A Weekend Beach Trip to Nagsasa Cove in Zambales, Philippines
STORY: I guess there are many more islands left unexplored in the Philippines. I am proud to be one of the few to have traveled to this pristine beauty.
I was hesitant, that's a fact. Camping in the great unknown isn't really my cup of tea. I have been backpacking, but getting lost in an unfamiliar place at a time when two typhoons are threatening to hit the Philippine soil is another thing. I guess, i wouldn't be a real hippie if i said no to the invitation. And so, i went with my college block mates to Zambales.
Zambales is 3-4 hours away from Manila, depending on which municipality you're going to. You can ride a bus at Caloocan Terminal near Manila, the city, going to San Antonio Zambales - the point of reference of our trip. We rode the bus. It was a pleasantly comfortable ride, i must say. It's just that i find it real hard to sleep on road trips, plus the farang beside me took 1/2 of my seat, and he was speaking in tongues while dozing off.
Nowadays, island trips to Zambales are frequent. You can have everything arranged in Manila for less than $50 all in, that includes an overnight stay with three meals, boat rides and bus rides plus tricycle rides (Philippine version of tuk-tuks).
We arrived at San Antonio an hour or so before noon. The sun was raising high. The thought of a typhoon infested island has been cleared out. We're so ready for some beach time. We then transferred to a tricycle ride further to the beach for about less than 30 minutes on mostly unpaved road. But that's the fun of it.
From Pundaquit Bay, it takes roughly an hour of boat ride to get to Nagsasa in Zambales, our camping site. You will pass by more popular islands like Capones and Anawangin. Our tour guide planned for Nagsasa because it was less visited, less spoiled, so we could enjoy the beach to ourselves.
What will hit you during the boat ride is the beauty of Zambales islands. There's just so many of it, plus you could see the amazing mountains, covering most of the sides - greens and browns, depending on which part the sun is shining. The water is so unbelievably clear. There are fish jumping from one side, and a weird rock formation on the other.
Finally, after multiple "i thought" islands, we arrived at Nagsasa. The first thing i did? Threw my stuff on the sand, and just swam in the sea. The waters are green now. It's as clear as azure. The sand isn't white, it's beige and grey as highlighted by the noon sun.
We then, installed our tents, and headed for lunch. We had a tasty lunch - chicken adobo and beef tapa, very Filipino, i must say. After the hearty meal, it's time to hit the beach. And then, drink the famous beer called San Miguel Light.
Our group isn't the silent type. We're like Australians out on tour during winter. We made love to the beach. We swam, took photos, got our photos taken, we trekked the mountains, some swam in the lake, talked, laughed, drank alcohol, others continued to walk across the shore. We had a tiny but rocking lego speakers connected to my iPod. Songs mostly consisting of Hed Kandi, Ibiza and Popular Trance Anthems. There were some tents to the right and left. There was a group of Canadians and French to our right (who later on, became our really good friends), and some Asian babes to our left. We were so talkative, and we just made fun about everything. All totally random ideas. It is our idea of fun - nothing serious, nothing sexy, just good clean fun.
Nagsasa is a cove, where there are mountains to both sides protecting the beach from the winds. One can sit for hours in the sand, just protect your balls from the heat of the sand, and just admire the scenery. I mean, it's not everyday you get to spend 2 days in paradise. You can see the mountains, they are a pretty good size. I haven't been to New Zealand, but from photos, the mountains look alike. The water is calm, it was unexpected. It was like a mirror, transparent, liquid, foaming the wild waters of South China Sea.
As i have always been, I'm quite the moody type. When night fell, hesitations and stress came full force on me. What if something bad happens? I am stuck in this side of the province where transportation to the main island is only scheduled for tomorrow. There's no electricity, no cell site. It's either one will go for a walk, or just try to get some sleep.
At around 7PM, dinner was served - octopus, mangoes, grilled eggplant and salted eggs. After dinner, now what? It's time to drink. I had too much to drink during the day. I had four or five bottles of beer already, and i had no sleep now counting to two days. I'm quite petrified. I needed to get some sleep, but i wasn't sleepy. I needed to rest.
Soon, our neighboring campers joined us for a bonfire. I had to go to the tent and tried for the second time to get some sleep. I couldn't. While some were doing naughty stuff, some were drinking Matador Brandy, others were swimming in the dark sea, I was in the tent. I needed to walk. I always do that. Whenever i travel, i make it a point to walk at night. I find peace during the night. Walking and stumbling upon something that'll change my mood. I plugged my iPod. The song playing was Pavarotti and then it was preceded by Ennio Morricone. The perfect song playing while walking and feeling the cool breeze of the wind, the only light coming from the quarter moon, and people chatting about how beautiful this country of mine is, made the night extra special.
The stillness of the night
Fear for the hours while you sleep
Eager to wake up to a new day not full of tears
Sleeping soundly as the waves crash in
Dreams of dreaming of paradise as i settle in.
The Next Day:
I slept at 1:59AM and woke up at 6:45 AM in precision. I could still remember as my Nokia handy phone could only display the clock and continuously trying to send my message to my mum and dad.
When i woke up, it was peaceful. The pressure of last night ended. The cool wind blowing through my skin was calming. It's a great day. The worries of last night finally subsided. After a light breakfast. It was time to walk around. We did, me and best mates walked to the other side of the beach where the waters are cooler. We passed by a small islet in between a lake and the sea. We stayed there for a while and bonded. Some things are better left said, where time was not the essence, the quality is.
REALIZATIONS: Friendship never ends. Traveling with your friends is great. I couldn't compare it to traveling' alone as it's very different. Traveling with friends is more fun, more sociable, more spontaneous. Traveling alone is about growing as a person and learning about yourself.
We left the next day, and rode a bus from the same point of reference. Only that buses are full so we re-routed to Olongapo, the home of the pussy bars of Zambales.
This, i realized the most. My university friends don't know how much i love them. Spending time with them is cool. I learn a lot from them. I had fun with them. For a time, work stops and friendship continues. And at that time, it felt like college was all over again, young and adventurous.
I am forever Young.