Our two days of island hopping adventure not only made us discover and enjoy the spectacular beauty of Caramoan but helped us get to know the people that made our experience memorable. I've mentioned Kuya Ramil, our tour guide and boat man, several times in my previous posts regarding our island hopping activities but didn't talk about the kind of person he is. I'm sure you're itching to know about the budget accommodation but let me share to you about Kuya Ramil first. He is the very reason why the place is worth recommending. :)
We didn't expect to receive anything "special" from Kuya Ramil's service prior to visiting Caramoan. I found his contact number from a blog which I mentioned here and then contacted him and negotiated about the rate for island hopping tours. Aside from giving us discount by availing his island hopping service (which we were happy because of our limited budget), he volunteered to be our tour guide once we arrived in Caramoan for free. How nice of him, I said. He agreed to pick us up at Guijalo Port, the entry point to Caramoan Island. When we arrived, he was already there waiting and had already arranged a transportation to take us to the town center or Centro. Our initial impression of him was that he looked unfriendly because he seemed serious and didn't talk that much -- somehow opposite of what we were truly expecting.
The jump off point for island hopping in Caramoan is either Bikal Port or Paniman Beach. My prior knowledge was that most island hopping tours begin from Bikal Port. From what I also read, if you're backpacking or didn't book any tours ahead of time, you can just go to Bikal Port and find a boat to rent or group to join in there. So after our lunch, we immediately headed to Paniman Beach to start off our short trip island hopping. I was about to ask Kuya Ramil why he took us to Paniman (instead of Bikal) until he said that he lives there. That they have a house in Paniman.
Paniman is actually a fishing village. While fishing is the primary source of income of the locals in Paniman, providing island hopping tours to visitors and tourists supplements to their income, thanks to Survivor show for boosting the tourism in Caramoan. I learned that Kuya Ramil has been offering island hopping tours for quite a while now due to the number of boats that he owns.
To keep it short, for two days, we got to know Kuya Ramil better. We became comfortable with each other. He began to open up about their life in Paniman and how Survivor has helped to support their livelihoods. When there's filming of the show, most of them get a job. Even his children are lucky to get hired as well. That's when he mentioned that their house was once rented to be a temporary shelter by some of the crew. He said they got paid very well for it and was thankful for the opportunity.
Knowing that more Survivor productions will take place in the future, they decided to renovate their house little by little and rent it out for the show's crew or visitors. Their house has four bedrooms (all fan rooms) and two bathrooms that can accommodate up to 8 persons. If you're two persons only, you can just rent one of the rooms. The good part is that you can rent the house or a room for just P200 per person per night. Of course, this is not a hotel but a decent home-style accommodation that will truly give you that "at home" feel. If you're into a budget trip and looking for basic room without the fancy stuff in Caramoan, then this will fit the bill. Aside from that, staying here will save you at least P300 for tricycle fare from and to Centro (when you are staying for more than a day for island hopping).
During one of our conversations, he shared some stories about their past guests, which revealed his generosity and kindheartedness. One of which was when he let a group of seven guests to stay for some extra night when they got stranded in the island because of a typhoon. The guests were already out of budget and as a person with a good heart, he freely offered their humble abode. He didn't expect that the guests would send him money afterwards to repay his generosity and thoughtfulness. Furthermore, we were moved when he told us that they can let anybody stay in their house for free and eat with them for free as well. Now...who isn't touched by this?
If you have budget concerns, just let him know how much budget you have and he will try to work it out for you. Everything is negotiable with him. In fact, he doesn't mind not making money as long as he sees his guests do enjoy their experience in Caramoan. See, I rarely meet this kind of person. But of course, whoever reads this, plans to stay there and expects something like this, please remember that he needs some income to feed his family. What I mean is, don't go overboard. :-)
In case you're wondering where they sleep when the entire house is being rented, they would transfer to a smaller house just beside it which is being converted from a stock room. Guests can freely use the cooking and other facilities inside the house once they rent it. If you like, you can also ask his wife to cook your meals. Let them know your budget and they will prepare something for you. Again, just don't be "kuripot".
If you're not interested in renting their house, you can just hire him for island hopping. Even beforehand, we already felt we were in good hands during our island hopping activities. Kuya Ramil would always keep an eye on us -- making sure that we were safe while leisurely exploring the beaches and islands. You've got a father in him. :-) On the other hand, if you're a group who opts for a package tour (with private car including a trip to CWC in Naga City), he can also arrange that for you.
After this trip, I realized that the real beauty of Caramoan doesn't lie on its divine beaches and pristine islands (that allured even the Survivor show) but on its people that can unexpectedly turn an ordinary trip into an extraordinary one.
Contact Person: Ramil Cruel (he's completely opposite of his last name!)
Contact number: 09074351962
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/caramoantourpackage
Read more about my Caramoan series:
- Part 1 - The Journey to Caramoan Island
- Part 2 - Caramoan Island Hopping: The Short Trip
- Part 3 - Caramoan Island Hopping: The Long Trip
- Part 4 - St. Michael Archangel Church of Caramoan
- Part 5 - Quick Side Trip to Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC)