Saturday, May 03, 2014

More photos of Caluagas

Landing in Calaguas

Upon setting foot in Calaguas, I blurted that I feel like Magellan landing in Limasawa Island. This is the real deal. Pristine waters, dramatic rock formations, beautiful landscapes. There is so much to discover in this place. Just to memorize the islands and the islets scattered around it will take hours even days. 

The trip from Vinsons to Calaguas though is quite a challenge. We left port in Vinsons at around 8:00 am and went through the southern canal towards the Pacific. 

This is a pleasant ride. The wave measurement website said the waves would be at 1.2 meters on the trip, I wondered what it meant.

They're moderate but for those who are not used to it, these waves give you a semi-roller coaster ride. To counter the waves, I tried sitting on lotus position, which was a bad idea. It gave me backache. So, I decided to stand up for most of the trip. 

The cellphone signal was intermittent so I managed to make a few phone calls with the expectation that the island is off line. An hour and half later, the islands became more visible and surprised us with great views. After two hours, we managed to get to the opposite side of the Pacific in Calaguas Island, which is what they call Mahabang Buhangin. 

Can this compare with Boracay, Panglao, or Bantayan?

You be the judge. Come over here. I'm going for a swim.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, May 01, 2014

We're here at Villa Eusebia Labo, Camarines Norte

The estimated time of arrival was spot on. Ten hours after we left Pasay City. The trip could be faster were it not for the traffic in San Pablo City. Also, the first stop over was not that necessary or it didn't have to be longer than ten minutes.

Most part of the trip was comfortable and even entertaining, especially the coastal road leg from Atimonan to Gumaca. But it became a drag at the later part from Sta. Elena to Labo which seemed like two hours of relentless zig zag.

Our host for tonight is Mang Andin, through the generosity of AMT. We had crispy tadyang, binagoongan and hot sisig and rice for dinner. This is capped with fresh watermelons and buko juice.

We're finishing the night on the karaoke machine. It's a bit loud. We should really go back to the days of pianos and guitars. Anyways, I'll just sing my wife's song, "Each day with you", and call it a night. Calaguas beckons.

Sent from my iPhone

We're here yey!

Update later

Awa ng Diyos, wala pa rin kami dun

It's been a long trip.  I feel that if I met my wife at the start of this trip for the first time as a stranger,  by the end of this trip,  I'd be married to her already. We're  in Labo but the station is still elsewhere. The BlackBerry and the IPhone have conked out and I'm down to one working phone. I hope it lasts for the rest of the trip until I could get the others charged.

Sta. Elena to Labo is a wild ride.

The bus was swinging,  bags were falling off,  water containers were rolling on the bus floor, and Mr.  Snore was wide awake. This is one rugged terrain that could rival Kennon road of Baguio. The good thing is we're almost there. A few more minutes of this and I think I need those anti-dizziness tablets. I've finished off all the food stuff in my bag,  and is just left with two bottles of Gatorade that I'm saving for the boat trip to Calaguas. It's been a cool trip. The bus aircon worked fine and the weather here is somewhat damp. You wouldn't know that it's summer. It must have rained.

The Home stretch.

We're now in Calauag. The next town is Sta. Elena and then our destination for the bus, Labo. Based on the map, this last leg is all mountain terrain. On the ground, however, the route gives you occasionally a glimpse of the Calauag Bay bathing in the afternoon sun.

Gumaca, Quezon

We  had a ten minute break at the pit stop of Philtranco in Gumaca, Quezon. Based on the map, we're halfway done. But we've spent a good seven hours on the road already. This means the pace is going to quicken as we head on to Bicol. We're expected to be at Labo at 5:00pm. Then, we proceed to the Luzarraga Ancestral home for dinner  at 6:00pm.

At the pit stop, I was looking for local delicacies and John, our staff member, suggested I get the special tikoy, as it was Gumaca's specialty. What is unique with this tikoy is that it's neatly  covered by layers of dried palms that make it look like corn with the cover. I peeled off about four layers of palm, before I got to the tikoy, which was covered in plastic. It seemed like a lot of work so I told Macoy,  our maintenance guy in the office to get a knife to open the thing as I was getting impatient with it. Finally,  he hands it to me partially without the plastic. I got a pinch, tasted it, and handed the rest of it to Macoy to share with the others. Well,  it's tikoy alright, just a tad creamier than the average.

I settled for the chicharon balat ng baboy and got surprised as it could compete with Lapid's in the market. Excellent find here in Gumaca,  Quezon.

Gumaca, Quezon

Atimonan, Quezon

Now, it gets interesting

We've passed Pagbilao and now are about to enter Atimonan, Quezon. According to the map, the road is near the coastline so I'm hoping to catch photos of the sea. The trouble is there's so much road construction going on and it gets irritating at times.

Atimonan got a bit notorious after a drug related violence involving money and policemen brought it to the headlines. Of course, you don't see that from the bus. The locals look peaceful from this vantage point, but you know violence is lurking somewhere.

The guy behind me is snoring again so that means its getting more comfortable. Jeez, I should congratulate him after this trip for having a good and relaxing sleep. Who knows, he must be a call center guy who hasn't slept for weeks.

Sent from my iPhone

It gets bumpy from here

The town is called Pagbilao, Quezon. In the 80s there was a hellish bus accident on this town that killed tens of passengers on their way to Lucena. The news hugged the headlines for weeks and that left me the only memory of this place. True enough, we've been swinging from left to right since we got here, but our bus driver doesn't seem to mind as we're doing about 90 kph. It's going to be hard getting a nap this part of the trip. Even the snoring guy behind me is now awake.

Lunch at Fermil"s

We stopped at Fermil's Fast Food for lunch. I had a bowl of beef stew and rice, which cost barely a hundred bucks. Not bad. I don't how they make money on that.

