San Juan, Batangas to crisscrossing Zamboanga peninsula


April 23-28, 2014. The past days have been a blur. At the heels of a week-long trip to Australia, I had not fully recovered from disorientation. I had not taken a lot of pictures the past days because my phone’s screen was already a mosaic of shattered pieces of glass precariously held together by some inherent Samsung adhesive, and one crack had covered the front camera. And aside from that, I have been un-inspired, suffering from a specie of ennui the past weeks. I’m not sure why, and I don’t really want to answer the question.

Together with my incoming and outgoing co-officers in the student council, we went to San Juan, Batangas for a beach outing, right before some of us flew to Zamboanga to attend the national convention of the Association of Law Students of the Philippines (ALSP). The trip to Batangas was a comfortable one. I ended up with a big bruise on my buttocks after falling off from the staircase, but it was all fine. The trip to Zamboanga on the other hand was punctuated by such an uncomfortable bus ride from Dipolog to Zamboanga City as we traversed Zamboanga peninsula in an effort to board our flight back to Manila.

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Briefly in Batangas, then Pangasinan

My paternal relatives have been taking advantage of every opportunity to get together after my paternal grandfather passed away a few months ago. Lolo used to be the reason why the extended family gets together, usually during hospital visits in Manila. Now that he’s gone, any paternal relative’s birthday is a reason for our family to spend the day in upland Cavite or in Batangas. I hope it stays that way.

Last weekend, we went to Nasugbu in Batangas for the birthday of one of my young nieces. We spent the night and the rest of the day-after leisurely at Canyon Cove Resort.

A day after our trip to Batangas, I took a bus to Pangasinan to join my fraternity batchmates from UP Los Banos in a brief leisure outing. After a little more than four hours on the road from Manila, I reached the municipal hall of Bugallon, Pangasinan. I had asked for the bus to drop me off at the landmark where my fraternity brothers were to pick me up. They had arrived hours earlier and had gone sight-seeing ahead of my arrival.

I took the opportunity to go around the plaza taking photos while waiting for my companions. After meeting up with my brods and sisses, we proceeded west of Lingayen to Alaminos, where we spent a few moments at the town’s docks with the famed Hundred Islands in the horizon. Unfortunately since we only had a day and a few hours to stay in Pangasinan, a Hundred Islands trip was out of the itinerary.

Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09) Pangasinan w/ Frat Batchmates (Oct. 26, 09)
On our way back to Lingayen, we passed by the place of the mayor of Alaminos, who is apparently a fraternity brother also, but we didn’t catch up with him as he was somewhere else. We spent the rest of the afternoon till early in the evening at the wide stretch of beach right behind the provincial capitol in Lingayen. I don’t remember being in a beach that wide-stretching. Like a public park, locals and probably a few tourists were all there just having a good time. The rest of the night was spent at one of our batchmate’s family rest houses in town. We did have to go back to Manila right after midnight since some of us had to attend to our own functions by morning.

Palm Beach, Hugom, San Juan, Batangas

Last weekend, the family went on a short two day, one night trip to a nice semi-secluded beach in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas, three to four hours away from Manila. The resort was called Palm Beach at Barrio Hugom, and was far down the road from the rest of the resorts along the increasingly famous Laiya shoreline.

Its relative isolation from the rest of the resorts in the area, and its seclusion from the other beaches by some mountains, give it a serene and relaxing character. However, despite its apparent isolation from the rest of the popular resorts in the area, it has relatively new and modern facilities and amenities. There is even wifi access in many parts of the resort. I was able to surf the internet one afternoon, under the shade of a tree right at the beach, while I hear the waves lapping on the shore and the sea breeze blowing to cool me off despite the hot afternoon.

There was, however, no signal for the Globe network, so I was inaccessible by phone the entire time–which helped me relax, I guess. I spent most of my time just lounging, and swimming at the pool. I missed swimming like that, though it made me realize that I have to lose some weight and do more regular exercises. I found myself excessively gasping for air after two laps.

Food is served in buffet at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also afternoon snacks. They ration the food in the beginning, but you can go back to the buffet table anytime for second, or third servings. It was just a short trip. We got back to Manila by Saturday evening.

Laiya, San Juan, Batangas

Laiya, San Juan, Batangas

May 24, 2008. My parents picked me up from the Manila Domestic Airport, fresh from my 5 AM flight from Cebu City after the KASAMA sa UP National Council Meet. We were to proceed to my father’s office outing at Laiya Beach in San Juan, Batangas that day. Because I was largely sleepless, I was asleep for most of the four-hour drive from Manila to San Juan, Batangas, only to be awaken when we were to eat breakfast at a fastfood restaurant.

We arrived at San Juan, Batangas at more or less an hour before noon. Since I felt really tired and sleepy, I immediately looked around to find the nearest couch to take a nap on. I only woke up for lunch. After lunch, I went around the beach to take a few pictures.

