My journey, photography and adventure site


Nagsasa Cove Kayaking Adventure

Just like my previous successful outdoor adventures, I’ve spent some time planning and researching for it. Nagsasa was been in my wish lists of the places I want to see with my own two eyes. And a place to paddle too….

As a nature lover, photo-collector (dyahe sabihing photographer), camper and a kayaker, Nagsasa Cove perfectly fits all in. Let me share my stories…


No matter how hard and carefully you plan, there are really circumstances beyond your control. And for the cases like that, just leave it to God and He will do it for you. Me and my family went to Victory Liner terminal in Caloocan before midnight. Intendedly midnight to ride the last trip to San Antonio, Zambales. But to my surprise, there were a lot of passengers and all trips for that day was fully booked. It was school calendar ending and a lot of students going home. The queue was long even for the chance passengers. Since we were not able to get tickets, we decided to wait at the waiting area, for the first trip at dawn. Buses come and go, but still a lot of passengers at the departure area.

After maybe an hour there killing time, the dispatcher approached us. Asking where will be our destination. I told him, to Zambales but we were not able to get tickets. “Okay, I will help you get a bus.” Wow! We were so blessed. Thanks God, I never expected that.

We arrived at San Antonio past three am. Thanks to that kind-hearted dispatcher. If not for him, we were still there at the waiting area. The town was already alive at that early morning. A lot of local tourists, campers, mostly students and young professionals maybe.

After buying our necessary supplies from the nearby market (only a couple of stalls has opened), we took a trike going to Pundaquit beach. The jump off beach for different destinations. It’s still dark, so we rested inside the cottage, probably owned by the boat owner whom we have contracted. When the day breaks, we’re off to the water. The boat was small. Maybe just enough for the four of us. But risky for the big waves. Since it is small, it took us more or less two hours traversing along the coasts. We reached Nagsasa at past 7:00 am. As part of the plan, I have already in mind an ideal place to camp. Every time I go to a tourist destination, I always wanted to be off the crowd. (read my blog about Caramoan adventure). Another criteria, I want near the body of water. But the owner (or care taker), was charging us higher than I expected. Part of my planning was reading blogs, written by those who have been to that particular place so I know the average charging.

We moved to other area. Inside the compound of the care taker. His name was Mang Eddie and Ate Celia. They have an enclosed t&b and supply of fresh water coming from the mountain. We set up our tent, and inflated my kayak and rest. The sun was high and scorching. After our lunch, each of us found our own space for siesta. Me and my two kids slept on sand, while my wife slept on her hammock which she haggled from a vendor at San Antonio.

When the tide was high, I left my family still sleeping soundly. The sun was still high, but I thought to myself, I can’t explore the place when the tide goes low.

The feeling was overwhelming as I paddled along the creek. Before, I was only dreaming for this place. Envied the photos in the net. But now, I’m seeing it myself. Taking pictures myself. The color of the mountains was brownish. But it turns out green during rainy seasons. I think, this creek is being called by bloggers “the marlboro creek“. Because it is similar to the commercial of the said cigar. There are also agoho trees in the area, Which was started to grow only after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

When my wife woke up, we paddled there again and show her the place. When we got back to our camp, we were thirsty so we went to the sari-sari store by the beach. And bought the most expensive soft drink in my whole entire life hahaha. Seventy pesos lang naman ang 1.5 liter.

We stayed there by the beach for three days and 2 nights. Another dream come true. Another memorable adventure.


If you are a bonsai collector, you might be tempted to hunt some materials here.


I just can’t explain my feelings every time I see a view like this in reality.


Our hotel and cruise ship 🙂


My son enjoying his moment


Creek near our camp


Color of the mountains during sunset


Biri Rock Formations Adventure

Biri Rock Formations was been dreamed/planned for almost a year after my Caramoan adventures in summer 2012. Just like Caramoan, it was a long and tiring trip even my point of origin was only from Sorsogon. But tiredness has gone, when I saw the place.


The Journey

A minimum of one hour bus ride from my hometown-Sorsogon City to Matnog, Sorsogon. Then another more than 1 hour trip in a ferry boat accros San Bernardino Strait (Matnog to Allen). Another 30-45 mins trike ride from Allen port to Lavesares; Another 1 hour boat trip from Lavesares to Biri Island; and lastly 15 min habal-habal ride from Poblacion Biri to Rock Formations. Just check some other blog entries if you are coming from other places like manila or southern samar.

Along the way when you ride habal-habal, you’ll stop in a tourism post for registration and pay entrance fee of 50 pesos. You will be given a flyer about the rock formations and the tourism rules and regulations. Camping was not allowed, but thanks God they allowed us by convincing them that we are responsible campers. Kayaking was not prohibited but (not mentioned in their flyer). The habal-habal drivers later told me that I was the first to bring kayak there. I’m not sure if they (tourism) were aware that inside our big duffle bag was a kayak.

It was low tide when we arrived. A little bit disappointed ‘coz we need to wade the water to reach the rock formations. After setting up my kayak, we started to wade our way to the rock formations. Our belongings were wrapped in a transparent plastic bags and tied in the kayak. But when we were at the middle between the formations and the shore, the water is only below knee level, so I decided to leave kayak behind. I just tied it between two rocks. We continue to wade our way. There are portions that the water is chest level. Watching my buddy clicking pictures as she find wer way in between rocks, I was worried my camera could submerge anytime if she lost her balance.

