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These Rock Formations In Samar Are So Stunning They Inspired Chito Roño’s Latest Film

Down in the province of Samar, there’s a rock that faces the sea. Sandstone slabs that stand tall, proud and triumphant against waters that fade from bright to blackish blue as the coast gives way to the deep. Scattered in the surrounding shallows are rocks just like this one, of varying heights but equally cragged, equally scarred, whipped by wind and rain and waves incessant. Like forlorn lovers these rocks stand, watching, waiting for whatever it is that lies beyond the horizon. It is a place out of dreams. Stand on these shores at night and it’s as if you’ve stepped into outer space.

These are the rock formations of Biri.



Shooting Signal Rock. Soon. #signalrockmovie #cinematography

A post shared by neil daza (@neildaza) on


They are so beautiful that the director Chito Roño bought a property close to the area and based his latest film, Signal Rock, on the island. Signal Rock, perhaps the most lauded entry in this month’s Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino, is about a young man who can only connect with her sister living in Finland when he climbs up the rock, the island’s only source of cellular phone signal. The cast is sensational, and it won’t be wrong to say the rock formations play a significant part in the movie. The cinematographer Neil Daza lit them so beautifully—or they lit up his postcard pretty images.     



But where exactly are the rock formations located? Right up in Northern Samar on the island of Biri, where the strait of San Bernandino meets the mighty Pacific. It’s a bit of a trip if you’re looking to visit. A flight to either Catarman or Calbayog puts you close to little Biri. From there, it’s a short drive to the town of Lavezares and then a boat crossing over to the island. Try not to visit during monsoon season, though. You’ll find a potentially miserable, even dangerous vacation waiting on the wings. If you’re one of the lucky few who saw Signal Rock, you’ll have a pretty good idea what we’re talking about.



As you’d imagine from the name, the rock formations of Biri are more than just a single boulder, but are instead six separate rocks jutting up out of the sea, each as dramatic as the next. There’s Magasang, Masapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Caranas and, finally, Bel-at, the most famous and well-known of the six. Between them are tidal pools—small, shallow pockets of ocean water as crystalline as a mirror, almost alien in appearance. Millions upon millions of years of pelagic forces pounded the coastline of Samar into this fractured panorama, leaving shattered rocks and spiky outcrops as trace reminders of titanic energy that you, in your wanderlust, can visit and daydream upon.



If you’re looking to visit the rock formations at Biri, you’re going to have to prepare yourself for a little rustic living. Accommodations don’t get any more comfortable than Biri Resort and Dive Center and Villa Amor, far removed from the top-tier accommodations you might find in a destination that’s a little more established. If you decide to go, though, you’ll find it’s worth the journey. Pick your way through the rocks and across the wave pools and clamber up onto the peak of Signal Rock. Cast your soul into the sea and let the Pacific whip right round your arms as you gaze off into the distance in this place beyond the universe.


Thumbnail photo by @fonsfavis on Instagram

Banner photo by @jon_lakwatsero on Instagram