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The lure of Caramoan Peninsula, Philippines


Caramoan Peninsula
Caramoan Peninsula

Dave Ryan A. Buaron is a freelance travel writer and regarded by many as an expert in Bicol tourism, particularly on the province of Camarines Sur.  His description of  Caramoan peninsula  is not only agreeable to many Bicolanos, but more so put  greater importance to the place among many other places in Bicolandia.

According to Buaron, the Caramoan Peninsula captures international attention when several editions of the reality TV series Survivor were filmed in the area.

He said  the countries which filmed their version of the world-wide popular reality show as France, Bulgaria, Isreal, the US, Serbia, and the Swedish verrsion and India both filmed in 2011 on separate schedule. New visitors to Caramoan would notice is its dramatic limestone karst for-mations, white sand beaches, coves, not to mention sandbars which disappeared on high tide. 

Buaron observed how an obscure beautiful town of Caramoan was easily affected by the onslaught of tourism. He said ‘heavily promoted by the local government – Caramoan is still to recover from the initial shock of the growing influx of tourists in the past two years when the peninsula was suddenly plucked out of relative obscurity and thrust into the Philippine tourism limelight.

Kayaking around the islets is a favourite pastime amongst visitors as well as the requisite island hop and while most islands are open, some of these are closed off to the public once there is an ongoing filming of Survivor.’ 

The more popular islands that attracts visitors are Lahuy, Matukad, Cotivas, Lajos and Sabitang Laiya, the last one is known for its triangular shape whose two sides offer a long stretch of cream-colored sandy beach and relatively shallow waters. In Paniman where another brother’s family live, the two coves Little Gota and Big Gota are some of the main attractions, not to mention the limestone islands of the Malarad Island Group.

 The Department of Tourism lauded Camarines Sur as a model local government unit in the thrust to develop tourism as a major national industry.

 This was the official statement made by DOT undersecretary for tourism services and regional offices Oscar P. Palabyab before some 400 participants and guests at the opening ceremonies of the 8th National Convention of the Association the Philippines (ATOP) one Wednesday evening at the Camarines Sur Convention Center, crediting the tourism development initiatives launched by provincial government being responsib le for the dramatic 27% jump in the growth of tourism in Bicol Region.  

‘Largely due to local initiatives, overall tourism growth has also reflected in an unprecedented growth, and if all local government with tourism potentials would follow the lead of Camarines Sur and more so if local efforts are organized as the ATOP presently headed by national president Jennylind Demerre-Cordero of Negros Occidental is striving to realize, tourism can very easily overtake foreign currency revenues from remittances of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs),’ Palabyab said. 

Wikipidea described the town of Caramoan as a first-class municipality in the province of Camarines Sur, Bicol Region, Philippines. It is located at the tip of the Caramoan Peninsula, a rugged place of land extending into the waters of the Maqueda Channel on the north and east and Lagonoy Gulf on the south. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 44,945 people.

Caramoan is bounded on the north by the town of Garchitorena and the Philippine Sea of the Pacific Ocean; on the northeast by the island province of Catanduanes; on the south by Lagonoy Gulf; on the east by the Maqueda Channel and on the west by the municipality of Presentacion.

The municipality covers approximately 277.41 square kilometres (107.11 sq mi) with approximately 71 kilometres (44 mi) of irregular coastline surrounded by the vast ocean, bay, seas and swamps. It is approximately 500 kilometres (310 mi) from Metro Manila; 95 kilometres (59 mi) from the municipality of Pili, where the seat of the provincial govern-ment and the Naga Domestic Airport are located; and 110 kilometres (68 mi) east from Naga City, the heart of Bicol. 

The name Caramoan has been officially used since 1619, the year it was named by a Spanish missionary friar, Francisco de la Cruz Y Oropesa. Fr. Oropesa penetrated the thick virgin forest of the Caramoan Peninsula and founded a small settlement in a place called Baluarte. This settlement was subsequently turned over to the administration of the Holy Bishopric in 1696.

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, it was determined that the place was once called Guta de Leche, which was given by Dutch traders who operated a gold mine in Lahuy Island and who frequented the area to trade with the natives.

The name was perhaps derived from the milk drop like stalagmites found among the rocks of Guta Port. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, the place came to be called “Carahan” for the sea turtle, which was at that time to be found in great number along the shores of the Peninsula. 

Tourist destinations include the Caramoan National Park, the Centro, and Gota Beach, where activities include diving, swimming, snorkeling and spelunking.