Camping on Samal Island


One year after first seeing the land for sale on Samal Island (and 6 long months completing the sale), we returned to spend some time on our property, inspect the new inhabitants and consider the opportunities.

Four bahay kubo are complete, the water supply is connected and a shower/toilet block is functioning and only requires final decorating touches.

We spent a fortnight camping in tents and making full use of the bahay kubos. During this time we discovered that (in January, at least) air conditioning breezes blow across the land during the evening. As a European, I found the temperature in the tent cool enough for a comfortable night’s sleep (while my Filipino family thought it was occasionally too cool). The other great discovery was that mosquitos are scarce; I hardly got a bite outside in two weeks (and none in the tent).

Camping on Samal

Kubo with a view

Two bahay kubo and three tents barely make a dent in the 1 hectare property.

The bahay kubo has a double bed. My young son slept most nights in a hammock strung outside – he didn\’t get bitten by mossies or wet when it rained.

We bought the first bahay kubo from a supplier. When Robert & Dodong (our kin) saw what was in the kit, they used their skill and judgement to build their own using timber and bamboo from neighbours. They also developed the design to increase the interior space (within the same footprint). The toilet/shower is perhaps a little close, but the beauty of the bahay kubo is that 15 strong men can pick it up and move it to a discreet distance.

Our goose-stepping nazi watch-geese. If they were good enough for the Romans, they\’re good enough for me. As well as honking the alert, they provide entertainment for me and a nuisance for the cooks.

Hissing, snarling and aggressive, but total bluffers. The alpha male was favourite for the Xmas table until I reminded people that this was their job. The geese are actually a constant source of entertainment.

At the start of our visit we had 17 chickens…

…just days before we left, that number rose by four new arrivals.

The chickens are completely free to roam. Fortunately, they have a strong homing instinct and in the absence of a coop, have chosen the guava tree outside the toilet/shower to roost. It’s amusing to watch them clamber up the tree at dusk and fire out of the tree one-by-one at dawn. There is one exception to the guava tree…

…my personal favourite is the creature I named the \’Shower Chicken\’. This brooding hen has taken over a basket in the rafters of the shower and pinches any clothing hung within her reach as nesting material. It took me a few days to discover where the strange noise was coming from during my shower. Her comb is barely visible from head hight.

A pair of young goats complete the domestic menagarie. This is the playful billy, who bleats and whimpers in the rain or when his partner is out of sight.

The male has matured into a fine specimen. Unfortunately, he’s as daft as he is clever. If there are any people around, he’ll spend all day playing rather than eating. He also escapes at least once a day, only to turn up eating the flower border…pure attention seeking.

His 2nd favourite trick is to creep up behind behind people – failing that, he’ll test his strength against any one.

The female is far more emotionally mature and just gets on with mowing the lawns.

As in any warm country, there are lots of small geckos chasing insects, but to my huge delight, we also have Tokay Geckos which have chosen to live in the rafters of the bahay kubo. A couple of times a night, they call loudly to each other like cuckoo clocks. A great find and very welcome wildlife.

The tropical equivalent of cuckoo clocks.

Each kubo is guaranteed complete with at least one Tokay. And they can be noisy.

Ultimately, this will be the seaview from the main residence on the property.

Rush hour on Samal\’s 2nd largest road.

Our moped has added to the traffic, but the impact is minimal and the bike regularly transports Dodong and his three kids (see the post on counting in the Philippines)

Following this photo, I rode pillion 120kms to Lupon in Davao Oriental. It rained and when I finally removed my very sore backside from the seat, my face was like a minstrel\’s.

While the moped has been a great boon to the family’s mobility, it hasn’t provided the means to transport building material, or bulk supplies. We also recognise that future guests requiring collecting from the airport might not find the back of a moped ideal (until they’ve acclimatised)…

Go here to find out about our Suzuki Multicab

7 thoughts on “Camping on Samal Island

  1. That’s beautiful! Samal will be on my list for a must visit island next time I’m over in the Philippines. I already sent client/guest to Hof Gorei Resort .

    • Thank you Lucy. You’d be very welcome to stay – our contact details are on the ‘about’ page – and be shown around the island’s sights.

  2. I would love to visit Samal Bahay Kubo next time we visit the Philippines. This is a typical example of a resort that tourist want to visit, nothing fancy… all nature. Good luck guys and we will surely recommend this to our friends as well.

  3. Ah, how nostalgic. All the photos. I grew up in a bahay-kubo deep in a jungle with no neighbors many hectares away. We have lot of chicken so when we finally move to the city I adopted a young chicken who grew into a spoiled hen, who won’t eat if it’s not serve on the plate. Tragically my parent serve her on a plate when I was away from home and was not there to defense her 😦
    Now, 13 years later I’m still mad at them for killing her.

    When I come back to Philippines, I think I’ll bring my husband to visit.

  4. Can u email me need information on kubo ba hay builders samal island am traveling there to build on property sept thank you

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