Places

First of Summer 2013

I’m going on an adventure! This is what I thought when I learned I’ll be traveling to a new place…alone. It’s not the first time, but it rarely happens. I refused to drop by Baguio mainly because the thought of going to a place for the first time excites me. I take pleasure in such simple things.

I’ve been to some beaches in La Union before, but it would be my first time to go to Caba. Mind you, I’ve never even heard of this town before this trip. A friend from Australia is coming over and asked us (his blockmates) to plan something. We originally planned to go to Pugad Adventures in Pugo, La Union. But at the last minute, we changed plans because we thought it would be more practical to go to this resort in Caba instead.

I went straight to Villa Navarro from Manila. The travel time was cut short because it was easy to slip out of the metro since it was only Thursday. I barely got some sleep because I was seated beside this man who shared his life story to me. A sad one. And he showed me a real-life Quentin Tarantino kind of film. While showing this gory video from his phone, he asks, “Haan ka nga maaryek?” (Aren’t you grossed out?) I said, no. But I really wanted to say, damnit, you already showed it to me. I already saw the blood and all. Why don’t I just finish it til the end. That robbed me off of some precious sleep time. I had to pretend I had to sleep just so he stops talking. The younger me, would’ve chosen to stay up and listen to him talk about his life because it could be a material, for… you know, a story. Those days when I used to want to be a writer.

I arrived in Caba at half past 5 in the morning. The bus conductor even instructed this girl that also got off at Caba Plaza to assist me because I don’t know the place. But I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone so I just pretended to be waiting for someone at the shed. I zombie-walked down the highway. Sheepishly walked to the gas station hoping there would be a snack place where I could stay for a while, but it didn’t have one. I hesitated to go straight to the resort thinking it might still be closed at that time, but tricycle drivers said it’s already open. I even hesitated talking to the drivers because I wasn’t sure if they speak Ilocano. In some places, when the locals learn that someone is new to their place, they charge higher than the usual. Luckily, they were honest people. Living in Manila has really tainted my thinking.

The guard at the resort let me in and talked to me and let me roam around the place until his shift was over. I would’ve preferred to get some more sleep but the resort officially opens at 8 am, when the front desk person arrives.

The resort was all mine. I took a walk up to the northern end of the beach. By the time I arrived back at the resort, the staff were already there, and upon learning that they already have a guess, cleaned out a room for me and let me get some rest, even though check in time is not until noon.

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I wanted to take a dip in the pool as soon as I got settled in, but the front desk person assumed I wanted to rest, she didn’t give me a pool stub when I asked if I could use the pool already, hehe. I didn’t insist and just went to our rented room, read until my eyes grew tired. I was just few minutes into slumber when the first set of people from Baguio arrived. Then we went to the market for food. And cooked lunch.

The balikbayan wanted all-Pinoy food, but we couldn’t really cook in the resort. We’re free to use the griller and stove but we had no utensils, so we just opted for everything grilled, and easy-to-prepare salad.

We immediately went swimming after lunch (I mean, them swimming, and me dipping). We had the pool to ourselves (I think there were only two groups checked in to the resort that day).

We went to the shore, stayed in a cottage for a while, but didn’t go into the water because of the scorching noontime sun. We could go again tomorrow morning, we thought, then went back to the pool.

In the afternoon, five other people from Baguio arrived. And they immediately rummaged the leftovers. I, together with the early batch, was already done with the waters and I was prepping myself for a nap, just to avoid the grilling session for dinner, haha! But then we missed the sunset because of that. 😦

The sun had already sunk deep into the horizon when Lian and I got to the seaside. We just contented ourselves taking ‘motion photos’ from her cam.

After some hours of taking turns in the griller and chopping veggies and fruits, we had dinner. But not before Jom’s prolonged version of the Grace which instantly caused lols even before it’s over. (Some of us are evil like that. I’m looking at you Lenz.) But then who would’t lol with the line, “Please bless this rice to make us nice.” Though he also said something about praying for each of us. Instant redemption!

After dinner, we just sat outside the porch, chatted, watched some TV and took a bunch of photos. A little later, decided to start with the drinks. That Patron and Bacardi 151° really brought out the wild and crazy in people.

After breakfast the next day, we all went back to the waters, dipped in the sea for less than five minutes, and went back to the pool because it’s more fun in there, hehe. Bangs would’ve preferred to stay in the open water longer. We left for Baguio after lunch. Took the bus to Bauang (around 30 minutes trip) and thank goodness from there, we found a van that took us to Baguio, we needn’t ride different buses.

