west coast of that Camotes Island. I am fortunate that a service vehicle was waiting for me at the pier. The driver brought me to the town center located at the east side of the island. The driver told me that it is expensive to travel from Consuelo pier to the town center. He said that people has to ride the habal-habal (local term for motorcycle) and pay 100 pesos just to reach the center of San Francisco.

San Francisco is the only municipality that occupies Pacijan Island. The municipality also covers the island of Tulang. The town as simple (payak) but lacks the pollution that I encounter in the complex areas of Luzon. The town has one market (palengke), a church, and few motorized vehicles. Public transportation is by means of tricycle and habal-habal. The people of that Camotes Island also live simply. Most of them are farmers or fishermen. Others are employees of the many resorts on the island.

What I like about Pacijan Island is that it is still pristine and the beauty of nature still abounds. The leaders of the town are serious about their environment that they were given an award by the United Nations (UN). Mangroves are still plenty in the area and the town folks conduct regular mangrove planting as their answer to Climate Change.

I got three days stay in that Camotes Island and I exhausted all of those days exploring the places that the island has to offer. These are what I discovered in Pacijan Island:

Wide Array of Resorts


Pristine beach of Camotes Island.
Pristine beach of Camotes Island.

The coasts of Camotes Islands are still pristine. This is the reason why many people, most of them foreigners, are buying lands located near the seashore. Most of these lands were developed as resorts or private vacation getaways of the rich people. Notable of these people is the owner(s) of M Lhuiller who already bought half of a barangay in San Francisco. I will talk about the resorts in Camotes Islands in upcoming posts.

Danao Lake


Camotes Island - Danao Lake.

My tour guides also brought me to the largest fresh water lake in Camotes Islands, which is the Danao Lake. I will also post about Danao Lake in the future.

Beyond Pacijan Island


Camotes Island - Church of Poro
The old church of Poro.

I also visited the nearby island of Poro and got the chance to visit their old church. I got an interesting story about the Poro Church and the causeway connecting Pacijan Island and Poro Island, which I will talk about later.

Seems like that I already laid out the upcoming posts in the next weeks. Expect more stories about Camotes Islands in this blog. If you are looking for a place to visit in the coming Summer Season then I recommend that you read my next blog posts and see if Camotes Islands will be your choice.


Map obtained from Camotes Resorts.

My First Ferry Travel to Camotes Islands

I have traveled around the Philippines using land transportation such as buses, jeepneys, and pedicabs. I have traveled to far places using airplane. I even traveled by riding a fisherman's boat around the Gulf of Davao and even in Camarines. But it was in Danao City where I first experienced traveling via the passenger ferry.

Danao City is on my way to my final destination, which is the Camotes Islands. Those islands can only be reached by riding ferry vessels either on Cebu City or Danao City. Regular ferry service can only be found in Danao City and vessels leave Danao pier every two to three hours. Unfortunately, Typhoon Ramon forced me to stay in Catadman Lodge for one night.

I was able to leave Danao City in the late afternoon when Philippine Coast Guard allowed vessels to travel between Danao City and Camotes Islands. There are two shipping lines that are plying between Danao City and Camotes Islands but only the ships of Jomalia Shipping are present at the pier.
Jomalia Ships at Danao Pier
RoRo vessels docked at Danao Pier.
The vessels of Jomalia Shipping is a Roll on/Roll off type of vessel. This type of vessels can take in land vehicles, cargoes and passengers. Here is the travel schedule of Jomalia Shipping:
Jomalia Shipping schedule

Our vessel promptly left Danao pier when all of the cargoes and passengers boarded. The sea is already calm but the night is fast approaching. The travel time is around two hours.
Leaving Danao Pier
Leaving Danao Pier.
My travel to Camotes Islands is slow and boring. I chose to ride in the “economy class” of the RoRo vessel. An air-conditioned cabin is also available but it is more expensive than the economy class. I have no seatmate on my bench and I am fortunate enough to lie and doze through the whole travel.
Inside Jomalia's economy class
Jomalia vessel's Economy Class.