The explorers

We spent our morning exploring/shooting the area. We climbed the first rock formations named “Magasang”. It was easier to climb just like climbing the stairs of a stadium. It was a breath-taking view up there. I didn’t reach the peak, but it’s good enough to see other rock formations behind each other. you could also see from above the natural pools with crystal clear waters. The people swimming in the pool looks so tiny against the size of the pool. You could see the gigantic waves crushing agains the giant rocks. Watching open sea, wondering what kind of fish it could offer if I try to fish. Fishing was part of the plan before. But later realized that it’s not a good combination with photography and kayaking.

At noon time, we cooked our lunch under the canopy rock of Magsapad. First time to used my camping stove and It satisfied me. While cooking the rice, I decided to leave to take the kayak from where I left it. It was totally grounded by the low tide. I took first our belongings and returned back to take the kayak. More than 25 kilos plus a gusting wind that blows me sideways, took time to reach the rock. And need to carry it for extra meters ’cause my partner changed our camping area for lunch. She found an elevated area at eastern part of Magsapad. Luckily there was a group of teens that helped me carry the kayak. Thanks to them. After lunch, wasted no time, applied some sunblock and explored again the area. We climbed a big rock that the texture is similar to a lean concrete textured by the pouring rain. Yes it’s rough like that. I saw her capturing the big waves crushing from behind the rocks. Holding her month-old Samsung Note1 capturing the waves. I shouted at her, it might get wet. I joined her with my gopro. She sat at the edge waiting for the waves to crush behind her. With my gopro on, I videoed her having fun with the waves. But I was worried, one big wave could swallow her and take her to the open sea. We walked from Magsapad to Macadlaw. Along the way capturing, videoing anything that interests us. Macadlaw is a rock island with two coconut trees and vegetations on her top. I also noticed a fossil-like giant set of teeth. Thinking, what might archaeologist might explain about it. There is a perfect spot up there for camwhores. A rock near the cliff, almost cantilevered from the main rock island. If you’re on top, you could see the other nearby rock formations. Our kayak and our camp was not visible anymore from Macalaw. But Magsapad itself on west side is visible. On eastern side, it could be “Bel-at”, “Caranas” or whatever. Macadlaw is also ideal as camp site, but we were thinking of moving back to Magasang so that it’s near where were dropped by the habal-habal drivers. My Gopro’s battery ran out. Sad to say that I lost my chance of shooting underwater. I’ve had enough memories, but not enough energy.

Before sunset, we decided to transfer our camp at Magasang to spend our night there. We carried all our belongings (again) from Magsapad to Magasang. If it’s only high tide, I don’t need to carry them all including the kayak. I could have just paddled to trasnfer. It’s good that there is a plain surface at Magasang. Very ideal for setting up our tent. Maybe only two meters above the water level. Even the kayak, we ‘parked’ near our tent anticipating the hightide at night. We finished off the day with a light dinner.

Inside the tent was, was hot. Oh no, it’s not what you are thinking. It’s literally hot. Though it’s windy outside, it bounce off the rock wall behind our tent. I was thinking of getting out the tent and sleep outside. Woke up early morning to catch the sunset. And had photographed our basecamp. After breakfast, we swam and snorkeled at natural pool. there were fishes under. I was thinking to fish last night but my foot aches and got blisters. My aqua shoes was comfortable at first, but got blisters and wounded later. When the tide was high enough for paddling, we packed up our things and paddled in between mangrooves. If it was only high tide yesterday when we arrived, we could have seen the other rock formations. We paddled back, planned to dock at the foot of the stairs of the viewing deck opposite to Magasang. But when we were there, I found it difficult to hold still. The current was strong. So decided to land on shore instead. We saw two habal-habal arrived. We thought that they are our drivers yesterday. And we were right. They said, they thought they might not received our text when we will be picked up because the signal of globe in the island is poor. (but we’re using smart). I paddled a few more before I docked from were we started yesterday. We deflated our kayak and packed inside the bag and go.

There is a public bathroom at poblacion where you could wash away the sea water in your body. there is no fixed rate, only donation. There was no scheduled trip to Lavesares. The boat also bound to Matnog left early morning around 7 am. So we decided to proceed to Bgy. Sto. Nino, as suggested by our habal-habal drivers. Luckily, there was a boat there to Lavesares. But we waited for a few more passengers. After waiting for more than hour, we’re off to go. Goodbye Biri, hoping to come back someday to see other rock formations.

Me and my kayak at the port of Allen.

Ready to explore

Ready to explore

Pulling instead of riding it because it’s low tide.

Magasang , the furthest rock formation.

A view from Magasang over looking natural pool.

From the top of Magasang, you could see Macadlaw and a natural pool below.

Rock formation far ahead is Magsapad. It has two cocounut trees on its top. It's ideal also for camping because the rock is covered with grass.

Rock formation far ahead is Magsapad. It has two cocounut trees on its top. It’s ideal also for camping because the rock is covered with grass.

Giant waves coming from pacific

Giant waves coming from pacific

Paddling in the waters of Biri.

Paddling in the waters of Biri.

another natural pool behind  macadlaw rock formations

Another natural pool behind magsapad rock formations


Good morning Biri….

Our camp site

Our camp site


looks like frozen waves.

Children of Biri are lucky. Having a crystal-clear water to play into. The waterfront of Poblacion.

Children of Biri are so lucky. Having a crystal-clear water to play into. The waterfront of Poblacion.


While we were at Bgy. Santo Nino, waiting for the boat to leave. This old woman catched our attention. She’s from the nearby island, crossed the sea to fetch some water from a deep well. She made several trips carrying a pail on each of her hands, and transferred the water to those containers.

Outdoor Adventures 2013

Feeling excited for the coming summer 2013. My annual vacation, Having so many dreams and plans to do for this year’ but since my budget is limited, some might not turn into reality this year. Just watch out, for whatever activities I might pursue. Some in my wish lists are: Exploring the rock formations of Biri, Samar; camping at Malawmawan Island, Castilla, Sorsogon, etc.Image

Wadi Hanifah

I was always being fascinated by the bodies of water. Beaches, rivers, lakes and ponds. Even a simple puddle catches my interest.

