Bagasbas | Paracale | Calaguas Photo Diary: I am loving my unplanned trips

Thanks to work, my planned Camiguin vacation that was booked as early as July 2013 went down the drain. Instead of re-booking my flight to Cagayan de Oro on the eve of the 30th, I once again took a chance. All the planning transpired in a cab, while I was on the way home from a client event. The ride lasted 30 minutes, enough to do a quick internet research (and review Philippine geography).

The destination: Daet, Camarines Norte, site of Bagasbas Beach—not as famous as La Union and Baler as surf spots, but I swear to god, the waves here are wild! At 2 AM, January 31st, I was back in Cubao looking for last minute departures—there’s one by Superlines, albeit non-air-conditioned. Nine hours and three hundred plus pesos later, I got to Daet. Oh yes, the clincher, there was a storm coming (how can I not check the fucking weather app right?). This is how the beach looked like. You can surf and die trying. Haha!

Bagasbas-WavesLR

I stayed the night in one of the trailer rooms of Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel. From the outside, it did look like a fucking trailer, but the interiors are swell, and the rates are very, very cheap-ass backpacker-friendly.

Trailer-RoomLR

Sad part is, there’s no surfing for me. You can’t go YOLO-ing like a motherfucker very often. Seriously.

I toyed with the idea of heading to Paracale, but the sky didn’t look so promising.

Stuck-because-of-the-stormLR

And the weather forecast almost confirmed it. Yet I kept my hopes up. 9 AM of Feb 1, the sun re-appeared. I checked out, took a van to Paracale, and made arrangements for a boatman while on the way.The town is pretty popular for at least two reasons: it’s the jump off point to Calaguas and it has very rich gold deposits (hence the name ‘para cale’ / ‘canal digger’  a reference to mining). These little structures on stilts have produced kilos of gold and claimed hundreds of lives. They’ve closed it off for good, but it didn’t stop locals from panning for gold in other areas.

Paracale-GoldLR
Also, they have a big ornament that’s hard to ignore. You don’t see a rock-solid, 400 year-old church in a coastal town very often. Not in one piece, at least.

Paracale-ChurchLR

I left the town at 2PM and got to Calaguas about an hour before sunset.  Look at that.

Calaguas-Sunset-1LRAnd that.

Calaguas-Sunset-2LR

Bitch, it was paradise. I set-up camp, ate dinner, and drank with the boatmen that evening (Had Red Horse, they had Emperador and lambanog. Ang sosyal! Our pulutan was abalone with gata, plus all my junk food).

Solitary-CamperLRCheers!

Paracale-BoatmenLR

It was cold but the trusty hoodie found its way in my bag (it always does). I had no flashlight so thank god for a fully-charged iPad on full brightness. Spent the evening looking at the stars, listening to Massive Attack and Lemon Jelly. It couldn’t get any better, but the following morning, I stepped out of the tent and saw this.

Mahabang-BuhanginLRAnd this.

Mahabang-Buhangin-3LR

And this.

Mahabang-Buhangin-2LR
After the morning coffee, a little tour guide named Richard took me up for hike to see the other side of the island facing the Pacific.

Richard-the-little-tour-guideLRAnd to see an awesome view of Mahabang Buhangin. Holy fuck, right?

Calaguas-up-a-hillLRIt felt like I owned the universe.

The sea was calmer that day, we didn’t battle 8 ft waves. Typhoon Basyang was downgraded to a low pressure area. It was fucking hot, and for this very reason my face and my legs got burned like crazy. Like crazy. I had fresh fish and kamoteng kahoy for breakfast, courtesy of the boatmen. It’s like I was some sort of long lost kin.

The ride home was scenic.

HomeboundLR
I’m hoping that my return trip here would happen soon because the boatmen promised to take me fishing. Trust me, two whole nights won’t be enough to enjoy the island. There’s a barrio (village) one kilometer away from Mahabang Buhangin and the hills also seemed like a great place to pitch your tent on. If you are the type who’s obsessed with timelapse, this is the place to be.

Hopefully I can plan better and take a friend or two with me next. This island is too beautiful. Would be a shame if I kept the view for myself.

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