Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cagbalete Island 2015

Before 2015 ends, I started to fulfil one of my dreams--to travel and visit the variety of beaches the earth has to offer. Cagbalete Island is my first stop and it's journey with my friend, Arra.

Here's how we got there.

We availed the travel package of 2-Days & 1-Night at Joven's Resort in Cagbalete Island with Tour for P699 instead of P1299 - Summer's Not Over Yet offered by Tipid Lakbay (check out for more details). It's an affordable deal, so we easily grabbed the chance. I made a reservation for two on December 28-29, once my friend, Arra, settled the payment through SM payment. The e-mail was sent on December 25 that was Christmas Day, Friday. It was a holiday, no office, no transaction, obviously. It was nerve-wracking waiting for a response, since they didn't have office hours on Saturday and Sunday. Even though that's the case, we were persistent, I called them more than 11th times, but no answer. Bogus! Scammed! Those were the negative thoughts we had on that Saturday. Then, I just got tired of calling them and decided to trust them blindly. That was faith. We just prayed to God that we were not scammed. Gladly, we weren't. It was already six in the evening when I read the response e-mail, sent at three in the afternoon, it was so suddenly, we didn't expect that the Cagbalete Island experience would be pushed through, but it did. It happened.

Two in the morning was the sample time from itinerary, and it's too damn early, but Arra insisted that we should definitely be there, on time. I packed my things somewhere 8 to 9 pm and wasn't able to sleep right away--must be due to excitement. It's my first, who wouldn't be? I probably slept at 10 or 10:30 pm, not sure, and woke up at 1:30 am for my prep. We met at Balibago Complex Terminal, at 2:30 am, still super early on my case, I wasn't able to get enough sleep. Unfortunately, there was no trip bound to Lucena during that time. Drivers and bystanders told us that the trips start on 5am. Dang! We had to wait for more than two hours, instead of sleeping, our eyes are out wide open waiting for the trip. There were a lot of tricycle drivers who offered trip to Turbina, they said we could get to Lucena on time if we used that alternative route, but I was doubtful as well as my mom. She dropped me off due to safety issues and Arra was sent by his brother. We tried stayed on a bus believing that we won't be left behind by the public boat transfers. The bus driver said that the bus will take on its journey bound to LRT Buendia any minute, from there we could take the ride to Lucena, but it didn't happen we waited for almost an hour. Liar! Uneasy, I left the bus and check on the public van transfer bound to Lucena and gladly, a man informed me that there was a direct trip to Lucena that would leave once the van had enough passengers. I was relieved for a bit, but irritation took over a bit as we waited for the arrival of other passengers. It was already 5:00 am when we left the town of Santa Rosa. It was a long and tiring waiting game. Gya! 

It was 3 to 4 hours long to reach Lucena via Van. At the Lucena Grand Terminal, we took NCR-rienton bus bound to Mauban, Quezon, it's a 1 1/2 hours ride. I bought piyaya, meringue, shingaling and a bottled water while waiting for the departure time. Arra bought pinagong while I was gone from the bus. A lot of vendors were coming in and out of the bus: watches, shades and necklace. Arra even bought a necklace for 50 pesos. It's an affordable deal for an item made out stainless, so why not. A not attachable magnet on the jewelry was proof that it was stainless. The vendor said it himself. Reaching the town of Mauban we were quite in a hurry, since the public boat transfer would leave at exactly 10:30 am and we didn't want to be left behind. From there, we rode a tricycle to reach the Tourism Office for registration and tickets for the environmental fee, then another ride bound to the port. We were actually late for last trip, but thank God for Miss Lani Fortunado, she was able to inform the boat for additional passengers, namely us, via phone. And there, we were able to catch M/B Neneng, a public boat transfer. It was a 45 minutes ride from Mauban port to Cagbalete Island. When I first stepped on the boat, dizziness fell upon me, I almost puke on the first boat ride of my life. Praise God, I didn't. It's hard battle with my stomach. A vest refrained me from my negative thoughts during the boat ride. I was practically nervous. The sea looked dangerous. It's endless. I felt like a sea monster would appear anytime soon. I could not confidently say that clarity and pureness of the sea, since there were floating unidentified materials on the middle of it and there was smell a of gasoline. I was a bit disappointed, even in province pollution existed. A small boat took us to the seashore with white sand and blue water. The water was expectedly clear on this part of the sea.

