After my wow experience in Gigantes (see post here), I was afraid that my next destinations would pale in comparison. So I didn’t expect anything grand after all my goal was just to see pine trees and experience Baguio air while in Bucari, Leon, Iloilo.

From Estancia bus terminal, I boarded a Ceres bus bound to Iloilo City (Tagbac), the travel took approximately 3.5 hours. From Tagbac terminal, I took a jeepney going to Jaro Big Market and asked around for the jeepney bound to Leon. When riding the jeepney, it is best to tell the driver you’ll stop at Jaro Big Market as the jeepney route is far and as first timer in the area, it would be hard to be constantly looking out and reading street labels. I’ve read in some travel blogs that there are 2 options going to Leon: thru jeepney or van. I chose the jeepney since the vans will wait for full seats before departing. I also learned that the last trip of jeepneys from Jaro Big Market to Bucari, Leon, Iloilo depart at 3 pm so I have also calculated my travel time since I left Gigantes that morning. Travel time from Iloilo to Leon took 40 minutes. The jeepney ride wasn’t for the faint-hearted— while on the road I was thinking of the percentage of vehicular accidents because the drivers drive fast and furious!

Leon is a quaint, small town. I was there on a Tuesday late afternoon in time for school children going home. From Leon Town Plaza, I boarded a trike along with school kids and asked the driver to drop me off the jeepney stop for Bucari. When I got there, there were passengers waiting for the ride and there were habal habal motorcycles lining up as well. I learned that the last trip of the jeepney bound to Bucari already departed and the only means of transportation is the habal habal motorcycle. I hopped on one and got chatty with the driver. He was helpful in giving me information about the place and when we arrived in the camping site after 1.5 hours’ drive, we have agreed we will visit Imoy waterfalls and that he will fetch me the next morning to catch my trip back to Iloilo City.

It was already past 5 pm and the downhill drive to Imoy waterfalls was rough, the motorcycle had to pass a hanging bridge just to get to the other side! I understood then why the motorcycles charge Php200 roundtrip. When we reached Imoy waterfalls, I was disappointed. Because of the drought, the waterfalls barely had water running/falling from the rocks. But I can’t be sad at all because we passed through a hanging bridge (for people only) and I had fun walking/ running on it! On the way back to the campsite, the air got colder and as we passed through the rice terraces we saw how people go about their daily routine.

The great surprise was revealed when I reached the campsite. As it was a Tuesday night, it was only me who booked for overnight camping! I panicked because for one, it was a pine forest and there could be animals nearby, then, of course, there’s my innate panicky nature! I had a lot of bad things going on in my mind I was glad the people were helpful. Three of the teenagers in the area offered they set up a tent beside mine so I won’t be totally alone spending the night. But still, my creative imagination went awry plus the night wind and colder air added to the mix – it sure was the longest, coldest night I’ve ever experienced!

Then came 5 AM and one of the teenagers offered to guide me to the viewing deck just 15 minutes hike from the campsite. When we reached the peak, we were greeted with this view! It was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Well, I am never the morning person so I hardly witness the sunrise. But still, the view has undeniably left me astounded! It introduced some feelings I never realized I still had. “Okay, #RelationshipGoals kayo gyud ilang sunrise.”

Then after 1.5hrs  gazing at this beauty, we went back to the campsite. I had to warn that taking a bath could be a challenge since there was no heater available. You need to brave the cold water and get dressed alive. At 8:30 AM, I hopped in on the motorcycle to reach Leon town. Breakfast was taken when I reached the town proper. Bucari didn’t have restaurants and the eatery didn’t serve food when I was there so I skipped dinner and was really glad I had the mind to stuff my bag with biscuits or I’ll starve.

I had realizations after this trip. I learned that there are places I need to consider if it’s solo trip-friendly or not. For me, Bucari, Leon, Iloilo is suitable for couples and groupies. I’ve imagined my friends could pitch tents and play songs and drink or just chitchat the night away while waiting for the morning. Or for couples, they would wait until it gets really dark and sees fireflies decorate the pine trees and it could be memorable a date.

Day 4-5: Bucari, Leon, Iloilo

Day 4: March 1, Tuesday  
10:30AM10:40AMArrival in Estancia (trike from port to terminal)              10.00
10:45AM2:15PMEstancia to Tagbac Terminal, Iloilo           150.00
2:15 PM2:25 PMJeep from Tagbac to Jaro Big Market              10.00
2:25 PM2:35 PMlate lunch at Jaro Big Market (batchoy+puto+sparkle)              67.00
2:35 PM3:15 PMJeep from Jaro Big Market to Leon Town Plaza              30.00
3:15 PM3:25 PMTricycle from Leon Town Plaza to jeep stop for Bucari                8.00
3:25 PM4:55 PMMotorcycle drive from Leon to Bucari campsite (Php150/way)           150.00
4:55 PM6:00 PMImoy Waterfalls (Php100/way)           200.00
  Imoy entrance fee              20.00
6:00 PM5:30 AMcamping (rental for tent good for 2 at Php250)           250.00
5:30 AM7:00 AMViewing Deck (tour guide fee)           200.00
7:00 AM8:30 AMfree time (getting ready/ charge phone batteries)                     –
8:30 AM9:30 AMMotorcycle drive from Bucari campsite to Leon (Php150/way)           150.00
9:30 AM9:45 AMbreakfast at Leon public market              85.00
9:45 AM10:30 AMJeep from Leon to Jaro Big Market, Iloilo City              30.00
  TOTAL    1,360.00