Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Weekdays on Calaguas Island


You've probably heard about this place. Maybe you've been there or a friend has already. I've heard that summer weekends are usually the busiest - not a good idea. So with a couple of teacher-friends (I specifically wanted an intimate group) Ice and Lito, we went there on a weekday. Good thing is that we are all on summer vacation so we have all the time to bask in the sun and enjoy the beach. 

We chose to ride a Superlines aircon bus off to Paracale in Camarines Norte. We reserved a day before at Cubao terminal for their 7:45 p.m. schedule. For 515 pesos (415 pesos for students) and 8 hours, we endured the whole trip watching 5 FPJ films on the bus' tv. We were at Paracale town at around 4:00 a.m. Please take note that the endpoint of the bus is Panganiban and not Paracale so better ask the conductor or driver to drop you off at Paracale town. 

We texted our fabulous boatman Mang Boy (0908.546.0683) of our arrival. We got the roundtrip boat transfer from Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas for 1,800 pesos. In no time, he fetched us and let us stay in their house to have some coffee. We weren't able to go ahead at that time 'coz it was still dark so we exchanged stories with him. We also asked Mang Boy if we could probably borrow some cooking stuff from his house, he was about to prepare it when we changed our minds. Nobody wants to cook and slave over a meal. We then asked Mang Boy's wife to cook some rice and boiled eggs for us. I also brought a pork adobo which lasted for 3 meals. 

Then we went to the town's market to buy other stuff like loads of banana and some canned stuff - easy food. As for our drinking water, Mang Boy let us borrow his purified water container and we refilled it for 35 pesos. But then, you never have to worry about food while on the island. You could ask the caretakers to cook something for you. 

ano 'yung trapal?
At around 6:00 a.m. we went on and braved the seas. We were expecting to be crossing a rough sea. But then "rough" is relative. Yes, we and our stuff received a few splashes but we still consider it as a smooth one. I even napped on the way. And then I saw the island from afar. I was spaced out. Speechless for the next few minutes. No words. Just pure amazement. 


unobstructed Thursday morning
clear waters and seabed
We were on Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas on a Thursday. It was just us and two more groups on the whole island. It was just so great. And the sand? The rumors are true, it was so fine and smooth. The water? Clarity at its finest.

There are 4 or 5 different areas in the island where you can stay. We didn't get to choose 'coz Mang Boy directed us to the rightmost part (facing the beach). The area is managed by Mang Bert and some caretakers. We didn't get to meet him but one of his caretaker Reyniel (0920.660.4030) assisted us all throughout our stay. He immediately went to our boat and assisted us and our stuff. There are cottages for rent (300-500 pesos) but you can also pitch your tents around the area. Just ask them about it. 

We chose a huge tree to be our temporary shelter and pitched our tents beside it. I have my own tent and the two shared one. Reyniel brought a table which we used as our working table for food preparation and stuff (as if we cooked). There are certain "fees" that you have to be aware of in this area; entrance fee of 100 pesos each person/night and a barangay fee of 20 pesos per person (which we didn't get to pay 'coz the officials were not so stringent on small groups). There were two shared toilets that he guests could use. For your "water needs", there's a water pump there and a pail of water is for 10 pesos which will be delivered to you. You may also opt to fill up a huge basin in the water pump area (which the three of us used every night for bathing purposes) for 50 pesos so better plan your "water needs" accordingly. 

There's also a Smart network on some areas but I didn't try to search for one. I am not so attached to the "outside world" so taking my phone away from me won't be a problem at all. Electricity is out of question. There were some generator sets on other areas and you could ask Reyniel to charge your gadgets for you for a minimal fee.


choose your spot
our moth-infested tree. we got used to it though.
I love the beach. I could lazily spend a day or two just doing nothing. Take away everything but my beach - or my beer perhaps. And that's what we did on the island. What we did was to; eat, chill, chat, nap, drink buko (30 pesos) and ice cold beer (90 pesos/red horse mucho), swim, observe, eat again, stargaze and more beer. Just the way I like it. 






The first night was nice. I saw a few fireflies and we had a nice chat with Reyniel. The conversation brought us to the idea of hiking on a hill to watch sunrise on the other side of the island. I wasn't as excited as Ice and Lito (me no love mountains and stuff) but we agreed on waking up at 5:00 a.m. the next day to catch it.  


our temporary shelter for 3 days
I woke up on time but the others didn't. I didn't wanna ruin their sleep though. But then Reyniel came and I needed to shake their tents to wake them up. They got worried and I laughed at them for not even fixing themselves for the hike. We hiked on our sleepers. We headed to the hills at the back of the area and started the 20-minute not-your-walk-in-the-park trek. Nobody complained, not even me. 


I didn't complain - good job
And then the sunrise! We were quite late but we still managed to get a glimpse of the majestic sun. Speechless, tired and hungry, we watched as the yolk went up to the sky. And then I asked Reyniel about their community. He pointed at the foot of the hill. It was quite near so we asked if we could visit their place. He gladly agreed and then we moved on. 
  
it's never too late
I was left behind a few times on the way to the village. It's that yellow flower I saw. It's that water well which made me curious. It's that vibe of the whole community that made me stop and feel it sinking in for some time. A quaint community on the other side and a booming beach place on the other - a perfect juxtaposition. We made our way to their house. His wife then prepared some coffee and bread for our tired and hungry souls at no cost. Very nice. 