Laiya Beach, San Juan, Batangas

The heat that afternoon was intense. After satisfying my click-happy fingers I went back to the cottage and took refuge in the shade. I eventually slept the rest of the afternoon, without caring much about not being able to enjoy the beach. An afternoon siesta was just what I really needed anyway. We headed back to Manila late that afternoon.

Two days in Lian and Calatagan

March 21-22, 2008. The family spent two days in Batangas for the Good Friday and Black Saturday holidays. We dropped by Matabungkay Beach in Lian in the morning of Friday before proceeding to Golden Sunset Resort in Calatagan, where we spent the rest of the short getaway. We left Quezon City at around four in the morning and arrived in Tagaytay just before six. We had fastfood breakfast in Tagaytay before proceeding to Batangas. Since I barely had any sleep because I spent the entire night till early morning editing my thesis short film, I slept the entire time. We eventually arrived in Matabungkay in Lian, Batangas a little past eight in the morning.

Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas

Even if my parents prodded me to take a dip in the salty water to, apparently, help heal my fungal infections, I refused. There was also quite a crowd on the beach and in the waters. Too many rafts, too. Didn’t want to swim at all. I contented myself with taking stolen photographs of Tisay and other people. Because it was getting pretty boring, we decided to proceed to Golden Sunset Village Resort & Spa in Calatagan where we had a reservation. Didn’t have much fun since I wasn’t really in the vacation-mood at all because of thesis-worries and other such leftover academic concerns. Plus I didn’t feel comfortable swimming with the dark fungal infections I had in some parts of my body. I again just contented myself taking photographs of Tisay, my nieces, and other things around the resort, including the golden sunset from where the place borrows its name.

Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas

It’s quite disappointing how the resort highly discourages guests and visitors to bring their own food, and sort of confines them to eating the pricey stuff they had in their so-so restaurants. Because of such restrictions, when it was time to eat, we always went out to find a better and more affordable place to satisfy our hunger. We always ended up at Cafe Rhodora along the highway in Calatagan. It was a very homey place, with good food and bottomless coffee.

Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas Lian & Calatagan, Batangas

Las Haciendas in Laurel, Batangas

Las Haciendas, Laurel, Batangas October 18, 2007. I had a Mass Media Law exam scheduled the next day, but I decided to go ahead and join Ivan, Nino, and Gideon to Las Haciendas in Laurel, Batangas. The place is a large and budding real estate development on what is apparently a large estate owned by a prominent landowning family. It initially bothered me how the extent of its area covers much of the town of Laurel, even including public offices within its private control and how its development will displace hundreds of local families who have lived in the area for centuries.

I will not claim to know much of the history and the exact details but it to me, it felt like it had the makings of a classic land ownership and feudal relationship issue dating from the Spanish period. Before I could raise the question to our hosts, however, we were told that the long-time peasant residents of the estate will indeed be displaced but will be offered socialized housing. Because we were hosted and toured for free, I will not be an ingrate and I’d rather say that that was fair enough for me, and I shall keep my reservations for now.

Anyway, Las Haciendas is a real estate development that claims to offer urban families and retirees a pampered ‘provincial life’, with their own farm lots and resorts where they can cultivate their own fruit trees and other such plants, and build their dream weekend getaway homes.

Las Haciendas, Laurel, Batangas

We visited Las Haciendas mainly to trek to Ambon-Ambon Falls that was within the estate. The trek to the falls was a fairly easy half-an-hour walk through some small local communities, foliage and streams.

Ambon-Ambon Falls gets its name from the particles of water that shower anyone within the fall’s enclave. The “ambon” however, was not as apparent as it used to be. Other real estate developments upstream have blocked many of the streams that provide the falls with much of its water, hence, the falls are not as strong as it used to be. The pools at the bottom of the falls have also since then become small and shallow so if you trekked to the falls for a swim or a dip, you’ll be disappointed. Unless of course, if it had just rained.

I slipped on some of the rocks on the way to the falls and managed to get myself a handful of cuts on my hands and on my legs. Thankfully, my digital camera came out from the minor accident scratchless, even though I was carrying it by hand when I slipped.

Puerto Galera a second time (I)

This was supposed to be a UP CAST semender outing, but just like the past few semenders, members’ attendance was poor. But like the rest, always fun nonetheless. This time, AD, Marella, Kay, Jo, Patti, plus Glenn came. Patti’s relatives from Sinandigan in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, hosted us seven.

I met with Kay ang Marella early in the morning at Quezon Avenue. Caught the rush hour MRT to Taft. Hitched with Patti together with AD, Glenn and Jo to Batangas. We left Batangas Port on a motorized banca ferry before noon. Arrived in Sabang Beach by lunch time.