I saw bottles of lambanog on the stand but our staff told me there is a lot more lambanog where we're heading so there's no need to get one from here.

This lambanog links to a memory of a family, which happens to be that of my wife's great grandparents, Magdalena and Pedro Lecaroz, who brewed lambanog during the war to make ends meet. Their son, Aristeo, former Governor of Marinduque, recalls his life as a kutsero, tending to the horses, as his parents load the lambanog to the kalesa for delivery. Those events were barely 70 years ago. And I'm quite lucky having heard of that story from the Governor in one of our meetings in our efforts to sell one of the old couple's prime lands which they bought from their earnings in lambanog and other products. I have a feeling somewhere around this place a similar scene is happening where a couple and their son are tending to their lambanog deliveries. Of course, the world knows how to reward they who can brew good lambanog wherever and whenever.

Ah, I think of alcohol and this trip gets exciting.

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Looking for Ungasis in Tiaong, Quezon

We've moved on a bit faster as we entered the town of Tiaong, Quezon. I'm familiar with this place as this town is also a gateway to San Juan, Batangas where my wife is from. If we turn right at the corner of Chow King, that road leads us to San Juan where the beaches of Laiya are found.

But prior to my meeting my wife, Tiaong lived in my imagination as the hometown of Victorio Ungasis of Wanbol University, the nerdy character of Vic Sotto in the 70's sitcom, Iskul Bukol. Ungasis's mother n the show played by Dely Atay-Atayan was funnier with that thick tagalog accent of Quezon. Although, I haven't really met anyone in real life with that sing-song Tagalog of hers.

That show has left such a mark in my life that until now there is no other way that I describe people with messed up work and messed up lives, including messed up governments, but Iskul Bukol. I wonder what is the story behind Ungasis and Tiaong, Quezon.

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Traffic in San Pablo, Laguna

We're crawling here as the bus hits the urban areas of San Pablo City Laguna. Meanwhile, the guy behind me is snoring like a pig. This is one of the many hassles commuters have to live with. My Blackberry is also about to get its battery drained. It's just been three hours since we left.
"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Preacher on the Bus

The stop over gets a little edgy for me as this preacher took the center of the bus to ask for donations.

Before that he distributed little envelopes to everyone. I returned the one he gave me because I thought it was a disturbance of my privacy. He then took the center, apologizes for disturbing us, and rattles off the mantras of giving and other quotes from the Bible. He then goes around asking for cash donations.

I was tempted a bit to demand for his DSWD permit. There is a regulation for this practice, and it requires solicitors to secure a DSWD permit before the can solicit for money from the public.

Ah, let's not ruin my day. So, I chose to ignore him as he gets his donations from the others on the bus. I wonder how much he makes in a day.

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Marvin B. Aceron's Location

PRODID:-//Apple Inc.//iOS 7.1//EN
N:;Marvin B. Aceron's Location;;;
FN:Marvin B. Aceron's Location

Where does the sun rise?

That sounds like a stupid question, unless you're riding a bus on a ten hour day trip. Why? You want to avoid the sun during the trip because it's uncomfortable to be under direct sunlight, even if you're riding in an air-conditioned bus.

Of course, the sun always rises on the east. But on a trip to the south which side of the bus is east? I missed it. I'm on the left side of the bus. In the confusion for the bus reservations earlier, I thought the sun would be on the right side. Yet, all is not lost because the left side is the morning sun. So, it won't last for too long. By 11:00 am, the sun will be off my face, and the guys on the right side will get the heat, as it were, for the rest of the trip.

Nice trip so far.
"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Look No Seat Belts

The bus is clean and cool. That would have been settled at that, except that this is a ten hour trip. The trip would be bumpy midway so it would be nice and comfortable to have seat belts and a mechanism to recline the chairs. But, I don't expect to be asleep the entire trip, so ditch the seat belts.

We had reserved seats for ten and when it seemed that two ladies have taken over our reserved seats, the two lawyers in this trip (that includes me) demanded for their tickets. The frightened ladies said they gave theirs to the driver as we examined our tickets to find out the cause of the confusion. Ooops, a little misreading by our staff led us to believe they took our seats. Okay, we're squared. Everyone is now in his place. The bus is about to roll.

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

The Way to Bicol

Our group will take the 8:00 am bus of Philtranco to Daet and get off the town Labo. It's expected to be a ten hour trip. The bus will take the South Luzon Expressway, exit in Laguna, pass through several towns of Quezon then enter the province of Camarines Norte. The trip will get tricky when we get to the hilly roads of Quezon.

I've taken this trip before on my way to a court hearing in Naga. But, I found it uneventful as it was a night trip. Today, we're doing this the whole morning and afternoon. For provision, I have four bottles of Gatorade, four hard boiled eggs and half of the left over pizza from last night. Our lunch is most likely going to be burgers, but I wish there will be some local dish for lunch.

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Notes on a Trip to Calaguas

"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"

Calaguas is a group of islands in the far fringes of the Bicol region. What prompted me to take this trip after many years of seeking comfortable and predictable ttraveling is probably boredom. Boracay, Bohol, Batangas and Cebu sound like tired destinations. Calaguas offers a back to the basics trip, i.e. the islands have no electricity, I brought along a tent and left my laptop. But the kindle is with me with books from my kindred spirits, David Foster Wallace, Gary Shteyngart, and Danilo Kis. Have beer. Will travel.
"Sent via BlackBerry from Smart"
Hello, Blogger. It's been a while. I'm going on an adventure/work-related trip to Calaguas Islands today with our staff. I'll try posting here from the old Blackberry similar to my Notes on a Trip to Cotabato. I found a web tool for the trip called the windGuru to check on the waves and this blog entry from Travelogues gives a good heads up on the trip.