“OMG! Someone drowned on this beach just this April! Read this article!…”
“Can you both ride a banca without getting dizzy???”
“Tsk,tsk,tsk. Calm down BoneDoc.You and your ka ob-c han again. The beach looks really nice here in this picture. We’ve got to go there!Of course we’d be extra careful going there. ”
Joy V, a constant travel buddy and “la-ag” cohort of mine, tempered my sickening negativism. She is always the calm and reassuring street- smart person I’ve known from way back our elementary days. My conscientious whiner personality on the contrary is riddled with acrophobia and claustrophobia misplaced in a reckless mountaineer wannabe. We make a great pair nevertheless. Or at least that’s what I think.
Needless to argue, we found ourselves riding a bus going to Iba, Zambales at 4am. The ride will take us some 3- 4 hours of our time dropping off at San Antonio Zambales– the jump off point to Pudangit Beach and to Anawangin Cove or Capones Island. Joy and I were determined to have fun relaxing at Anawangin Cove and get a glimpse of Capones Light House should our time and weather allow us. Rain, the pretty young lady besides Joy, is up wondering where on earth would her outdoor loving parents, bring her to. She looked excited though, utterly silent yet eyes is busily scanning the side streets and whatever she can see in the dawn lit roadside.
Aren’t we there yet???Rain mustered to ask finally.”Lapit na Ate Rain” I replied, as if I have been here.
It’s almost 8AM when we arrived at San Antonio, Zambales. There were young campers hustled along the bus shed waiting for some of their friends. “They must be heading for Anawangin too!” Joy mentioned. Made us more excited. “This must be some place to hang around.”
We certainly look odd to them, judging from the stares were getting. Who would have thought that we were a fully functional OR team (a surgeon, a nurse and a pretty young lady hopefully another MD in the future) donning trekking pants and dri fits (instead of OR suits), each a carrying a mountain pack, water and food (instead of scalpels, sponges and sutures) and head on to some exciting getaway instead of the operating theater? I made sure we looked like going to an outdoor trip rather than being ambushed for a medical mission! I had enough of work back home!.
After a ten minute tryke ride, we were at Nora‘s beach resort already. Joy had a prearranged boat ride here, was busy fixing the schedule and our lunch for tomorrow. I went on with what I do best – infect the boatman of my ka-ob-c-han. I inspected the boat, life jackets, tested the boatman’s knowledge of the sea we’re passing through and the incidents in those areas. I’m not a seafarer myself, but I have the same keen sense for being overly careful, even for short, small boat rides. Accidents do happen mostly because of neglect for some not so obvious and minute details. If you are with your family, even a small hole in the boat’s floor will make you postpone a trip!
“Hun, looks like the boatman lived in this area long enough to even breathe high waves and storms without jumping off his boat.” Off we went to our boat ride.
The boat ride will take along the coastline of Pundangit Beach and into the rocky hillside waters blemished with awesome geological cutlines. I’m always fascinated by rock formations and distinct stone layers representing different land layers pushed by tectonic movements. The mountain side looks like this rather than volcanic in origin. Chiseled by millions of waves, these rock formations made me gasp in wonder. “God is one great architect” Or maybe, He was just having some fun doing this.
Fun and excitement. That’s what the three of us felt when the boat finally entered the cove. The scene in front of us is stunning. Looking at a cove with white sandy beaches littered with tall pine trees is exhilarating. How did these pine trees get in here? Our camera got busy. Rain woke up from what seem to be a natural boat ride for her (so much for my baseless fears of her getting dizzy or scared). “We’re almost there!” Yipee! That was me not Rain.
We were greeted by the courteous caretakers of the beach where we are staying. We thanked the boatman and arranged that we be fetched next day for our trip to Capones Island. The boatman left and we settled to our place. The caretakers were very friendly and cordial, not to mention their visibly happy smiles knowing they have company in this part of Zambales. So far this paradise got us as the only visitors, yet. But it is just 10 am. Uh, I learned from the caretakers, that the place is owned by some rich guy whose surname happen to be the same as mine. “If he is this rich, he’s probably he is not my relative!” I told the care takers. Joy only teased and laughed at my envious joke! Hahaha!
