After a few months of not being able to travel (remember, I’m actually not allowed to travel – I’m just really pasaway). My parents arrived in Manila in December, thus meaning, I would not be able to get any trips anymore until, well, until I can finally learn to ask them permission with no frills.

Anyway, so after winning the Tour Guiding Competition in school, I came home, with a trophy, certificate and a medal. Whoopee me! I went to bed, tired after the whole week’s events. When I woke up just in time for dinner, I was still sleepy then and my mother asked me if I wanted to go with my sister to her trip with the Trippers in Quezon. I immediately woke up. I told her she couldn’t take it back if I said yes. She said okay.

 

That’s how I found myself at 1am, in the same 7/11 in Cubao next to Victory Liner waiting again, for Ate J9 and Jala again. Excited!

I hadn’t had time to research the place because I really didn’t expect to be going (although I did plan to go before my parents had arrived).

I never thought of Quezon as being a tourist spot. It was only last year when I found out about the Trippers that I learned of Cagbalete and Padre Burgos and Borawan that has been one of my dream places since I heard of it. I’ve been to both Boracay and Palawan so I’d really love to see what the famous Borawan looks like and for months, it had been my new target.

We left Cubao at around 2-3am. I don’t remember much about the ride (I did the same ride to Lucena with the Trippers just a few months back) and I slept most of the way. We reached the Lucena terminal at around 6-7am, I think and we ate at the Jolibee for breakfast before heading off to our jump-off in Pagbilao Grande at Pagbilao.

The ride to Pagbilao takes about an hour and a half and we had a special trip with a jeep. Most of the road was leveled, but when we reached the part near the Pagbilao Power Plant, it became a little rocky.

The jeep stopped for awhile as Ate J9 went over to get us permission to enter. Once she had them, the jeep went on, into the rather forested part of the area and finally to the stop, in front of a green lake. Ate J9 informed us we were going to be hiking a little. I didn’t mind.

We began our hike through the woods, along huge trees until we reached a stream.

 

Before that I could already hear the stream and the sound of water excited me. As we entered the clearing, I could already see the wooshing waters beyond the tall grass, as well as the tall power plant from behind and soon enough, the grass lowered and the stream appeared.

The current was fast and this was because it was heading into the ocean. There was a rush of excitement as I saw the edge of the island where the stream fell into the ocean.

There was a beautiful view of the Power Plant from here and we stopped awhile for some pictures. As we turned a corner, we reached a rockier path and then a bit of grassy path that edged into a muddy path.

Soon enough, we were at another clearing and this time, an even more beautiful clearing.

We had finally arrived at Puting Buhangin that was bordered on the side by Kwebang Lampas, a cave that can be explored from the beach. Puting Buhangin, meaning White Sand was very much literal. The white, glowing sand was beautiful, it was even prettier than the sands in Honda Bay. Although the sand was hot, we didn’t waste much time before going to explore the beach and the Kwebang Lampas. We were scheduled to stay awhile before heading to the next island so we had a lot of time to explore.

 

Puting Buhangin’s sand was smooth and white, it spread all the way over the cove, almost to the cave itself where you can use rocks to skip on until you’re inside the cave. The water was nice, you can see the bottom clearly, it was also low tide when we arrived.

The beach water depth wasn’t as deep but if you swim a little farther out, it does get deeper quickly. It’s safe though, because there’s not a lot of current that gets in the cove with the ocean’s current blocked by the cave. Although the water was clean and clear, by the afternoon, the water was found to have jellyfish and there was some sea creatures that we found on the sand. I didn’t get to swim, my eyes were swollen that time and I really didn’t feel well.

The beach is also known to be Lukang Beach, from the owner Peter Lukang. This beach can be visited by a boat or through land and can only be visited during the day. If you want to stay overnight, permission must be availed from the owners themselves.

Kwebang Lampas is a rock formation made out of limestone that is identical to the rock formations in El Nido.

The rock formation forms a cave, thus “Kweba” meaning cave. There is sea water at the floor of the cave and it only runs for about a few meters. There are two openings to the cave, one from the Puting Buhangin’s beach and the other directly from sea on the other side. I suppose that if the tide is high, you won’t be able to enter the cave. However, there isn’t much to explore inside the cave, it doesn’t go so far, just be careful stepping on the stones and rocks and make sure to keep a watch out for any unwanted sea species – like snakes! Still can’t get over my Boracay experience with the sea snake.