But here in Saudi, it’s very rare. Not unless you are in coastal provinces like Jeddah, Jubail, Khobar, Rastanura and Qatif. Riyadh, where I work is in the middle of the desert. I was surprised when I discovered on Google Earth that Riyadh has a river. Just a few kilometers from the city center, there is a stream called “Wadi Hanifah”. I need to see this, I told myself.

One weekend (Friday is the weekend here), I decided to pursue my curiosity. I took a taxi and asked if he knows Wadi Hanifa. You will not be surprised if all the taxi drivers here always said “Yes” but don’t assume that they really know the place. I made a sketch to guide him the route.

When I was there, I couldn’t believe that Riyadh really has a river (with water of course) because there’s a lot that looks like a river but are dried. But this one, the current was strong and the water is clear. You could even see tilapias in the water. Yes, I’m sure those are tilapia. But the overwhelming joy inside me was mixed with worries. That place is a park and a lot of people having their weekend picnic. Photography at public places here in Saudi is still risky. There are also mobile car of the park keeper trailing along the river from time to time. I walked at the far end of the park hoping to have a spot without arabs. I’ve had already sat up my tripod and beginning to compose when I’ve heard a fat saudi yelling at me. He is with his wife (covered with black cloth). Since they are some meters away from me, I just made a sign language telling him I am only shooting the river. And then I saw his angry face, and the motion of his hands telling me to move away. Haiissst…

I walked back into the middle of the park. I decided to better have a quick snap rather than try for a long exposure. In the end, it was another memorable experience here in KSA.







This picture doesn’t look like in Saudi. There are  also tilapia in this river.


An ordinary puddle that caught my interest because of the morning sun reflection on it.

Overnight Camping at Subic Beach

Subic Beach is part of  Calintaan Island in Matnog, Sorsogon. And Matnog is the southern-most town in Luzon. Started our journey at Diversion Road corner of Maharlika highway of Sorsogon City. Waited for a bus to Matnog coming from Manila. Me and my two kids, my sister, and her best friend, after almost an hour of waiting, Elavil Bus arrived. Luckily, there were empty seats, so no need to ‘kalong‘ my kiddos. And I paid half fare for each of them. I was also thankful that they did not vomit inside the bus. Normally, my son always feel dizzy for a long ride. The trip from Sorsogon to Matnog takes an hour. Upon arrival there, we proceed to the back side of wet market where passenger pump boats are docked. I leave it to my sister to haggle with bangkero for I did the marketing for our food supplies and other necessities. There is a water filling station there, but they don’t have empty containers. They advised me to go to a nearby store who sells empty mineral water container. I bought 15 pesos for a 4-liter jar, and the filtered water costs 15 pesos also, a total of 30 pesos. I also bought, rice, eggs, bread, lighter, noodles etc.

My sister and the boat man agreed for a 2,500 pesos service fee. It’s kinda expensive for me thinking that we wouldn’t do island hopping. But I didn’t complain. My original plan was to camp in Tikling island. But the boat man told us that it is a private island and not allowed to camp there. (I’ll tell you later if it’s true). So we choosed Subic Beach instead.

It was my kids’ first time to ride a banca. The sound of the engine was irritating but I diverted my attention to the water. It was crystal clear, and the bottom is visible.

A few kilometers from subic beach, the boatman turned off the engine to ask me, which one we preferred, ‘subic saday’ or ‘subic daku’ (small subic or big subic)? I choosed subic saday thinking that subic daku has a lot of people. So there we are, felt the pinkish sand under our feet. First thing that impressed me was cleanliness. The care taker was there in the water, gathering the leaves that floats. He was cleaning the beach. Our boatman called him and we inquired. And told us that the cottage rental is 200 pesos for overnight. It is an open cottage built with light materials, with table at the center. We also asked permission if we could set up a tent. “Walang problema” he said. My kids were so excited to get into the water. While my sister and her friend preparing the table for lunch, the kids plunged in the water, and me? took out my cam and started shooting. Adik hehe…

Subic (saday) Beach

Subic beach is getting famous for its pinkish beach. Actually, there are red corals in the water which was pulverized by the waves, and washed to shore that makes the beach pinkish. Since it has no electricity (by that time), no other sounds you could hear other than the waves and the swimmers and the voices from the nearby cottages. What I mean is, there were no noisy videoke… But signal on cp’s were excellent.

In the afternoon, after snapping pictures of the vicinity, I grabbed my snorkel set and checked what subic has to offer underneath. Lato (edible sea weed) is abundant in the area. There’s not much fish and sea shells but the corals are healthy. I just hope I have a submersible camera with me.

When the sun was setting down, mosquitoes started to came out. But we were prepared with OFF Lotion. But there was only a certain time. When it’s completely dark, mosquitoes were minimal. My sister and her friend gathered drift woods at day time and we made a bonfire at night. Again, my kids enjoyed it. At it was their first camp fire. We had a rechargeable lamp with us, and for additional light, the caretaker lend us their ‘gasera‘. The kids slept early inside the tent while we, oldies chat for a few more hours over the red wine which I brought along from UAE during my stopover at abu dhabi. But we hadn’t finished it off. All of them spent their night inside the tent while me, I slept on the bench of the cottage. It’s quite uncomfortable ‘coz the bamboo sticks are uneven. I woke up in the middle of the night. Sat by the beach, and contemplate. There was a light coming from a light house (i just thought). I later researched that it was coming from Capul island. (And started dreaming to visit it one day……

I rose up early next morning before the day breaks. My daughter also got out of their tent early. She joined me watching the sun rise, over a cup of coffee. When the sun was up, she plunged again in the water, while his kuya was still sleeping. I was smiling watching her. I tried to tease her commenting on her color, “you’re now a nigger Axl“. She confidently replied “ok lang…”

Early morning sea. The island from afar is Capul (from the word Acapulco). I am planning to  visit it someday.