“Let’s eat our breakfast first!” Joy herded me, and Rain who was already busy scouting the beach side. “This place really looks nice and relaxing. The white sands, the freshwater stream that meets the seas, the tree line just beneath and the pine trees forming a canopy on a very clean sandy ground!” I excitingly talked to joy. “Hoy kain muna tayo!” was her no nonsense reply. One thing my outdoor buddy is an expert of is, food. Even if she is one of the more difficult person to feed, Joy got this habit of overfeeding us with anything edible she can hold on to. Food is her expertise. At least that’s what her diploma would tell me.
“Mommy why are we here in this place?Where is this place?Can I go beach side now?” Rain‘s questions riddled us to no end. Her young, innocent but sharp mind always fascinated us, the young-minded-supposed to be grown up adults. Outdoor geeks that we are, we made sure Rain taste the outdoors at a young age. She got her genes from her mom anyway. This young, smart lady that is so unobtunded when it comes to questions. “Make sure you don’t get too far away from us!” And don’t get too far into the waves!” never let us out of your sight! Uh, parenting 101. Shucks…
Joy and I got busy scouting the area for pitching our tents. Luckily, there is an hectare vacant area for us! Aside from the heavenly shade provided by the pine trees, there were bamboo benches and tables every 10 meters or so. Fantastic! So we settled in the shade nearest the beach and pitched our tents. Cooking our Goldilocks ready to eat (RTA) lunch, I also fixed a hammock also between two nearby pine trees.
This is camping the easy way I guess. Gone were the days I have to cut tomatoes, onions and so many other things and clobber them inside a fire burnt pot. Now, viola! you have your lunch thanks to plastic packs!
Sumptuous lunch that we ate mercilessly . This is a real-deal outdoor family camping and its so darn good! I think I ate too much that lunch I almost got heavy after!
The view of the cove is fantastic. On your right looking to the bay area, is a rocky cliff with a picturesque side wall and pool blue watercress. Just around 20 meters or so forward is another vacant white sand beach. To our left is the vast expanse of the cove’s white sands, extending to what I see as a stream of fresh water coming out of a forest line behind the cove. The caretaker told us that just behind us is Mt. Anawangin, a favorite climbing destination for mountaineers before they hit this cove. If there is a storm passing this cove, the people in this beach go to Pundangit via this mountain route, walking 5 -6 hours their pace and getting an enviable view of the cove from the top. Joy and I originally wanted to trek that mountains for fun, but since rain is with us, we forgo that lunacy or we risk the ire of a tired Rain.
Uh, Rain is busy frolicking in the beach side, playing patintero with the waves and picking up stones or shells.
Doc Remo what is global warming???Another one of Rain’s out of the blue shooting questions that blow ones mind.
Ahh, when you pick those dead shells that make up the reefs and homes of fishes, in the long run you’ll get our world warmed up!” then I went on explaining my analogy of the earth as a “ball wrapped by an invisible shield of “air” that protects us against harmful UV rays. Anything that put holes into this “shield” is warming the earth.” I hope Rain‘s stare mean he understood something lest I fail her inquisitive mind.
Joy and I decide to just relax ourselves in the hammock watching Rain frolic on the beach. When the scorching sun tones down a little bit, we’ll hit the beach side walking towards the other end of the cove. The cool breeze is so relaxing I dozed off in no time. Snoring..
Then I woke up after some time muttering: “Where’s Rain?Baka masyado sya malapit sa beach side huh?!” Joy just laughed off my hopeless fears. “Heh, matulog ka lang dyan!”
At around 3 pm, a few mountaineers (the same guys we saw at the bus stop) started to trickle in from Mt. Anawangin. .They looked relieved seeing the beach and the fantastic landscape. Like any other mountaineer, I’m envious of their feat. The mountaineer in me promised I’d be conquering that mountain next time.
