4 things to love about this enticing town in Bicol
Text by Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos Photos by Ramir Cambiado
While Camarines Norte offers a myriad of travel destinations and activities as a whole—say, camping in Calaguas Island or hitting the waves at Bagasbas beach—a second class municipality located at the Southeastern side of the province, meanwhile, is a promising one on its own.
Find out why Mercedes, Camarines Norte leaves one traveler mesmerized.
Seven Islands of Mercedes
Mercedes couldn’t be more proud about what they have. There are 7,107 islands in the Philippines. Seven of which lies in the hometown of Mercedes, making it the bread and butter of their tourism.
Caringo Island, located at the farthest side of Mercedes, is one small island rich with history. Standing at its heart is the home of family of Fortunato and Eufemia Ibasco, which has withstand the test of time since 1920.
The Apuao Grande and Apuao Pequena are two islands connected by a sand bar. Grande has its Agoho trees with hammocks perfect for an afternoon of serenity while Pequena is home for bats in the midst of its mossy forest.
Climbing the hill in Apuao Pequena is also a must as it offers a stunning view of all the seven islands plus a gush of cool winds after a long walk. Quinapaguian Island also belongs to its cluster, which also offers powdery-white sand beaches.
Canimog Island is the largest islands of all. The island, also known as Crocodile Islands for its shape, is embraced with large rock formations, which makes it different from the rest.
Despite not being inhabited by the locals (due to its hard soil and rocky shores), Canimog Island’s main walkway has already been developed for its visitors, which leads to an abandoned lighthouse.
Meanwhile, Canton Island offers rock climbing adventure and even mangrove seedling planting. Aside from giving a stunning sunset view when you climb in its hill, an unexplored underwater cave is also an attraction during low tide.
Also an alternative choice of bonfire camping and overnight stay is at Malasugui Island. This island is the smallest among the seven, and can even be toured in an hour.
Mercedes does not run out of nature’s flowing blessings. Lying in between Mt. Asupre and Mt. Balagbag is an enchanting falls that offers a secluded spot perfect for bonding with the family or your friends, sans the hustle and bustle of city living—the waters cascading down the streams, the strong current from the tip of the falls, and the birds chirping from the trees.
Going up to the falls requires strength to endure up to one hour of trekking, depending on the pace.
Kuya Arvin, our guide for the day, bought with him and his team their freshly-prepared lunch that we all indulged with our bare hands.
I can say that a visit Colasi Falls will not be complete without Kuya Arvin’s organic rice, wrapped in banana leaves. Just imagine eating lunch with the stunning falls in the view. All the sweat and the weariness you felt while climbing up melts away when you plunged into the waters.
Bulungan sa Pandawan
Mercedes’ fishing industry is considered as the largest not only in Camarines Nore, but also in the whole of Bicol region as well.
Early morning, when the sun is set to rise in minutes, people of Mercedes flock together at the fish port to bag themselves good deals of freshly caught fishes.
They say that bidders whisper to the fish broker and who ever gives the highest bid, he gets to take home the fish.
At night when you are done with the entire island hopping and chasing waterfalls, it will be perfect to hit the mostly visited floating restaurants in the province.
Entrepreneurs in Mercedes took the opportunity of making the food business one of a kind with its floating restaurants that adds one-of-akind experience for every hungry tummy.
Dona Mercedes II Floating Restaurant is one of the most popular family-style restaurant in the area. They are known for their tinapa (smoked fish), as well as Bicol cuisines like sinantol, kinunot, and laing. You might also want to check out Salud del Mar located in Barangay Rosario and indulge on good food while listening to a local band’s performance.
These are just for reasons why out visit to Mercedes is definitely one for the books. And yes, definitely, it is not the last. We left the town amazed and mesmerized. Go see for yourself!