We had our lunch early, to get ready for our sundo. Our boatmen arrived before 11 am. We paid him his services, and we also paid the caretaker of the beach. At the corner of my eyes, I saw the caretaker handed the 100 bill to the boatman. I felt so sad. Was it referral fee? I was thinking, maybe that is the main reason why he didn’t want us to camp in Tikling Island. There are no cottages there, and he could have no commission.

But as a bonus from him, we dropped by at Juag fish sanctuary. It’s a fish pen of different speceis of first class fish. Lapu-lapu, maya-maya, etc including sea turtles. There was no entrance fee but there is a donation box. And you need to buy feeds from them to throw it inside the pen. Fishes knows it already, simultaneously snapping the foods. We bought two types of food. Four packs of fillets, and worth 30 pesos of small dead fishes.

Upon returning to Matnog port, I asked our boat man to get nearer to Tikling Island so that I could snap some pictures. I’m still hoping, to set my foot on that island someday…..


Pieces of this coral makes the beach pinkish

Rocky part of the beach

Enjoying the water

Sea turtle at Juag fish santuary

Our bonfireunknown plant at the beach

unknown island vegetation

Me and my son having coffee break

unknown fruit

caged fishes at Juag fish santuary


There’s a lot of natural shades

Bonding with my kids

Adventure in Bulusan Lake

Waking up early was not a routine of my son Cymon and my daughter Axl. But this morning was different ’cause they are coming with me. Destination: Bulusan Lake. Dubbed as the “Switzerland of the Orient”.

Boarded a jeep at the terminal near the Sorsogon Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral) to Irosin because there is no direct trip to Bulusan. It’s good that the jeepney left the terminal even we were only three adults and three children. But the jeep gets full by picking up passengers along the route. When we were at Irosin, there we feel bored while waiting for the jeep (to Bulusan) to get full of passengers. We waited I think thirty minutes. The driver of the jeep didn’t  showed up until his jeepney was full. Along the way, there were still passengers being picked up and hopped in, even clinging and standing at the steps of the jeep.  In the city, you could rarely see female hanging on the jeepney. But here in remote area, male, female, old or even young students have no choice ’cause there is only few jeep plying that route. And TAKE NOTE: the last trip  back to Irosin is 3pm. I was sitting beside my kids (I paid their sits). On my lap was my back pack. One woman offered, or requested to hold Axl on her lap. When we approached the road under construction (very rough road) I noticed Axl’s face was so pale. I thought she feels dizzy because of zigzagging and bouncing ride. When there was an empty sit, Axl took it. I was worried she might vomit. But she didn’t. Later When I asked her what she feels on that woman’s lap, she said the woman was holding her so tightly on her tummy.

When we arrived at Bulusan proper, I just bought two liters of mineral water then hired a tricycle to take us to the lake. Actually, the jeep we rode passed by the entrance going to the lake. But we didn’t dropped by there because the lake was 2.5km from the hi-way and there were no tricycle at the entrance going in. We agreed to the amount of 150 pesos for taking us there. He tied my inflatable kayak at the roof of his trike. There was no chance of taking pictures along the way because of the road condition.

Bulusan lake was now different compared to ten years ago when I first saw it. It is now frequently visited by tourists often by the family of OFW’s. There are now kayaks for rent. The entrance fee at the lake is only ten pesos. While the rental for kayak is 200 pesos per hour (or was it per half our?). I asked the fee collector, if it’s okay if I use my own kayak. He didn’t  got what I mean so I explained to him that we brought with us an inflatable kayak. Pointed to him the duffle bag beside my son. He explained to me that it’s okay but they will not be responsible if something happens to us in the lake. And I said I understood, and added that we brought our own PFD (personal floating device or life jackets). He asked a few more questions regarding my kayak. How much I purchased it, how and where etc. I think I was the first visitor who brought along kayak.

We took some souvenir photos and had our lunch. I prepared adobong manok as our baun. We were allowed to eat under the canopies of the trees at the foot of Virgin Mary grotto. After our lunch I started to inflate my Advanced Element kayak at the edge of the lake. As I was pumping the air, a man on his shorts, wearing t-shirt and a hat (similar to those scout rangers), and with a radio hanging on his hips approached us. “Sorry Sir pero next time wag na kayong magdadala niyan ha.” I was speechless to what I’ve heard. I just nodded voluntarily. But in my mind, i have a lot of scrambled words that I wished I could tell to this man. I want to tell him “you don’t want to bring us a kayak because you have kayaks for rent.” But instead, I continue inflating my boat. We need to hurry because we need to catch up the last trip going back to Irosin.

So there we are paddling in the Lake of Bulusan. Axl was in front, while Cymon in the middle. I paddled slowly towards the east. There were two motor boats at the lake. One was carrying a group of tourists, the other serves as a back-up. I snapped some photos from time to time. Finally we reached the other side of the lake. There was a pergola there. There is a hiking trail around the lake which I think I might try next time I come back without a kayak. After paddling and taking photos for an hour, we decided to go. There are no closed cottages by the lake but they allow campers overnight at the parking area. After I deflated the boat, we off to go. Unfortunately, we need to walk out of the lake area. No tricycles available. I told my kids, “it’s really more fun in the Philippines, but this is not funny anymore.” (Walking 2.5km with a back pack and a duffle bag on my shoulder.) My perspiration was dripping.