Bringing along our camera and VCR, the three of us started hiking towards the other end of the cove towards the stream. “This is such an enchanting place. Who would think we made it to this place after months of dillydallying?!! The forest foliage just behind the beach is so relaxing. Its kinda rare nowadays to see beaches with such nice backdrop. We already saw a few more tents jutting out of the beach side. One tent actually stood out because it sat lonely along the bank of the freshwater stream, just at the edge of the forest. ‘Must be another hermit, outdoor loving guy!” Joy quipped.
We were surprised by what we saw at the end of the cove. “A gushing freshwater stream meeting the sea water area!And on a rocky forest backdrop, this seem like The Colorado Springs!” We were so elated and excited we wasted no time posing and taking pictures while frolicking in the stream. We’ve been to so many streams and rivers and waterfalls before, but not like this. We get to swim in both shallow seawater and freshwater area. Yahooo!!!
“I wish there was one in our backyards”. There it goes again. Me and my selfish outdoor wishes.
We swam and littered around the area till sunset. We knew somehow the place would be very idyllic for the sunset shots we hoped for. Our wait was not in vain. The scenic and beautiful sunset views tickled us like children having his favorit ice cream. Our camera almost ran out of batteries shooting sunsets!
It was already nightfall when we walked back to our campsite. We only have our headlamps for the cove’s eerie darkness. And except for the toned down sound of my MP3 player and the singing of crickets, the place is dead silent and pitch dark. More mountaineers are coming in though, from high up the mountains. This comforted us a bit since more people mean we don’t have to make the beach to ourselves share it with whoever is unseen staying there. Uh, my imaginative wanders again.
We cleaned and prepared Rain’s tent as she is slowly sliding into dreamland. The young lady got tired and sleepy from her beach side exploits earlier. When she finally can’t resist sleeping, she bade us goodnight and slept ahead. In almost less than five minutes, she was already dozing off. Hahaha!
Joy and I stayed in our hammock and chatted some more. We have been through so many travels and outdoors but this one is rather unique. Rain’s with us and we were having so much fun together. This place is a perfect paradise for us. or for any family. We went back talking to our dream beach house somewhere in Cannibad Islands down South. I dozed off thinking when I will be able to save 10 million for the beach house. Hahaha!
In the morning I woke early and cooked our breakfast. I served hot coffee, milk and bread early. All of us had a good night sleep. Rain and Joy was still playful inside their tent, and I have been videotaping their waking up antics. “Ahh, dokie! stop it! Giggled Rain.
We finished our breakfast fast and decided to take a swim on the beach. There were more campers coming in, as boats come and go out of the cove. It is Sunday, and families are off to a very nice vacation here. It was a lovely sight.
Rain got back to her usual patintero with waves. I swam some more, showing off the finesse-lacking butt-erfly stroke I learned in a swimming subject eon years ago. Joy just shrugged off my exhibitionist pot belly laughing at my antics
Realizing it will be fetching time soon, we got off the beach and took a poso-bath rinsing. Then we hurriedly packed and cleaned up our camping area as we saw our boat coming in to the cove. After a final sweep of our area, we bade goodbye to the caretakers and rode off towards another destination we planned- Capones Island.
That is worth another story anyway!
(An update: For all those interested in going to Anawangin Cove via a boat ride from Pundaguit, I suggest you pre arrange a ride early on. There’s plenty of boats ( and boatsman) for hire at Pundaguit. You can also ask the tryke drivers from poblacion. We called Nora (owner of Nora’s Beach Resort, CP#+63 919 6374917 ) ahead and went on to hire a boat in their resort. Rate is Php 800-1,000, to and from Anawangin and depending also on whether you’d go island hopping to Capones. We paid all our bills to them including our anawangin cove fee. I’d also suggest you bring your own camping equiptment (cooking, tent etc) I saw open cottages there but I’m not sure if you could rent any tent or cooking equiptment from the caretakers. Where we camped, there was a family who lives at the beach and acted as the beach caretaker. I’m not also sure if they would lend or rent out tents and cooking utensils. Again its prudent to bring your own camping stuff)