Wearing jackets... in La Union.
Wearing jackets… in La Union.
Places

Family Trip to Nangaramoan

Nangaramoan, Sta. Ana, Cagayan
Nangaramoan, Sta. Ana, Cagayan

I could’ve spent the long weekend either in Calaguas or CamSur and probably didn’t miss Manila Music Festival had I decided not to go home for a friend’s wedding. But I’m glad I chose to attend the wedding, or else I wouldn’t have been in this piece or paradise that is Nangaramoan Beach, located somewhere in the tail ends of Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

It’s a shame how I like going places but when it comes to my home province, I am almost a stranger. Well, as a kid I used to join Girl Scout camps that somehow showed me a number of places around the province and I had my fair share of wandering as a teenager, but still, it’s not enough. There are lots of nice spots to see in Cagayan but I just didn’t have the opportunity and the money, of course. I guess I’ll try to make it up now before everything gets abused (I’m just being realistic, it’s almost always the case in burgeoning tourist spots).

After that incident in 2005, when our youngest drowned in Tallag Beach in Gonzaga, Cagayan, my parents never allowed us (me and my older brother) to go to the beach again. But I lived in Baguio and likes doing things anyway so I managed to sneak to the beach every now and then without my parents knowing about it. I tell them sometimes though, bawas-dinadala. :p

This is our first trip to the beach as a family since that fateful day. I don’t know how I convinced my mother to go. I know she’s still traumatized but she gave in to my plea, maybe because I was paying for the trip, and she knows how walay (wanderer) I am.

Anyway, let me share the beauty of the northeast.

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We started the with the road trip at around 5:20 am and reached our destination at half-past 7. But first, we got lost and randomly found ourselves at the port going to Palaui Island. Our driver has never been to that place before and our companions who’ve been to Anguib couldn’t remember the directions. I myself mistook the signage at the entrance of the road going to Anguib for an advertisement.

Going to Anguib is just like going to Pagudpud, with the long winding road you have to take (about 20 minutes). Thank goodness the road is concrete. How fast things change because those who’ve been there said that in 2011, it’s the usual bumpy ride in a dusty road. The Enriles who own a resort in Anguib must be responsible for this really fast act. I like the comfort but somehow I missed going to the beach through bumpy and dusty roads pass the mountains. Maybe it’s the sense of adventure that comes with it.

Because there is hardly any signage along the way, we just followed the main road that lead us to a dead end, the Pozu Rubo Beach. The beach is empty when we arrived. The non-first timers said it isn’t Anguib so we climbed back and searched for Anguib. If I was with friends, I would’ve preferred Pozu Rubo Cove for it’s isolation but the oldies wanted somewhere there are more people.

When we saw a sub-road with an arrow pointing to the beach and a sign that says “Golden Beach” we took it without hesitations. We ignored this one earlier because we thought the beach at sight has no shores. Still, it’s not the Anguib Beach we’re aiming for but we settled for it since we were immediately captivated by this breathtaking scene.

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Unlike what people claim, Nangaramoan is no Boracay, instead it’s more like Pagudpud. What sets Nangaramoan apart from the other white-sand beaches I’ve been to is the 200 meter still water before the surf. It’s like a huge pool that spared by the surf for the people to enjoy and at. I wanted to go to that part where the pool-like body of water kisses the surf but I retreat when in the middle because I’m not allowed to go to a distance my parents think is far.

The hills extending on the beach separate Nangaramoan from its neighboring coves, Anguib and Puzo Rubo. At the bottom of the water is a lush land of seaweeds making snorkeling more lovely with the added sight of rich greens.

In Nangaramoan, there are no hotels or resorts in the vicinity. To get a legit accommodation, you have to go to the main highway, a few kilometers drive. However, there are cottages by the beach where you can stay for a day or overnight. This particular cottage costs Php400 and it has an attic where you can change clothes or sleep. Tents are also allowed in the place. Oh, and there’s an electricity in the place!

I wanted to take as much photos as I can but I myself preferred to just relax and enjoy the water. As a matter of fact I stayed too long in the water my shoulders were badly burnt. That’s the essence of this trip anyway. 🙂

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How to get there:

Sta. Ana beaches are getting popular among beach lovers and backpackers. However, it’s not easy getting there with the fact that it’s located at the northeastern tip of the Philippines Sta. Ana is 4-5 hours aways from Tuguegarao City (all depends on the driving). Florida bus lines (terminal in Cubao and Sampaloc) have trips going to Sta. Ana. You may also take broken trips by getting a bus bound to Tuguegarao City. Bus lines bound to Cagayan are Victory Liner, Dalin, Ballesteros Bus Lines, Guardian Angels/Everlasting, Northstar, among others. You can also get to Tuguegarao via air. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have daily flights to Tuguegarao. From Tuguegarao, take a bus ride to Sta. Ana.