We waited at the highway for more than hour before the last jeep came. There was a resort beside the main entrance of the lake but there was no available room for overnight. The caretaker said, she still needs to clean it ’cause the owner had just left last night. If there was only a vacant room, we could spend our night there. Hoping, that would be available rooms next time….

The lake

kids enjoying the boat ride

@ the other side of the lake (east side).


for rent

the lake

@ Irosin, waiting for the jeep to Bulusan.


Having our lunch at the foot of the grotto.

Getting ready

Out of the lake…

Next destination???



Resort near the main entrance of the lake

Bonus picture: the Bulusan volcano taken by my son from the jeepney.


Kayaking in Buhatan River

One day in the summer of 2012, I’d been rushing up the modifications of my inflatable kayak. I’d added up a sail. After lunch, I went to sorsogon pier to check the water. It’s high tide. Decided to test my sail on that day, but waited for my nephew to accompany me. My plan was to kayak along the Buhatan river going to rompeolas.

It was 3pm I think when my nephew got ready. We inflated the kayak and loaded it to my trike. With the help of my brother, he drove us to Buhatan bridge. It’s good that there are concrete steps going down the river. The water was subsiding so I was rushing before the it’s completely low tide. My concern was, we might be grounded at the mouth of the river if its low tide. But it was only my anticipation because I have no idea what is the river looks like at the mouth. We brought our boat down the river and set up the mast and the sail. But the sail was not yet up.

I feel happiness inside of me while we were paddling along the river (suba). Since the current was going out, it didn’t require us much effort paddling. It was cloudy day and the rain was pouring from time to time so I didn’t brought my dslr with me. I have a point and shoot camera with me but got no chance to capture the scenery because we were catching up the tide. Along the river, we passed by a number of banata (fish traps). It was really fun because we didn’t know exactly the direction to open sea. We just follow the current. In a few minutes, we saw its mouth. We saw the Sorsogon Bay.We rest for a while enjoying the view. The mountains behind us, and the rompeolas from a distance. I tried to pull the sail up. There was no wind so paddled a little further. Then we started moving.

I don’t have knowledge about sailing. Only inspired by the videos I’ve seen from You Tube. Tracking was not easy as I imagined maybe because my boat don’t have a rudder or le board. I also noted an error with the height of the sail and the rope that supports the mast. The sail was too low and the rope abstruct the shifting of the sail from one side to the other. I just used my paddle to change direction avoiding the fish traps that scattered on the bay. But we enjoyed the experience. When we were at the middle, I took out our merienda (pinakro na palawan). I wished, I also brought hot coffee with us. We took a few snap of ourselves before we moved on. When were near the pier, we saw my brother waiving on us. It was agreed that he wait for us at the pier to take us back home.

It was an unforgetable experience indeed. A dream come true. Planning to do it again some time to snap pictures along the river. Also planning to do it in Matnog river. Supposedly it was my plan to paddle along Pilar river. But didn’t pursue it bacause my family was worried. (insurgency issue again). g300


I tried to modify my inflatable kayak by adding a sail.


a short kayaking/sailing experience in Sorsogon Bay.


My nephew…


Meryenda at the sea: Pinakro na palawan




It was already been my dream to see Caramoan with my own two eyes even before the Survivor reality show made it famous. I first saw the pictures of it since I discovered Google Earth. Since then, I became obsessed to see it. Being a nature lover, I didn’t worry of the perils might be in going to that isolated place of bicolandia (alone). I asked my ten years old son if he wants to come, he said he is afraid to ride in a boat.

April 28, 2012, it was past six in the morning when the Queen bus line left Sorsogon. One hour passed, and I was there in Daraga, Albay waiting for a bus to Naga. At past 7am, I boarded  Ibea bus line bounded to Manila. But most of the passengers were only as far as Naga City. And the bus was frequently stopping,  picking up passengers. I was sure to myself that I will reach Pili, Camarines Sur by noon. Will surely be missing Raymond Bus from Manila bounded directly to Caramoan.

As I was expected, it was almost 12 noon when I dropped at the crossing of Anayan Pili. I boarded again a bus (JC Liner) and dropped at central terminal of Goa, Camarines Sur. From there, I boarded a jeep bound to Sabang. Upon reaching Sabang, porters calls for passengers going to Caramoan. I let the porter carry my duffle bag (my inflatable kayak) to the waiting area at the beach. There were already passengers waiting for the 2 pm trip. Some of them, a group of Taiwanese tourists. A big passenger boat was anchored a few distance from the shore. But it left for unknown reason. And later before 2pm, it was announced that the boat was not able to cruise. So the passengers will be divided in two smaller boats waiting by the river of Sabang behind the wet market.

This is the boat supposedly will take us to Caramoan

It took two and a half hours to reach Guijalo port in Caramoan with that boat. And it was  already 4:30 pm.  I asked one tricycle driver who has a passenger, if I could join the ride going to sentro ng Caramoan. Thanks God he agreed together with two other passengers. The sceneries along the way to Caramoan proper was nice but was not able to grab may camera ‘coz my right hand was gripping the hand bar (I was at the back of the driver) and the other hand was holding my back pack. But the road was far better than my tricycle ride from Bulusan proper to Bulusan Lake.

