This is a post by THH Louie.
Last December 2014, #teamharthart decided to celebrate Jon’s 23rd birthday at Calaguas Island. Shameful as it can be, I had “biyahilo” since I can remember so I asked the team to opt for the non air-conditioned bus! Nobody was able to say no thanks to my persuasion. ☺ Most of us enjoyed riding the ordinary bus especially when we hit the provinces where the air was fresh and very cool. We actually had to close the windows as it became freezing inside the bus.
After the 9 hour commute, we finally reached Daet, Camarines Norte. My bum was about to fall off when we got of the bus and worse, the flood gates of heaven opened. It was still dark when we arrived and everyone in that town was still cuddled up in their beds. There we were, wet from the rain and numb from the long haul journey. It cannot get any worse I am sure.
I was so disheartened I felt that this trip was going to be a failure but then the rain stopped. All 6 of us were alive again. As the sun rose, our smiles glittered as well. Feeling the warm sunlight on our skin really boosted our morale.
The view from our home away from home.
We walked around to ask the locals for some directions on how to get to the island. They advised us to take a van heading to Paracale, Camarines Norte. The coastal town of Paracale was not very far. People were already busy with their daily lives when we arrived there and the local market was already filled with early birds so we decided to buy our supplies first before we head off to the port. Thanks to my haggling skills, It only costed us P3000 for a return trip to the island (mind you it’s a 2 hour boat ride and the waves are huge so I think it’s a steal.) Mr. Boatman was kind enough to allow us to take shelter in his little house as the rained poured again.
We started our boat ride even if it was still raining. I was quite scared because it was my first time riding in the rain. The boat was just big enough to accommodate 6 passengers plus 2 boatmen. The ride lasted 2 hours, which is like hell for me because the waves were so high and it almost felt like the boat was going to flip. I was so dizzy I almost puked. After hours of seeing nothing but the ocean, we finally got a glimpse of paradise. We passed by a lot of beautiful islets with waves crashing on them. Every bit of exhaustion was lifted as we saw our destination. There it was, the unbelievably stunning island of Calaguas.
Finally we were able to feel the powdery sand on our feet. Such a great way to pamper us for the long and tiring journey. The turquoise water made us want to just drop our bags and dive in. We were so glad we were the only guests in the island that time. The deserted island paradise quickly became our home. We set up our tents first before we prepared our lunch. Even if we wanted to spare Jon from cooking (Yes, he always cook for the team. He can actually cook better than any of us girls) but we just can’t even if it was his birthday celebration. 🙂 We didn’t want to waste any food so we asked him to cook adobo. His version of adobo is second only to mines. Just kidding.
We had socials that night and they drank Emperador, I don’t drink a lot so I was assigned to be the tangera 🙂 The island caretaker lent us makeshift emergency light. It was a light bulb attached to car batteries which made the inuman session merrier. 🙂 We just laughed the night away as the waves roared in the distance.
We woke up at 6AM and went island hopping after eating adobo rice for breakfast. The island was full of great wonders, every corner was a sight to behold. We stayed in a nearby island where several nipa huts lined the shore. While others were taking pictures, Jon (Everyone calls him Fish by the way since he is very much at home in the water) went out to dive for sea urchins. The sea urchin population is so healthy, there were more than enough for everyone to have a taste of this fine delicacy. The roe of these fresh caught sea critters is a hundred times better (and a hell of a lot cheaper) than the ones they serve at restaurants. Afterwards, Cath, Roldan and Nessa took underwater pictures while the rest of us had a little siesta. The gentle breeze and the sound of the waves cradled us to sleep.
We were woken up by Roldan and Cath screaming only to find out that their underwater cam ran out of battery and they still haven’t got a nice underwater shot. 🙂 We ended our island hopping tour with our simple lunch. We invited the kids to have lunch but they were too polite to accept so we gave them our spare food to take home.
As much as we wanted to stay, we had to leave the island and started heading back to Manila. The boat ride heading back to the mainland was so rough some of us puked. We had our dinner at a nearby carinderia while waiting for the bus. The long journey back to Manila started at 6PM. We were so exhausted after the whole day’s activity everyone was asleep throughout the journey. We reached Manila at 4AM the next day.
I hope Jon enjoyed his birthday celebration with us! 🙂 We survived the P2000 challenge. I can’t think of anything bad about this place. It’s so wonderful, I wouldn’t mind going back again and again.
Be sure to bring enough potable water as there are no shops in the island. There is a pump but it is only for toilet use. There’s no electricity and network coverage in the island so bring flashlights and powerbanks. Remember to bring all of your garbage with you as you leave the island. Leave nothing but footprints.