Monday, January 2, 2017

MILES smiles at Mother Nature

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cagbalete: Of Sunset and Sunrise, Of Low Tide and High-Five

Far from the maddening noise and haste of the city three to four hours away from Manila, lies on the eastern part of Mauban, Quezon a secluded, inhabited island so pristine and madrigal – Cagbalete. (Cabalete in the Google map)

A boat is a boat is a boat.  The biggest boat carries passengers from Mauban port. The medium sized boat ferries people from the big boat to Cagbalete land. The man on the smallest boat is fetching a relative passenger.
Less than an hour boat ride from Mauban port, Cagbalete Island is a 1,640 hectares floating paradise on the Lamon Bay which is also the portal of Balesin Island- another enticing eye-candy from Cagbalete’s far northeast. Both islands are gems to its locals which give them sure income and employment from the arriving local and foreign tourists and visitors.

Cagbalete map using Google map. A screenshot from my iphone.
For the fastest boat, it only takes 30 minutes or less to get there from Mauban port.
Cagbalete is another reason to indulge one’s wanderlust. I regret nothing for waking up at two o’clock in the morning to wait for more than 30 people- all young professionals- all their way from Manila. I am the only participant who will be picked up from my point of reference in Cavite. I thanked God for they arrived on time after my 30 minutes of waiting.

The road going to Quezon was smooth. Yes it’s the driver of our van whom I should thank too. I woke up lethargic under the clear Mauban sky after less than three hours of travel and my soft red pillow intact around my neck.
Mauban is a far-off simple town in that corner of Quezon Province. After the daybreak, when the sun has already spread its rays, some locals have finished preparing their crafts and goods in their shops. Our group walked along the area and found ourselves seated inside a ‘tapsilogan’ store. After satisfying our stomach, we proceeded quickly to the port.

A morning street scene in Mauban town
A street vendor and her customer
A ganta of snail (suso) is good with gata (coco milk).
A bakeshop and goodies store

Pabayo means palay grain turned into rice with the use of mortar and pestle.
The tapsilogan store where we ate our breakfast
It was the end of March, the arrival of summer, so there were many passengers-group of friends, family, lovers- already at the seaport, seated on the benches and waiting for their watercraft to arrive, to transport them too to the island.
Pancit habhab on sale inside the Mauban port
Gat Mauban's stone statue, a replica of the town hero. Where this place got its name.
After more than an hour of waiting, our group was called for our embarkment to the big boat going to Cagbalete.

Mauban seaport

The sailing of the big boat along Lamon Bay was smooth yet fast. It took us less than an hour until the island destination became bigger and bigger from our vantage point. We docked Cagbalete port at last!

Cagbalete is a paradise from afar. But frankly speaking, the stomp of neighboring houses around its small wharf is a picture of lurid melodrama, of shackled beauties and doomed romances, and pervasive oppression. I hope you know what I mean.

After disembarking from the bigger boat through the small boat which ferried us to the shore of Cagbalete port, we were asked that the resort which will accommodate us will be a 20-minute-walk distance from the wharf. It was already twelve noon and the sun was on its most scorching moment so my companions requested for another boat ride going to Pansacola Beach Resort, our temporary abode in the island.

White sand becomes whiter in the reflection of the high noon.
Of Sunset and Sunrise

There are many beach and camp resorts in the island. There were Dona Choleng, Nilandingan Cove, Villa Cleofas, MVT Sto. Nino, Joven’s Blue Sea, Villa Noe, and Pansacola Beach Resort. Pansacola Beach Resort is strategically located in the southernmost part of Cagbalete wherein both the sunset and the sunrise could spectacularly be witnessed.

The facade of Pansacola greets arriving campers and beach combers with colorful flags
and banca.

Arriving Pansacola was also arriving at my legitimate selfhood… once more.

After spotting the most convenient sandy part to pitch each tent, everyone prepared for their life’s adventure in the area: ate their late lunch first, swam in the knee-deep saltwater even it’s already less than a kilometer away from the shore, cocooned in the personal hammock which was horizontally hung from the two adjacent strong-enough-tree trunks.  I opted to grab a short sleep then, even though the shade of the Agoo tree shrouding my small tent cannot defy the warm breeze caused by the blistered sand on the shore.

The outdoor scenery framed by my tent's door.
I was awoken by the jolly talking and bellowing laugh of our arriving companions from the next incoming banca. I could not sleep anymore so I got my swimming attire inside my backpack, dressed on, grabbed my camera and cellphone and off I went to walk alone along the shore. The sun was still sweltering. It was three o’clock in the afternoon.

I dropped by the beach camp canteen and I met there my cheerful co-passengers from  the van, who were already soaking wet, enjoying their mais-con-yelo merienda and talking all about the colorful photos they took using the GoPro. I indulge too with the mais-co-yelo and then excused myself from them after finishing it.
Nipa Hut. The canteen inside the Pansacola Beach Resort
I continued to walk along the shore and pictured some interesting subjects and decisive moments until it’s sundown.

