Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Real, Quezon

Going to the beach during the rainy season is risky because you go through all the planning and spending but end up indoors afterall. Pa swerte swerte lang diba? As it turned out, the gods smiled on our little adventure and we ended up getting a nice tan. "Fortune favors the brave..." and all that. I had second thoughts but then I read one of the blogs of suntoksabwan and made up my mind to go. He posted some really good pictures as well. If you'd like to read, please click on this half-life (photo: Left: New statue in honor of brave soldiers that rebuilt the city after the great landslide tragedy of 2004 photo by AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

Real, Quezon is only 65 kilometers from Quezon City as the bird flies but its actually a good 150 kilometers away because you have to go through a lot of mountains to get there. Of course I neither knew that nor how to get there at first so I had to fish out the old GPS and bring up the google earth map again. We all got up at 4:30am to start the journey because we had no idea how long it would take. I surmised that we had to pass through Antipolo, then Tanay and then find a way towards the shorelines from there. (photo: Above Right: Early morning breakfast, Below Right: Road to Tanay, Below Left: Allan in good spirits FrancisAtendido Panasonic Lumix FZ20 2006/08/19)

It seemed a good idea to go to Antipolo by way of Taytay so thats what we did. Once in Antipolo, we were surprised to see the locals motioning us to go a certain way. Everyone was doing it, man, woman, child, matanda, bata - just everyone! It was creepy, like some kind of conspiracy. We ended up in the church so we just took the narrow street in front of it to get to the road that would take us to Tanay. It was only later that I realized we did not have license plates yet as the car was new and this was probably why everyone thought we were going to Church at 6:30am -- to have the car blessed. When you reach Tanay, turn left at Jollibee, then an immediate right when you see the sign pointing to Laguna. Keep going until you reach Fami. Fami is the accessgate to Quezon so you must make a left in Fami. Keep left (there's a fork along the way, just keep left).

If you have any kids that get dizzy in the car, I suggest you put them up front as you will have to pass some very heavy zigzag roads. The scenery is beautiful though as you will see vast hectars of rice on the flatlands and beautiful trees and greens in the mountains.

We arrived in Tignoan Beach at a little before 9am. That means that it took us about 3.5hrs to travel the 150km at a very leasurely pace. We decided to stay at the Ocean Blue Resort because they had a good sized swimming pool in case we could not swim in the ocean. (as luck turns out, we were able to swim in a river, the sea and the pool later on) An airconditioned room costs 1,500 only and if your on a tight budget, you can fit 6 to 8 people there. No charge for the extra beds. There is an additional charge of 100 per head for the entrance fee but that includes use of the pool and the dining huts as well. The caretaker, Celia, is very accomodating and kind. Reservations can me made by calling her at 0921-363-4337(for updating) or their manila office at 725-1783(resort owner's name is DELY DELA CUESTA). They can offer to cook for you but it would cost an arm, a leg, and your next grandchild so I suggest you bring a portable cooking stove and cook your own meals. Being the stupid tourists that we were, we had our meals cooked by them and suffered the consequences later. (photo: Above Left: OceanBlueResort pool,rooms and hall , FrancisAtendido Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

We went to the nearby talipapa after checking in and bought enough for lunch and dinner. I had the presence of mind to bring a couple of coolers, one full of ice and the other empty, so we stuffed all the fare in the empty cooler and filled it with ice. As expected, the price of fish here was really cheap and everything was FRESH! At the market, I was surprised, and saddened by the sight of two dead sharks. They were selling the fins at 9000pesos per kilo - and the meat at 80pesos per kilo. (photo: Above Right: Dead Sharks, AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

I turn around and examine the alimango and sugpo and when I look back, on of my friends was already carrying part of the shark. Well, at least this shark was consumed and not left to drown without its fins at the bottom of the ocean. (photo: left: talipapa, right:sugpo, AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

We left our cooler at the resort with instructions of how to cook them and headed towards the famous Balagbag falls. To get there, we had to backtrack the way we came for about 10 minutes then head left after the first bridge. The road is not paved so it was a bumpy ride to the falls. You must pay an entrance fee of 10pesos per head. I heard one of the local kids snicker when the lady said "10pesos per head". Apparently, the 10peso fee is only for tourists. (photo, left: heading to the falls, FrancisAtendido Panasonic Lumix FZ20, LowerRight: Balagbag falls, AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z , LowerLeft: Dapitan brothers roleplay, FrancisAtendido Panasonic Lumix FZ20 all pictures taken on 2006/08/19)

Its a very short walk from there to the falls. This multilayered falls is really beautiful and the most intricate I've seen in the Philippines so far. Amazing. We took turns staying under the waterfall. Its a great feeling, like some strong hand massaging your back endlessly. some of the kids clambered up higher and just simply had a great time fooling around with all that water. After more than an hour of this it was time to head back and eat lunch at the resort. Everybody wanted just 5 minutes more, then 10 minutes more until I had to put my foot down and say we had to go.

