Anawangin Cove top view

The Back Story 
(Warning: this is one long back story, repost from my Multiply. I felt like immortalizing the whole epic trip.)

If you’re planning your own Anawangin vacation, there are tips along the story, so watch out for tip alerts!
 I almost ditched myself out of this trip for so many pragmatic reasons. I can only say now to myself, “pat on the back” for joining the pack (rhymes) and making my list of the top get-aways this summer 2010.

April 9, 2010, Araw ng Kagitingan holiday and I was at work, plus 30% pay, of course; Kaye, our ACN. It was a holiday, so benignity is the name of the duty. Kaye was multitasking carrying out doctor’s orders while coordinating and organizing this would-be marvelous Anawangin trip.

I had no idea whatsoever of the place aside from the basic facts that it was a beach trip, and it’s in Zambales. Perfect as it is, I took advantage of the WiFi-powered station and read as much article as I can about Anawangin.

I found out for one that Anawangin literally means “many carabaos” (nuang is carabao in Ilokano).

My excitement grew as I click on pictures and blogged articles of those who have been to the much-talked about island, recently discovered by mountaineers (who also said that they wanted to keep this discovery a secret so as not to corrupt the innocence of nature. Well, they failed miserably in keeping it a secret; they succeeded in increasing the tourism power of Zambales).

I was getting myself oriented just particularly that night when the trip was set for the 10th of April, the following day. I’m off at work at 11pm, haven’t packed a thing and clueless of the whereabouts of rendezvous and what to’s.

*Tip Alert!
Kaye informed me we’re taking the *FIRST TRIP (Victory Liner Caloocan station) to Iba at 6am or probably 8am after ma’am KC and Pinky’s night shift. So I thought I have enough time to pack and beauty rest.

But miracles do happen and the universe really conspires to make things happen. Due to the low census at the area, people were granted extra offs, and by people mean ma’am KC and Pinky! The repercussion? We can leave earlier than planned and decided to hit the bus terminal at 4am in time for the first trip. This also meant fast paced packing and napping after duty at the bus.

The last person I saw that time was Kaye and so was the first person I saw the next day.

The Ride I
The adrenaline rush got pumped up as we rode the killer bus to Caloocan Victory terminal. Commuters were literally bursting into anger, splashing ill comments to the reckless driver. It felt like we were in the brink of death, we had to concentrate and stop talking. If anyone of you has ridden the space shuttle, it was much like that, minus the safety precautions.
*HIRE your own van if you want to feel safer or simply choose a more decent bus (we didn’t because all we cared about was ride, sleepy zombie people that we were)

We got off at the terminal and walked through an eskinita where at anytime you can get stabbed, or stolen of. We never minded any of that, we were determined to reach the destination. That’s all we ever wanted—experience Anawangin.
*IF YOU are not familiar at all with the place, pass through the general public road, that’s a general safety rule (we didn’t because I was in a batak company; insiders I should say)

We waited for the next trip, apparently we were late for the first. This gave us ample time to document the trip with nothing more but pictures!

The next fun part was being seated at what KC dubbed as the “economy class” of the bus, at the far end rear part of it, yes, that five-seater portion at the very back. Deang family was seated together and mam Fran was in another adventure of her own—the search for KC’s next dad.

You can only imagine how rowdy we were at the bus, owning it like we were on a class field trip. We were giddy and we just can’t hide it. The energy of course wore out somewhere along express way, except for our vampire companion, Kaye, pretending to sleep so we wont suspect :]. She was up before we dozed off and already awake before we do that she can perfectly describe every event on the road, which we all missed of course.

It took us about *4 HOURS to reach San Antonio, where we planned to buy our *camping goodies. Since we knew nothing about marketing, mam Pinky, sir Benj, and I waited and guarded our belongings on a staircase beside a mini store.
*IF YOU got more time, buy goodies ahead, that would be the cheaper, time-saving way (we didn’t because no one got the time! We were all on duty!)

Bridge to Paradise

The Ride II

On the tricycle going for the boat ride to the island

I think we pissed off one of the female tricycle drivers because she was obviously boxing us out but we got another people (who charged us cheaper) to bring us to the shore.
*HAGGLE the tricycle fare. Lots of them waiting for business. And don’t come off as well-off people if you want cheaper rates.

4th ride of the day: boat to the island

The Ride III

Pristine blue-green sea, just another scenic spot in the Philippines

And then it was a sunny morning when we reached Pundaquit to ride the boat, we were definitely all psyched up despite the lack of sleep and the tiring travel, not to mention the heavy loads. And off we crossed the sea, appreciating the wonders of nature, with the fear of drowning never leaving me.

Approaching Anawangin, from the boat view

Voila! The sight of Anawangin Cove brought the sun shining more and the anticipation just wont stop growing.

The Batcave

Setting up the place–tent pitching, cooking over wood fire

The Experience I
We located our camp site and set all up. I wished we had brought a *guitar so instead I bought a hammock which seemed fitting of the ambiance.
*BRING stuff that would make the camping trip more interesting and enjoyable like mini guitars, hammocks, marshmallows, you know the drill!