I bought three liters of mineral water, 2 cans of sardines, 2 instant noodles and worth ten pesos of bread. I didn’t starved much because I bought puto (rice cake) and baduya (fried banana) on my bus ride. It was getting dark already when I decided to proceed to the beach. I asked the tricycle drivers if how much if they will take me to Paniman Beach. They said, since it’s getting dark already, and will be no more passengers going back, they will charge 150 pesos. But they are not greedy ‘coz they suggested me to take habal-habal  (single motorcycle) instead. So I rented two habal-habal. One for my self and one for my duffle bag. Fifty pesos each, so I saved fifty pesos. We let the motorcycle with my bag to lead the way so that we could keep an eye with my bag if it’s about to fall. It’s already dark when I set my foot at Paniman beach. I found myself just in front of Breezes and Waves Resort. But since I don’t have a plan to check in a hotel, I asked the caretaker if I could set up a tent there at the beach. The old man was very kind to me. And he assured me that nobody will harm me if I wished to camp there. So I started setting up my ‘hotel’.  I brought a sleeping bag with me but it’s too hot to sleep in it. So I just used it as my sleeping mat.

Just camped in front of a resort to spend the first night.

I woke up early morning. My sleep was not as comfortable as sleeping at home but I could say “I survived the night”. I used my handmade camping stove (out of tin can) to boil water for my coffee. Which I partnered with the bread I bought  from sentro yesterday. After breakfast, I started to prepare my first day exploration. The caretaker stayed around and watched me inflated my kayak. When everything was set, he assisted me putting my boat in the water. Caramoan here I come!!

I have printed copy of google map inside my duffle bag, but didn’t took it out ‘coz I already familiarized it. I asked the old man if that island we saw from a distance is Matukad, and he said yes. My orientation was correct hehe.

I passed by this rock on my way to Matukad Island

My first aimed Island was Matukad but did not paddle directly there. I paddled in between islets, literally exploring the place. Thanks God the water was calm and crystal clear. I constantly  checking the depth of the water, not getting in too shallow where there might be protruding sharp rocks that could rip off my boat.  I placed my snorkel set in front of me ready to grab just in case my kayak capsized.  I also wrapped my camera in a plastic bag and placed it behind me, taking it out from time to time to capture the view.  It’s a wonderful place and you could really appreciate how great God is, by His creations. Since it is still early, there are less sounds of bancas in the area. It’s so peaceful out there.

I reached Matukad Island before 7 am. And feeling proud that I was the first visitor on that day. There were no traces of footprints at the beach, except on higher grounds where had not reached by the waves during high tide. I tied my boat on a rock and submerged myself on its water. So refreshing…..

After a few minutes of snorkeling in the area, I climbed the huge boulder. It looks like a puzzle rock, stacked on top of each other that forms one boulder. The view on top was breath taking. You could see how clear the water is. On the eastern part from where I was standing, I could see the beach of Lahus Island (as per my familiarization of the place via Google Earth). A few minutes later, here comes the visitors. First boat….. second boat. A visitor from manila approached and asked if he could have a picture of himself with my kayak. In return, I asked him to snap me too. (I didn’t bring a tripod). . I left the island before the third boat came. (I shall return.)


Next stop over is Lahus or Naglahus Island. Some call it Bichara Island. It’s an island with two beach fronts (east and west side). And luckily again, I was the first visitor of the day.  I anchored my boat and took some pictures of the island.  The rocks of Lahus are very sharp.

I was also surveying for a good place to camp when the night comes. And there was an ideal place. And I told myself, I shall return…. A few minutes later, the first motorized boat arrived. I chit-chat with the bankero.  He said they came straight from Guijalo port, and his visitor will pay him 2,500 for the island hopping. I have seen them yesterday at the waiting shed. One female, and two male.  And I think they were siblings.  I asked the bangkero if he knows where Tinago Cove is, and he said it’s too far from here. I said no, it’s just somewhere here. I didn’t argue with him because I am sure with myself. I’ve planned and researched for this trip for years. Maybe he was referring to different ‘tinago’ because he came from Guijalo. I joked to myself, how could I found it if is hidden. And he offered his services, “if you want, I could tow you going there….” Oh really… how nice of you…. But thanks anyway, what is the used of my paddle if you will tow me.

An island with two beach front. I’ve been dreaming for years to see this island.


Tinago, tinago, sino ang nagtago? I paddled toward south-east near the coast line. If you are far from the coastline, you will not notice that there are islets and coves before the shore or coast. I found a passage in between two huge rocks. I slowly paddled in, stop, look, and listen…. (paran tren lang ano.) And then I saw a short strip of white line. A small beach. I continued paddling in until I saw an opening channel on my left. Voila!! This is it. I found the Tinago. As I get nearer to the beach, I smell something like a cologne.  Does God sprayed cologne on this place? I asked myself. Maybe it’s a fragrance from the wild flowers in the area. Once on the beach, I texted someone (yes there was signal on cp). “ I found Tinago. But I would like to call this “paradise”.  The color and texture of the sand is like washed sugar. One thing that saddened me was the traces of bonfire right at the foot of a tree. The tree is already dying. Irresponsible campers are destroying the place. There were also empty cans of beers. It’s a good thing that bangkeros were the one collecting the garbage of their clients. I asked one bangkero who arrived later to take my empty can of sardines.

I call this place “Paradise”

I was about to snorkel when I heard the sound of a motor boat. Alone no more! So instead, I cooked my lunch even if it’s still past 10 am I think. I’ve positioned my DIY camping stove between the crevice. Then more boats came. They even had pictorials with my kayak. After I had my lunch, I decided to leave the place because it’s getting crowded already. Although there were beautiful girls on their swimsuits,  some kababayans and some foreigners, I didn’t dare to take snap on them. I might get in trouble.

