Sunday, May 01, 2011

Beautiful Magalawa Island in Zambales

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!!! Summer is almost here! 
Please call the island caretaker Mang MULO directly at smart numbers 09294670505 / 09288568242. Tell him you were refered by DEMETER or FRANCIS to avail of discounts!!! Reserve early!!

white sands and beautiful coral gardens to boot !!!

I first visited this island 5 years ago during holy week. Back then, I just looked for an island on googlemaps, got the coordinates and let my GPS lead the way. I didn't get a very good impression then because the place was HOT, as in no winds at all. The waters were full of sea grass and I swam for hours without finding any corals or marine life at all. To be fair, the beach was very nice and there were sari-sari stores nearby where we easily got supplies.

(photo below: beautiful coral gardens of Magalawa Island!)

I decided to give it another shot recently and WOW!, I'm sure glad I did! Not only did I find the coral gardens so beautiful but I discovered it was not far at all from the shore! About 50meters or so from the campsite at the front of the island (facing N-NW). Another discovery is that it's pretty COOL at the front of the island afterall!!! (facing San Salvador island) as the winds blow constantly.(photo below: camp site, right:Raymond with coral garden as background)

Beach-goers will find magalawa island to be a real treat as it has BOTH a sandy beach and some great coral gardens. PLUS there is a marine sanctuary between this island and the island called San Salvador where a much more beautiful coral garden can be found. Swimming around the beach front coral garden is free, no charge at all. However, visiting that marine sanctuary coral garden will set you back a couple of hundred pesos per head(plus you need prior permission so pls arrange beforehand).
Most of the locals on the island are quite friendly enough. There are some ready cooked meals you can purchase on the island for abt. 30 to 50pesos and camping grounds you can use if you have a tent. There are also some cottages for rent that can fit 6pax at 1000/night. If you bring your own tent then you just have to pay the minimal 100pesos entrance fee and the 2way boatride from/to the mainland.

What's new is that I noticed that some unscrupulous entities have built a resort on the island I've asked around among the villagers and apparently these people are not even natives of the island but just muscled their way in with neither papers nor permission from the natives nor the owner Madam L.Ruiz. These people led by a certain Grace and Boy Armada, who are essentially squatting on the island, have the GALL to setup a Facebook account and charge 1.8k/pax for their shoddy huts and pitiful fare they call food. (oh, they charge 1.6k if you BRING YOUR OWN TENT... crazy! --prices cited true when this blog was created and may have changed later...) They even demand down payments?(what the...) The beautiful resorts in Anilao,Mabini,Batangas offer 4 buffet meals, a decent bed and coffee all you can for less than that and none of them require a down payment. The resort that these people built, being mere squatters, are located at the back of the island near the mangroves and thus are devoid of any wind. I also heard that once, when the island's owner Madam L.Ruiz visited Magalawa, she ordered the "guests" of this Grace Armada NOT to pay and temporarily closed their resort. wow...

(photo below: Raymond with fresh catch of the day, sandy beaches on Magalawa Island)

There is, however, a very good camping ground located on the front of the island. This is near the small town where you can get supplies PLUS no danger of clashing with the locals as all of them are against this Grace and Boy Armada and their illegal squatting on their island.
My suggestion is that you call Raymond Tordillo at SMART+639294670505 OR (02)983-0432 to help you coordinate your trip.
I suggest you only deal with and talk to the Tordillo Family, namely, Mulo the island caretaker, Mily, Albert, Junior, Christian or Raymond. They are the only ones trustworthy. ESPECIALLY KEEP AWAY FROM THIS GRACE AND BOY ARMADA!!!Respective fees are as followsEntrance fee 100\pax overnight,
. (includes CR and maintenance fees)

Boatpick up (2 way)
. -- 100/pax-kung galing luan
. -- 200/pax-kung galing masinloc

Cottage 1000\night (up to 6pax)

tent rental (300?) not sure, please inquire
snorkel rental(100/2hrs) please inquire

bonfires permitted for a small fee.
Meals available at 100?/meal/pax (set 4meals and 5pax up only)
** starting Nov.,2011 the meal package has been adjusted so pls inquire nalang