First Day on the Cagbalete Island

Cagbalete Island is part of the Quezon Province with a number of residents and a few resorts that caters the tourists. We were welcomed by a few number of residence from Barangay Cagbalete, mostly were kids. They were offering a tour from the shore to our desired resort. We were hesitant at first because we thought Joven's Blue Beach Resort was easy to find, but on the second thought, surely, we needed a guide. He was a young boy. Wasn't able to ask his name, but he felt kind. He was polite and very accommodating. We asked how much, and he just said 'bahala na po kayo’. One thing that we both notice, Arra and I, people in this province were quite kind, they didn't talk loud and even offered help. They felt so calm, unlike the ones from the city. The young boy even carried one of Arra's bag which was full out-fits for this beach getaway, she brought a lot. He answered all our questions, also the stupid ones. There were elementary and high school in the area which took me by surprise, according to him--I might consider transferring my teaching career in this area, if an opportunity popped out. And he even told us that there was a flood recently that reached his chest, the thought was disturbing. Flood near the sea. Scary! He was nice enough to laugh with us. It was a long walkathon. Ups and downs. Wet and dry. It took us 45 minutes to reach Joven's.

At the Joven's Blue Beach Resort, Miss Clarissa took care of the tent that was included in the travel package. It was unthinkable for us to prepare the package I hadn't done one in my entire life, even Arra. The sight of the endless sea was breathtaking surprisingly. I wasn't anticipating sea monster, since I was standing safely on the ground. That's what I thought. It was low tide, so the sea didn't reach the seashore. The white sand was unbelievably white, though there were a lot of dead plants and few logs--probably due to the flood. As we rest our tired mind and body bamboo chairs, a ring from a bell caught my attention, like the ones from the ice cream vendors and it was so ignorant of to be surprised again. Of course, ice cream existed on that place. Cagbalete wasn't so far from the civilization, though I got easily scared because of boat rides. They must be used to it, unlike me. I almost retracted from buying pinipig flavored ice cream because of its unbelievable high price. It actually was 25 pesos ̶ too expensive for me. The frugal in me must take over. But I didn't know if it's pity or what, we thought or Arra thought of it first what if we were in their shoes, that we had to ride boat everyday just to get items to sell and earn something for a living. 'Okay.' My inner self that time. I gave in and asked the vendor to lower the price, and he did with just 5 pesos discount. We tried to persuade a little more, but there was no hope. That's it, we bought the ice cream for 20 pesos ̶ I still regretted it though for quite some time, but I had to move on and I did. During that time, Miss Clarissa finished the tent prepping with the help of another woman. Though, we had this thought if it was okay that we didn't help in preparing the tent. She sure looked like she had a hard time, but it's too late to offer help that tent was ready for us to indulge in it and rest. After cleansing our feet from muddy walkathon, we decided to get back the lack of sleep we had due to the incorrect perception of trips. Surely, Arra was able to sleep during the van ride, and I wasn't. My head began to ache. I tried to eat it away with food we bought from the terminal and with the Stik-O brought by Arra. They tasted divine for some reason, but had no effect on me. Due to my poor eyesight, I had to wear contact lenses during the whole trip. Arra suggested to remove my lenses, so I could sleep nicely. I tried to sleep on the tent, but it was hopeless. I set the alarm at 3 pm as told by my companion.

I woke up before 3 pm, I hadn't get any sleep. The pain was still there caused by lack of sleep and contact lenses. It's my eyes. Gya! It started to get on me and worst I felt bloated, like I want to make bowel movement, but there's none. Changing into our bathing outfit, averted my thoughts from the pain. We're in the beach and I didn't want to spoil this getaway for me, more so for Arra. I drastically buried the pain in the deepest part of my brain, somewhere that could make me feel numb even just for a while.
Photo shoots and video recording, then bathing in the sea. It's the fun and exciting part. Same thoughts of sea monsters rumbled my mind, but I couldn't care less. Bring it on, sea monsters! If there were any, thankfully, there wasn't even a single one. The sea was tastefully salty.

The night fell. We're done fixing ourselves for a good night sleep I was looking forward to. The water from the bathroom was pampering my skin with its cold temperature, it felt refreshing. It was past 6 in the evening when the excruciating pain from the headache returned. I couldn't sleep even if I wanted to. Gya! Gya! Banging my head on a hard entity was already an option when my mom called. That was a relief, talking to her made me fall to sleep. I was thinking of going home that night, but it's not possible, no boat trips. We planned to stay until the 30th, since it was mentioned that we could stay there as long as we want, but I was feeling so sick. I wanted to drink a medicine, but there was none and I was feeling lazy to ask someone. But as I talked to my mom, I've mentioned that we would be home tomorrow. Arra was surprised when she heard me--the situation could benefit her boyfriend also, since he was complaining on the phone about the extension of our stay. Naturally, I fell asleep with the freezing temp, thanks to my thick sweater jacket and Arra's blanket, I survived the night.