My ferry travel to Camotes Islands costs 180 pesos. The travel is not grand but not uncomfortable for a person like me who prefers to commute when traveling.

Are you going to Camotes Islands? Contact Jomalia Shipping at cellphone numbers: 0906-3640873 and 0948-6699345.

The Old Church of Danao City

Visiting Catholic churches is a must for me whenever I travel anywhere in the Philippines. I consider my travel incomplete if I failed to go to at least one church located in the town that I am visiting. As a Catholic nation, churches serve as a witness to the history of the town where it is located. The province of Cebu, as the earliest Spanish territory in the Philippines boasts of old churches that are filled to the brim with history.  Danao City boasts of an old church and I am glad that I got the chance to pay it a visit.
Danao City Church

The Danao City Church, or more officially known as Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church, was built in 1755. The church suffered partial destruction during the Second World War. Partial reconstructions were made to the church but the church’s edifice still stood precariously. Full reconstruction was done in 1985 after a generous donation by Ramon Durano.

The church is quite big and its bell tower serves as a marker for those who are sailing to Danao City. The church grounds are wide enough to allow parking for several vehicles.
Danao City Church west wing
Notice the unique shape on the top of the white dome?

The old look of the church was ensured when reconstruction work is being made. Just like most of the Catholic churches built during the Spanish era, Danao City Church’s walls are thick and solid. 

The dome of the church has replica of a mitre, which symbolizes the parish’s patron saint. Santo Tomas de Villanueva is an Augustinian friar and the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain from 1544 to 1555.
Danao City Church altar
Danao City Church's altar.

Danao City Church is cavernous and, I believe, can accommodate all those who attend the Sunday masses. The church is quite empty though during the weekday masses because only few people go to the church during weekdays.

I attended an evening mass in Danao City Church. I can’t understand the mass readings and homily because they were spoken in the Cebuano language. Seems like I need to ask my beloved to teach me more to speak Cebuano so that I will not have a hard time guessing what other people say when I am in the Visayas.
Danao City Church stained-glass window
Danao City Church stained-glass window
The four evangelists depicted in the colorful stained-glass windows.

I noticed that the people who attended the evening mass genuflect whenever they enter and leave the church. It is a good sign that some Catholics in Danao City know how to honor Jesus Christ in his temple. My only wish is that the Holy Eucharist be placed inside the church like the way it is placed inside Santa Cruz Church in Manila.

Tikoy for New Year

When I was still a kid, my auntie usually send us a box of tikoy for the Chinese New Year. I still remember the oily and sticky tikoy on my plate during breakfast. This memory of the yummy tikoy compelled me to buy some of it last Chinese New Year.

Just like the majority of Filipinos, my family only celebrates the New Year of the Gregorian Calendar. The New Year of the Chinese Calendar is just an ordinary day for us. But this doesn't mean we shun eating popular Chinese New Year delicacies. We love Chinese food, especially tikoy.

Tikoy or Nian Gao is the most sought of food every Chinese New Year and many people queue just to buy from Eng Bee Tin and other food shops in Binondo Chinatown. Ongpin Street is crowded with vendors who only sells tikoy.

Aside from hopia, Eng Bee Tin is also popular for its tikoy. However, I already tasted their tikoy that's why I decided to buy a box of tikoy from Eng Ho. I already posted about Eng Ho when I talked about their mamon cake.
Tikoy from Eng Ho Bakeshop

I bought the medium sized tikoy for 180 pesos. That tikoy is for my family and siblings. The small sized tikoy, which costs 60 pesos, is for my beloved. I bought the small sized tikoy not from Eng Ho but from Filipino-Chinese vendors who set up shop along Ongpin Street.
Black and white tikoy

The large tikoy is white because its ingredient is white sugar while the smaller tikoy's ingredient is the brown sugar.

My mother sliced the tikoy into strips and mixed it with beaten egg. She then fried it. The final product is this:
Cooked tikoy


Belated happy New Year to my Chinese-blooded friends. Hope you liked my tikoy.


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