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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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…”
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…..
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….