Caramoan with Family (Day 2)

April 16, 2016. Our second day in Caramoan was spent island-hopping.

Caramoan is a large rural municipality in Camarines Sur where Caramoan National Park is located. It boasts not one long stretch of beach but hectares of jungle with a coastline that boasts many coves and beaches, and dozens of islands scattered over the surrounding seas.

The beaches are as diverse as their number. There are beaches that have white, powdery sand, beaches that have huge rocks, beaches that have coarse pebbles, beaches that are secluded by towering limestone rock formations and thick foliage, there are beaches that are visited by many, there are those that lend visitors tranquility in isolation. Take your pick. It will definitely take more than a day to hop through all these islands and coves. My family was only able to visit a handful of islands and coves during this particular day trip.

Traversing the seas to go from one island or cove to another is like a boatride through Jurassic Park with all the foliage and mountains. It was a scenic trip that I had expected from a trip to Palawan, but not from a trip in Luzon. It was pleasant surprise. It was not, then, a very difficult decision for producers of the reality-show Survivor, in its many syndicated versions across the world, to pick Caramoan as one of their choice exotic settings. (No Survivor cast sightings here though!)

Caramoan with Family (Day 1)

April 15, 2016. It has become a tradition for our family during the summer to take a trip to celebrate my mother and my brother’s birthdays. This year, we went to Caramoan, in Camarines Sur.

Our first day was spent settling in our resort accommodation and going on one of their beach-hopping tours in Caramoan National Park.

We took the first plane in the morning to Virac, Catanduanes, and a shuttle to Codon, also in Catanduanes. From there, we took a speedboat to Tugawe Cove Resort in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Located near the tip of Caramoan peninsula, Tugawe Resort is situated adjacent a small village separated from the rest of the municipality and town proper of Caramoan by the jungles of Caramoan National Park. Its isolation lends the place a very peaceful and exclusive feel, but likewise makes getting anywhere else journeys by themselves. Mobile network signal is likewise hard to get by, but who would really need that if you’re after a quiet and tranquil retreat? The staff are very hospitable and friendly. From experience, they go out of their way to grant specific requests to make their guests’ stay comfortable and memorable.

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.

Malalison Island, Culasi, Antique

April 16, 2009. Early the next day after we arrived in Culasi, we all got up early and went on a short drive from our friend’s home, to the beach near the municipal hall to take a pump boat to Malalison Island. The island is one of the three island barangays of Culasi, and is the nearest one to the coast, with a distance of around 4 kilometers. It was a 20-minute pump boat ride to the island. Ours, though, took longer because we requested for the boat to go around the entire island before docking at the main beach.

The island was a relatively small island, with still some unspoiled coves and rugged stone cliffs. One can probably enjoy taking a peaceful hike around the island, though that we weren’t able to do.

After around ten to fifteen minutes around the island, we finally dock at main hook-shaped beach. Our friend from Culasi told us the beach was comparable to Boracay (which incidentally was relatively near Culasi). Indeed, it was. Not better, but comparable. The sand was just as white, though not as fine or powdery, and the waters just as crystal clear, even clearer.

Best of all, we were the only ones at the beach. The waters can get deep immediately a few meters from the shore, however, so if you don’t know how to swim, you might not get too far away. Though, on the upside, one can go snorkeling right there and then. Though, we weren’t able to do that either.

After less than an hour in the water, I took a peaceful nap in one of the huts on the beach. Even if I slept on a bamboo table, I’ve never had a sleep that good in a while, after all the anxiety and stress over the Student Regent selection two days before. By lunch time, we headed back to the main town of Culasi, with the same pump boat. See, I had to get on my way back to Iloilo City because my flight back to Manila was that evening. Since Iloilo city was a good four to five hours away, I had to leave by lunch time. My other friends, however, proceeded to Boracay after lunch.

I sat on the side of the boat on the way back, with my feet on the water. It got pretty hot that afternoon, too.