I know it’s already five months overdue but still, I would like to write a personal post about my 26th year, highlighting the travels I’ve had and the people I met along the way.
Contrary to my 25th year’s travels which were mainly as a solo backpacker or with a travel buddy, 2013-2014 was more of a group travel kind for me. It’s also during this span of time that I’ve met several important people in my life — from CouchSurfing acquaintances to really great friends, and from total strangers to favorite companions and partners in crime. And yes, ’twas also late last year that I met someone whom I’m looking forward to have more travels and adventures with.
In one rather sunny August day, me and some friends from couchsurfing decided to push through with a quick weekend escape to Laiya, Batangas — a coastline of white sand about three or four hours from the paved highways of Manila.
We actually talked about the trip a week before but weren’t really sure if we’d push through. Laiya isn’t exactly known to the Manila populace as a cheap place for a quick getaway. When you say Laiya, it’s possible that the first thought are the big and fancy resort hotels that charge you about 4000 per person for the weekend — which, I think, for the services, amenities and package food menu that is included is just fair for a touristy weekend vacay.
I haven’t posted a new travel entry for two months now and as I am running out of excuses for it, I’ve decided to have a quick Instagram post of my 4-day trip to Visayas with Leah, my good friend whom I’ve met through CouchSurfing in India.
As she’s only here for 8 days and I have just started on a new job, we made sure that she’d be able to see the Philippines under the urban/metro and rural/nature sense.
Our first stop after she roamed the streets of Taguig, Makati and Manila is the naturally-gifted province of Bohol. While planning her trip, I asked Leah which of the 7107 islands of he Philippines would she be more interested in. I provided her with the top tourist destinations’ main selling points and at the mention of Tarsier, the world’s smallest primate (or so we thought), our itinerary finally had its anchor.
Earlier this year, I made a checklist of the places I wanted to visit and Anawangin Cove in Zambales was included in it—until it got bumped by Nagsasa Cove.
Nagsasa Cove is about 30 minutes farther by boat than Anawangin Cove if you are taking the Pundaquit or San Miguel jump off points in the town of San Antonio, Zambales. We availed the tour package offered by Ate Alice and our jump-off point was Brgy. San Miguel. It’s just 10 minutes from the San Antonio Municipal Hall where most passengers and tourists get dropped by the buses from Manila and picked up by their boatmen or tour operators.
From the jump-off point, it took us about an hour to get to Nagsasa Cove. The boat passed through surprisingly very calm waters, so calm that at some points it’s like a glass mirror reflecting the outriggers of the banca without any disturbance! Plus, since it was just a little past 6am when we started our boat journey, we had awesome views of the sunrise, the mountain, and the horizon! On the way to Nagsasa Cove, I was so happy feeling the subtle warmth of the sun’s rays breaking through the mountain peaks and touching my face. I greeted everyone a very good morning indeed!
And then, once we arrived at Nagsasa, we can’t help but admire the beauty that was around us. My travel companions, being foreigners who have lived here for a while now and have already traveled to other places, exclaimed that Nagsasa was indeed so beautiful and they can’t believe that they’re still in the Philippines and not somewhere else!
Groggy girls that we were, we found our spot at Mang Ador’s campsite and Kuya Ruben, our boatman, set up our tents. We then brought out our supplies and prepared breakfast. You can start your own fire but we opted to go to Mang Ador’s cottage-slash-sari-sari store coz they have better firewood cooking set-up. And after breakfast of fried eggs and bread, with cheeze spread and peanut butter, plus a good serving of Gatorade, we went for a swim and welcomed the clear and soothing waters!
Apart from being the best sand my friends have ever been on, they also appreciated the clearness of the waters at Nagsasa Cove. It’s so clear that you don’t really need goggles or snorkel masks to see through the water. There are also some jellyfish species floating around as well as small fish. The campers here also seem friendly and are conscious of keeping the place clean.