From Sta. Ana (most probably you’ll be dropped at the town commercial center), you can just ask the locals on how to get transportation going to Anguib. I don’t know the particulars because for our trip, we hired a jeepney and paid a total of P2070 for the rent and the gas.

Places

Discovering Davao

When in Davao City and in search for some place far from the sight of the crowd and the nagging, busy streets, the nearby island, Samal, can give you just the right peace you need.

Today, Davao City is highly urbanized and its outskirts are mostly mountainous; so if you want to hit the beach, head to Samal Island to experience the other side of Davao.

Samal Island is located in the Northeast of Davao del Norte. Although it’s a sea-apart from the mainland, Samal is officially a part of Metro Davao. Samal offers beautiful white sand beaches and awesome water adventures for the laid-back or thrill-seeking tourists.

Activities

Scuba diving and snorkeling are activities that can be enjoyed year-round in the island. Samal’s crystal-clear waters boast unspoiled dive spots that have been attracting divers from all over the country. The rich biodiversity is a real-treat to snorkelers and divers who just want to enjoy the beauty of various water creatures.

Beach resorts in the island also have amenities like banana boats, waterski, slides, and kayaks for those seeking other water adventures. Maxima Aqua Fun has the longest slide in Samal, a must-try for extreme-sports lovers.

Other activities include mountain-climbing, rapelling, and cycling, Samal’s terrain is also a good venue for motocross.

Attractions

Samaleños celebrate various festivals, too. The city celebrates its annual foundation on the first week of March. One of the highlights of Araw ng Samal is Bigiw Regatta, an event where local fishermen compete to show their athleticism, skills and paddling speed using sailboats.

Another attraction in the island is the Kabasan Festival, a weeklong celebration during the month of May consisting of activities like salo-salo sa kabasan. motocross, fireworks display, baile del calle, street party and many more. Kabasan is the lumad term for “seashells” that is why most of the essentials in the celebration are seashells and other sea creatures.

For the month of April, Caracoles Festival is celebrated. Similar to Kabasan, Caracoles is also a fest of shells. Every 8th of June, Kaputian Island celebrates its founding day in an event called White Nights. Pangapog Festival is another celebration to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and blessings.

How To Get There

Samal Island is a short trip from the city proper. You can get to the island via water, or land and water combined. Island Express bus lines travel from Magsaysay to Samal. It is convenient since you don’t have to get off the bus when you reach the port since there are RoRo ships (barge) that take big vehicles from the mainland to Samal. Bus trip is about 30 minutes while the water transfer takes only 10-15 minutes. The bus stops are Peñaplata market. From this point, hire a habal-habal (single motorcycle) to take you to the resort of your choice.

If you opt to take a water vessel, there are ferries from Sta. Ana Wharf in Magsaysay available to passengers going to Kaputian and Talikud Islands. Some resorts have ferries of their own for transferring their guests to and from the port.

You can also hire private motorboats to bring you from any beach of your choice via these entry points:

  • Sta. Ana Wharf
  • Lanang Beach Club
  • Waterfront Wharf
  • Pearl Farm and Bali Bali Wharf
  • Paradise Island Wharf

Samal Island’s water adventures are perfect for families who can spend a whole day simply eating, swimming, or just playing in the water. Samal’s white sand may not be exactly how the famed Boracay sand looks and feels but if you want a relaxing and peaceful vacation, Samal is a perfect place because it offers less of everything, that is less noise and less people.

Laze around, relax, enjoy the sea, the sun, the fresh air, and the breathtaking views. For beach-loving people, Samal Island is a real paradise.

 *Published in the February-March 2012 issue of Philippine Tourist Destinations

Places

Taste the Bohol Waters

When in Bohol, make sure to hit the beach. Bohol beaches have much beauty comparable that of the famed Boracay Island. Panglao beach is most popular among tourists but the province has other beaches that are equally beautiful. On our second day in Bohol, we succeeded in waking up early to witness the sunrise but the sunrise itsef didn’t succeed in amusing us. Unfortunately, the sun rose in the mountains. Continue reading “Taste the Bohol Waters”