The eastern frontier of Pansacola
A lonely small boat romancing the placid water of the afternoon.

On the southern direction the sun takes its bow.
Then the dusk made its theatrical entrance. The western glow dramatically turned into hazy and fiery shade of sunset. It was both romantic and mesmerizing. On the left portion of the setting sun is a giant head to body contour silhouette of a sleeping maiden. It’s Mt. Banahaw.

The dramatic moment before the sun falls behind the peaks of the mountains.
The left over bluish mirage with Mt Banahaw on the background after the sun had sunk.

The sunset was outstanding! I was jubilating a thousand victories inside. That feeling did not subside after I joined the other group who were waddling and enjoying in the salty water. It was until we remembered the dinner time when we bathed ourselves with fresh water. The evening meal was prepared by the event coordinator.
The supper of our team is fun too.
The nocturnal skyline of the nearby town in the adjacent main island Mauban.
Suddenly a rousing pop soundtrack booms over the shore and two rockets soar into the air, exploding a deafening bang over the shoreline, lighting it all in a dazzling canopy of sparkling orange and white that’s reflected in a glistening shower over the lowing tide and calm water of the bay. My jaw drops as not one but four fire dancers started to gyrate simultaneously then one by one to the music while rotating in their hands various ensemble of stringed fire balls and iron-made stuffs. More firecrackers were sent into the air to more awes and ahs of the surprised spectators. It was totally amazing! It was sultry outdoorsy sight!

The commotion subsided after 15 minutes when the fire dancers stopped to pose for some photos with the audience. We went back to our camp and started to do our own things. I went to join the other group who was having ‘socials’ around a bottle of brandy, some ice cubes and a ‘chaser’ and few ‘finger foods’. After two shots of the hard liquor I felt a dizziness in the center of my core so I bid farewell to the group and proceeded inside my waiting tent.

From the arc-shaped, netted opening of my small tent that served as my window which I also left open to welcome the fresh, cold air, a delicate crescent moon above cradled the ghostly outline of the leaves from the branches of the Agoo tree shadowing my tent. I took a picture of it.

Above all shadows rides the sun
The staccato of the seawave sound put me into a trance until I fell into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning dawned bright and fair again. I went out of my tent and gargled from my water container. In haste, I grabbed my camera and cellphone with high spirit of what are in store for us that morning. I jogged towards the left area of Pansacola Resort. I met there two people from our group.

Under the tree is my caboodle :)

I never found time spent among nature to be a waste of time.
You are the honored guest. Do not weep like a beggar for pieces of the world. - Rumi
While waiting for the sun to appear, two friendly dogs approached while wagging their tails for us. They even wanted to play with me but I declined warily since I know they possibly be rabid.

The dogs ask, "Where is the cat?" I answered back, "The cat visited the queen."
The eastern horizon slowly dissolved into gold when the ginormous sun appeared and the distant mountain peaks became opaque silhouettes of crouching giants. It could have been a perfect sunrise. Because that moment did not last long. The massive curtain of thick gray clouds above it quickly hid, like a trick of a magician,  that enormous ball of fire.

Post tenebras lux. (After darkness light) That's a promise the day used to say.
The morning sun shines across the outstretched land and sea.
After its curtsy, the selfish cloud engulfs the sun.

Lola Teofila. an 86-year old  sea shell vendor visited our camp that morning. I didn't want to buy her goods because I knew it was prohibited to transport those shells but I pity her age so I purchased two pieces from her.
Of Low Tide and High-Five

Cagbalete is an exquisite maiden hidden by her wicked mother at the center of a secluded water world. In front of us that morning was the continuously lowering tide which revealed the wide sand bars. Her patterned sand bars divulged a reflection of candor affection, intimate romance and overflowing love of the earth. Low tide so to speak is the selling point and the display window of this island.

The dog's...
the birds'...
and mine.

I playfully went to the rightmost portion of the wide sandbars where a number of white herons (tagak) frolicking and having their breakfast of crayfishes, frogs and other small fishes in the area. I took some pictures of them but they were so elusive because they continuously walked distantly away from me while I was trying to be near them.

Let me chart my entire experience.
Sometimes it's best to love from a distance... Other times, it means letting go.
My only baggage was an overflow of my creative spirit...
...I am alone but not lonely.
It was until two friends Che and Trisha came and joined me in my solitude. I enjoyably took some photos of them on that swamp like portion of Pansacola Beach Resort. When we were tired of it, we joined with the other group who were also having fun with their camera until we returned to our camp for the breakfast and in preparation for the visit to the other sandbar spot at the other end of the island.
A subterranean thingy digging hole and emitting
spiral wormy formation made from wet sand
Being single, I'm used to doing things alone, and mostly I enjoy my own company.
Elusive herons and me define the landscape.
Meet my newfound friends and future companions to the wonders of wandering, (from left) Che Anog, Erwin Bergavera, me,  Gracey Corpuz and Irish Lubiano
We are the children of chance and men of destiny.
Arriving at the northern end of the island, after more than an hour, was another wonderful idea. We came to the area with the sun already 90 degrees from the horizon. The white sandbars as seen from our boat were splendid and enticing. Everyone should step each feet on its sand. “Gah, the sun could burn my skin, but I was pink with exuberance and youthfulness” said I during that moment.

