How exactly do you plan a trip? Months in advance? Or was it spur of the moment? Or was is planned months in advance, then when the time came, more and more obstacles came up, but there’s the “pabebe” attitude so walang nakapigil? Guess what? We’re the latter.
We had a talk about going in a trip last February when me and my college chums attended the christening of one of our classmates. And of course I was assigned with the itinerary and where to go, like other trips I went to. We made this chat group in Facebook then that’s where we talked. We were supposed to go on April, but we decided to let the election pass before we leave. So we got the final date of May 21.
Then I found a blog post with the DIY itinerary to Padre Burgos and we agreed with the place. Then excitement ensues.
But then, a week before we leave, one of us got some problem with the schedule because of his manager at work. Then the weather in Bulacan and Manila was bad enough to give us doubt if we shall pursue. And of course with that kind of weather, our parents weren’t so keen of us leaving home.
A day before, I was losing hope that we will be able to go to Quezon. We’ve had this planned months ahead, bags were already packed, and our minds were already set that we’ll we spending the weekend together. So we called the contact number that I got from a blog. Nanay Tess and his husband, Tatay Rody, the owners of the boat that we will use, told us that it was actually sunny in Padre Burgos. There was no rain all week, very much unlike the Bulacan and Manila weather.
So, ano pa nga ba? Of course we went to that trip! Pabebe kami. Walang nakapigil sa ‘min. 🙂
First, let me introduce the trippers (as nicknamed by Emmith in his Facebook Post)
MR. AND MS. COUPLE (Emmith and Janelle, both my classmates who were together since college)
MS. SECRETARY OF FINANCE (Ange, who works in a bank, and was also the one who computes and calculates our budget and time intervals)
BB. TARAY (Krisha, very well known for her high angled eyebrows)
BB. PALUWAL (Lieme, who was the one to pays cash to our every transactions and we just payed her at the end of the trip)
MADAM URONG SULONG (Dharel. And yes, you read that right, MADAM. Emmith is the only guy in this trip, you know.)
MS. TRAVEL AGENCY (Yes, that’s me. Sometimes they call me Travel and Tours, because I was the one who made the itinerary and arranged the trip and got contacts in the place)
SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED?
Honestly, we almost decided to have our plans changed. We were in Kamias terminal at around 4:30 in the morning and there was no bus bound to Lucena in neither Jac Liner or Jam Liner station. There was a long line of passengers in Jac Liner so we crossed EDSA and went to Jam Liner. There was also a line of passengers but it wasn’t that long and we’re sure to bound the first bus that will arrive.
But the bus arrived around 5:30 already. And after more than an hour of standing in line and confronting those passengers that are making singit sa pila, we hopped in the bus and found empty seats at the back. Fare was Php 218.00 each to Lucena Grand Terminal.
Off we go!
Oh, what a loooooooooooooooong ride it has been.
The bus stopped over at a gas station in SLEX, which was really time consuming because the bus changed parking location so passengers who went off to go to the comfort rooms got lost finding the bus.
We got another round of sleep when the bus started moving again. We tried location the grand terminal through GPS/Waze and we started counting down the towns that we will pass through. BUT THEN (yes, I really wanted to emphasize the but then), of course we were not familiar with the place. We didn’t even know where the last stop of bus is. So since we’re all seven, we expected that the bus conductor will at least notify us when our stop came. AND OF COURSE HE DIDN’T! (how dare he!) We got off a little too far from the grand terminal and had to walk back under he heat of that blazing sun (no sunblock! omg!).
When we arrived at the terminal, the bus bound to Unisan was already about to leave, but some of us needs to go to the comfort room first so we just waited for the next bus. Luckily, the bus driver knows exactly where to drop us off (May Ann’s Store at Brgy. Marao, Padre Burgos). Fare is Php 35.00 each.
The bus is a small ordinary bus with almost a little too small seats. We were seated on the first two rows up front, and all the while we were travelling, we were sharing stories and laughing and having a good time that we didn’t mind exactly how long the bus ride has been. When the driver told us that we’re already at May Ann’s Store, we literally screamed! Seriously. We’re like little kids told that Santa is coming or maybe we’re just too excited and relieved at the same time. (Oh thank God we arrived already.)
I immediately recognized Tatay Rody and Emmith even joked about last election (if you didn’t get the pun, whatever). We put our things in their small hut outsde their store. In their backyard, we can already see the islands.
Nanay Tess and Tatay Rody were so courteous and generous to even cook our rice and lend us things we can use in the islands. They let us bring the pot of rice and they also lend us a frying pan and cooler for our drinks.
