Day 3 of our trip to Puerto Princesa brought us to San Vicente, where Long Beach and Daplac Cove are found. Here are some photos of Daplac Cove:
Daplac Cove is about a 30-minute bangka ride from Capari Resort (where we stayed in San Vicente) per way. The bangka ride is a service provided by the resort itself, which cost our group of 8 about Php 3,500.00 ($80.42) for the entire day. Guests availing of this service may just arrange with the bangkero (boatman) the best way to maximize the day island-hopping.
Meals were not a problem for us because the friendly boatmen were nice enough to do the cooking for us. All we had to do was wake up early in the morning to buy some fresh catch of fish, order rice from the resort, and of course, eat!
We were lucky enough to meet two kind residents from the island, Philippe (a Frenchman) and Ditchay (a Filipina), whose beautiful eco-friendly cottage is nested right in front of the beach. (Ay, kainggit!)
During the afternoon the couple invited us to their porch for a cup of coffee. There we learned that their cottage has been around for 20 years already (and it still looks new!). Over coffee Philippe talked (or, according to Ditchay, lectured us) to us about the pressing problem of commercialization of the island as well as their cause in letting as many people know about the bad side of putting up resorts in tiny islands such as Boayan. According to them, the presence of a luxury resort would harm the island’s ecosystem, and would render the island inaccessible to local tourists who aren’t able to afford the high rates these resorts ask for. Aside from that, Philippe also gave us the 411 on the environmental benefits of using solar energy at home. The conversation may have seemed like a lecture, but it was definitely eye-opening for us city girls who know very little about such matters.
I’m in on the cause of the San Vicente residents to save Boayan from “commercialization.” Word is out that Discovery Shores is planning to build a luxury resort in the area — something that will greatly affect local travelers, as the cost of entering the island will be very expensive. Ditchay and Philippe were right in saying that it just doesn’t make sense if it happens that such a place in the Philippines would become inaccessible to most of its citizens. More importantly, the building of such a resort would greatly harm the rich wildlife that Boayan has.
Click on this link and join in the cause! You may also find them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=68467507745
For those who are interested to know, here’s a summary of our camping trip (c/o Mr. Melvic Brinas) to Calaguas:
- caught the 2100 (Friday night) bus ride from Manila to Daet via Amihan Bus Lines
- arrived in Daet at around 0700-0800 (Saturday); the entire group met with Mr. Brinas in Jollibee (I think there’s only one in Daet)
- 30-minute van ride to the port
- 2-hour boat ride to Calaguas (with a quick side trip to Makulabo Island)
- 1030–arrival at Calaguas campsite
- 1200–buffet lunch for all (this is included in the camping package)
- once done eating, go and enjoy the island!
- 1900–buffet dinner for all (included in the camping package); also, we were lucky enough to be provided by Mr. Brinas bottles of The Bar Apple Vodka during our trip–whee!
- 1000 (Sunday)–left the island for some surfing fun at Bagasbas
- 2100–departure from Bagasbas back to Manila
the sand here is blindingly white, i'm not kidding
Here’s a little disclaimer, though. Calaguas is not for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because this island is exclusive, or anything–it’s just that certain types of tourists who have a set of “standards” might not enjoy the island as others do. As a piece of advice from one traveler to another, do not go to Calaguas if you:
- are faint of heart (or in Tagalog, nerbyoso/nerbyosa) — The 2-hour boat ride to and from the mainland can get really bumpy; if you still wish to go, avoid the summer months and postpone your trip until around July when the waves are calmer.