We stayed there for an hour and played with Reyniel's kids. We also got to chat with the neighbors and they were telling us how deserted the happy beach before. That they used it for docking their boats and for picnics. They didn't expect it to be in its present state. They are happy, of course, because it means a productive livelihood for everyone. They don't need to go to the mainland to secure a nice paying job. But I was saddened by this thought. Not because I don't want them to earn but because I want the kids to experience high school at the very least. There's only an Elementary school on the island. One would need to go the mainland just to continue their basic education. Some of the kids there would rather work as a caretaker than go to school. Sad.

off to the village
trapped
well, oh well
mad and sad (us leaving)
We went back to our camp and did the same routine as the other day. We noticed that groups were starting to arrive on the island. We were joking about "seniority" in the island - that we arrived earlier than others so we are entitled to anything we wanna do. The things you could only think while on a deserted island. We also went to the far end (right side facing the beach) and checked out what's hiding on that side. You'd be able to cross that side if it's low tide so better wait for it than risking your precious gadgets (no, not you). And then it revealed itself to us. A rocky side to the island. They were both giddy exploring that side. I stayed on a rock just watching them. 

We went back to the camp and saw some local kids who were playing on the beach. We joined them and goofed around. And they loved my underwater camera. I let them borrow it and boy they had fun with it!


passable during low tide
I sat, they explored


feeling bagets
On our third and last day on the island (Saturday), we were surprised on how many groups were arriving when we woke up. It didn't stop until we were about to leave. I realized that it was really the "it" beach nowadays. Thank goodness we went there on a Thursday. At least we get to experience the island with more locals than guests. 

I also noticed a resort that was being constructed. It was grand. And Reyniel was telling us about the owner's plan on having a swimming pool and other stuff on the property he bought for millions. I dunno what to feel. I definitely don't want to keep this island as a secret 'coz that's just pure selfishness but I also do not want the place to be turned into another party beach. I am just hoping for a perfect balance for diversity. I believe that nature and development/advancement can co-exist. It's just how people act towards it. So people please, be vigilant with what you do anywhere and anytime.  


posh cabanas of the resort being constructed
I don't have a list on the best beaches in the country. I only have two distinctions; a happy beach or a sad beach. The factors to be considered may vary depending on my mood at that time or the people I'm with. And yes, Calaguas' Mahabang Buhangin is a happy beach - on a weekday. Need I say more?


leaving the weekenders behind

marx:
so how was your Calaguas trip?
carla: ok lang, happy naman
marx: ok lang?! wala man lang "wow"?!
carla: ok... wow?!

57 comments:

  1. I wanted to visit this place kaso worried ako sa boat travel and sa tutulugan. Di ko pa naexperience magtent. =)

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    1. may mga cottage dun michi pero yung boat ride nga ang medyo hassle pag di sanay. pero super ganda naman ng beach after that ride :)

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  2. Ang ganda ng mga pictures. Travelling and photography are two great habits really. Medyo pang single and adventurous ang place. I think we can't be there with the kids. Hassle ang boat ride at "rough" sea..

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    1. thanks naman. there are kids though nung andun kami. they hired a hige boat para di masiyado hassle ang boat ride sa kids :)

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  3. going there next week. ayoko mag-expect. baka ma-disappoint lang ako hehe

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    1. hi kat! if you go there on a weekend, iba siguro ang feel ng beach. pero if the crowd doesn't bother you at all ok naman :)

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  4. clap...clap..clap! good job chong! It was an UNFORGETTABLE experience,thank you for inviting me for this trip. While reading this,na-imagine ko tuloy yung mga halakhakan natin, ang saya at ang mga reflection namin ni Lito! LOL Yes indeed a HAPPY BEACH :)

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    1. at kayo lang talaga ni lito ang nag-reflect ha? hahaha

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    2. hahaha! syempre naman ang ganda kasi magreflect dun, so perfect :)

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  5. Wow, it's still beautiful! I wish I lived closer to Camarines Norte, if only for this. And you got a pumpboat for only Php1800!

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    1. if only for this beach talaga mustachio? hehe. basta happy beach siya for me :)

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  6. nice shot...what lens did you use?

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    1. thanks! it's a 17-70 mm., f 2.8-4 :)

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  7. Buti pa kayo nakapunta sa community tsaka naka hike dun sa hill. Balak din namin un na hindi natuloy kasi late ako nagising. :D

    Bakit may cottages nang mga ganyan, bakit? :(

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  8. I hope the resort owner will still keep the exclusivity of the place. :\

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  9. Ang cool, sobrang cowboy nung peg HAHAHAHA

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  10. Mukhang enjoy talaga ang bakasyon a!