Back at the resort, chose one of the dining huts and waited for the food to arrive. Some , including me, walked on the beach while we waited. The sand is very fine but brown. I find it curious that there are a lot of multicolored pebbles along the shore. Probably from some mineral rock formations nearby.

Lunch was great, but the peaceful slumber after that was even better. I wake up at 1:30pm and find everyone sleeping all over the place. Some at the homemade hammocks, some at the bamboo chairs near the beach and others still at the empty huts. I roused everyone at about 2pm so we could all go to Balute island and see whats there.

Balute island is about 10 kilometers from Tignoan Beach, again, as the bird flies. We had to head up north for about 12 kilometers and find a port that would take passengers to the Island. Its not actually an island as its really connected to the mainland. However, since its inaccessible by car, one must take the local boats or banka to get there. The boat ride starts from the shores of Real town proper and lasts for about 10minutes(2.5kilometers). The beach property on Balute island is supposedly owned by a Dr.Aranda. It has the same fine brown sand but no rocks or sea urchins. Whats more is that the water is much cleaner than that of the shores on the mainland. The boatride will set you back 250pesos and then you have to rent a table near the beach to avail of the facilities like shower and toilet. Apparently, all the fresh water used on the island is painstakingly lugged from the mainland. Thus, renting a table will cost you another 250pesos inclusive of the entrance fee. There were six of us so the prices I mentioned may be because of our number. If your party has more members then be prepared to shell out more. We stayed on the island for about 2 hours. Walking up along the shore, I noticed a portion with a lot of pebbles. This time the rocks were multicolored and very beautiful. There were so many shapes and colors that we spent most of our time picking them up and examining them. We chose the most notable ones for souvenirs. (photo: Above Left: 250peso boat ride for 6 to Balute Island, Above Right: Trees on Aranda estate and resort, Left: colorful pebbles along Balute island, all pics by AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

Back at the resort, we start to drown the crabs in beer so their meat would turn out softer after they are cooked. We call on the local cooks again and hand over the fares for that evening. Meanwhile we enjoy the pool and the nearby beach while dinner is readied. Owen even tried walking on water but he tripped and fell. Maybe he should concentrate more.... hehe. (photo: Right: Owen walks on water, AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/19)

They had a karaoke room which we rented that evening. We had the food brought over and ate while we sang some old tunes. I wanted to taste some of the local lambanog we bought on the way home from Balute island. It was freaking STRONG ! I don't know how the local folk manage to drink glass after glass of this stuff. I was wasted after 3 pitifully small shots. Next thing I knew, it was morning.

We ate a hasty breakfast of eggs, bread and coffee from the local panideria. Incidentally, this panideria in front of the fish market is open 24hrs - galing no? After another round of "5mins more", "10mins more", I had gather everyone from the pool and the beach and all started getting ready for the trip home. Our fish supply was depleted so before we head home, we stop by the talipapa by the roadside again and buy more fish. My father loves fresh fish so I get all the fresh fish the coolers can hold. (photo: Right: Lazy morning on his GameBoy, FrancisAtendido Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/20)

On the way home I chanced upon some locals harvesting santol. I'm not sure if they could sell me some but we stopped anyway so I could get a taste. It turns out the santol was small but REALLY sweet so I somehow convince the harvesters to sell me some bags of the stuff. 22kilos for 100pesos - wow.
I got two - 22kilo bags. The harvesters were so kind and chatty with stories about harvests and markets. They even gave us a few more kilos of santol for the road.

All in all I'd say this was another very successful adventure. There are so many thoughts and observations left unsaid but that can be done later. For now, just the facts. Cheers.
(photo: Above Left: Santol, last harvest, Above Right: Slippery road home, AllanBarredo Olympus Camedia C4040Z 2006/08/20)