 

After lunch, which the Trippers provided, of course, I don’t remember how they prepared it, I was half asleep, after exploring the cave, we hung around the island some more before the boat came to take us to our next destination. Unfortunately, by this time, the sun had darkened (no matter how hot it had been the morning) and it was pouring a little. I missed the waters and I bet the sea missed me because during our boat ride to the next island, the water kept overflowing, but mostly on my side and on me. I hadn’t swum in Puting Buhangin so I wasn’t ready to be wet just yet. I didn’t mind though.

It was around 2 o’clock when we had left for Borawan and we were supposed to take a side trip to Magasawang Bato, which was highly un-recommendable with the tide, a little high and the rain pouring. Instead, we just passed by the rock islets that they call “Couple Rocks” in English. It was so cool when we passed Magasawang Bato, and since it was high tide you can see light green colors beside the bigger rocks, indicating lower depths of the sea around the side-by-side rocks islets.

With the rain pouring no one really wanted to get out of the boat so after passing by slowly around the rocks, we headed off to Borawan.

I was excited to be in another of my goal places. We reached Borawan after a very rocky boat ride.

Borawan came from Boracay and Palawan because it was said to have Boracay’s sand and Palawan’s rock formations. Although I can testify to Palawan’s rock formations, I wasn’t sure about Boracay’s sand.

The sand in Boracay was very much finer than that in Borawan where the beach was filled with cluttered rocks and stones and the color wasn’t Boracay’s famous white beach, in fact, the color of Puting Buhangin was whiter than that in Borawan.

I admit I must’ve expected too much, especially with its name. It is a little overrated especially in the Boracay part. Its rock formations, however, pretty much proved a lot. The high walls of limestone rocks where just dying to be climbed and there were smaller rock formations that you wouldn’t need equipment to climb, just a set of strong hands and feet and the feel of being risky – at least just for that moment. While these rock formations may be a little low to worry so much about hurting yourself, I have to remind you that these are made out of limestone and most parts of it are very sharp and you can easily hurt yourself with a wrong step.

We were scheduled to stay at Borawan for the night unlike most others who spend their night at Dampalitan Island (which we were scheduled to go the next day). Ate J9 and others have had bad experiences with dogs trying to get to their food so they decided that Borawan will be the place to stay at during the night.

Arriving in the island, it was very, very windy. No, literally. The wind was blowing so hard that my knees were starting to shake. We didn’t know where we were going to set camp yet, with the wind blowing that hard, and there were still some people over on the other side. Once they left, we strutted over to the other side of the island (where the wind was blocked by the walls of rock formations) to set up camp.

We went around exploring a bit, but I admit I was a little disappointed about the place. Along the beach on the other side, where the wind was scarier and the tide seemed higher, the beach was cluttered with ocean trash like old coconut branches, coconuts and other materials. It wasn’t a very pretty site. There was also a tiny cave, although we didn’t find it, the others did. Jala told us he had climbed inside the cave, but I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not – because I didn’t really believe there was a small cave for a few people to fit, I couldn’t find the cave when we went around.

We had pictorials on the beach and on the rock formations and a little later, we saw a beautiful rainbow spreading from across the island to Dampalitan. A great way to end the day. And the rain had stopped.

The water was deep in Borawan, if you go in the waters, the current was stronger and it dives deeper with just a few steps. It wasn’t as clear as the waters in Palawan, but I appreciate beach water much more than pool water.

For dinner, Jala cooked longganisa or sausages, fish and vegetables for those who want. It was a very scrumptious meal for camping. We ate, heartily while in bonfire, which was super cool since it was my first time. For dessert, someone had brought marshmallows so we all decided to roast some – there’s a term for it, I just don’t remember. We don’t know how to roast marshmallows and most of us were only able to burn ours or just end up heating the marshmallows up. Jala, however, was able to nicely roast his marshmallow.

 

We ended the night with a game of “Bukas-Sara” or “Close-Open” that I barely got to understanding and a nice evening of laughter and enjoyment (which I short-lived after having problems with my thesis groups).