Another great advantage going there is that the coconuts and mangoes found on this island and the island next to it called San Salvador island are definitely the SWEETEST and CREAMIEST I have tasted so far. Genuine Zambales mangoes! You must be there during (summer) mango season though...Getting there is EASY! Just ride the Victory liner bus headed for Sta.Cruz and go down at either (PhP360+)Pangolingan,Veritas(before masinloc) or at (PhP380+)Masinloc town itself. I suggest Pangolingan because the boatride will be cheaper. Once at pangolingan just take a tricycle to Luan where you can arrange to meet Mily or Alberto Tordillo. If you go down at Masinloc, take a tricycle or walk the few hundred meters to the market where the port is found and arrange to meet Mily there.

Private Car: directionsUPDATE May 12, 2011:SUBIC Base Gate 3 is NOW OPEN.

DIRECTIONS (private car)From Manila take the NLEX then on to SCTEX. Exit at SUBIC NAVAL BASE and then exit the base via Gate 3 (For those who wish to use GATE2 towards Olongapo, please follow the map on the left).

Then, stay on the national road until you reach Pamulingan, Barangay Veritas.
Turn left towards Luan Port or you can also go straight to Masinloc town and park there. Thats your choice.

Please view the details (pros and cons) of both options below.

OPTION1: Turn left at Pangolingan(Pamolingan) Veritas and head towards Luan Port.
PROs: Boat pickup is cheaper (100/pax, no min pax count), boat ride is shorter (10mins lang)
CONs:Parking is expensive! (200/night), tryc ride also expensive 150/oneway/tryc

OPTION2: Turn left at MASINLOC TOWN PROPER and go to Masinloc Port.
PROs: you can walk the 500meters to the port or hire a tryc cheap!, parking is cheaper (100/night)
CONs: Boat ride a bit more expensive (200@ for the 2way trip, min 6pax), boat trip longer (30mins)

FINAL OPTION: You can hire a private VAN ! Call Raymond Tordillo now (09222688111 or <02>983 0432) to get an estimate for your particular group. For a group of 11pax, you can avail of their ALL-IN Magalawa Island overnight package for only PhP1,600 pesos/pax inclusive of...
1. Manila < > Zambales roundtrip
2. Boat Transfers
3. Entrance fee
4. Cottage accomodation (5-6 in 1 cottage)
5. Driver,Gas and Toll fees included
price also INCLUDES FOOD (4meals)
***starting Nov.2011 food package has gone up slightly so this may have changed a bit, pls inquire
Now THAT's a real bargain I think!

Visit the website of one of the locals HERE! R.Tordillo@angislako.blogspot.comCAUTION:As usual the sand was full of sandflies so I caution the beachgoers to bring the proper repellant. OFF lotion does not work at all on these small bloodsuckers. They sell sandfly repellant on the beach but in case you can't find any just bring some of your own. Its very simple to make. Just mix 1part baby oil, one part alcohol and one part lysol plus add some CITRONELLA oil. Thats it. Shake and apply liberally to your skin.

FINAL CAUTION:DO NOT GO DURING HOLY WEEK! As with all good beaches, the place gets pretty packed! Try to go before or after peak dates so you can really enjoy the experience.

For more information on Things to do, What to bring and TOURIST TRAPS please visit virtualtourist.magalawa.island !

UPDATE November 2, 2011
1. Good news! The Ruiz Resort in Magalawa Island is NOW OPEN for Amihan season 2011-2012!!! Please call Raymond Tordillo for reservations now!!! 0922 268 8111 or (02)983 0432
2. Parking at LUAN PORT in Pangolingan has been raised to a whopping 200pesos / night. However, there is now a guarded parking area in Masinloc Port, Town proper at only 100pesos/night. Please choose which option is right for your group.

3. GATE 3 in Subic Bay Freeport Zone is now OPEN ! (hooray!!!)

I took pictures of the current facilities at the campgrounds. ENJOY!