After a good swimming and soaking, we decided to take a nap. It was kind of humid at first but the wind picks up every now and then at Nagsasa Cove. I still don’t know why that is so but it’s amazing how you would “hear” the humming of the wind first before you “feel” it!
It felt like we napped for a long time and then we realized that it was just noon!!! For some reason, we found time to be very slow once we’re at Nagsasa. It’s either the cove is doing it’s job of not making us think of time and how it passes OR our brain’s still exhausted and has not recovered from the lack of proper sleep! In any case, we didn’t really complain coz that meant we have more time to enjoy the coves!
Once we’re done with lunch and another swim to play with the jellyfish and find other fishies, we decided to move to the other side of the cove—the one I want to call “mainstream campsites”. If facing the beach, from Mang Ador’s campsite, you would need to walk towards the left and reach some kind of a sandbar due to the drying river that flows through to the ocean.
The scenery is quite nice but upon reaching the shoreline of the mainstream campsite, I can’t help but feel disappointed and sad. There were a lot of plastic garbage! Me and Elaine did some cleaning-up but it was just too many!!! The sand is also coarse and more painful on the feet than the campsite at Mang Ador’s.
So, after taking pictures from the top of rocky cliff-like formation and taking a quick dip, Elaine and I decided to return to our campsite, just in time for the sunset. Nagsasa sunset wasn’t the “setting-in-front-of-you” type of sunset coz it was covered by the mountain but it was spectacular nonetheless. A good mix of red, orange and purple. Ganda!!!
And of course, after sunset comes another round of eating! And then, bonfire! I was really excited for the bonfire coz it will be the first time I was to have smores—a very good bite of marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers goodness! I can’t remember how many I had but I still remember how the mallows and Hershey’s melted and the way it felt in my mouth!!! We four girls had some wine (or a lot of it) and just enjoyed feeding the fire with logs…and mallows!
I woke up really early in the morning (like before 6) and had a good swim (for hangover?) and watched the sun rise again—this time trying to break through the pinewood trees! And once all the girls were awake, we prepared breakfast and decided to stay at Nagsasa a while longer and skip Camara island on the way back.
We spent some time just chilling, swimming, chatting and exploring a bit more of the rocky side of the edge of Mang Ador’s campsite. I think some people from the mainstream campsites also walk over this side to take photos.
And to cap it off, Elaine “insisted” that I go for the water splash shot! To which I “not so willingly” (as in pakipot kuno) obliged. Hahaha I think it’s a good memory of Nagsasa, di ba?!
Before the Holy Week, I headed up north to Sagada with CouchSurfers and newfound friends to go spelunking in the Cave Connection, Bomod-ok falls trekking and swimming, and hanging coffins hunting.
The Viahera Vlog feature I’m including here is the one for the Bomod-ok Falls trek we did on our Day 2 in Sagada. There are 11 of us, 5 CouchSurfers, 5 jeepmates, and Larry the tourist, from the topload ride from Banaue to Sagada.
Total time for the Bomod-ok Falls trek is supposedly at 1-hour descending and 1-hour ascending. The thing is, with a group of 11 picture crazy people, I’d say that 3 hours would be a good estimate. Hihihi
Oh well. We still got there anyway. And enjoyed the Bomod-ok falls in its full glory. I even checked something off my bucket list once we were already in Bomod-ok—to jump off a cliff! Ok, I know it’s not really a “cliff” in open waters or something but hey, it’s still high! The 8-minute video of climbing to the jump-off point and taking the plunge into the waterfalls’ freezing pool is not included in this video playlist coz it deserves another entry! Seriously, buwis buhay (daredevil) mode!
For now, enjoy the Viahera Vlogs I took during our trek and I hope that one day, you’ll get to trek through the beautiful Sagada rice terraces and experience the thrill and chill of Bomod-ok Falls.
Life is short so take a leap of faith. Let’s wander, explore and discover. Come and journey with me.