Zambales


Of all the wonderful spots in San Antonio (Zambales), Nagsasa Cove is the closest to my heart. It has this rugged charm that captivated my nature-loving heart.

Those pine trees that surround the calm lagoon against a mountain backdrop is a wallpaper-worthy landscape that will surely ease any weary soul. The sound of the blowing wind coming from the mountain adds to the serenity of the place. It is very relaxing just to sit by the lagoon and relish all its glory.

Outside the lagoon, Nagsasa offers waves that are good for skim boarding. I found an enthusiast relaxing along the shore after trying out the seawater.

Nagsasa is more serene than its neighbor Anawangin, thanks to the higher rate of visitors on the latter. I only stayed for a few hours here, but the time spent was all worth it. I had so much fun and relaxed time I intend to come back and camp for a night or two.

That tricycle driver volunteered to bring us to the nearby street market so Erwin, my younger brother, can buy a pair of slippers. He did not just drive for free – he stopped from one stall to another until we found a pair.

This story happened in Pundaquit, Zambales. Genuine, Filipino kindness in action.

Sunday morning. The waves are calm and ready to take us to a wonderful journey on the islands and coves of Zambales – Camara, Capones, Nagsasa, Anawangin.

Camara Islands is the nearest from Pundaquit. It took us around 30 minutes to reach these small, twin islands.

We did not dock at Capones Island because it will take an hour of hiking to reach the lighthouse. I just took a picture and promised myself to return.

The sea was calm when we started sailing towards Nagsasa Cove, the farthest spot from Pundaquit. The ride got bumpy when we were twenty minutes away from the paradise because the wind coming from the mountains are against our direction. It was worth it; the view of the lagoon and the sculpted mountain is just breathtaking.

On our way back past noon, we briefly stopped at Anawangin Cove. First to become popular among the other coves, it was filled with campers when we arrived. One nice jump shot for a fun family trip.

Departure from Pundaquit: 0630

Arrival at Pundaquit: 1300

For boat trips, contact Mike Bactad at 0928 340 5136 / 0927 780 1312

Victory Liner Caloocan passes through San Antonio, Zambales daily.

I researched for Pundaquit accommodation two weeks before our family’s trip to the islands and coves of Zambales. Of all the resorts listed in the site, I found Wild Rose Beach Inn good enough to accommodate our family. My parents always have a requirement when our family goes out of town: rooms should have its own bathrooms and if possible, should be air conditioned. A swimming pool is a plus because we love night swimming.

We arrived in Pundaquit at 4 in the afternoon and immediately checked-in at Wild Rose Beach Inn. We were welcomed by the owner, Mama Tess, who talks endlessly. She assigned two rooms for us, exactly what I have reserved in our telephone and email conversations. The rooms were air conditioned, had linens and attached bathrooms. Towels and toiletries were not provided. It may be small but we did not really care as we were more excited to jump into the pool and enjoy the weekend.

I arranged for three meals when I made the reservation. They prepared packed lunch for Sunday because I wanted us to have lunch in Nagsasa, the farthest cove from Pundaquit beach. Meals were on time except for the Sunday breakfast. We had Fried Tilapia and Pakbet for Saturday evening, Tosilog for Sunday morning, and Adobong Sitaw and Fried Tanigue for Sunday lunch. Just regular meals.

All went well with Mama Tess, the owner, except for the boat arrangement. I did not include the boat rental when I confirmed our reservation. Sunday morning came and she insisted that we go with the boatman she talked with when we arrived; she wanted to go with us to Nagsasa. When she learned that we directly negotiated with Kuya Mike Bactad Saturday afternoon, she immediately told us stories of boatmen leaving their passengers on the coves, alcoholic boatmen sailing on open sea leading to accidents, and that still missing person who got lost in Anawangin. When she sensed that we have not been discouraged, she admitted that resorts, or maybe her resort, get commission from boat rentals. She claims that what she get from the boatmen goes directly to her staff as tips. We let her finish her stories, then left and headed straight to Kuya Mike’s place along the beach.

We had peace and quiet during our half day tour and found no problems with Kuya Mike’s friendly crew. Mama Tess was surprisingly silent when we came back at around 1 in the afternoon.

There was never really a problem during our stay at Wild Rose Beach Inn. We had fun on Saturday night! Although next time, I will surely head straight to one of the coves and camp there overnight.

 

Mike Bactad (boatman) – 0928 340 5136 / 0927 780 1312

Pundaquit is a fishing village in San Antonio, Zambales. It is the gateway to the province’s different coves (Anawangin, Silanguin, Talisayin, Nagsasa) and islands (Camara, Capones).

There are cottages and resorts in the area if an overnight camping at the coves is not possible. You may check this out for a list of resorts. I stayed at Wild Rose Beach Inn with my family when we went there last March because they have a nice swimming pool.

For boat trips to the islands and coves, I suggest that you head to the beach and talk directly to the boatmen. Resorts give flat rates and get commission from them. This is also to ensure that the boat you are going to use is big enough to accommodate your group. Three men from Kuya Mike Bactad’s crew sailed with us. We were ten in a big boat.

Victory Liner Caloocan passes through San Antonio, Zambales daily.

Mike Bactad (boatman) – 0928 340 5136 / 0927 780 1312

My trip to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival was not my first this year. I thought it would be but who would ignore a beach weekend getaway?

Thanks to a dear friend’s invitation, I was lucky to have joined Trippers (adventure organizers) one sunny weekend last January.

I, along with thirteen people, rode a private van that took us to Palauig, Zambales in four hours. We transferred to a boat and sailed for 10 minutes to reach the starfish-filled destination – Magalawa Island.

Upon arrival, we immediately pitched our tents and changed into our swimwear. I was extra excited to dip in the cool waters of the island because I had with me my Pentax W90, that outdoor camera I bought last 2010.

With my dear friend Maila

Starfish Barkada

4-star

6-star

After lunch, it was time for the bamboo raft ride. It brought us to coral spots around the island. Cool! 😀

Five fingers

Sea fairy

After about an hour or two, we got back to the island. The night was ours.

I spent the following morning playing along the shore. Forgive me, but to have my nickname spelled by sea stars is a childhood dream.

They were just out of the water for 5 minutes (we collected them on a big plastic bag filled with water) and then thrown back to the sea.

It was so much fun I had to jump.

And jump.

And, uhm, jump.

Thank you, Trippers, Maila, and to the Magalawa caretakers.