So I  traced my way out of the cove. But stopped in the middle to take some pictures of the cove before returning to open water. Tracing the coastlines eastward.  My next quest was to find the Tayak Lake. I did found the beach that serves as the entrance to hidden lake. But before I reached the shoreline I was met by a shirtless man with a hand held radio and a jungle bolo on his side. He said they will not allowed visitors to get in because Suvivor will shoot. I know he was lying because the caretaker of the resort where I camped told me that the cast of survivors are on 10-day vacation. Bu I did not insists. Frustrated, I turned away and paddled back to Lahus Island where I spent my siyesta and watched the tourists came and go. I was surprised by the volume of visitors on that island alone. Sometimes three were twelve bancas docked at the same time. Squeezing each other on the beach. I talked with bankeros while waiting for their passengers. We where there at the foot of the rocks hiding from the sun. They said, the rental of the boat ranging from 2, 500 to 3,500 pesos depending on the number of passengers and depending on how many islands they will visit. Some tourists hired tour guides so that will be an additional expenses. If you’re about to go, you could save by not hiring a tour guide because boat men themselves knows the place and they will be your tour guides. However these boatmen don’t have access to internet so you can’t book or negotiate with them prior to your trip.

When I feel bored watching the people on the island, I decided to leave and headed back to Matukad Island. I found more interesting views of the island. On the east side of the island, there was a huge rock that looks like it was placed on top of rocks. Just like a canopy. I paddled to the other side of the island looking for the small beach that I remembered from google map. I found it but it was creepy. I mean I feel being enchanted. I was there floating on the water for more than an hour figuring out how to get to the beach without being slammed by the rocks by the waves. I could see the beach behind the tower rock that seems like guarding the beach. This rock has holes that serves as nests to birds. I really want to get to that beach but was afraid, my boat could be ripped off by the sharp rocks. I wish I have a company with me to take care of my kayak so that I could snorkel in between those rocks to the beach. Ant that is the thought of coming back some time. Would you dare coming with me? 🙂

It feels like some eyes are watching me…

My kayak on matukad island

View from the top of a rock in Matukad island

Lahus Island

Tinago Cove

While on search for Tinago Cove

Behind this beach is the Tayak Lake. Unfortunately I was not allowed to get in by the guard.

My first morning in Caramoan

My kayak

My DIY camping stove

My kayak, deflated

A Tribute To My Mother

December 12, 2007 @ around seven in the evening, an old woman in her late 70’s standing by the road on that dark portion of Magsaysay St. in City of Sorsogon. She carefully checking on both directions for any in coming vehicles before she will cross the highway. A pack of ice wrapper in her hand she just bought from nearby store. A few minutes ago she’d just came from the sentro with some groceries for her sari-sari store. After checking her groceries she found out that she forgot to buy the ice wrapper. She told my father that she will just buy instead from a nearby store. Her eyesight was clearer than mine. She don’t wear eye glasses even at night. (I do.) When she saw that the highway was clear, she decided to cross, but suddenly there was a speeding motorcycle that appeared from the eastern lane, and it was too late to avoid it.  According to one witness, she circled in the air several times before falling on a concrete road. (It’s still painful to write the details of this.)

As a youngest of six, I have a lot of memories being together  with my mother. During my pre-school  years, we were living in a barrio. My siblings were studying at Pamurayan Elementary School with their lunch wrapped in a banana leaf prepared by my mother. Feeling jealous that I was the only one without it, she also prepared a small pack for me in which I will open and eat with her during my lunch time.

When there was no dish available, she would just grate a coconut meat and squeezed a few drops unto my plate. Add a little salt and mold it into a bite size rice balls. Maybe I enjoyed the shapes that’s why I didn’t complain the taste. That’s one thing I learned from her. Being indigenous. Whatever you have on hand, used it. Don’t complain and don’t see what is on other peoples’ hand.

During my pre-teens, we lived in Bitan-o, a few hundred meters from the coastal area. And during summer (the tides are high) she just let me swim with my friends in a nearby suba. She didn’t tied me at home as long as my chores were dutifully done. And that taught me of being independent and responsible. She’s not the kind of mother who was searching the neighborhood if she doesn’t see her son within an hour. But during college days (sem breaks and summers), she was worried enough every time I comes home late. And she scolded me every time I comes late and sober. I understand her because in those days, there were drug addicts who will make fun of you pagka napag-tripan ka nila. In our family, drinking of liquor is not a taboo. As long as marunong kang magdala at wag mong aabusuhin ang katawan mo. But this rule didn’t made me a “drunken master”. Life is what we make it ika nga.

December 13, 2007, me and my family temporarily living with my in-laws in Antipolo for my wife’s medication. I received a call from my sister informing me that our mother was in the ICU. She was hit by a motorcycle. The short conversation was over but my ears are still ringing. It’s like the effect of someone threw a fire cracker just beside you. On that same day me and Kuya Ben (our eldest and the only sibling living in manila), agreed to just meet me at Cubao bus station.  The bus was scheduled to leave by seven according to the dispatcher. But thirty minutes after seven, we are still there. My brother confronted the driver and the conductor, “buhay ng aming ina ang hinahabol namin kaya kami sumakay sa inyo dahil sabi niyo aalis ng alas siyete!” mabuti na lang di rin mainit ang mga ulo ng dalawa. They said they were waiting for a passenger who’s ticket of group of teachers are with him. He is a Head Teacher (pa naman). The group of teachers asked an apology for the late coming of their head teacher.