We were dead hungry, so while the Deang family built the tent, sir Benj started the fire for cooking, the rest of us prepared the food for breakfast spearheaded by the amazing revelation of mam KC’s talent. It was a quick dine, most of us cant wait to dive into the salt water.

Free natural shade. Please don’t cut any of these.

The pine trees in the camp site made it so deceiving I thought it was shady at the shore as well, but the scorching heat made me resist a while and shared the afternoon siesta on a duyan hung on a tree with Kaye and our philosophical chit-chats, (it was so nice to talk with someone so sensible, by the way).

Ang duyan. Photo by Pinky Bautista

At 3:30pm, we decided to take the risk of sun burn and ran into the water. Sarap sarap sarap. At about 5pm, KC was preoccupied with cooking rice and preparing dinner that she convinced us all to return to camp site and do just what she thought.

The Experience II
We got rid of the salt in our body with nothing else but poso water (manual, old school water pump) with every stranger in the area watching and waiting for their turns.

Every part of the experience, the uncivilized ways we had to take were all so rejuvenating. It was hard, inconvenient, and gross but all worth the fun that goes with camping.

The Experience III

Going to hike, that mountain

Things didn’t just end there, an impulse came to hike the mountain which grew as a debate at first but we all succumbed to the thirst for adventure and doing everything we can while we’re in that beautiful scenic spot.

It was a shaky hike for me. The shoe wear was nothing *engineered for hiking, it was slidy and unsteady and the terrain was barely there so we really have to make our own way, wet as we are, and tired at that.

We kept climbing but at the back of my mind this is kind of dangerous especially for mam Pinky and mam Fran who were not as adept and enthusiastic about the hike. The sun is almost setting, I can feel the darkness’ on its way, fear crippling me. At the steepest point of the climb, I was ready to give up. Its always wiser to be safe than sorry, but some descending hikers encouraged us to see what’s up there and promised the whole worth of the strenuous climb. We gave in of course plus the encouragement I personally got from the determination mam KC have on this difficult climb.

At the top

And then we were there. The encouragement from the strangers was like heaven-timed and sent. Breath-taking. Inspiring. Humbling, I must say.

The Realization
It’s that scene where you realize we are all just a dust on this earth, something greater is around us to be self- possessed and ego-maniacs. We are nothing compared to the nature surrounding each of us, and we are all self-serving at times when we think the world revolves around us; everything is all about us. It was more than postcard-perfect, it was a sanctuary to heal a soul.

Going down

After that momentary rebirth, I was so afraid of the descent that inevitably will follow-suit. As mountaineers declare, the climb down is harder, and more dangerous than going up, because it is at this time that senses are down, climbers are complacent, people tend to be less careful.

More than all these, it was physically harder, soil was slipping away easily, it was very slippy to say the least. We made it of course that’s why I can write all these, although sir Benj almost gave up a few meters before finish line having fallen several times, while KC complained of Benj’s way of retracting back the stems of the grasses/ weeds he held on to to mam KC’s way :] (good times!)

where the river meets the sea

It was already almost dark when we reached the ground, and then we had to experience grossness at its best. What’s that thing doing there, anyway. It made us leave the brackish water and head back to camp site now with no illumination at all. The guys hurriedly started the fire and cooked the filleted pork chop, marinated with tequila. : ]

Sunset at Anawangin

After dinner I decided to rest a while over the hammock under the starry night. As I woke up, bonfire has started, marshmallows roasted, tequila flowing already. I joined them and Kaye roasted my first marshmallow with her ingenious roaster, credit to her thoughtfulness and unwavering energy.

Bonfire and Marshmallows by the Beach

The funniest things that night were when they declared that the liquors had no “tama” and a few more drinks after Kaye was saying “5 thighs up” instead of 5 thumbs up, ang sir RL was on emote mode “napakasaya, kaya gusto kong ipursue ‘to, masasaya yung mga kasama ko” and the rest were knocked down without notice (wala nga namang tama).

I decided to camp out and doze at the hammock, thanks to off lotion there were no mosquito bites. Just when I was imagining kapres and the night has fallen silent when I decided to get in the tent and continue my rest. Kaye slept last, and woke up first, she’s a vampire in disguise I told you.

Another day has set, and our final dip in the ocean. There’s a sad anticipation of the day getting over, of course. While waiting for our boat to get us was the start of unending flow of ideas on how many ways marriage proposals can be done. It was a laugh trip all the way, until the raging waves of the sea quieted us down. It was fierce. Rio grande plus jungle log jam many times over. I was conceptualizing already how im gonna reach the shore if ever the boat tumbles down.

It was a tiring afternoon of April 10, 2010, and a perfect summer has just been created by 7 adventurous, fun-loving people. It was a weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to momentarily spare ourselves of work-related toxins, and so we did.

Thanks much to Sirs and Ma’ams RL, Pinky, Fran, KC, and Kaye for reminding me once more that fun can be just 1,500 peso-worth. : j (Credits to them for the other photos)