Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Calaguas, Call it Your Paradise

Sapphire blue water… Satiating fresh air… Scenic panorama… Satisfying serenity… Seamless pleasure… Safe all-season sanctum… This place have them all. Call it Calaguas.

Calaguas is a group of islands located in Vinsons, Camarines Norte. It includes the major islands of Tinaga Island and Guintinua Island, the minor Maculabo Island, as well as several other minor islands. (source: Wikipedia)

Mahabang Buhangin or Halabang Baybay in Bicol dialect (long beach) is an attractive beach located on the northern part of Barangay Mangkawayan, Tinaga Island. It is considerably the main attraction and the best spot of the Calaguas Group of Islands.

Another water spectacle of the Bicolandia which remains pure and unblemished by the lashes of modernization through the selfish motives of the greedy capitalists. It remains an idyllic paradise at the center of the big body of water which is facing Pacific Ocean in the east

Calaguas: El Agua del Paraiso

Calaguas is a panacea to the soul. A kaleidoscope of crisp colors so pleasing to the eyes and enchanting to the spirit. Wanderers, wanderlusts and nomads alike would always love it here.

This proud Bicolano could not get a handle of it when his friend tour organizer announced about and posted the trip on her FB page. It is always in my bucket list to explore (if you think ‘conquer’ is too much a pompous word) all the mountains and beaches of the “Uragon’dom, my home region.  The event was not even too pricey actually. I was shrouded with upsurge anticipation on what to see there. That was how I felt, optimistically oriented by the previous beach camps, suspended in curiosity, armed of my happy compass, unspeakably exhilarated as well. And I ain’t wrong in hitting the ‘going’ button to Calaguas.


Day 0

9PM - Assembly - Mayflower Parking / Greenfield District Police Station (just behind and 3 mins walk from McDonalds or Teleperformance Shaw)

930PM - Depart to Daet via chartered van.

Day 1

6AM - ETA Daet 630AM - Breakfast (own account), buy supplies and packed lunch

The group of 40 carefree and  happy-go-tough-lucky souls departed Manila on time. They arrived the town of Paracale in Daet - the jump-off port going to the purpose island, on time too. In haste, every one took their breakfast in the most presentable cafeteria in the area. There were also available souvenir and delicacy shops around. After satisfying the belly, one by one lackadaisically proceeded to the wharf and boarded on the hired motorized-boat going to Tinaga Island.

The livid sun was hung forty five degrees from the horizon when the water craft left the port. It was past seven o’clock in the morning but the infernal sphere up above was already scorching and dementing. The wave of the sea was tamer at first but it ran wild and mischievous when we came nearer our destination. The wave of the sea when hit by the boat’s outriggers kept splashing those onboard with arid water until we were so wet. After more than an hour, we arrived the beach camp area of the Tinaga Island.

An airline ad smiled down at me through the veil of my sweatshirt hood upon arrival. I was marauded with excitement to the highest degree. Calaguas at last!
The stronger sea current slapping the sea shore repeatedly has no way to deter us from docking. Half of our bodies went wet before we reached the white sandy shore of the island. The sun was totally ferocious at half past nine in the morning. The sand would burn the feet should you try to walk bare with it.

Afterwards, we pitched our tents near the shore on the leftmost part of the more than four kilometers shore of Tinaga. It was the best. We ate our lunch. Others grabbed a power nap to replenish the lost energy due to the long and bumpy land travel of the previous night.

A log about Balagbag Island

From my vantage point, Calaguas is a paradise. Its turquoise beauty is beyond photograph. The azure water was so inviting. We can’t wait for the team leader’s announcement about an island hopping at three o’clock.

On a bird’s eye view Balagbag island is a boomerang-shaped-with-rough-edges islet located at least 5 kilometers away from  the southwestern tip of Tinaga Island. For an adventurer, it is a thousand happiness per square mile.

Upon arrival at the docking area, one can witness some black volcanic rocks and boulders with sharp and vesicular texture. These are obviously produced from previous and unrecorded volcanic eruptions some hundred years ago. Waves which are formed from  the Pacific Ocean are foaming and splashing upon kissing the rocks.

Everyone is a harbinger of the startling beauty which are palpable and concrete. I love the sounds of the stony water and I waddled in its salty molecules. Everyone’s in a hurry to explore the surroundings and take pictures with it. The whip of the mad ocean and the push of the crazy wind were strong and ginormous but the rocks of the island stand still.

Whoa! When I climbed the higher and grassy part of the island, I saw a long trail connecting to the other end of the place. I ran the more than three-kilometer path and photographed along every spectacular view. It was automatic and involuntary. Two friendly dogs greeted and accompanied me along the way. The touch of the cogon grass on my legs was itchy and irritating though until I came to the other end. There were only few people there. I even requested a lady to take a picture of me. Her companion said that they thought I was a Japanese. That short banter made me smile.

The view below was healing. In my solitude I even came to a self-realization… that I am able to appreciate and enjoy my own company. That I am fervently enjoying my journey. My life, I mean our life-everyone’s life is either a daring adventure…. or nothing. The turquoise water below watched me as I returned to the shore where my companions were also in their own trance for beauty seen by their naked eyes.

The water current remained strong and even stronger, cause the sun was already setting down. So we decided not to visit another island anymore but to go back to our camp.

The setting sun made its dramatic interlude with hues of orange and vivid radiance in the western horizon. It was another remarkable experience of dusk under the sky of Calaguas.