Come... come... then find more palpable experiences.
In this very attractive place, indelibly stamped by the passing wanderers with the epithet: melancholy, the objectless promenades of the dreamer.
And in this quiet moment as I close my eyes, I think I am in the eye of the storm.
Enjoy the feel of the sea breeze in your hair and on your face. Smile to your love one.
Our group frantically started to take photos of the surroundings. The massive expanse of sandbars was totally captivating. The inner vegetation was conquered by the vast and thick mangrove trees. I separated from my newfound friends who were overly enjoying the place. I went to the inner central area and I saw a couple of visitor- one was taking a picture and the other one is atop of the mangrove posing for a souvenir shot. I requested the first one to have a picture of me too.

I want to be like the tree, solid and respectable.
The mangrove tree and I are friends. Ask me why? I dunno.
I ran to the left end and I saw a docked fishing boat along the shore. I took some more snap shots then I ran towards the right end of the area where my companions already have a lot of pictures all together. The area has a lot of protruding pointed thingy- those which were deterred to grow Mangroves- its young trunks were devastated by the tempest of times.
What do you think we are doing? A ritual. A rain dance. A prayer meeting. Well ask Gracey Corpuz for that "thingy"
The pact of new friendship
After less than an hour of fun, posing and waddling, everyone’s got tired and decided to return to the small ship.

When we returned to the central area of the big sandbar, where our boat was docked, the tide was already beginning to rise. My 'thingy' was already soaking with arid water. Thanks for the plastic wrapping it.

Before returning to our beach camp, we dropped by the snorkeling area at the cove-like segment in the southern portion of Cagbalete Island. It was an enclosed water area of the shoreline with noticeable, colored, floating buoys to signal both fishermen and transporting boats that the area is restricted. 

One of the snorkeling areas near Pansacola
The horseshoe shape cove near the blue dot which is Pansacola, is where the snorkeling area we went to.
Underwater, I saw some fancy little fishes through my snorkeling spectacles playing with the spongy corals and anemones. They swim back and forth, slow and fast. Their movements obeying some logic so understandable. That only logic is just like what I am doing - that of having fun.

Cagbalete robbed my heart. She emptied it with all the unwanted emotions I don't want to mention anymore. What she has left in it are those feelings of hope, love, forgiveness, trust, camaraderie and all those tons of tiny speckles of optimism just like the sands on its shores. She also gave me some new friendships with those people I've met there. I am fulfilled to be on her cradle for just two short days.

The sandbars of Cagbalete Island are scribbled with markings by the hands of the Mother Sea. Those who can decipher them, it might be a symbol of celebration, devastation, victory, vanquish, commencement or denouement. For me, its mundane pattern is a promise of God's forgiveness of our earthly sins.
Au naturel. Nature speaks to us - SAVE US!

Seek balance in the sun, sand and sea of Cagbalete Island. (c)Gracey Corpuz
Although I may describe this place with all the imagery and sensory details, when I experience it here I am speechless.

When I arrived home after this, I know it’s the tail end of a beautiful dream.
The view of Mauban port from the boat's viewpoint
Before riding the van going back home, shoot us one more time. (c) Gracey Corpuz
Stop over and photo op at the rotund of Mauban, Quezon. (c) Gracey Corpuz
Event Inclusion:
3 HOSTED MEALS (Dinner day 1, Breakfast Day 2 & Lunch Day 2)
All transfers and camping fee @ Pansacola Resort

Please bring:
Swimming clothes (two pc, one pc, kahit ilan!)
Hammock/Camping Tent (you may also rent 250php/2-3person @ Pansacola Resort)
Eating utensils and cup
Snorkling goggles (you may also rent 50php @ Pansacola Resort)

Nature is our reflection, well... literally.


7am ETA MAUBAN PROPER (Buy packed lunch & supplies)
8am ETA MAUBAN PORT (Tourism & Boat Fees, included at the package)
10am ETA CAGBALETE ISLAND @ Pansacola Resort/Set Camp
12pm LUNCH (hosted)
3pm HIGH TIDE (enjoy swimming!)
5:30pm Sunset watching
It's nice to be lost. Lost in the spell of nature.

5:30am WAKE UP CALL/Sunrise watching
7am ETD to Cagbalete 2 SANDBAR
8am ETA Cagbalete 2 (photo ops)
Bulong Ita Hut w/ T&B(20pax)-P 5,500.00 with meal package requirement
Buho Hut w/ T&B(20pax)-P 5,000.00

Tree House (6pax)-P 2,500.00
The toilet slash bathing area of Pansacola Resort. Everyone can use it for free.
In its graciousness, beauty often touches our hearts with the grandeur and nobility of its larger resonance. ~ John O' Donohue
Let us rest after the happy toil.