The Municipality of Tabina is one of the interior towns in Zamboanga del Sur and only a few parts of the town has a mobile phone signal. Lately, the town has attracted hoards of tourists going to the Blue Lagoon in Barangay Baganian. Getting there is tricky because of the limited public transportation options which left me a very short window to explore the place but it is definitely worth it! The view is very picturesque and the Lagoon is true to its name: the water is blue! You can leave your Lightroom presets and saturation enhancers at home because you won’t be needing them.
I am currently based in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay which is more than three hours from Pagadian City. I spent a few days of my holy week vacation in Pagadian City before crowdsourcing for suggestions where to go on a random trip. With very little time to prepare, I relied n the leads on my social media friends and the help of the locals to plan my trip. Here is the complete timetable with expenses for my trip:
9:45-10:00- alighted a van going to Baganian (pronounced as Ba-ga-nyan) from Cerilles Terminal 1 near the Public Market of Pagadian City. Please take note that this is not the Integrated Bus Terminal (IBT) of Pagadian City where the major buses can be found. You can ride a tricycle going to Cerilles Terminal. There’s only one van that leaves Pagadian City to Barangay Baganian, Tabina, Zambanga del Sur.
10:00-11:45- Travel time from Pagadian City to Barangay Baganian. Fare is 150.00 pesos. Tip: have a heavy breakfast in Pagadian City. Bring some take out food and your own bottle of water for the entire day. There aren’t much dining options in Baganian. You will also spend a lot of time under the sun, load lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.
11:45-12:00- Take a habal-habal ride from Barangay Gabanian going to the Blue Lagoon. Fare is at 20.00 pesos per head, maximum of two passengers per habal2. I paid 40.00 pesos for my trip. There’s no cellular phone signal in Baganian and people rely on radios to communicate. Get the name of your habal-habal driver.
12:00-12:15- Tourist registration and payment of 10.00 pesos entrance fee at the gate. You may now enjoy the lagoon or rent a boat get a quick tour with the amazing view of the entire stretch
12:15-01:00- I hired a small pump boat. The rate is 250.00 pesos an hour good for 5 people maximum. I paid the entire amount to have the boat all by myself. It was worth it! I also gave the boatman a tip for taking awesome photos of me!
01:00-01:15- I spent 15 minutes climbing the ladders and walking around the bamboo scaffoldings while taking photos and enjoying the view. I asked the locals and some Barangay Tanods to take some photos of me, they were very willing to help.
01:15-01:40- Habal-habal ride from the Blue Lagoon to Barangay Gulabay. (The van from Barangay Baganian is scheduled to leave the next day at 4:00am. There are no other scheduled trips for the rest of the day). The habal-habal ride was a bit pricey at 150.00 pesos per head for a ride that only lasted for more than 30 minutes. But according to some locals, this is the regular rate.
01:40-01:50- I alighted a van in Barangay Gulabay. The van returns to Pagadian City but I only got a ticket going to the Municipality of Dumalinao which is less than 20 minutes away from Pagadian. Fare is 100.00 pesos only. According to the locals, the last van leaves at either 3:00pm or 04:00pm depending on the number of passengers. I did not risk staying in the area for too long.
Total cost for a solo trip: 750.00 pesos
The best option is taking a private vehicle so that you will not be constrained with the short window of time. Just screenshot the map and save it on your phone because you will not be able to access it in the area. The roads are not confusing either, just ask around if you get confused. People in the area are very familiar with the Blue Lagoon.
There are on hotels in the area. I was able to talk to Mr. Rolando Mandin, a local habal-habal driver who also rents a couple of room in his house for only 100.00 pesos per head. The rooms are decent enough for a homestay on that part of the province. Guests will be sleeping on mattresses on the floor of fan rooms. The guest house can accommodate as much as seven guests.
I had fun with my very quick trip. The boat ride made me appreciate the beauty of the lagoon from a different angle. The lagoon was packed with tourists during my visit because of the holidays. Tip: the bamboo ladders are very slippery, use slippers or sandals that have a good grip. There are life vests available at the entrance. If you have a lot of time to spare, make the most out of your visit and try jumping from one o the cliffs.
Check out their official facebook page: Buhisan Cliff, Tabina, Zamboanga del Sur