The next morning we were already at the ICU. Our mother was thin ever since, but that time her face and arms were swelling. There were a lot of tubes connected to her body aside from the oxygen. My big brother was beside her, crying while talking to her. I was standing near her feet. Awang-awa ako sa kalagayan nya. I wanted to cry but no tears coming from my eyes. It didn’t came out until we left ICU room. I hate being like this. Late reaction. From the ICU, we headed to laboratory room for blood extraction. They’ve been searching for some blood donors for the whole night, but didn’t found enough donors. Kuya Ben was the first being interviewed by the doctor who was in charge of our mother. “Ok lang ba kahit ganito kalaking karayom ang gagamitin sa pagkuha ng dugo sa’yo?” mentioning to the inner tube of the ballpen that holds the ink. What a silly question I thought. But in the end, I was the only one who passed the screening. My brother was over age, the doctor said. It was my first time for it, and the medtech cautioned me not to squeeze the rubber ball in my hand rapidly or else my veins will explode. I was lying in there, praying that my blood will extend her life more.

On her eight day at the ICU, she struggled a lot. Looks like she was fighting with kamatayan and she didn’t want to go with him. And it seems like my father was being hurt more, seeing her like that. And he even prayed to God, “if You will take her, take her now”. Her medicines, aside from to much expensive, our eldest sister sometimes need to go to nearby province of Albay for there was no available in our province.

On her 9’th day in the ICU, her body returned to normal. The swelling has gone and she could talk slowly. She even said to my father “let’s go home”. Nobody thought on which she was referring to as “home”.  And we realized later on that day, she returned “home” to her creator. On the day of December 24’th 2007, our neighbors busy were preparing for their media noche. While we were busy preparing for her funeral.  And that was the last time we saw her. We spent Christmas eve on the road to Manila. It could be the saddest Christmas Eve we ever had. It was sad not because we miss the traditional noche Buena, but sad because we lost one in our family. I know that each of us will die sooner or later but it’s still hard to accept.

Until now, her case is still not closed. The reckless driver is still free. With a very few trials every year, it might be the tactics of the defense side. To delay the court proceedings until the complainant dies. And the complainant is our old father. With our present justice system, I doubt if we could still have the suspect pay for his crime. But I have no doubt, our mother will still receive justice for her death there in His paradise.

“And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God Himself is judge.” (Pslam 50:6)

Mama, wherever you are, we don’t forget you and we will always love you….

A Hero With A Blood Of Bicolano

I’ve written this story in 2006, the time I was working in Libya.

There is no happier moments for a soldier than coming homing alive from a war. This was probably the feelings of my cousin Domenic and other fellow soldiers who returned home last month. His family members met him at Fort Doum, Watertown New York. Other family members from far places extended their greetings thru emails and phone calls. Everybody is happy and proud for the safe return of their family member.
Domenic was deployed in Afghanistan in February 2006 with the Task Force Spartan of the 10’th Mountain Division in Jalahad, Afghanistan after being stationed in Fort Doum, New York for a year. It is still part of “Operation Enduring Freedom”. A war against terrorism. But sad to say, out of forty eight Spartans in his team, only thirteen of them returned home alive. In one encounter with the Talibans, he lost a friend. And luckily, he only sustained a wound in his leg.
He stayed there for fifteen months mostly patrolling the mountains. He experienced the extreme heat during summer and the freezing cold during winter. Climatic conditions in Afghanistan exhibit great daily and seasonal variations, largely because of the extremes in elevation that characterize the country. I never thought that those color brown mountains are being covered with ice during winter. Unfortunately, they don’t have beach there as we do have here in Libya. Here in Libya, we experienced also the extreme heat, in fact Libya is the record holder for the highest temperature in the world (136 F (57.8 C)) . But in Afghanistan, it’s chilling at dawn even during summer due to high altitude. The first enemy they have to dealt with was the nature. Being in a high altitude, your respiratory system could suffer due to lack of oxygen, and at the same time crawling under the heat of the sun could toast your brain.
Before they went home, they were visited by Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, a three-star General chosen by US President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. He picked up Lute to be his point man for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, after some retired generals turned down the offer. And before returning home, Domenic received a Purple Heart and other medals awarded by the US army and the NATO. He was also promoted to join the Special Operations Division.
Upon knowing his homecoming, I wished that somebody from “Kapuso” or “Kapamilya” network in the Philippines should have interviewed him. Not only for his courage but for being a 100% Pinoy. Imagine, one Filipino fought in Afghanistan and returned home alive.
His Dad was once a sailor before migrating in the USA. There he meet his mother who happened to be his dad’s neighbor when they were kids in Sorsogon, Philippines. They’ve got two kids- Domenic the eldest and his younger sister Monique Elizabeth.
The last time I saw him was on his sister’s 18’th birthday in 2003 which was held in our hometown. His dad said that if it was not for his sister’s birthday he wouldn’t coming home with them. They are very closed siblings. When the main party was over, there was a dance party for youngsters. All of them was having fun while me.
His Dad was once a sailor before migrating in the USA. There he meet his mother who happened to be his dad’s neighbor when they were kids in Bitan-o Sorsogon, Philippines. They’ve got two kids- Domenic the eldest and his younger sister Monique Elizabeth.
The last time I saw him was on his sister’s 18’th birthday in 2003 which was held in our hometown. His dad said that if it was not for his sister’s birthday he wouldn’t coming home with them. They are very closed siblings. When the main party was over, there was a dance party for youngsters. All of them was having fun while me, I feel bored and isolated ’cause i was the only married guy in that hall. Not to mention, I was the only Kuya or Tito left there. I was still there waiting for them ’cause I was the one to drive them home. Not with my SUV but with my “3-wheel drive” (lol)
I saw Domenic smoking in a chair while watching his cousins on the dance floor. I grabbed a chair and sit beside him. I asked from him a stick and while I was lighting it he told me that he never know that I smoke. I said I really don’t. But I was smoking and drinking during high school days. And the only thing I didn’t tried was drugs. So if I were you, stay away from it. I told him. “I never use any drug.” He replied. He is a cool guy. (And a silent type like me too.) g300