We took our lunch there, changed to our swimwears and arranged our things. We got ready to leave and the boatman that was assigned to us was the ever so punctual, Kuya George.
We had to walk to the boat because it was already low tide and the boat cannot be brought near the backyard. And off we go again!
FIRST STOP: BORAWAN ISLAND
Borawan’s name was the combination of Boracay and Palawan. It actually almost resembles the rock formations of Palawan and the white sand of Boracay, thus the name.
Still a few meters away the island, we immediately spotted a perfect camping spot, the one away from the buzz of other campers. (A little isolated? Yeah, maybe.)
The real plan was actually to go first to Puting Buhangin, then Dampalitan, then Borawan in one day then to have a side trip in Sariaya, Quezon the next day. But since we’ve had a really long time on the road for travel, we decided to go straight to Borawan for camping.
We took our things from Kuya George and prepare to set up our camp. We told him to pick us up at 6:00am the next day so we can proceed to Puting Buhangin. He’s a little paranoid actually that we may not be ready that time and we may not be able to make the 6:00am call time. So we’ve made a promise that yes, we’ll be ready at 6:00am. (More on this later)
Then while we were setting camp, a lady with a small sling bag went to us to ask for our entrance fee and tent pinching fee. Entrance fee is Php 220.00 for overnight and Php 200.00 per tent pinching. You know, there’s actually that saying that in Borawan, bawat kembot may bayad. And I’m not even kidding.
Immediately after setting camp, we went around to take lots of pictures and see the area. The water in Borawan is not that clear compared to the other two islands so there was on this area were visitors are allowed to swim.
And while we were there, for a moment, personally, I forgot everything. I mean, when you’re in a beautiful place with the right people, all you think about is that moment and how you don’t want it yet to end. How you feel like you’re this best version of yourself right in that moment because you’re in that place where nobody even knows you and you’re with the people who bring out the best in you. You know, maybe that’s really how you travel with feelings.
We were college classmates. It’s been seven years already when we first met. And though they weren’t really the ones I go with when we were in school, I’m quite proud where we are right now. I was actually the outsider to their barkada, but that weekend, I never felt like I don’t belong. It’s almost as if we’ve all been one group of friends for those seven years.
It’s almost as if we were having a photoshoot. You know, when you’re in that moment that you wanted to relive forever, you take photos. Lots of them. Because in a way, you’re afraid you’d forget about it. You’re afraid that one day, when someone asks about that moment, you won’t remember it. You’re afraid you won’t be able to tell people about how you did this and that, about how this and that happened, about how this and that looked or felt like. Like they say, a picture holds a thousand words.
After we went to the area where swimmers are allowed, I had to find a place where souvenir items are sold. Why? I just happened to forgot to pack a going home shirt. Yeah, of all the things I could have forgotten. But hey, this is the first time that happened. And wearing that “I heart Borawan” shirt all the way back to Bulacan wasn’t so bad. (At least I’ve got myself a souvenir from the island)
We went back to our camp site and prepare our things for washing up. From the blogs I’ve read, I heard there were toilet and shower fees to pay, but when we got to the shower area, there was no one to collect fees so we got to use the shower for free.
It was almost dark when we finished cleaning up. Then we prepared our dinner. Ange and Lieme fried the hotdogs and reheat the fried chicken that we brought. We bought charcoals and gas in Nanay Tess’s store so we can cook even without an actual stove. Then we also had smores. But the highlight of that night was the itlog na pula. Oh the itlog na pula. No we didn’t eat it. We can never eat it. God, that awful stinking smell! I’m not kidding. It smells that bad that we almost lost our appetite eating anything. We threw it in the gabage bag that we brought but the smell seems like a ghost that looms over our campsite. I even joked that if don’t wake up early in the morning, either we’ll get sermon from Kuya Gearge or they’ll have the itlog na pula under their noses. (Ha!)
The moon served as our light that night with its magnificent glow.
So naturally, they all woke up before 5:00am the next day. We got ready to watch the sunrise when suddenly, the ever so puntual Kuya George came at 5:30am. So we fix our things and break our camp. We stll got time to wash our faces and brush our teeth (I was actually guily of using our minerally water in washing my face and brushing my teeth. Sorry guys!).
With the perfect purple and orange sky at the background, of course we couldn’t resist to take photos. The amazing painting of the sky was so perfect. It reminded me that no matter how dark the night has been, you can still count that the sun will come in the morning.
Then we’re leaving Borawan. And somehow, it felt like leaving a piece of my heart in a place I’m not sure I’ll ever see again.
NEXT STOP: PUTING BUHANGIN ISLAND
I was really looking forward for Puting Buhangin, because from what I heard, this is actually the place where the water is clearer and perfect for swimming. It also features the famous Kwebang Lampas.