7PM - onwards - Dinner (hosted)8PM- SOCIALS 

Under the papery white light of the quarter moon hang above like grin of a naughty bum- fresh from its solar eclipse last three days ago, everyone was busy doing their own thing: soaking in the water, frolicking on the sand-chatting about everything, cooking dinner, staying inside their tent - having some sleep, and holding bottle of liquor. Rich, our team leader and I prepared a simple do-it-yourself beach lanterns made from small candles, brown paper bags and some sands we aligned a heart shape.. The reflection was both thespian and meditating. It was the best prelude to a good dinner.

After dinner, some participated in the ‘socials’ prepared by the team leader. It was fun and relaxing with the ‘Bobo Game’ as the center of excitement. But I opted to sleep inside my single-sized tent which I erected under the matured-grown Kamuning tree. The night was quiet inviting with the every-now-and-then dash of the seawater on its background. But I was easily engulfed by the spell of Hades.

Day 2 

5AM - Wake up call, trek to view deck for sunrise viewing, photo ops

My cellphone alarmed at 5:00 the next morning. It was a nice beginning of the day. My anticipation was to watch the sunrise but noticeably, nobody in my company was interested to see it too. So I asked the team leader that I must go alone.

Before daybreak, I started to trek the plane ground following a designated worn-out trail. Though the night was short I was still lethargic, but slowly I enjoyed the feel of the gentle breeze in my sweat soaked hair and my cold-like-cat-nose face. I was greeted cheerfully by the woman at the man-made arch entry way.  Ohh, there was an entrance fee of twenty pesos before anyone can proceed. So I paid quickly because I didn’t want to be late for the sunrise. I ran uphill with faint expulsion of breath advancing the other trekking visitors but when I came to another enclosed flat area above, a young boy asked for another twenty pesos entrance fee. I was surprised but I paid for it too. The view from that small plateau was quite worth more than the two twenty pesos that I’ve spent. It was priceless! The monochrome greenery of the rolling hills and the bluish and silvery sea water are eye candies and intoxicating.

Then I though the sunrise was a failed epic since there were sporadic clouds on the horizon which will hide the slowly  rising ball of fire from the east. My excitement died away to a plodding gloom. But thanks God for giving us His another show-off of the magnificent crack of dawn.

The patchy clouds turned out to be a tapestry of golden cottons floating in the atmosphere. Illuminating the crimson rays into a symbol of generous blessings and exquisite sublime plan. It was indeed perfect sunrise I witnessed there and I was more than satisfied.

Armed with contentment and too much liking I started to descend. But my feet drove me to the other end of the rolling hills. There I saw two groups of people happily taking photographs. From one side of the hill is a vantage point where Brgy. Mangkawayan was very visible. It was just a small simple town as placid as its seas.

I returned to the campsite a little famished but fulfilled. I took my own food and water inside my tent. Then later on was the real breakfast that the event facilitator has provided. Afterwards I joined the group who are enjoying in the water to kill the time before prepping for our return to Manila.

6AM - Back to camp site  

630AM - Breakfast (hosted)

1130 - ETA to Paracale, tidy up, take lunch (own account) 

1PM - Depart Daet

9PM - ETA Manila

For me Calaguas is an orb of another world. A place so pure, pristine and paradise-like. I’ll pray that God will continue to protect this natural haven and marine sanctuary and all of its good things and people too. So that everyone could feel the same way I have felt from there.
And also because on her bosom surely I shall return.

*** OTHER INFO****

Event fee: 

Php 2,600 per pax 

Transpo Manila-Daet-Manila
Boat rental
Island landing fee + Mandatory Hut rental
2 Meals - Dinner for day 1, breakfast for day 2

Other meals
Trekking fee
Driver/Boatman Tip


Flashlight / Headlamp
Change of clothes 
Swimwear / Rashguard / Aqua shoes
Sunblock / Sunscreen
Insect repellant
Water for personal consumption
Extra cash

More reminders:

- Do not be late. Please don't be rude by making others wait.
-Don't forget your tents, headlamps/ flashlights, sun protection such as sunblock/sunglasses, etc.
-Assembly is at 9pm, meet up point is at Greenfield District Police Station infront of Mayflower Parking.
How to get there: From EDSA, get off at Mcdo or Teleperformance Shaw also known as Crossing. From there, walk towards Greenfield District and turn right on the first block. You will see the Police Station.
Our ETD is 9:30PM.
- Travel time to Daet is roughly 7-8 hours but we'll try to make necessary stopovers along the way. Bring snacks and water with you. I suggest to bring your own travel pillow for comfort.
-Estimate arrival to Daet is around 5AM. You may take your breakfast (own account) and buy your packed lunch while we prepare our provisions. Take note: only dinner for day 1 and breakfast for day 2 will be hosted in the island.
- Please waterproof your things, you can use a big garbage bag if you don't have a dry bag.
- Bring your own alcoholic beverages.
- No need to bring mess kits, eating utensils will be provided, but it is suggested to bring your own water bottle to lessen the garbage.
- Restrooms are available in the island for a fee. P30 for every bath. P20 for defecation and urination.

Cast of Characters:

Team Engineering
Abraham G
3. Francis
4. Max
5. Kelly
6. Joana
8. Jess T.
9. Dondon
10. Michael
11. Myk
13. Ivan
Team Nursing
Lead: Emm
1. Che 
3.. Chris 
4. Rica 
5. Erykah

Team Helpdesk
Lead: Rich / Pam
Lai Rah
3. Joem
4. Emman
5. Laira
6. Leandro
Anna Belle
10. Joecel
11. Jojo

All of you who are interested to feel the adrenalin rush. Contact my friend Rich at her cell number 0998 8512760 (Smart) or FB page https://www.facebook.com/bluedame?fref=ts
Farewell but not goodbye. Please come back soon!

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