- can’t survive one night of sleeping without air conditioning — camping = no bedrooms = sleeping in tents
- can’t survive one night of sleeping without a comfortable bed — same as #2
- can’t survive at least 2 days of no mobile phone signal
- are not willing to try bathing from a makeshift pump (in Tagalog, poso) outdoors, potentially with strangers — since it’s a remote island, there’s no running power there to light the (ruins of a former decent) bathroom
Bottom line is, Calaguas is an adventure in the most natural sense. It doesn’t offer the thrill that mainstream water sports/activities do; instead, it challenges travelers to let go of their tired old notions of what a weekend beach getaway should be, and to just suck in the experiences that nature has to offer–both the beautiful and the not-so-convenient.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I left Manila that Friday evening March of last year not knowing what to expect from that trip to Camarines Norte. Today, I remember myself sitting in that bus going home just overflowing with awe of what I have seen and experienced there. Actually, until now (as I type) I get chills recalling the most pleasantly surprising place I have ever been my entire life! Calaguas is by far the most exquisite of all the beautiful beaches I have visited here in the Philippines. Forget Boracay–it’s already way past its prime. Hee :p
Behind an excellent camping trip is an excellent organizer/host. Melvic Brinas can be found in Facebook, where his contact numbers are posted: http://www.facebook.com/calaguas4ever
He has other websites, too!
After riding the Micro Lite, we headed off to our last destination in Bukidnon: Dahilayan Adventure Park, where the “longest zipline in Asia” can be found. Unfortunately, the road going up to the park was wet (the road wasn’t paved yet) due to the rain from the night before, so we had to do a little hiking to get there. It was a helluva long uphill walk but, man, it was also a helluva view! Layers upon layers of mountains, pine trees lining the road, even pretty flowers scattered around… I never imagined Bukidnon to be this picturesque. Pleasant surprise!
I may be called a killjoy for not trying out the famous 840 meter-long zipline, but hey, to each her own, right? Instead, I went for the ATV ride around the park which is an adventure in itself, too. The trail was excellent, complete with uphill and downhill parts, sharp curves, and muddy/rocky ground, so better be ready to get dirty if you wish to try this out! Aside from that, the trail also offers an amazing view of the entire park and the woods and mountains that surround it. I say the Php 500 that this ride cost me was very well worth its value. Find out more about this park in their website.
the ATV trail
view from the trail
- our taxi service (c/o Kuya Amet, the taxi driver we met in the airport–he gave us a discount!) picked us up from the hotel at 6am; got to Balingoan Port at 7:30am
- took the 8:00am ferry to Camiguin; ticket price is Php 150 + a terminal fee of Php 2.25; there’s a student discount, so don’t forget to bring your student ID!
- arrived at Benoni Port, Camiguin at 9:00 am
The multicab service c/o Paguia’s Cottages was already waiting for us at Benoni Port when we arrived. To maximize our time on the island of Mantigue, our group decided to go to there first before checking in to Paguia’s Cottages. We left our luggage in the multicab, leaving no money and valuables there, of course.
The boat ride from Mahinog to Mantigue took about 20-30 minutes. From afar we could already see the white sand beach that surrounds the island! I have seen a number of white sand beaches around the country, and I must say that this one should be on my top 20 of the best. Aside from its sand, what makes Mantigue beautiful is the lush greenery at its center, where the picnic tables are located. The various trees of the greenery provide the island’s guests with excellent shade and fresh air.
The marine sanctuary in Mantigue is no Balicasag, but try it anyway. Snorkeling there will let you see a variety of tropical fish as well as giant clams.
If you’re looking for beach activities (i.e. banana boat, jet skiing, fly fish-ing, etc) like those found in Boracay, you’ll get bored in this island for sure. But if you’re looking for a place where you could just relax and take in the beauty of nature, Mantigue Island is for you.
We decided to leave the island at around 1:30pm as we have a few more stops to make around Camiguin. Next on our IT was Katibawasan Falls. At 250 feet high, Katibawasan Falls is a sight to behold. Watching the white water cascade down a gigantic cliff made me feel like I was in a postcard or a calendar photo of the falls. It was so beautiful there, it felt unreal. Don’t forget to bring your DSLR when visiting this park! The water was clear and very cool. If I were badly sunburned in Mantigue, the cold water from the pool would have soothed every inch of my burned skin.
- entrance fee: Php 15 (adults), Php 6 (kids 7 years and below)
- souvenir shops and sari-sari stores are lined up just outside the park’s gate
After a quick check-in and shower, our group rushed to catch a view of the sunken cemetery with the sunset as its background: