Survivor in Caramoan

Survivor is arguably the ultimate social game in reality TV. As a social experiment, the gameplay and strategies have continuously evolved into not merely surviving the elements but maneuvering oneself into a better position in the social dynamics of the game. Aside from gameplays of the castaways, one of the highlights of the show is the beautiful locations where the players are marooned.

Four seasons of the show had been filmed in the Philippines. Two in Caramoan, Camarines Sur and two more in Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley. As a huge fan of the show, I am enthralled that the seasons filmed in the country remain among the best seasons the show has had.

I had been to Palaui Island a couple of years back and I was fangirling all throughout the tour – because who wouldn’t?

What makes the show Survivor appealing is the concept that it is somewhat a human chess. Despite the title of the show, surviving becomes a secondary theme to the social aspects of the game. Another thing that I love about the show is the diversity of the winners which brings forth the idea that anybody – I mean anybody – can win the game.

The 25th season which was first filmed in Caramoan was won by a 41-year-old Sex Therapist, Denise Stapley. The next season which was also filmed in Caramoan had been won by a superfan Harvard Law student, John Cochran.

Survivor Filming Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Most probably a final five challenge.

That is to say, the show is for everybody and not just for people who are into adventures and who love going outside.

Personally, in some ways, Survivor has taught me how to handle myself in some social situations and has opened my understanding to handling various personalities. Obviously, I am very into the show. One has to watch it in order to understand how things beautifully work.

One of the beauties of Survivor has been continually redefining the definition of ‘weak’. In many cases, the perceived weakness became a tool to leverage one’s self further in the game.

In the massive chaos of physical, mental, social, and strategic gameplay, once the dust settles, only one can outwit, outplay, and outlast everybody else in the game. Interestingly enough, castaways have evolved their strategies season by season to ensure that they will be the Sole Survivor. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Survivor should remain a game.

Caramoan has always been a tease. Despite being as far as Palaui Island from Metro Manila, we, from Mindanao have been relentless in our determination to visit the place.

Also a huge fan of Survivor, Marefe initiated the idea of the trip then I orchestrated it. With her boyfriend, Merk, the trio from Mindanao excitedly headed to the Northern part of the country on the rainy month of July.

Going to Caramoan

The road from Naga City to Caramoan sucks! I can only assume the income that the government has been collecting from Survivor, but I guess it is relatively high. Considering that until now, the show’s franchises from other countries have been continuously filming in Caramoan.

The winding road towards Caramoan made the roads to the highlands of Bukidnon and the hinterlands of Senator Ninoy Aquino seem like a stroll in the park. The sudden unending turns of the road induced nausea. And the cracked and potholed cemented road did not give solace nor justice to the already difficult highway. We could not afford to enjoy the sights of the partially cloud-covered Mt. Mayon, nor the rich greenery of the mountains, nor the calming velvety welcome of the sea; because, we were on one hell of a ride, literally!

We agreed to not pass through that road again on our way back to Naga City. Instead, we opted to the alternative route of going to Naga City via boat through Guijalo Port to Sabang Port.

As we have also learned during island hopping, you can avail the Caramoan Island Hopping from Catanduanes. There are airlines which have a route from Manila to Virac, Catanduanes and vice-versa. Aside from being budget-friendly, that route is devoid of lengthy bus travels.

Caramoan Island Hopping

Caramoan has been famous for its islands. Though sad to admit, Survivor ‘discovered’ its potentials first and captured its beauty in ways even our local franchise did not level. I know I am full of bias but I must say that Caramoan is second best to El Nido.

Since the Belgian franchise of the Survivor currently films in some of the islands, these islands remain closed to public. Sadly those islands had been where the US franchise filmed too.

Here are the islands we were allowed to visit:

📍 Manlawi Sandbar

The farthest in the itinerary and the first stop of the island hopping.

Manlawi Sanbar, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Bugtong Sandbar

The sea envolopes the sandbar during hightide. On low tide, this piece of beauty cannot be ignored.

Bugtong Sandbar, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Cutivas Island

The 50.00 docking fee brought us to the scorching sand of Cutivas Island. What a perfect island for a coconut juice!

Cutivas Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Guinahoan Island

The mini-Batanes of Caramoan because of the lighthouse and, of course, the view. We paid 50.00 pesos as sort of an entrance fee.

Guinahoan Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Matukad Island

The most beautiful island among the list. The fine white sands and the crystal clear water rest below the beautiful rocks of this island.

Matukad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Matukad Island Secret Lagoon

Climbing the rock wall on the right side facing the island, we saw the lagoon and the infamous bangus whose existence remain a puzzle.

Matukad Island Secret Lagoon, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Lahus Island

Lahus Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Cagbalinad Island

One of the most beautiful mini-beach with interestingly scenic view from it.

Cagbalinad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 Minalahos Island

The final island on the tour faces Gota Village. The narrow pathway on the side of the beach goes through rock formations overlooking a gorgeous opening.

MInalahos Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur


📍Umang Cave

This is not part of the itinerary thus will require you an additional of 500.00 for guide fee.

Umang Cave, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍I <3 Caramoan Landmark

Before heading to the port, ask your tricycle driver to have a short stopover to this landmark. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to stop a little while in the pasalubong store too. Be reminded though that there are more cheaper pasalubong in Naga City bus terminal.

I Heart Caramoan Landmark, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

📍 St. Michael the Archangel Church

A historic and beautiful church. The tricycle driver told us that this church is 399 years old. He added that only minor repairs have been done to the church since it was built.

St. Michael the Archangel Church, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Sample Budget

Cubao to Naga City Bus (AC with CR) 700.00
Naga Church Hopping Tricycle and Jeep 42.00
Naga to Caramoan Bus 220.00
Caramoan 3D2N All-in Package 3,300.00
Umang Cave Side Trip 500.00/3 166.67
Accommodation to Guijalo Port Tricycle (300.00/3) 100.00
Guijalo Port to Sabang Port Boat 120.00
Sabang Port to Naga City Jeep 100.00
Naga City to Cubao Bus (AC with CR) 700.00
Total PHP 5,448.67

*excluding airfare and fare from airport to the bus station

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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