|Sunrise on Borawan Island off Mauban, Quezon|
Our GPS went on the blink along with the Globe signal approaching San Narciso in Quezon Province six hours into our roadtrip from Manila. The few people we asked along the road assured us we were indeed on the way to San Andres, in southwestern Quezon, our intended destination located on the southeastern tip of the Bondoc Peninsula, 366 kilometers from our starting point. The road, which we will later find out to be a national highway, was deeply rutted in not a few places and more fit for motorcycles and carabaos, putting our loaner Kia Carnival to a rigorous test right from our very first day.
By the time we saw the port town of San Andres with Alibihaban Island in the distance, we have seen three hours worth of rolling terrain, grassland, corn fields and postcard pretty mountain views that contrast against a clear, blue sky. Our three-day roadtrip got started with a 60 kilometer detour. But what’s a real, honest-to-goodness roadtrip without the meddling of fate, when circumstances put the most well-planned itineraries, ETDs and ETAs into mere items on a list subject to changes and reconsideration? This we will discover to be true during the rest of our trip to the province of Quezon, southwest of Manila.
Back to basics in San Andres and Calibihaban Island. While the assignment called for a roadtrip as well as putting the Kia Carnival van to the test, we didn’t aim to remain landlocked all the time. Certainly not when there are islands waiting to be explored lying close to the coastlines. The fishing town of San Andres located at the southernmost tip of the Bondoc Peninsula is our jump-off point for Alibihaban Island. Arriving three hours later than our itinerary’s ETD, we found a listless sea. Crossing over to the island will have to wait until the morning when the Ragay Gulf simmers down.
Plan B means spending the late afternoon hours exploring Long Beach with our local host, Dina Lopinac Dela Torre, a school teacher with an inclination for promoting local tourism. Towards sunset, the shoreline recedes a hundred meters or so in places, exposing patches of areas planted to mangroves. Fishermen were hauling in their fresh catch of small sapsap (slipmouth/pony fish), one of my favorite fishes. It was tempting to buy the two pails full of the fish but as it turned out, the catch ended up on our dinner table fried to a delicious crisp and paired with pinakurat (local vinegar made from fermented coconut water).
We had a quiet dinner in the open air dining area of Dina’s house under a huge mango tree. Owing to the weather, there was no pating (shark) or pagi (ray) available but there was kinunot na isda (mackerel tuna stewed and cooked in coconut milk). Ahh, the simple joys of visiting a place untainted by commercial tourism.
It was tempting to stay longer to swim and snorkel. Maybe even buy fresh catch, slack off and enjoy the laidback pace. But we had to get back early enough before the gulf waters get any rougher.
|Essentials: car hires, transport and accommodations|
Next in Lagal[og]: Quezon Province Roadtrip Part 2: Getting to Mauban and Cagbalete Island
Attribution: This story was published in Inflight Magazine's July - August 2012 Issue under the title "Crossing Wild Quezon by Mini-Van" • Photos by Hermes Singson and Jocas A. See • Art direction by Jocas A. See • Borawan Opener Photo on this post by Oggie Ramos
Our thanks to our hair and makeup contributing stylist Rocky Orejola for recommending off-the-beaten places in Quezon. Our thanks also to our generous Quezon locals for extending assistance to the InFlight team: Judge Virgilio Alpajora (for housing the team in his resort on Cagbalete Island) and Coco Llamas of Mauban; Cely Rances and Playa’s Beverly of Padre Burgos; and Dina dela Torre of San Andres