NEW COMMUNAL TOILETS at the campgrounds! (rightmost image: hooray!!!)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

(photo by AllanBarredo, NIKON D50, May 16, 2009)
Nagsasa Cove (pronounced as NAG-SASA) is located further south of Anawangin Cove in Zambales. To date, this beautiful corner of Zambales is what Anawangin used to look like before they setup flags there and before the hoards of multitude invaded it resulting in bumper to bumper tents and overcrowded shores.
(photos: below left, google rendition, below right:NagsasaCove by AllanBarredo May 16, 2009)

cove has a visible aeta community of around 7 families or roughly 30 people. Their leader or spokesman is who we refer to as Mang Ador, a wirey fellow in his late 30s who is married to an aeta woman. Mang Ador, with the help of good hearted visitors such as Mr.Ryan Guzman, has taken it upon himself to improve his corner of this cove so as to make it camper friendly. He lives on the NORTH side of the cove while the rest of the aeta community lives on the SOUTH side. Mang Ador is not an aeta himself but hails from La Union.

One of Nagsasa's features is this lake with a superb view of the mountain range. One can enjoy this scenery while cooling off in the clear waters of the lake.
(photo below:NagsasaLake by AllanBarredo May 16, 2009)
Mang Ador has already setup 5 long tables along the shoreline for campers to use. He also setup a small bahay kubo with papag for visitors. There is a handpump at the back of the campsite as well as two toilets similar in construction to those in Anawangin. Mang Ador always sees to it that all toilets have water so since we were a group of about 40(the largest he has entertained so far), he never stopped fetching water from the pumps! (poor guy!) He does not charge any fees for these facilities (yet) so we took it upon ourselves to give 100pesos per head nalang. Other groups such as that of Ryan Guzman's make it a point to bring 2 extra canned food each to leave with Mang Ador.

(CAMPSITE photos by AllanBarredo May 16, 2009)

There was an abundance of fishcatch, mainly bangus(milkfish), while we were there (due to the recent storm) so they were selling it at 40pesos per fish. These fishes weighed approximately 1.5 kilos and were really FAT and delicious. You can ask Mang Ador if he or the others have any fresh fish, they usually do, and buy them to add to your meal. Nakatulong ka na, fresh at masarap pa yung kakainin mo.

(photo below:NagsasaLake by AllanBarredo May 16, 2009)
There are many pine trees where you can tie your hammock and/or clotheslines. Since there is absolutely NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL anywhere on this cove, I suggest you turn your cellphone OFF, lie down on your hammock and let the wind rock you to sleep while you listen to the soothing sound of the birds and the waves.
(photo below:HAMMOCK central by KitLava May 17, 2009)


The beach is composed of the same volcanic sand that covers the whole zambales shoreline stretch. It gets VERY HOT during noontime so take caution to don your footwear pls.
(photo below:NagsasaCove at 6AM, by AllanBarredo May 16, 2009)
Unlike in Anawangin, the waters are very calm since the cove is very big. Also, there is a very nice snorkling area about 100meters off the campsite shore with a depth of about 20feet. I noticed a lot of coral formations as well as abundant and colorful fishes there. I do hope dynamite fishers do not touch that area.
If you happen to witness dynamite fishing then don't be afraid to speak up! Get their attention and let them know that what they are doing is wrong. Take out that nice digicam and snap away! Report them and their vessel to the local barangay. Enough damage has been done by both these people and those who condone them by their silence! After all, we deserve the environment we help create diba.


One of Nagsasa Cove's special features is this beautiful cascading waterfalls that can be reached via a 30minute leasurely hike to the south of the campsite. You can ask Mang Ador or one of his fellows to guide you to the falls. Just give the guide a small tip (50pesos or so) afterwards. The waters are clean and clear due to the fact that settlers are forbidden to take residence upstream.

(photos courtesy of KitLava, May 16, 2009)
TIP: Go up just a bit higher along the cascading falls and sit in one of the larger crevices. You get to view the mountain range while cooling down as if you were in your own private INFINITY POOL.

