Hotel/Resorts I stayed : our humble home
Best time to go : anytime of the year
Sta. Magdalena is located in the southernmost tip of Luzon. It is one of the many coastal towns of Sorsogon. Magdalena is known among Sorsoganons for its coves and beaches. To the rest of the Philippines and the world, it may not be known. Why? It is not even in the route markers. If its your first time to drive down south the Maharlika Highway, surely you will miss the crossing to Magdalena. Despite its anonymity, this town has a lot of sights to see and people to meet.
Sta. Magdalena Beaches.
Olango Beach is a cove. From the main road, there is a cemented walkway going to beachfront passing by rice fields and a private resort. This beach is preferred by families who like to enjoy the sand, sea and marine life. There is an area which is shallow ideal for children and deep waters for those who want to test their swimming skills. On both ends of the cove are reefs, where on low tides you can pick your own seaweed, or on high tide you can go snorkeling. Along the cove are privately owned properties. Regulars here are just the caretakers of beach houses, they are all very accommodating to allow you to lay down your beach towel in the shoreline (not inside their lawn) and swim or sunbathe and of course fishermen.
During the summer months, it looks like a lake and during Habagat Season, it is for surfers alone. The water is so clear that if even there are a hundred of us swimming in the beach at the same time, the water remains clear, something about the sand staying just down below where it is suppose to be. In some areas of the cove, you can still find margahera or black sand or magnetic sand. If you are coming here, bring your own food and drinks and never leave your trash behind. There are no beach front stores or groceries and toilets. Its just you, the beach, the clear water, the sun and some curious locals. Sunrise are so beautiful in this cove, if you can wake up as early as 5AM, you will be graced with a beautiful sunrise and the chance to buy the first catch of day. Full moon is amazing to watch in Olango but unfortunately there are no facilities in that beach that will allow you to stay overnight (as of now) unless Tata Tirso (one of the caretakers) will allow you to camp in their property.
Balading become the collective name of the beaches in San Sebastian (Bigo). It is actually a name of one of the beach resorts in the area. Balading is a haven for videoke lover and those who loves the Filipino past time of drinking. What Balading has, Olango doesnt have it, stores, cottages and toilet. But there is a strong undercurrent in that beach which is not suitable for children and child at heart to swim around when the sea is a little rough.
Villa Veronica is the most commercialized amongst the beaches in Magdalena. It is also the most advertised. It is accessible from the main road so if you are going to the town, you will not miss it. Its has a pavilion and cottages for day trippers. Amongst the beaches, I have to say this has the least impressive natural amenities to offer. On low tide, its really low. And there are just so many coral stones.
Liang is a very small cove near Villa Veronica. The rock formations are so beautiful mimicking small caves thus giving the name Liang. The water is clear and the sand so pristine but just a meter walk to the sea, its very deep already. Usually locals just hang out and play cards or drink and enjoy the sense of exclusivity of the place. Plus the fact that this place has been known to be enchanted, its adds up to the adventure. As the global warming goes global, sometimes this tiny cove is usually filled with water, usually no more sandy shore on high tide.
This is only a few kilometer from where I live but I haven't been there. I know, what a shame. They say the beach here is better than that of Olango. Well thats what they say. I just have to rely on hearsay for now.
Let talk about something else.. The dialect in Magdalena is very similar to that of neighboring island of Samar rather than mainland Sorsogon. But dont be confused, we are called Bicolanos not Bisaya, not that we have anything against neighbors.
Speaking of Bicolano, there are many pili growers in this town. But you will not see one bit of a pili candy being sold in stores. Where did all the pili go? Pili candies (moledo, sa tam-is, sa karo, or sa asukar) are prepared if there is already a purpose for it, as treats for our friends back in Manila or anywhere in the world, or as desserts during fiesta and other occasions. Either it is homemade or commissioned to ladies who are really known for making good quality candies like Uya Paro. By far, the candies here are one of the best in Bicol because the nuts are so close from the source, no preservatives added and no fillers, just pure pili.
So why do I know so much about this place? Because this is where I grew up. This is where I go home regularly. and I have a feeling this is where I will retire decades from now.