Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mahabang Buhangin Tale

At the last minute, we were lucky to be joined by two more people - Emil (Kimi's high school friend) and Choi (Emil's Korean roommate) - after seemingly losing the original fourth person of the trip, Joanne. I admit that the trip didn't start right but I immediately dismissed any succeeding ill thoughts. When we arrived at Superlines bus terminal, the last AC trip bound for Daet was already full. I don't intend to go to other places in exchange for this Calaguas trip so I begged the conductor to put us even on the middle aisle. Fortunately, he caved in (economics baby).

Unfortunately though, the Cheese has to sit on a step at the far end of the bus, Kimi and I on monoblocks, Emil has to sit on the front where the conductor seats and Choi had the bad fortune of sitting on the floor along with two other guys who insisted that they'd take the bus too just to get to their destination. But I never heard any complaint from his side, what a nice bloke. To sum it up, everybody had a hard time sleeping. I  managed to catch some zzz's for a total of an hour because my chair kept on tipping and sliding from left to right!

At around 5am, the bus stopped and we found out that it encountered some technical problems. It was still so dark outside but the sky was littered with thousands of stars and a bit cold. The conductor called us and advised us to catch the coming bus since our destination is less than an hour already. We rode an ordinary bus that was so cramped I am amazed how those people lasted 7-8 hours of travel.

In less than 30 minutes, we reached Brgy. Talobatib which would be our jumpoff point. From there we waited for some bus that will bring us to Paracale port. It was a long wait since most of the buses that passes are Panganiban bound so when we saw a van bound for Paracale we immediately hailed it. It was a short ride from Talobatib to the town of Paracale, about 30 minutes. The only thing that we didn't appreciate is the fare we have to pay (50 pesos) since it was obvious that it was the driver's ploy to get some cash from us "tourists" (the van fare we paid from Paracale to Daet cost 50 pesos and it was an hour worth of travel).

When we arrived in the town, we bought supplies -mostly consisting of foods- around the area, ate breakfast at Mister M fastfood, looked for a boatman who will bring us to Calaguas. We found one who will take us to Mahabang Buhangin for 2,500 albeit in a boat that seemed too small so it's no wonder the ride was pretty scary at first what with all the big waves we encountered once we sailed to the open water.

But thank God, He kept us safe throughout the 2-hour boat ride from Paracale fishing port to Mahabang Buhangin shore. The islands that we passed were simply breathtaking. The hills were lush green in color, long and almost white shorelines. I'm not sure how many islands make up the Calaguas group of Islands (since there's not much information in the internet) but we were guessing it's not more than 10 islands. Mahabang Buhangin is part of Pinagtigasan Island.

I really, really loved the aquamarine color of the water in Mahabang Buhangin. It is so cool to look at and so, SO clean. I suppose it's because the place isn't as popular as other Philippine beaches yet. There are no resorts in the place, just a handful of cottages and huts owned by the caretakers. I thought there was only one caretaker in the island but when we got there we realized that there were actually two. If you chose to camp near the first caretaker's hut, you'll have to pay to him but if you set up camp near the other one's hut, you'll have to pay to him. We chose the nearest one, behind the tree we dubbed as "happy tree" (and we the "happy tree friends haha).

In great company. from top left: Emil, JC, Choi and Kimi

We were blessed with a perfect weather, nothing but blue skies and fluffy white clouds in the sky. We spent so much time swimming, wading and dipping in the clear aquamarine water because we know that we have limited time in the island so might as well make the most out of it, never minding the intense heat on our skins. We were also lucky that some kind souls offered to give us food (in exchange of small amount) for the night and boy were we surprised of what we saw. It was almost a small banquet with very delicious and sumptuous meals made up of vegetables, chicken and pork curry, sweet and sour fish meals complete with fresh, very sweet pineapples for dessert. Salamat Sir Jerome, your young chef is amazing!

My friends and I wishes to come back here again, hopefully before the summer ends or around June where the waves can still be forgiving. I hope we really can because seriously an overnight in that island is not enough.

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