Friday, July 28, 2017

Eagle Point Resort in Anilao, Batangas: Staying Put on A Stormy Seaside Staycation

Eagle Point Resort Pool and Eagle's Nest Restaurant in early evening
We came to Anilao, Batangas, on the cusp of a brewing tropical storm.  I wanted to stay home since I was feeling under the weather the past few days leading to the staycation but my friend told me the fresh air might be what the doctor ordered.  Commuting to Anilao was, thankfully, speedier than I remembered it as many buses, including JAM Transit near the LRT-Buendia station which is nearer where I live, ply the Manila - Batangas Grand Terminal route (around 2 1/2 - 3 hours).  From there, either you can ride the jeepney headed to the Bauan - Mabini intersection (it leaves when it's really packed full we call it alas puno; with space for only two more people, we felt compelled to pay the P35 x 2 pax fare so we can leave after waiting almost an hour) or hire a taxi (around P1,000 or so we're told by the cab office on the terminal premises).  From the intersection, it's one more tricycle ride away (P40/pax, around 15-20 minutes) to the highway entry road leading to Eagle Point Resort, passing through a circumferential coastal road that's hilly, causing the tricycle to grumble where the road rises a hundred or so feet in places.

My one and only memory of having been to Eagle Point Resort was ages ago, in the 1990s when I was a senior copywriter in a small, local ad agency, and our company had an overnight outing here.  My dim memory recalled bamboo cottages overlooking the sea.  Well, in place of cottages, there are now cabanas on the southern side, a restaurant on stilts overlooking the sea in the middle, and a multi-storey hotel to the north of the property.  Our staycation invite got us billeted to a terrace room on the first floor directly overlooking the resort's reef pool and dock for outrigger dive boats.  The sky was already overcast when we arrived, the forecast was for a low pressure area passing from the east through Guian, Eastern Samar moving upwards.  Still, the winds picked up speed and the waves roiled listlessly.  Makes me wonder what to do in a place where most guests go to for diving.  
Eagle's Nest Restaurant aglow in the early evening hours
If I can't kayak, can we still island-hop?  Given the inclement weather, I thought, so be it, as I looked out the veranda and saw bright blue birds perched on the exposed rocks (maybe kingfishers?).  The crows were cawing loudly as if in welcome.   Fascinating.  As it was towards sunset when we arrived, we just dropped our stuff in the room and headed to the dock to shoot the sunset or whatever the dusk presented, knowing the weather can easily change overnight.  I was already eyeing the pingpong table at the activity center above the two level swimming pool as well as propping up my writing implements on the comfortable bed, prepared to just stay put the next two days should the weather not be cooperative and keep us landlocked.
Eagle Point Rockscape during Typhoon Gorio
True to form, the rains fell in torrents during our first evening on the resort.   Perhaps as good excuse as any to linger in the dining hall for dinner, dessert (a really good Calamansi Pie!) and coffee.  With no nightscape to shoot, I decided to retire early.  There were two short power failures but nothing really to lose sleep over (good thing I always lug around my Klarus and Olight torches).  The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and riff-raff wall below the room can be really loud when the air conditioner goes off, lulling one to sleep.  

The next morning, we woke up to a more listless sea, the sun shining intermittently in between heavy banks of grey clouds.  Just when I thought we wouldn't be allowed to hop to Sepoc island, we were told to prepare for trip that morning.   The tide was high, and coupled with a very wavy sea, we had to use another location to board our boat, the Sunbeam dive center around 7-10 minutes drive away.  Credit goes to our boatman, deftly piloting our boat through the choppy waters.  I'm thankful I brought my drybag along as it was impossible not to get splashed by the waves crashing behind Sepoc island during disembarkation. 
Sepoc Island under storm clouds
Two white dogs greeted us as we hiked to the beach area, we call Whitey 1 and Whitey 2.  The water is clear even under an overcast sky, the rolling waves making the grey and white rocks on the beach sing.  On the second level of the bamboo hut veranda, we see the ubiquitous crows flying from tree to tree seeking shelter from the rain.  Twice, we also saw a yellow bird with black accents streak from the treetops.  We later learned from Manong that it was a kilyawan or black-naped oriole, which has a nest in the middle of the island.  Fascinating.
Whitey 1 making good use of the inclement weather
In between shooting the scenery, we played around with Whitey and a cute, friendly, puppy we found hiding under one of the tables.  We would've wanted to stay longer but Manong pointed to a very dark bank of storm clouds approaching from the east.  Going back to the resort much later would mean risking an even wavier sea (or should I say, Balayan Bay).

Still, it's nice to come here on an off-peak season -- there were less tourists and guests, more time to really relax, read, write, enjoy coffee and the wonderful food at the Eagle's Nest (Read about our foodtrip here at www.happyfoodies.com).  Of course, I would've loved to kayak, maybe even attempt wandering to the Batangas pier, a few kilometers away, or in good weather, all the way to Sombrero Island.  But like the boats on a wavy sea, you just roll with whatever the weather gives you on a particular trip.  Weather-weather lang.
The terrace room in Eagle Point Resort
Since I was feeling under the weather anyway, it was a good excuse to lie down under the sheets and read until I fall asleep.  Come sunset time, I went to the stormy helipad dock armed with my trusty umbrella, my Nikon D800 hidden under a plastic sleeve, to shoot the inclement weather and listless sea.  In the evening, I looked for the reef sharks in the pool all the way from the veranda, putting my 2000-lumen Klarus torch to good use (the guards thought it was a searchlight!)  

After a quiet dinner, I spent a good part of an hour just listening to the waves and the sea, looking out to nothing much in particular, inhaling as much of the intoxicating sea breeze as I can.  My original plan was to kayak as much as I can for two days (since I don't dive) but what the hey.  I was able to rest and drink in the scenery, foodtrip, and enjoy a change of scenery anyway despite the inclement weather.  At the end of the day, that's what a good vacation is all about.

Info:  Eagle Point Resort is located in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas, around 3-3 1/2 hour drive away from Manila • For info or booking, visit www.eaglepointresort.com.ph or their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/eaglepointbeachanddiveresort/ • Manila Office: Ground Floor, Cacho Gonzalez Bldg., 101 Aguirre cor. Trasierra Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati City; Tel. +63 2 8133553; Mobile 0917 5625223, 0917 8164950, 0917 7125024, 0920 9776694 | Batangas: Brgy. Bagalangit, Anilao, Mabini; Mobile 0917 8463958, 0918 8463958; email: frontdesk@eaglepointresort.com.ph

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