Second Day on the Cagbalete Island

I woke up past 5 in the morning. I heard the snoozing alarm, but I was too lazy to get up, not until Arra turned off the alarm and informed about the time. There was a boat trip at 7:30 from Cagbalete to Mauban port and that was our target departure, but time flew by so fast while enjoying the great sceneries in front of us. My headache was gone, Arra was right, it because of the lack of sleep and my eyes. I could have fun without feeling any pain. That was great! We ate breakfast with what little food we had. Powdered milk courtesy of Arra, yes! Thanks to her, a hundred times. I borrowed 2 mugs and asked for hot water from Miss Clarissa, I was grateful she let me. Piyaya, Stick-O, shingaling for our breakfast. Eating in a bar like felt we were eating sumptuous food. Nothing beats the beauty of nature! We were full, though we had eaten less. That's what it takes to be a traveler!

Change outfit for Arra, wearing the same bathing garments for me, photoshoots, slo-mo recording, sand play, sea dipping, too cold, so we just took a bath in the bathroom.

I asked Miss Clarissa beforehand if there was a 1 pm trip, thankfully there was. I told her also that we wanted to take the carabao ride, since the muddy walkathon wouldn't be a practical option to take. We were all glammed up and didn't want to spoil that. It was already 11:30 am I was afraid we might missed the public transfer. 'Kuya', the driver of the caretela waited for fetching us the second time around, the first was we weren't ready still prepping, especially Arra. A family who left before and fixed their tent was actually waiting for us--such a shame, but I reserved the carabao ride and I heard the parents talking about walking to the other side of island. They thought of making their journey easier, I guess. The ride was a bit bumpy, caused by the unconstructed road, but Nini or Minnie, not sure what his/her name was a gentle and obedient carabao. I just didn't like how 'Kuya' patted Nini's behind using a stick, it wasn't that hard though.

The boat ride bound to Mauban Port was a free ride thanks to Miss Lani Fortunado, and also the first boat should also be free since it was included in the tour package, I think. There were only few passengers in M/V Anthony, that's a relief. We even spotted foreigners, so they were entranced by the beauty of Cagbalete Island. The other foreigner was a young as described by Arra. He was with a girlfriend, a gorgeous one. The guy was quite handsome according to Arra. So sad that he already had a girlfriend. Gya! High breed, that's what I call them. The sailing was smooth, calm and getting a glimpse of a handsome was beneficial and a feast to my eyes, though I couldn't clearly see his features, his silhouette was enough to get my attention. The color and texture of his skin, his body built, muscles construction, I guess those details were enough evidences to prove his awesomeness. We returned safely at Mauban Port, rode a tricycle, dropped off to a terminal, Van bound to Lucena Grand Terminal and bought some 'pasalubong' like yema cake, cassava cake, and pinagong. Van bound to Santa Rosa, Laguna. We took the Batangas route due to traffic in Laguna route. It took us 4 hours before we arrived at Balibago Complex. That was a long ride and it almost got the worst out of me. Inside the van was a jump pack of passengers. I couldn't even stretch my legs, they felt numb. Music was the perfect companion in a long ride. Thanks to Arra's iPod.

Ideal transpo schedule...
From Laguna to Mauban, Quezon: VIA COMMUTE

5:00 - 8:00 am - take any van bound to Lucena (3-4 hours; 150) then get off at Lucena Grand Terminal.

8:00 - 9:30 am - take an Ncr-rienton bus going to Mauban (1.5 hours; P54) and tell the driver to drop you off at the town of Mauban.

9:30 - 10:30 am - ride a tricycle (P10/head) and tell the driver to drop you off at Mauban Port for registration & boat transfers. This is where you have to pay the environmental fee which costs 50 pesos per person.

10:30 - 11:30 am - Public boat transfer costs 50 pesos. Only has two trips from Mauban Port to Cagbalete Island: 10:30 am and 4:30 pm. Be punctual or else you have to take a private boat transfer which costs much or wait long for the next public boat transfer.

11:30 am - 12:00 pm - Upon arrival at Cagbalete Island, you can walk going to Joven’s beach resort (30 minutes).

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