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.
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….
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….
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
During my vacation in april 2010, I’ve visited my Auntie (first cousin of my mother) who was just a few kilometers from the city center of Sorsogon (Bgy. Cabid-an). During my childhood days, I used to come here especially during harvest time of their corn. During those days, ‘di pa gaanong develop ang lugar nila. Her children developed the area as they grow old. Hindi nagkakalayo sa edad ko ang mga anak nya that’s why we are closed to each other. I’m so thankful that I bring along my camera when I visited her. (she had already poor vision due to catarata.) Here are the pictures taken from their place which I want to share with you.
“The fruit of their labor.”
During my pre-school years, we were living in the sub-urb called (Sitio) Quimontod. Some called it Quimontod Saday. Don’t know where Quimontod Daku is. It is more or less half hectar land. At the center of the land is hill where our house was located. Two grand mothers were with us. My mother’s mother, May Paui and my mother’s Auntie, Nay Tinay who was an old maid. She was very industrious, and religous. She built an altar herself from boulders around the area. She also makes wine from balig-ang fruits.
Quimontod has a lot of fruit bearing trees and ornamental plants. There were balig-ang-which is delicious to shake with sugar (linu-go), makopa (with beautiful pink flowers), tambis, hagis -with a mouth-watering colors when riped, kayumito (star apple),tapayas (papaya), gumihan, pili nuts, biriran (balimbing) and of course lots of lumbod (buko). One makopa tree was cut down for I had fallen from it. I’ve over-heard my brothers talking about salag and piso (nest and birdlings) of palago. Out of their sight, i climbed the makopa to see the birdlings they were talking about. I did saw it, but when I was going down, I stepped on a dead branch that caused me to land on a rock head first. Luckily I survived. But the memories are clear even I was 6 years old at that time.
Pathways were lined up with different ornamental plants. Our house was standing at the highest part of the land. On the eastern part, lies our small rice paddies. Very small compared to neighboring paddies but until now, it is still an additional source of living for my brother who tills the land.
There was a portion near the rice paddies planted with palawan. A root crop that grows in mudland. But since it is frequently being harvested by intruders, we stopped replanting it until it’s gone. Me and brother J-are made a pond on it. But same thing, tilapia was being fished out by some intruders. But I liked it being a pond ’cause I enjoy seeing the things that grows in it. Like the kurakding (mushrooms) that grows on a log (check the photos). And the pink color eggs of golden kuhol that are attached to the stems of gabi. On the eastern part of the paddies, there is a small creek. We used to fish on that deep portion of the creek we called Libtong. We catch dalag and puyo. On rainy days, my brothers used to make a raft out of banana trunk.
Copra is also a major product of that small parcel of land. But it’s a long hard work before you convert it into cash. Starts from picking the fruits (niyog) by climbing or by kalawit, bringing it to the work area near the agunan (cooking flatform), removing the husk, removing the juice (bat-ak), layering (kamada), cooking (agon), removing the shell (tingkal), compressing it to sack, and finally bringing it to comprada to sell.
These are my memories of Quimontod. Below are the photos randomly taken in april 2010.