Santiago: Mapisi Rock, Biak na Bato of the North
Known as Mapisi Rock (from the Ilocano word meaning, cut or broken), is situated along the seaside of Barangay Ambucao, just 4 kilometers away from the Nat’l Highway. It is comprised of large boulder of coral rocks that is said to be “broken down” geologically and formed a cave-like structure. Those rocks are so edgy and full of holes, so better be careful in going up and down especially on steep places. It’s like a starting playground for rock trekking wannabes (like me).
On the site and on the top largest boulder, there are some Bangar trees, a kind of nut tree that is notorious for its flowers that discharge a strong, unpleasant odor. Though, I don’t smell any stench when we got there.
After a little adventurous mode on the rocks, I hit the blue waters of Ambucao. The seafloor is so shallow even several meters away from the shore, so I worry less on drowning. There is a long stretch of natural breakwater consists of coral rocks that neutralizes coming waves. Nearby there are locals hunting for seashells and starfishes. For a peace of mind, I see the breakwater as buoyancy balls and locals as lifeguards.
I didn’t find the place boring for swimming, since I can choose to dip above the nearly-white sand, the sea grasses, or dive to the greenly reefs. I don’t want to get my skin burned, so I chose to enjoy dipping under the shade of arc-shaped rocks.
Cottages for rent are available outside the vicinity of Biak na Bato, but I saw the visitors there are contented to the rocks and trees as picnic sites.
What is disappointing to the place is it was not preserved and developed well. There are some annoying trash everywhere, vandalized rocks, and less-maintained toilet. Still, I can’t complain since the entrance fee costs only 5 pesos. Just more development in the area and it can be one of the best places for vacation.
I can say the Biak na Bato and Ambucao shores are very safe for tourists. Aside from the locals hunting for shells, there are Barangay Tanods in the area. And also, there are no incidents of drowning, collapsing rocks, and fallen tourists and residents in Ambucao, except for a resident drowned because of high blood.
- From North, along the Nat’l Highway, turn right via Barangay Apatot.
- From South, turn left via Santiago Cove and Barangay Sabangan.
- If you want to commute, you can ride a tricycle on Santiago Town Proper for only 15 pesos per person. Just tell to the tricycle driver that you’ll be going to Mapisi Rock or Biak na Bato.