The sun was currently rising as we travel from Borawan to Puting Buhangin and we couldn’t help but do some pictorials on the boat.
There were a lot of people in Puting Buhangin compared to the scattered campers of Borawan. Or maybe because Borawan is larger than Puting Buhangin. We were charged Php 80.00 for the entrance fee and Php 200.00 for the tent that we set up so we can have a safe place for our things. We told Kuya George to fetch us at 9:00am so we can still have time to go to Dampalitan Island before we head back to Nanay Tess’s house.
We first eat some of our left overs before staring swimming. Then we headed to Kwebang Lampas. And this happened…
Kwebang Lampas might have been really good if not for the vandals on the walls. Why do people do that? Why do they destroy beautiful things just to leave their marks?
We stayed explored inside the cave and went up to the other end of the cave. Those of us who knows how to swim went to the deep part. While us, the non-swimmers settle to sit at one part of the cave where we can have an amazing view of the sea. When suddenly, one of the other visitors screamed that there was a sea snake. People started sunning out the cave and Krisha, who I know was at the deep part of the cave went running faster thatn she could imagine even if the cave was slippery. Really! I guess fear of snake makes you forget anything and just get away.
So we just settled on the water on the beach area, where the “pantay lang” incident happened. We were swimming and the water was alrealy level with my neck,but I can still feel the sea floor. But then as we were in the water, laughing and telling stories, and making fun, we all saw Lieme reaching out. We all thought she was just faking but the we realized she wasn’t and she was actually drowning. It was Krisha who came to the rescue since she was the nearest to her. Then I had to hold on to Dharel because well, he’s tall and I’m really afraid I’d drown.
After that, it’s been a good story. That Krisha just realized Lieme was almost drowning when she had pulang mata already. And when her skin’s turning to violet. We had a good laught at that and until now, it’s still an inside joke. #pulangmata #pagvioletna
The water was almost crystal clear. But it’s deeper that it looks even though we’re still near the shoreline. I remember that quote I read once: “Because there’s nothing as beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it was sent away.” That prose makes me sad. Like the ocean will never stop kissing the shoreline. Like you will never stop loving someone, even though they don’t want you in their life. But you still do it. You still love them.
We also went to the other side of the beach and had some photos taken, until one of the guys swimming there told us that the water was not good on that part and we might have rashes.
So we sent back to the side of the beach and swim again, and after a while, we decided to go back to our tent and eat again before Kuya George came. The place was really beautiful, if only visitors and vacationers know how to take care of it.
LAST STOP: DAMPALITAN ISLAND
Dampalitan was probably the least crowded island of all three when we were there. But it has the finest white sand among the three. We were just there for several minutes until we have to go back to Nanay Tess’s house.
Again, we had to pay another Php 80.00 each for the entrance fee. But this time, we did not set up a tent since were not planning of staying for more than an hour.
There was some kind of a euphoric feeling as my feet walk through that fine white sand of Dampalitan Island. And it was amazing. Knowing that behind all the drama and hurting truths of real life, there are places like this where life seems less small and dreams seems bigger. Like dreams can go far beyond the horizon. Like everything can be achieved. Like it’s all that simple and never complicated.
But we all know it wasn’t like that. I know it was never like that in real life. Because real life is scary, it’s messy, it’s painful, and it’s never what you expect of it. But it’s always exciting. It’s up to you how to make it an adventure. It’s up to you how to live it.
We happened to just explore just one side of the beach since we have limited time on that island. We saw a good pictorial spot and well, you know what happened…
The serenity and quietness of Dampalitan makes me actually hear myself think. It makes me realize that there are more important things that what people do all day. That if they were to see the things I see, if they only realize the things I’ve realized, then maybe, just maybe, it might be a better place. But it’s not like that. It’s not supposed to be like that. Because we’re all different and we all live different lives. And that’s how it is.
Now, as I write this blog, I’ve been having some things in mind. That sometimes, you just really need some time away to figure things out. To figure out what you want and what you don’t. To know your limits and your capacity even more. And the most cliche part? To find yourself. Because we’re all lost, arent we? We all go out there to see who we could become or who we could have been. And we’ve find that version of ourself that we want, we don’t want to let go. No, we don’t. Because we’re afraid we’ll never feel like that again. Because we fear to never be like that again.
So that’s where hope comes to the picture. We plan again, with the hope that the next time we do this, it will be better than the last. I held on that hope, that tiny sliver of faith, that I will never forget how I felt. That no matter how many years go by, this experience will remain in my mind to remind me that things are better anywhere as long as you’re with the right people.
Here’s to wishing many more trips like this!