It was a nice end to a great day and we ended the day early at around 10pm I think. There were no lights around the island except for the bonfire so we were all enclosed in darkness soon enough. I slept with my sister and Leslie in one tent and we were all cozy enough inside. I slept well that night, although it was my first time camping and I know I woke up some time during the night and I know I heard rain. It was a really, really cold night, but I loved it, every minute of it and slept cozily. In the morning, I woke up early, around 5am to witness a beautiful sunrise (the sunset, unfortunately, was at Dampalitan so we didn’t get to witness that) and another hearty breakfast, thanks to Jala and Ate J9.

 

By the way, for everyone else who wants to camp in Borawan, just know that there is no water supply, no bathrooms, no lights nothing on the island unlike in Dampalitan where there is already a community there. However, some boatmen will agree to bring over fish or water from time to time.

I was feeling better now so a little later in the morning, I went swimming for awhile before calling it quits to rest a bit and wait for the boat that would take us to Dampalitan. It was high tide that day and with the strong winds, they were only able to take the guests to Dampalitan without the organizers and our bags (it was too heavy and too risky if we all went with our bags).

We arrived at Dampalitan Island which proved to be a very beautiful island and if I did get to come back here, I’d love the chance to explore a little more. We didn’t get to go around much because we were pressed for time.

Dampalitan Island is a beautiful island cove, with a long and thin stretch of land that extends from the main island to the waters as a border and works as a way to stop the current from flowing into the main parts of the beach. With its border, the beach is calm and shallow and very clean, but I realized it may also be because there might be brackish water just somewhere in the island or behind the island. I realized this because as we walked along the island, passed the extended stretch of land blocking the tide, walking along the other side of the island, to an even longer, whiter stretch of fine sand, rocks and stoney land that marked that the tide was in its lowest this morning, there were mangroves that grew right in the middle of the island and along the stretch further down to a part we didn’t wander off anymore.

The island was also bordered with beautiful pine trees, as well as palm trees that gave the beach a very tropical atmosphere. There were stores here, or Ate J9 mentioned, however, when we visited, there weren’t anyone selling anything. I really, really wanted to swim, even if there was a part of the front beach that had some kind of fish nets resting along the sides, the low tide, calm waters was so inviting that I really wanted to sink in.

No one else wanted to though so I was kind of discouraged to. Around 1pm I think it was, we agreed to go back to Padre Burgos (the jump off) where they said there was a place to take a bath in and wait for the boat to go back and pick up the organizers.

The boat ride to Padre Burgos was rocky with a bit of raging waves (not so much as yesterday when we headed to Borawan, but it wasn’t exactly calm either). It only took about 15 minutes or so before we reached the port and we jumped off, while the boat went back to Borawan to pick up our bags and the organizers who hadn’t come with us to Dampalitan. At the port, there were plenty of stores, so we had a chance to quench our thirsts and munch on some snacks while waiting.

It took longer for the organizers to get to the port, about 30 minutes to an hour of waiting. We didn’t mind that much; we spend some time enjoying each other’s company before we knew the day would be over. When the boat arrived again with our bags, we each headed off to get our stuff and then followed the locals to the bathroom where we would be allowed to take a bath and get dressed.

When everyone was ready, we boarded a jeep that took us back to the Lucena terminal. Since we were pressed for time, we could only get take out food from Jolibee and take quick CR breaks before the bus left for Manila. We were back to Manila by 9pm.

This happened on January 29 – 30, 2011 with the Trippers.

The whole trip was organized with the Trippers and it is my second trip with Ate J9, Jala, Kuya Toto and the gang. I enjoyed my weekend off.

The package costs P2,000 all in all, with tent accommodations, island hopping (including all the islands I mentioned), lunch, dinner and breakfast, island fees and transportation. Not only do you not have to worry about anything else on the island, you get a chance to bond with many new people. The Trippers have a very fun, unique way of showing you the best islands in the Philippines.

Brenna is the sole owner of The Philippine Travelogue, an online journal of her travel adventures and experiences. Brenna is a freelance writer, online marketing and social media specialist and a blogger with a constant itch for adventure and thrill. For inquiries, suggestions and invitations please send a message.

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