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    1. enjoy talaga, at sa murang halaga pa. hehe

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  11. Buti naman well preserved pa din yung beach. Dagat nito parang Maldives pinoy version. :)

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    1. sana ma maintain ng ganyan lang katherine :)

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  12. Until now, hindi pa rin ako nakakapunta dyan sa Calaguas! Sana soon! :)

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    1. go na mervs! weekdays para happy beach :)

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  13. namimiss ko na ang Calaguas!! :)

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  14. hi maam, kamusta? na miss ko ang blog mo ang daming bago. :D ang gaganda ng shot. aylabit. :D

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  15. kaya pala naka 17-50 na 2.8, bago lens maam?

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  16. omg ang gnda!

    asan na buhangin ko?

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    1. napagkamalang harina ni agnes chyng, ginawang polvoron. chos! :)

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  17. Wow Calaguas!next time pasama naman:)

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  18. ganda teh namiss ko magbeach! nung nagpunta ko medyo bumabagyo bagyo nyahaha. sana nga kahit pano maimprove naman education ng mga bata malaking bagay din ang turismo basta alagaan lang para di masira :)

    ps. fave ko yung off to the village pic mo <3

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    1. uy musta ka na teh? hope ur ok...

      balik ka ng maaraw and weekday. super happy beach siya :)

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  19. matapos ko maging inactive sa blogging, eto ang bubungad sakin. ang gandaaaa carla! kelangan na mapuntahan yan. nice shots, btw. :)

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    1. hi kimi! and you're back :)

      kailangan talagang mapuntahan. pero dapat weekdays. believe me. haha

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  20. HI blissfulguro!

    I went there last May 16, for my birthday and ang ganda sa Calaguas.. However, we had an arranged tour, and I swear hindi ko na sya gagawin ulit. Sobrang dami lang namin talaga sa "camp" which this tour organizer is claiming as his. Buti nalang maganda sa calaguas and nakakawala ng init ng ulo.. haha..

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    1. hi there faith! you should've went there DIY style, kaya naman eh. calaguas is the happiest beach on weekdays. i'm sure of that :)

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  21. Hi there, nice blog! :)
    ilan kayo nagpunta 2 lang ba kyo for 1800 boat fee?plan namin ni hubby to go next week kc.
    thank you.

    emilie

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    1. hi emilie! bale 3 kami naghati sa 1,800... :)

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  22. thanks for your reply, pahirit pa ulit. :)
    sobrang maliit ba bangka? may lifevest na pinahiram mangboy? di ako marunong lumangoy at takot kasi ako.

    thanksie! :)

    Emilie

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    1. yep! may mga vests si kuya. pwedeng mag request. pati na rin trapal for boat. may boat kasi siya na walang shde eh. enjoy calaguas! :)

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  23. hi. do you happen to get the last trip from Daet to Paracale? Galing pa kasi kami Legazpi and we will leave Legazpi at around 1:30 pm.

    Or if hindi kami aabot sa last trip, we might just stay sa Daet and leave the next day to Paracale. What time is the first trip to Paracale?

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    1. Hi ronan. ang last na nakita kong bus to paracale is around 5pm. im not quite sure kung anong oras ang last trip. di ko rin alam yung first trip eh. pagdating naman dun madali na lang magtanong for sure :)

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  24. Hi..nice shots..were planning to get there in april.. ask ko lang how much budget nyo for that trip?and yun pa din po ba number ni manong nagbabangka?

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    1. hi there martor! april is the perfect time to go there, though it may be crowded during weekends. i think yun pa rin ang number ni kuya :)

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  25. madam, nice blog and pics. just want to ask if may alam si mang boy na parking space for a car. planning to go there by private vehicle. pati yung boat rental po ba will depend on number of days na mag stay sa island? or fixed na? thanks po. and more power

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    1. hi there. may alam si mang boy na parking for sure. and yung boat rental same pa rin kahit ilang days kayo :)

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  27. Hi! Pede bang mag-rent ng tent sa Calaguas? We're planning to visit this month and hindi ko sure kung kelangan namin magdala ng tent. Dalawa lang kami pupunta, safe ba every night? THANK YOU! Sorry first time kami magcacamping. SALAMAT! :)

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    1. Hi there! Meron naman atang mga for rent na tents dun. Pero may mga cottages din na nipa hut. pwede di dun. Safe naman kasi may caretaker kada area, feeling ko pag may nawalan ng gamit dun eh hindi lokal ang gagawa. just be vigilant lang. enjoy calaguas! :)

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  28. Just wanted to share our experience during our Calaguas trip this Febuary 2015, this is after heavy rain in so waves are really rough and my heart is about to jump. Good thing our tour guide Noly is really helpful to us and comfort us during that time.
    When we reach the island, it was majestic and pristine as it could be. We had 4 meals a day (heavy meals) and when we go back to Vinzons, Noly asked us to eat at their house (no additional charge) before we head out to Manila. It was an experience for a lifetime, not just because of the beautiful beach. But our tour guide is really helpful and hostpitable.
    You can contact him Noly – 09179595985 / 09206611018 or http://www.calaguasislands.com/ (not affiliated in any way, just a happy traveler)

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    1. Will try to contact Noly next time. Nice share Ice :)

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