(photo by Allan Barredo, May 16, 2009)
Its pretty much the same as going to Anawangin. Only the boat fare and distance from Pundaquit to Nagsasa cove is greater. We used our usual boatman Mang Vic. His boat is quite big so 10 of us were able to fit in it. Our gear, however, had to be loaded on a smaller boat. The big boat charge was 3k and the smaller boat charge was 1.2k so thats about 420pesos per head.
Mang Vic will soon be using his new boat which is big enough to hold 25 passengers so please call him if you have a large group. His number is still +639297170739. He can also buy mineral water for you and lend you containers for them.
We arrived in Pundaquit in the wee hours of Saturday morning, at 2AM, and were able to leave for Nagsasa at 3AM. Since it was such an ungodly hour, I'm really grateful that Mang Vic was so accomodating. I didn't hear a word of complaint from him!
You can apply the Anawangin sample itinerary and costings found in my old blogs for Nagsasa.

Numerous parking areas have sprung up in Pundaquit so parking should not be a problem. The normal parking fee charge there is 100pesos per night. Make sure your vehicles are secure and all parking lights are off when you leave it.

The (rocky area)northern tip of Nagsasa beach has sandflies. If possible, avoid this area during sunrise and sunset. If you need to go to this rocky area during these time periods consider taking VitaminB first or putting some Citronella Oil as suggested in this site.

The coral area in Nagsasa has a number of C.O.T. starfishes. DO NOT TOUCH the thorns! It releases a neurotoxin that can cause a sharp stinging pain lasting hours, as well as nausea and vomiting. For more information on COTs please click here.
Divers who plan to go to Nagsasa please bring large thongs and sacks(or sodium bisulfate injections) and volunteer some of your time to remove a few of these and bury in the sand. During low tide, the COT locations are shallow enough to reach and extract safely without dive gear. DO NOT CUT OR DAMAGE them during extraction as this will (supposedly) cause them to release eggs thereby aggravating the situation even further. Thanks

Visit my friend's blog by clicking this link (AllanBarredo's LANTAW blog) to see more of his exemplary photographs of Nagsasa Cove and read his writeups.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


March 2018 UPDATE:  So much has happened in the past years I was away from this beautiful place.  So many have discovered the beauty of this place since I first posted this 11 years ago. It's now a thriving resort community thanks to paved roads all the way to the beach (23 Kilometers of it!) from the National Road courtesy of DOTR. Please come visit!

(photo: osmena beach front, just in front of barangay captain's house)

This place really has a stronghold not only on me but on all of us who have been there. What keeps us coming back? Maybe its the memory of all that fresh seafood? Or the simple life of the fisherfolk. Or the increadibly beautiful powdery-white sand and clear waters? Perhaps its the affable locals we have now come to regard as dear friends. Truly it is a blessing for us to meet such wonderful folk as Leon Bobis (contact# 09075183062) and family. It amazes me how they keep smiling through all their strife and even this last hardship of loosing their home to the most recent typhoon.

Our last foray into the sleepy town of Dasol was, of course, pleasantly relaxing. This time a friend of mine brought some of his photo-buddies from flickr and had a great time taking images of the place.

This time
we went to Dasol via SLEX, Luisita Exit, then onto Alaminos then to
Dasol. We were able to cut travel time by almost half because we were able to travel very fast on that road to Alaminos.

, we were able to sleep at one of the huts instead of our tents. It took away some of that "outdoor" experience but it did not diminish our enjoyment of Tambobong in the least. I slept like a baby on their cool bamboo floor.

We discovered something new in Tambobong this time.

A fresh water pool inside a hidden cave not far from the beach. According to the locals, this used to be a very famous source of fresh water for this area and the waters purportedly contain healing properties. I noticed that despite the evindence of people bathing here, the waters remain crystal clear. This means that the waters are constantly being renewed by a network of springs and canals.

I went back to Balinmanok Wreck and noticed an increase in marine life. I saw several hundreds of different types. There were even three huge ones, about 3-kilos each, but I failed to classify them. The waters were clear and cool so some of us can't help diving into the inviting waters from atop the wreck. I'm glad to see our companions enjoying themselves and taking a break from their picture taking.

One can go beach-hopping for days here and won't run out of beautiful venues. I'd love to stay at least a week in this peaceful place and sit on its beaches, just sipping cold beer and thinking of nothing in particular. Someday....

VISIT the blog of one of the locals >> TAMBOBONGBOY